Had to ask...Now the Vorkosigan books

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Sat Jun 28 13:45:46 EDT 2003

On Fri, 27 Jun 2003 17:54:08 +0100, minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

>Melissa wrote:

>>If you'd been reading the books in order like a good little fishie....  :)
>...I wouldn't be having all the fun of working these things out for myself.
>Yeah, true.  What I *have* worked out it that at some point in the distant
>past I must have read one, and then blanked it as not worth following up
>on, because some of the things I'm extrapolating feel a bit like memory.  I
>am going to assume, from hints on this list, that it was one from near the
>very beginning of the writing, and that Bujold has been learning her trade
>since.  As it were.  But if that is what happened, it may be just as well I
>*didn't* start at the beginning again, not so?

Indeed.  I think the main point in reading any new author is to get an
accurate perception of whether or not you will enjoy his or her books.  My
least favorite thing in reading is getting hold of a book that I dislike for
no very good reason.  Then I have to remember to give the author another
chance later, just to make perfectly sure it wasn't a fluke.  Or that their
writing ability didn't improve later on.  Or that they didn't come up with a
more interesting series some other time.  It's just too much like work.

As to Bujold learning her trade--I think almost all authors do.  Imagine
being Margaret Mitchell and blowing your wad on the one book.  Sure, it's
embarrassing to know that your first efforts are still out there somewhere
and, if you become successful enough, are being violently fought over on
eBay, but if you're not "improving" then I think something is wrong.

And I put "improving" in quotes because sometimes it's a matter of
perspective.  If as a reader I prefer an author's later books to his earlier
ones, then his improvement may just be a question of my taste.  Having just
re-read _Shards of Honor_ as part of my get-well-quick regimen, I think it's
clear that Bujold has learned over the years, not only what will tell her
stories the best, but how to avoid stylistic elements that are generally
considered Bad.  I think we determined on-list a little while ago that some
revision was made to the edition that went into _Cordelia's Honor_; the
obvious changes were to bring it in line with the history as presented in
_Barrayar_, but it's just possible she tweaked it in other ways as well.

Sometimes authorial improvement isn't seen as a good thing by fans.  Much as
I admire Robin McKinley's work, I enjoy her early books a lot more than the
later ones.  She's clearly working toward what she wants to be as an author,
but that progress leaves me behind as a reader.  I wonder, though, if she's
gaining readers who weren't interested in, say, _The Blue Sword_.  I hope

>BTW, I have these 'good little fishie' friends, little brown rotund
>unobtrusive fellows, front end is all teeth when they open their mouths....
>Piranha, they're called....  They're awfully cute once you get to know

Yes, I believe I had one for breakfast yesterday.  If not, I'd really like
to know where that funny-looking toothpick came from....  :)

>>>  Maybe I was sympathising
>>>with Mark: she'd be *fine* if one were used to it, but she's a bit
>>>overwhelming for Mere Mortals!
>>Yes, poor Mark didn't grow up with her.  If she adopted *me*, I'd be
>What, you?  Never!  It would have been very interesting to observe, mind
>you, the analytical approach meeting a Jeenyus who is Allways Right.  :-)

How do you think I got to be Allways Right if not by right of the analytical
approach?  (The Jeenyus part is supposedly hereditary, but I think it's just
a clever marketing strategy.)  ;)

Melissa Proffitt

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