OT Bujold

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Fri Sep 26 12:37:36 EDT 2003


On Fri, 26 Sep 2003 15:44:24 +0100, minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

>My comment after a bit was "I'm still following Bujold's own way of reading
>such a series, as mentioned in her afterword to *Cordelia's Honor*, "one
>must assume that readers, as I did when reading my own favourite series,
>will encounter the books in utterly random order", and reading them as they
>happen to come to the top of a random heap by the bed.  I don't think they
>suffer for it at all.  Each (so far, anyway) works on its own, and having
>read a couple of the more recent ones first doesn't seem to have spoilt
>either them or the ones set before them chronologically at all."

I actually took Bujold's comment about this to refer more to how she
structures her novels, rather than a reading recommendation.  She goes to
great lengths in each book to include enough information about the history
that's gone before that a new reader, starting at that point, won't be
totally lost.  The practicality of this, from a bookselling perspective, is
unquestionable; I can remember when the early books were out of print and
she wasn't a big enough name for libraries to carry the entire series by
default.  And "encountering the books in utterly random order" could mean
"coming in at the middle of the series and not wanting to hunt for the first
one" and not just "reading any old one that you happen to find."  So I don't
see her comments as being necessarily reflective of a position she
advocates.

Having said this, the reason I read the Vorkosigan books in internal
chronological order is not because they don't work on their own.  They do,
absolutely.  In fact, one of the new women in my reading group--whose tastes
are quite suspect despite her loving _I Capture the Castle_--*hated* the
series, and Miles, until she got to _Komarr_.  I wish she'd just gone
straight there.  But what I find is that in reading the books in order, I'm
reading the story of a life.  Miles and his family *grow* over time, as they
should.  Ivan in particular is a wonder to watch, and he's actually the one
I'm interested in following now, to see what kind of man he becomes now that
he's in his thirties and finally leaving adolescence.  What's missing in
reading randomly is, I think, a very minor part of what makes the books
interesting.  What's more, anyone who was reading the series from the
beginning *would* have been reading it out of order, since two of the books
were published out of order with the rest.  But that overarching story of
Barrayar's development, Miles's growth, the way Mark gradually learns who he
is...I think this is worth seeing as it happens.  So while I never (well,
only when it's Really Important) insist that a certain series be read "in
order," I'm not prepared to say it doesn't matter at all.

And I think Deborah should finally put that list of Vorkosigan books on the
website.  I'm glad someone else posted it this time.  :)

Melissa Proffitt
(actually quite annoyed that _Paladin of Souls_ shipped yesterday from
Nevada, because if it leaves Nevada late on Thursday, it will not arrive
until Monday, even though it really only takes one day from that warehouse,
and UPS is stupid not to deliver on the weekends.)

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