Cryoburn (Miles Vorkosigan)
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Cover Artist: David Seeley
Review by Paul Haggerty
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781439133941
Date: 02 November 2010 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Miles Vorkosigan has spent his entire life getting himself into one scrape after another, and not always managing to get himself out fully intact. But one would think that being an official diplomat, on a completely peaceful mission to a non-hostile planet that is eager to do business with Barrayar, would allow him to spend a little time not looking over his shoulder. But no matter what planet you're on, one thing remains constant. There are winners and losers, and the losers always think somebody else is to blame... and they have a foolproof plan to fix things in their favor. And in this case, the plan involves taking hostages, unfortunately they didn't plan that the hostages would include one Barrayaran Imperial Auditor. They have no idea the trouble they've gotten themselves into.
Miles has come a long way from his care-free youth, roaming the galaxy at the head of a mercenary fleet, taking on the jobs Emperor Gregor couldn't officially get involved with. But experiences, age, and injuries add up and change a man. Now as Miles approaches the ripe age of 40, maturity and responsibility have settled in, what with his being an Imperial Auditor, not to mention a husband and father. So his mission to Kibou-daini seems to be in keeping with his new persona of responsible representative of his government.
On Kibou-daini, the life saving procedure of cryostasis has been taken to such an extreme that now large portions of the population sleep way death in the cryocombs, their voting proxies held by the companies that maintain their frozen remains. And since death is forever, these cryo-corporations wield far more power than any currently living bloc of voters. And some of the living don't care for this state of affairs one bit. And the cryro-corps don't like the idea of anyone, foreign or domestic upsetting the profit boat.
So after escaping from a snatch and grab which, of course, went horribly wrong, Miles wakes up in the cryocombs, drugged, confused, hallucinating, and not quite able to remember what happened or how he got there. A lesser man would be well and truly lost, but Miles' ability to survive seems to be nearly a supernatural ability. Finally emerging back into the light of day, he meets a couple of those down and outs of society. And, as usual, this is Miles way of finding out what is really going on. There are forces at work, and forces that oppose those forces, and forces that oppose both of those other forces. Miles is going to have decide what side to take, when none of the sides is on his. In his case, there's only one option. He'll just have to pick the one that matches his ethics, loyalty, duty, and stick it to the man attitude. Somehow, with Miles, this actually works out well.
What makes the Vorkosigan Saga in general, different from so many series, is the change, sometimes cataclysmic, that Bujold puts her characters through. Life is change, and her people must needs change with them. Miles has gone from an infant to a soldier, a mercenary, a spy, and a diplomat, new personas put on as the world around him requires him to adapt. In Cryoburn we also get to revisit old friends who, while having lives of their own which have also caused them to age and adapt, can't help but run across Miles, even if that means stumbling across him on a far flung foreign world. Miles' life has changed through death, bureaucracy, diplomacy, and tradition. And in Cryoburn you'll get a glimpse of the changes to come. In fact, one line--one greeting--will send a chill up your spine. See if you can find it.