Review: Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold

Series: Vorkosigan Saga
Published by: Spectrum Literary Agency, Inc.
ISBN: 067157812X
ISBN 13: 9781886778535
Published: 1987
Pages: 320
Format reviewed: mobi
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Three out of Five
Related Reviews: Reading Challenge: Vorkosigan Saga Project

So while we are pretty much reading in chronological order, we are reading this now as our 15th review/discussion piece, despite the fact it’s set approximately 200 years before Cordelia’s Honor, because the next book in chrono order (Diplomatic Immunity) is set in the same place.

This one took me a long time to read. If I’d been reading just because, rather than for Tsana’s and my project, I probably would have thrown it aside halfway through as I just had no interest in continuing. I started in January sometime, and only just finishing mid-March, and only after a reminder from Tsana. All in all though, I am glad I finished it.

As stated a few lines up, this happens 200 years before the main series and as such, there are no characters we recognise from what we’ve been reading so far. We instead have Leo, who has been hired to teach space welding on a special and top secret project. The reason it’s secret is his students are genetically engineered to survive and thrive perfectly in zero gravity – including the fact they don’t have legs; instead, they have another set of arms and are called quaddies. On this project already is someone Leo ran into several years ago – Van Atta – and they’re already at odds due to a difference in attitude and ability. Only this time Van Atta is the boss, and he’s not about to let Leo forget it.

The quaddies – most of them fairly young, some are only just old enough to procreate – are what you would expect of if raised in total containment and considered property of a company. They’re practically brainwashed and act much younger than one would expect – quite innocent, very naive. They only know of a world where they’re told what to do – not why, no questions, . They certainly have an unbalanced concept of morals as some have been used for sex, and they only think of the good for the whole (well, the company), rather than anything else.

But back to the plot. Leo is there to teach them so they can be ‘the perfect work unit’ for big space projects. Until there is new tech rolled out unexpectedly, which makes the quaddies and their abilities basically outdated before they even got a chance to begin. Leo is told that the project is being scrapped, that any currently pregnant quaddies will be aborted. All quaddies will be rendered infertile. And then they’ll be dumped somewhere with gravity to slowly die. This is seen as a kindness – it’d be much cheaper to simply kill them all and close the project down.

Leo can’t stand for this, of course. This is where I kind of lost interest as some of his interest seemed sex-related – he can’t stand the idea of losing some of them because of how beautiful Silver is, which also seemed to come out of left field. They’re kids, for crying out loud. He’s 40 years old.

Overall the actual plan to save the quaddies is quite good and a fun read, and takes up about half of the book. The ending, however, I could leave. Van Atta was a bit of a simple baddie, and the focus drifted from Claire and Tony and their kid (who were quite interesting) and became more focused on Silver. Who was intelligent and interesting, but other than that… Yeah.


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