Falling Free (1988)
Spine Front Cover Book Details
Lois McMaster Bujold
Publication Date 2001
Format Leather-bound (235 x 160 mm)
Publisher The Easton Press
Genre Science Fiction
Product Details
Series Masterpieces of Science Fiction
No. of Pages 198
Paper Type Acid-neutral paper
First Edition No
Personal Details
URL This book on Amazon.com
Rating 9
No. of Reviews 16
Introduction/Foreward James Gunn
Original Details
Original Publication Year 1988
Leo Graf was just your average highly efficient engineer: mind your own business, fix what's wrong and move on to the next job. Everything neat and according to spec, just the way he liked it. But all that changed on his assignment to the Cay Habitat. Could you just stand there and allow the exploitation of hundreds of helpless children merely to enhance the bottom line of a heartless mega-corporation?
Leo Graf adopted 1000 quaddies--now all he had to do was teach them to be free.
Collector's Notes

Some authors write stories based on a variety of possible futures; some have developed entire future histories of the human species in which they place related narratives. Robert A. Heinlein created a chart for his future history (and editor John Campbell persuaded Heinlein to let him publish it in the May 1941 Astounding Science-Fiction). Later the history became too confining, and Heinlein abandoned it. Isaac Asimov was a writer of the other persuasion; although he wrote stories in many possible futures, he developed two major future histories, one for his robot stories and one for his Foundation universe; ironically he devoted the last years of his life to weaving them together.

Lois McMaster Bujold is a writer with a future history. The universe in which she places her story is part of what Donald A. Woliheim described as part of science fiction's consensus "cosmogony," in which humanity expands into the galaxy, loses contact with remote colonies, and then rediscovers them. Bujold has updated the cosmogony with the "wormholes" of contemporary physics; she departs from it, as well, by focusing on the lost colonies rather than on Earth. But the appeal of Bujold's novels is not the future history; it is what she does with it.

While the human colonies were isolated, they evolved (or devolved) into a variety of governmental structures, from near-feudal military castes to capitalistic laissez-faires to socialism, and the colonists into a variety of human types. One of the lost colonies is Barrayar, where the military caste rules, and most of Bujold's novels are placed on Barrayar or on other worlds its people come into contact with. Bujold's novels also are distinguished by focusing on a single hero: Miles Vorkosigan. Miles is a non-traditional hero - he is physically handicapped, weak, hunch backed, short - but he is clever and intellectually gifted and determined to succeed in spite of his handicaps. More than any other single element, he provides the reason for Bujold's success. Miles appeared in Bujold's first novel, The Warrior's Apprentice, in 1986.

The Warrior's Apprentice launched a series of novels and stories that have won multiple awards and helped populate a universe. All of them, with one or two exceptions, have featured Miles or members of his family. The Vorkosigans are a hereditary warrior class whose planet Barrayar has recently been rediscovered by the human galactic civilization (there are no aliens). Miles is the child of Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith from the nonmilitary Beta Colony, whose difficult union itself is the subject of Shards of Honor (also 1986). Miles's handicaps are the result of an effort to poison Aral. By Barrayan custom, Miles should have been aborted, but neither Aral nor Cordelia would allow this and bear the consequences of contempt and disinheritance. So does their son, and the fact that he survives, and survives with honor, is a triumph of the human spirit over the multiple handicaps that the flesh, particularly Miles's, is heir to.

Falling Free is one of the exceptions. Placed two hundred years before the beginning of the Vorkosigan saga, Falling Free establishes the focus of this new galactic civilization: Bujold has described it as "genetic engineering and bioengineering." The "quads" who are the inhabitants of this satellite world live in free fall. They have been bioengineered to have four arms instead of two arms and two legs, so that they maneuver and work with marvelous agility in the zero-gravity of space. They have been transformed by a corporation which intends, once all profit has been wrung from them, to dump them on a planet to live out the rest of their lives in an environment for which they are not prepared by nature or by man. Falling Free tells the story of their discovery of the truth and their rebellion. Bujold's fellow science-fiction authors voted it a Nebula Award in 1988. They also voted a Nebula to "The Mountains of Mourning," which also won a Hugo Award, as did The Vor Game and Barrayc

Bujold, who was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1949, learned her science, so to speak, at her father's knee. Her father was a professor of engineering at Ohio State University, which she attended from 1968-1972. She has been writing and publishing science fiction since 1985.

The space epic was created in the 1920s by E. E. "Doc" Smith and Edmond Hamilton, and most of its notable practitioners have been men. Bujold brings to the genre characters who have weaknesses as well as strengths; they bond and question and grieve. As Martha Bartter concludes in The St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, "It is this sensitive attention to the human face of her characters, even dead ones, that makes Bujold's work not only exciting, but also profoundly moving."