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Book Review: The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 07:00
book cover

This is a pleasant (well, maybe wrong word, see futher...) side-story in the Vorkosigan universe focusing on collaborations between Ekaterin and bioengineer Enrique looking for genetically engineered mitigations for the toxic waste site that forms part of Miles’ inheritance. It’s also about the persistance of ingrained prejudices and the ways in which ignorance (on all sides) enables unprivileged people to fall through the cracks in an otherwise progressive society. Although I liked that these issues were highlighted, I’m less enamored of how often the solutions to individual social problems in the Vor universe are for some wealthy privileged person to throw money and influence at the central characters of the narrative. My main beef with the fictional universe is that the positive outcomes rely on the personal goodwill and honor of people who could just as easily be awful and abusive (and whose peers often are). It's not that I expect my fiction to be universally fluffy and progressive, but I've often felt that the Vorkosigan series isn't sufficiently self-aware of how it valorizes a "benevolent dictator" approach to society. There should be more occasions when the system fails badly in horrific ways and can't be tidied up by the personal goodwill of someone with power and privilege.

Major category: 
historical