How I met the author: Lois McMaster Bujold

An infrequent and random series of posts musing about my introduction to some of my favourite writers.

I discovered Lois Bujold on a remainder table in an Australian two dollar shop more than a decade ago. I don’t remember which titles I picked up there. I’m not even sure now whether her name was familiar to me or if it was just chance I decided to buy those slightly tatty (though still unread) paperbacks for the ridiculous sticker price of about A$1.13 each. I did that on occasion back then, when I still read exclusively in print form and still had time to take a chance on books from the remainder bin (sadly these days I don’t even scrounge through these bins any more – so many books, so much digital, so little time…). I do remember they were Vorkosigan books, because for a long time, they were the only books of hers I read. I also know I read the Vorkosigan Saga entirely out of order the first time through, but I loved every single one of them anyway. Whatever those first books were, they led me on a (mostly online) hunt for the rest of the series, which as I recall, arrived in dribs and drabs in mostly the omnibus editions. I devoured each one, and was hungry for more.

When Cryoburn came out in 2010, I bought the hardcover edition, something I rarely did, and was delighted when it came with a CD Rom of almost all (bar Memory) the rest of the series in ebook, plus some extra goodies. When Baen offered Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance advance review ebooks for sale, well in advance of release, I bought it. I did the same thing with the recent Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. And I bought the hardback editions when they came out later, too. Why? Because I adore this series just that much. I have loaned or given copies to at least a dozen people, insisting they much read the Vorkosigan Saga, and I’ve been delighted when they’ve fallen hard too. In 2011, a friend and I read/reread the entire series (to date) – we even won an award for it! But the reading (in internal chronological order this time) and reviewing was a breeze – when you love something, it’s not hard to do.

Eventually, I realised that Bujold had written other things, fantasy rather the SF, so I hunted them down, or so I thought. I thought I read the four Sharing Knife books a few years ago, but having just “reread” them in the past couple of months (so good!), I realise I must not have read books 3 and 4 – if I did, my memory is in far worse shape than I thought! I have no idea why not, as I own them all in paperback (and now in ebook too), and they are certainly MEANT to be read as a single volume, so it seems very strange that I stopped. Not only that, but for years I thought I had read BOTH of Bujold’s fantasy series, and it wasn’t until I picked up her recent self-published Penric novellas, set in the World of the Five Gods, that I realised I had missed all three Chalion books entirely, so I immediately grabbed them and read the lot, back in 2015. That series is next on my comfort reread pile.

Basically, I’ll read anything Bujold writes. I love that I don’t know what to expect when I pick up one of her books – one of my favourite things about her Vorkosigan series (well, apart from all my OTHER favourite things) is that each book is essentially a different genre, even while all being basically space opera at the core. It’s a clever way to keep a series fresh. Bujold frequently makes me snort with laughter, and all too often has me sobbing, and I think that genuine emotional response to a book is a true measure of its value.

I’ve never met Lois in person. I wasn’t part of the convention-going scene in Australia when she was here as a guest. I do hope someday to be able to thank her in person for her words.

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