Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

The Vor Game (Vorkosigan Saga, #6)
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Challenges - Discussion > Vorkosigan 4 -- The Vor Game

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message 1: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Jan 25, 2020 03:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
here's where you get to talk about the Hugo winning novel, The Vor Game

Please remember to use spoilers. If you don't know how, click on (some html is ok) in the right hand corner of the box you are typing in to learn how.


Allan Phillips | 1850 comments Mod
I finished The Road last night and started on The Vor Game. Great stuff! It was very engaging right away, very smooth, easy reading. I was 75 pages in before I knew it! I think this will go fast & I've got a library copy of Cetaganda queued up right behind.


message 3: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3387 comments Mod
I pan to join in like 4 days, after finishing monthly reads


J.W. | 21 comments I loved this book last time I read it. It has so many clever scenes in it. Love the character development as well. The world Bujold created feels so real to me. Listening to this for the reread on this challenge.


message 5: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Santoro | 194 comments Looks like I've gotten a bit ahead of everyone.

I really liked this one.. it was more Space Naval fiction than Space Opera, which I love.

Lots of intriguing villains, Miles was great, and we got to see Gregor as a character instead of a background figurehead.

And even though there were indeed a bunch more crazy conincidences, at least we getting to see different areas of the univers.. that definitely helps to counter the 'things feeling small' problem.

One thing I'd like to know with more clarity though, is what the Galactic political situation is... are there major powers? Is Barrayar one of them (doesn't feel like it) Are we on the frontier?

We definitely got some of that here, but I want more :)


Allan Phillips | 1850 comments Mod
I'm with Joe, this was a good one with lots of intrigue, battle, etc. My only beef was the ridiculously unlikely meet-up, but as I said, this type of thing happens in all sorts of adventure stories. I'm about 1/3 into Cetaganda and probably going to start Ethan of Athos too, since it's somewhat disconnected.


message 7: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Feb 12, 2020 05:22PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
Kalin, I think Barrayar was definitely not a major power until they took over the Komarr wormhole hub as prevention against the Cetagandans attacking them that way again.

But they are becoming more galactic in outlook by necessity, running a major crossroads like Komarr


message 8: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3387 comments Mod
I think Barrayar is an equivalent of late XIX - early XX century Japan, an ascending power, which was isolated just several generations ago


message 9: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Santoro | 194 comments That's a good analogy that makes alot of sense Oleksandr.... I can definitely see it. Or course, alot of what drove Japan in that era was a lack of natural resources, which doesn't apply, but still, it definitely helps set a space in my head :)

Does that make the Betan the US? High tech, rich, but without lots of external territory?


If that's so, who are the great powers? It feels like we haven't met them yet, which is kinda weird. Or maybe there aren't any?


message 10: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3387 comments Mod
Joe wrote: "Does that make the Betan the US? High tech, rich, but without lots of external territory?."

I'll answer more definitively as I get more info, but I'd say Betans are the US and Cetagendans are Imperial Russia - considered a great power but lost in 1904-5 Russo-Japanese war to the upstart... of course the analogue can go only that far, or as I like to quote "all models are wrong, but some are useful"


Allan Phillips | 1850 comments Mod
High tech, rich but a lot of ignorant, out of touch, superstitious rural areas. Like Texas.


Lee at ReadWriteWish (leeatreadwritewish) | 68 comments For some reason I read the books giving the Barrayarans an English accent and the Betans an American one. I do agree though, that I assume we're supposed to think of Barrayans as more Russian than Brits. Even their names tend to have an Eastern European ring to them.

The differences between Barrayar and the other planets always seems to be attributed to their years of isolation. I assume LMB might go into the age of isolation more in future books? I feel like it's been mentioned a few times, that they are descendants of an Earth colonisation and then they were cut off, but I don't feel like I have all the details. However, (view spoiler)

This is my fav Miles so far (I think I shall be saying this after every book). I thought there was a good mix between action and the forward momentum of the overarching plot and characters.

I loved the beginning at Kyril Island. It felt like an opening sequence in a movie - like a James Bond beginning or the Empire Strikes Back Hoth scene -- one that isn't necessarily part of the main plot to the book. It had action and mystery and characterisation galore though. (I just read it was originally a separate novella, so that explains its feel to some degree.)

LMB tackled another couple of interesting modern themes again. Encouraging someone with suicidal thoughts to seek help being the most notable. I just love how she slips this type of thing in without making it chunky or preachy. Like Aral's bisexuality and Bel Thorne's non gender identity, she weaves it organically into the plot and doesn't make these things dictate the traits of the character. The characters are members of minority groups (I suppose this is how you'd word it) but, who cares? Their labels don't define them. They're not even labels in the Vor universe. I guess the great irony is that Miles is the only one who is treated differently and labelled incorrectly as a mutant.

The other thing I really liked about this book was the Miles/Gregor dynamic. (view spoiler)


message 13: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Santoro | 194 comments I didn't really think of Aral as bisexual so much as having a being one orientation in his youth, and that traumatic events lead him to reconsider.

I admit that I don't know if that's how it works, but that's how his depictions seemed to me.

I agree Gregor/Miles seem to act like legit brothers, and not wrestling allies that are sure to split up and fight like most sets in books.. very good stuff there.


Lee at ReadWriteWish (leeatreadwritewish) | 68 comments Joe wrote: "I didn't really think of Aral as bisexual so much as having a being one orientation in his youth, and that traumatic events lead him to reconsider."

Maybe this is a perfect example of what I'm trying to say about LMB adding these things without labelling them or making some sort of political stance. Aral had a relationship (a destructive one quite obviously but still a relationship) with a man but it didn't really make him less of a man or less of a hero or less of a husband/lover to Cordelia. I'm not sure there are many other authors (or scriptwriters) who can include such modern/diverse ideas without making it all preachy and moralising.


message 15: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
Lee wrote: Maybe this is a perfect example of what I'm trying to say about LMB adding these things without labelling them or making some sort of political stance. Aral had a relationship (a destructive one quite obviously but still a relationship) with a man but it didn't really make him less of a man or less of a hero or less of a husband/lover to Cordelia. I'm not sure there are many other authors (or scriptwriters) who can include such modern/diverse ideas without making it all preachy and moralising.

Amen! She just writes people!


message 16: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Santoro | 194 comments I agree! So often such traits define a character, or see, shoehorned in to make some sort of quota.. definitely not the case here!


message 17: by Antti (last edited Feb 25, 2020 12:46AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 724 comments It seems like I'm in the minority here, but I found this book Not Good. There were so many problems with The Vor Game.

First of all, the structure. This was less of a novel and more like two novellas with a tenuous connecting bridge. There was the (pretty good) novella Weatherman, then in the end we got (not as good, but ok-ish) novella-like section I'll call (view spoiler), and connecting them is a horrible mess that I dubbed in my head James Bond in Space. And I don't mean good James Bond, either: no, this is one of those Timothy Dalton or Pierce Brosnan Bonds.

I was excited when I started to read The Vor Game, since the setting seemed interesting. Miles gets sent to a remote outpost, where he'll have to learn to deal with different people? Sounds like a proper A Boy Learns a Lesson -type of story. The Kyril Station was a nice change from the imperial capital or other major hubs.

But then, after a hundred pages or so were pulled back to imperial capital and off to a major space hub to do some espionage. The change of pace and tone was irritating- this was not the story I wanted to read! I could've lived with it, though, if the espionage story was good. But it definitely was not.

The coincedences. My God, the coincidences. Is the whole galaxy the size of a village? I mean, my boss and I live in the same city, but we've never bumped into each other in these past couple of years I've worked for her. But in a space of couple of days, Miles has at least two extremely unlikely and highly plot-convenient reunions in the Hegen Hub. This is not just unlikely, this is idiotic.

There are also the plot holes. (view spoiler)

When Miles (view spoiler)


Lee at ReadWriteWish (leeatreadwritewish) | 68 comments Antti wrote: "It seems like I'm in the minority here, but I found this book Not Good. There were so many problems with The Vor Game..."

Hee. I loved it. But my friend who got me into this series and loves it says this is her least favourite due to a lot of things you mentioned.

The other plot hole she mentioned was (view spoiler)

However, I just immersed myself in it all and didn't let the coincidences annoy me.

I'm about to start the next book and can't wait.


Allan Phillips | 1850 comments Mod
Ha, I also mentioned the "James Bond in space" theme in one of these threads. I'm with Antti on Vor, though perhaps not so strongly. I did not find it to be one of the better ones. I thought Cetaganda was better, but still with some general reservations.


message 20: by Antti (last edited Feb 25, 2020 10:05AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 724 comments The omnibus versions have these lovely Afterwords by LMB, where she tells how the books were created. I'll copy a good chunk of Young Miles's Afterword here, since it's very relevant to this discussion:

(view spoiler)


message 21: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3387 comments Mod
I for one liked how a situation with a corpse in the sewer turned out exactly because in real life there are much more deaths due to the stupidity than to malice.

What for me was a putdown is (view spoiler)


message 22: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
One of the things I like about Bujold is that she sometimes keeps the story going in different ways that you don't expect. It is true that the Vor game is two different stories stuck together. So sometimes her structure varies from what you might expect. I think Shards of Honor and Barrayar did that too. I think it makes her writing more interesting

Like here, as you all noticed, the first part was a standalone novella the previous year. But I don't see that as a flaw. I just see the first part as explaining how Miles got sent off the the Hegen Hub.


message 23: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3387 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "One of the things I like about Bujold is that she sometimes keeps the story going in different ways that you don't expect.."

Yes, her stories are both (!) predictable and surprising. Like in The Warrior's Apprentice after reading docs on Bothari and going to Beta I knew they will find Elena's mother but what really happened was unexpected


message 24: by J.W. (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.W. | 21 comments I finished this a week or so ago and I adored it the second time through. My wife is almost through it all as well and I am so excited to be reading them with her (first time for her). The Vor Game is truly an exceptional work, though Barrayar is probably still my favorite (I remember thinking Memory was an all-time great, though, so I look forward to that one, and all of them). As was noted above, the notion of them being predictable and surprising--I love that. The books feel like coming home while also being fresh and fun. 5 star read easily.


message 25: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Santoro | 194 comments I definitely agree 100% on Antti's concern about coincidences.. it's TOO much.

I really liked that the dead body was simply a dumb cadet... adding another crazy coincidence by making that someone with either a connection to Miles, or even just someone important would have been, well, I can't say 'too much', since meeting Gregor was the king of all random encounters, but bad.

I think it made sense he didn't just call for help, because he was already concerned about who to trust, so he went to Elena because he knew she was trustworthy.

I thought Miles taking back over the Dendariis was fine... he had a cache with those people Tung and Elena didn't, and he had nothing to lose in trying, where Tung and Elena could survive as the minority opposition for a while... they both probably were thinking Miles could come back at any time, they had no way to know it would take him so long.


message 26: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Apr 12, 2020 10:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
J.W. -- Memory is my all-time favorite on alternate days, days when A Civil Campaign is not.

And yes, coincidences, but the writing is so good that I can stretch my suspension of disbelief farther than usual. Plus, both Gregor and Miles were fleeing and ended up when those who are fleeing end up when they get caught or are most down on their luck--at the bottom. And the Hegen hub is a central location, likely to result in eddies of displaced persons. The timing is the most coincidental part, really.

I do think the back-and-forth across the Hegen hub was ?????, but hey, still one of my favorite books.

And oh, yeah, I'm back!


message 27: by Nick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 137 comments Joe wrote: "I definitely agree 100% on Antti's concern about coincidences.. it's TOO much."

Yes, I'm thirding this opinion! I was seriously rolling my eyes by the end at the way everyone Miles encountered was either an old friend or an old enemy. Looking forward to (view spoiler) becoming a recurring character and nemisis. Although, I've been wrong in all my guesses about where the story is going in the past, so I'm probably wrong about this one too!


message 28: by Kat (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kat | 6 comments This wasn't one of my favorites, though I loved the part on Kyril Island. I bogged down in the middle which was too technical and military for my interests. I liked several aspects of it, however, such as getting to know Gregor better. The coincidences were pretty outrageous, but really didn't bother me. (I trained on Dickens.)


message 29: by Nick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 137 comments Kat wrote: "The coincidences were pretty outrageous, but really didn't bother me. (I trained on Dickens.)"
😂😂😂 Rigorous training, indeed!


message 30: by Kat (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kat | 6 comments I just remembered that while by the end of the book I'd decided it wasn't one of my favorites, earlier in the novel LMB wowed me with her plotting. She's extremely effective at setting up a puzzling problem and letting Miles show us how clever he is by solving it. That in itself pings my reward centers--the satisfaction of seeing a problem solved. But THEN she goes on and makes the solved problem part of a major plot turn, which makes the whole thing more gripping. Very skillful.


message 31: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
I loved when he was (view spoiler) That kind of thing shows why Miles is becoming a great character--he never misses any way to increase his knowledge. And the whole tie in back to his (view spoiler) A good touch, that.


message 32: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Sep 25, 2020 04:22PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
Alright, there are many comments I agree with in this thread. Lee, Joe, Kate make good points and I agree that LMB can write a character. The only problem is that with the other faults it makes it difficult for me to enjoy it.

Antti has hit many a nail on the head, starting with the 'novella-but-look-over-there!-it's-a-novel-now' format to the obvious coincidences that make you cringe the moment you pay any attention to any single one of them. And there are about a few hundred.

What I take personal offence at is that it feels as if you are being taken for a fool and you are just reading one of those novels where everything is bad, the worst in fact... until it's not.

Also, a personal pet peeve of mine is when the story is explained through dialogues. It's like listening to a salesman's pitch.

Another thing that drives me up the wall is how the circumstances are presented as absolutely beyond salvageable. In some instances it works, because LMB is really good at what she does. In some cases it fails utterly. In the moment many would not even notice it, but if you think about it for a second, it ruins the experience. Not every scene needs a build up and not every solution must be brilliant. Many of them in fact are not, but they are already presented as the best thing since Bussard Engine.

Finally I am beginning to develop distaste for how the bad guys and in fact any person who has to deal with Miles behave. It mostly begins with a lot of condensending remark, then confusion follows, then bemusement and anger, which inevitably if followed by chagrin after Miles finally yanks whatever clever solution out of his.. uhm.. brilliant mind is the word I'm looking for.. nah, his arse is more like it.

I'm going to review it and will give it 8 or 9 as entertainment but the rest of the marks won't probably go past 5.

P.s. how long did Miles spend under house arrest? In a month (after sitting on his ass for 35 years) the general from Kyril colony manages to find a new position and becomes the right hand of a sociopath. All that so that Miles could run into him again.

Please, stop trying to tie everything in a neat package with a ribbon on top.. and glitter.. and perfume, just for the effect.. and fireworks, troupe of dancing sea lions and a tightrope act.


Caitlin O'Neill (ktdid42) | 101 comments finally finished this one. reading through the comments i agree with a lot of what Art says. i really cant stand Miles for a lot of those reasons, the way things just work out for him is ridiculous but i did like this one a bit more than warriors Apprentice because at least this time he had some obstacles.


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