01 December 2012

The Vor Game

The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold
1991 Hugo Award Winner
Read by Grover Gardner
Got it from: The Public Library
11h 2m

After graduating from the Academy, Miles Vorkosigan is basically exiled to Kyril Island to play weatherman of the frozen tundra.  Angered for not having been assigned a position of more distinction in a place that actually matters, Miles has to find a way out of a military base where the biggest danger is drunkenness and stupid pranks.  Once he makes his escape, well it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for Miles.

What I liked
Miles himself.  More precisely, his snarky, haughty, self-important, rascal-swagger that was reminiscent of my very favorite James Bolivar Degriz or even a little of Timothy Cavendish feeling held prisoner among fools.  In my book, anything that reminds me of Slippery Jim automatically has me smiling.  Okay, honestly, there is more to like than Miles acting a fool but… real talk, it’s the best/only reason to pick-up this book unless you’re a lot deeper into the Vorkosigan Saga than I am.

Other things:

Kyril Island – a bunch of drunken military men with nothing to do in the bitter cold.  Lots of fodder there.

The meeting between Miles and Gregor while Miles is in hiding/custody.  Lots of wine and, I don’t know…I just felt like I was sitting in the room with them.

What I didn’t like
I don’t have any real gripes about The Vor Game, other than the fact that it kinda felt like two different books.  This isn’t the Ender’s Game/Speaker for the Dead gripe I had before, it’s something different and it goes back to enjoying his exile on Kyril Island.

Kyril Island and Miles had such strong identities in this first part.  The freezing danger was real, the pranks and general idiocy of the troops were hilarious and Miles was approaching stardom for me.  Somehow, once he makes it off Kyril Island, though Miles is still very much in danger, it didn’t have the same presence or urgency Kyril had.  I also thought Miles dropped his snark down a deep dark hole.  It was still there and he was as quick as ever, but…I don’t know, I lost interest in his jokes after Kyril. Apparently the first six chapters were published first and as a separate novella so I’m curious if there are others that noticed the shift as prominently as I did. 

Mostly I just wish I had more time to read some other Vorkosigan novels before tackling this one.  There were a couple of things I thought I might have enjoyed even more (Miles’ history) had I been more familiar with the Vorkosigan Saga.  Oh well, this has been an occasional issue with this blog and I’m not sure how it could have been avoided without giving myself a lot more time to get comfortable with every series I’ve come across.

And the audiobook
Well, it was pretty good.  Gardner doesn’t differentiate voices and somehow it called more attention to Miles’ attitude.  I’m not going crazy over the production but I was reasonably happy with it. 

In my opinion (which is worth exactly nothing), The Vor Game is worth reading just for the first six chapters on Kyril Island.  If you haven’t read Bujold’s other Vorkosigan books, don’t start here.  As for myself, I loved Miles and Kyril Island and I hope Barrayar and Mirror Dance retroactively improve my opinion of The Vor Game.


Universe 3/5
Social/Political Climate 3/5
Dialogue 5/5
Scientific Wonders 3/5
Characters 4/5

Overall 18/25

About my schedule…
Well, I’m making my way through the final installment of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, Blue Mars, on audiobook right now and also beginning Barrayar, another Vor book.  Then I’ll move on to Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.

And I know I'm a little out of order posting a review for the 90's before finishing my 80's wrap-up but it's coming...soon.


  1. I am interested in the idea of a book in a series (not book one) getting an award like this. Did all the judges read the earlier books? How can or can it not influence the book/installment itself? that sort of thing. One expects to be able to just read the award-winner to satisfaction, not the who series or universe...


    1. Since the Hugo is open to voting by any old (paying) member, it is really strange that sometimes, as in the case of the Mars Trilogy, the first book in a series doesn't win, but the others do. In the case of Red Mars, it had some very stiff competition, but it did win the Nebula if memory serves. In other cases, and I'm guessing this applies to The Vor Game, it seems to me like this book only wins if a majority of the voters have read other books in the series as well. I would be EXTREMELY interested in hard stats, but I'm sure that will never exist.

      And you're right, I started this blog and made the assumption that each winner should be able to stand-up on its own. That has sometimes turned out to be a false assumption...


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