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Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Falling Free is an early stand-alone story in Lois McMaster Bujold’s VORKOSIGAN SAGA. It takes place before the events we read about in the other books and tells the story of the Quaddies, those genetically engineered “mutants” who have four arms and no legs and who, therefore, make good workers for zero-gravity situations. They were created in secret by a corporation who is using them as free labor.
The story starts when Leo Graf, an engineer, is hired to train students on a distant planet. Leo doesn’t know, and isn’t told, that his new students are Quaddies, so he’s quite surprised and repulsed when he first meets them. Despite their strange anatomy, though, the Quaddies are just as smart as other humans and their four arms makes them better at some mechanical tasks. Soon it becomes apparent that the Quaddies are really just children and teenagers who want to be as normal as they can and don’t even realize that other humans would find them hideous. The corporation gives them no privacy and tries to keep them ignorant of other cultures, but the Quaddies have found ways to smuggle in trashy romance novels and videos. Leo struggles with the ethics of what the corporation is doing, but he initially decides not to rock the boat…. until a new technological advancement makes the Quaddies suddenly obsolete. Now Leo has to decide whether or not to help the Quaddies escape the fate that their owners have decided for them. If he does, he’ll ruin his illustrious career.
All of Lois McMaster Bujold’s VORKOSIGAN stories are fast paced, fun, and amusing, and Falling Free is no exception. On the surface it’s an entertaining adventure that’s often funny, such as when a Quaddie couple is trying to escape with their baby and worried about the trail of dirty diapers they’re leaving behind like breadcrumbs. It’s hard not to adore the Quaddies — they’re clever and sweet — and it’s easy to be outraged at their circumstances. The stakes are certainly high.
Falling Free is a story about revolution, and who doesn’t love a good revolution story? It’s also about the seduction of power, the difference between free time and freedom, what makes us human, how doing nothing can be morally wrong, and how just one person really can change the world.
Falling Free is not as wonderful as the other VORKOSIGAN books. The characters aren’t nearly as well developed. Leo, the hero, has little personality and the villains are obvious and one-faceted. Bujold fans know that characterization is what the author does best and that is missing here. Also, the humor isn’t quite as clever, which is disappointing because I love Bujold’s sense of humor. But Falling Free is still a fun story that’s worth your time, especially if you’re interested in the history of the Quaddies.
Falling Free won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1989. I listened to Bernard Setaro narrate the excellent audio version produced by Blackstone Audio. It’s 8.75 hours long.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This is my first Lois McMaster Bujold book. One of the people I follow recommended it. I am always willing to try an author I have not read before. This book touches on some interesting problems in sociology and genetic modification that are current issues in today's world. In this book Leo Graf and engineer is assigned to teach advance welding and its inspection at Cay habitat. When he arrives he finds that the Habitat contains 1000 genetic modified people designed to live in negative gravity. Their bones do not demineralize and they have four arms and no legs. The discovery of a way to produce gravity now makes them obsolete and as they are owned by the corporation that created them they were ordered to be eliminated. Leo sets off to save them and so begins an interesting story. There is really no battle scenes or even much violence in the story but it is a story of how they have to set about to modify the Habitat to travel in space and how to escape the corporation. There is some humor, a love story and lots of suspense. The story will keep you reading and leave you with some things to think about. Grover Gardner did and excellent job narrating the story. He is becoming one of my favorite narrators. I understand this is book one of a series.
Falling Free is interesting and worth a read if you want the whole Barayar story line, but not as good as her later work. still, it was entertaining.
What happens when an engineer is confronted with corporate evil? What is he willing to give up to fight for what is right and how hard must he fight to save his family and friends? This is the tale we see here and while being familiar it is extremely well done.
Like the book Ethen of Athos, this story has little baring on the rest of the Vorkosigan saga, but it is great background on one of the bio-engineered races mentioned in various books of the series. As usual, Grover does a great job with his narration.
I love to read, but I am time-limited. Audible allows me to keep up with all my favorite authors while on the hiking trail. Thanks, Audible!
This is my least favorite installment of the Vorkosigan Saga. Even with that, I still loved it. This book has very little to do with the rest of the Vorkosigan Saga; so, it is best to enjoy it as a separate and tangential but special novella.
When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
While the story is easy to follow, well-written and enjoyable, I found the storyline very straight forward, no real surprises. It is set in the same "universe" as the Miles Vorkosigan stories, but alas, it is not a Miles Vorkosigan novel.
I thought Grover Gardner did an excellent job of bringing the story to life. The main character is Leo, an engineer, who becomes a sort of freedom fighter for a new people that was genetically engineered to be the best engineers in zero gravity space. The problem is that the new people are legally not seen as people.
In Leo, Lois McMaster Bujold has created a sort of Sci-Fi Moses leading his adopted people from the proverbial "land of Egypt."
If you just want something to relax while driving on the road, this story might be just the the thing for you, but be warned, if you expect this to be a Miles Vorkosigan novel, you will be bitterly disappointed. (Audible might consider, removing it from the Vorkosigan saga.)
To summarise, a well narrated and written story, enjoyable despite a predictable storyline, playing off in the Vorkosigan universe but not a Vorkosigan novel.
Loves a good adventure with heart and lots of laughs.
The vibe of the audio book. It's hard to explain, but the combination of language (written 1988) used in "Falling Free" combined with Grover Gardner's narration made it seem very classic science fiction. Brought back the same feeling as "twilight zone", "Lost in Space" or the very first episodes of "Star Trek".
The thought put into the limited amount of culture the Quadies developed due to their odd environment was well thought out. I also liked how all the characters where conflicted. They weren't violent by nature but they had to learn to stand up and act against wrongdoing.
There was a scene where Leo had to accept the fact that he couldn't do everything and was asked if he wanted to help take care of one of the quady children. His and the child's reaction were pretty funny.
If you love the science fiction classics, then you might really enjoy this one.