Could he just stand there and allow the exploitation of hundreds of helpless children merely to enhance the bottom line of a heartless mega-corporation?
He hadn't anticipated a situation where the right thing to do was neither safe, nor in the rules. Leo adopted a thousand quaddies. Now all he had to do was teach them to be free.
©1988 Lois McMaster Bujold; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Superb....Read, or you will be missing something extraordinary." (Chicago Sun-Times)
"Bujold's best work in my opinion." (Science Fiction Chronicle)
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
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.
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.
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.
Reminiscent of Heinlein, this deals with the personhood of the genetically engineered. A bit dated and heavy-handed, but good solid work in the genre. I'm surprised it's a jumping off point for a series, it didn't have that feel to me.
people who consider others less simply because they are different have always enraged me. That being the case this story really got my dander up at times. I does a slightly casual view towards sex and such, which I did not appreciate. The story on the whole is very compelling and more than makes up for its short comings.
To start, this book is part of the Vorkosigan Saga series, but does not have any direct relation to the other books as the story is set 200 years ahead of the other books. The story explains the origin of the Quaddies, a strange race of four-armed (extra arms for legs) humans which we encounter also in the Miles books, particularly in Diplomatic Immunity.
Events and places in that book can be better understood if you have read Falling Free, but it is absolutely not necessary to do so. This book can be read on its own without the others, or the others without this one.
I give this book 4 stars because - even though the story is more simple than later novels, and things go a bit too easy (comparatively) - Lois McMaster Bujold once again mixes SF with moral questions and dilemmas in a pleasant way. What to do with a bio engineered race that their creators own, but are conscious. Being humans, it might be easy, but what if they are stranger still? What if they potentially form a threat to the human race? These questions are not answered, but cause different reactions in the various actors in the story.
Particularly interesting it becomes if the morality shifts or people overstep a moral boundary. What would you do?
Grover Gardner is one of the best readers and shows it here once more.
The basic idea for this book is intriguing. This could have been a much more interesting story if it had been more convincingly written. I feel that a good editor could have done wonders. I bought this book on a promotion of series books. Hopefully the second book is a little better.
Near the top. It's a very engaging story. I like the topics covered in the story. Can synthetic life count as human? What if it doesn't look human? If you made it does that make it yours even if it's sentient? All of these questions encircle the story and Lois does a great job exploring all of them.
Leo Graf because he is confronted with several hard decisions and watching him come to the correct choice was very entertaining.
Leo again. Grover makes Leo sound as flustered as anyone would be, given the situation. His voice is kind of nasal which is also humorous.
When Leo asks himself what one man can do to create change, and decides that the answer is 'more'. Whatever you are doing to create change you can do more. It was very touching.
This book was masterful all the way around.
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