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Falling Free Audiobook

Falling Free

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Publisher's Summary

Leo Graf was just your average highly efficient engineer: mind your own business, fix what's wrong, and move on to the next job. But all that changed on his assignment to the Cay Habitat, where a group of humanoids had been secretly, commercially bioengineered for working in free fall.

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.

What the Critics Say

  • Nebula Award Finalist, Best Novel, 1988

"Superb....Read, or you will be missing something extraordinary." (Chicago Sun-Times)
"Bujold's best work in my opinion." (Science Fiction Chronicle)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (1512 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Carol Massachusetts 02-20-13
    Carol Massachusetts 02-20-13

    Genre fiction, trashy to literary--mystery, action, sci fi, fantasy, and, yes, even romance. Also history. Listener reviews help a lot!

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    "Don't read this one first"

    The Vorkosigan series is one of the best! But this "prequel"--set 200 years before the "real" series--is an outlier, very different from the others and (in my opinion) not nearly as good. Its story is almost totally exclusive of the series; the "Quaddies" do figure in later Vorkosigan books, but in a fairly minor way. "Falling Free" is best approached after you've already become hooked by the Vorkosiverse.

    Start with either Shards of Honor or The Warrior's Apprentice. An interview with Lois McMaster Bujold appears with her book listings on Amazon and will advise the best order in which to read the series.

    48 of 50 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Howard Oregon 01-11-10
    Kelly Howard Oregon 01-11-10 Member Since 2016
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    "if you want the books in order..."

    I stumbled across the 1st "Miles" book (--Falling Free; it's sort of a prequel, actually, 200 years in the future) by accident, & enjoyed listening to the audiobook. When I went to go on to the next books, I found it annoying that they're not numbered. I did find a site that lists the books in order, for those who want a shortcut: http://www.dendarii.co.uk/FanFic/timeline.html.

    As to how good they are, I've enjoyed the next 2 books enough that I bought them in order, & am about to buy the next. I like her characters, good plots that keep moving right along, & her 'sociological' sci fi of the planets Barrayar vs Beta is interesting.

    47 of 49 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly WHITMORE LAKE, MI, United States 07-27-12
    Kelly WHITMORE LAKE, MI, United States 07-27-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Quaddie Backstory"

    I love the Vorkosigan universe and this is a great story. It stands completely on it's own and fills in a piece of history of the greater universe. The characters are interesting as is the story itself. The story does bring up some moral questions about slavery and personhood. Grover Gardner does a great job narrating as always. I always lean towards listening to a book if he's the narrator.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 07-12-12
    Holly ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 07-12-12

    I adore fantasy, British literature from Victorian days through WWII, mysteries, food books, and Young Adult fantasy.

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    "Another Satisfying Prequel to Miles Vorkosigan"
    What did you like best about this story?

    This compelling story draws you into the fate of the Quaddies, genetically engineered slaves with a second set of arms in place of legs. Their desire to procreate and live as normally as they can, to experience the kind of lives we, as humans, take for granted, became far more absorbing to me than I had anticipated.


    What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    Lois McMaster Bujold is a truly fine writer, with a superb ability to capture your imagination when you least expect it...Grover Gardner does complete justice to her storytelling, narrating convincingly and without any distractions for the reader. Lois's "voice" still rings true.


    Any additional comments?

    I recommend you read this book as background after experiencing a few of the early Miles Vorkosigan novels.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cowgirl 7 Texas United States 08-06-12
    Cowgirl 7 Texas United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2016
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    "First Vorkosigan?"
    Where does Falling Free rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    While not in the top 10, this was a good listen and well worth the credit


    Any additional comments?

    Well told, good character development and interest. Left me wanting to know what happens to the characters after the end of this book.<br/>I was recommended this book as the first in the Vorkosigan series, but, as far as I can tel (just starting to listen to a proper Vorkosigan book), I don't see any real connection.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sumit G. 12-05-09
    Sumit G. 12-05-09 Listener Since 2006
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    "Worth a listen"

    It is a good novel & and a good listen. If you have read Lois McMaster Bujold, you know that her novels don't usually do scene setting before commencing on meaty bits.
    Well, here the listener gets a decent build up of the story unlike her earlier works.

    Overall, I think it is a good book, the characters and the scenes are quite unique and has some humourous scenes which are rare in sci fi books. In short, it is a scifi meets dilbert story and while at the end it feels predictable, its humour and interesting characters sufficiently compensate for it.

    I would rate it a 4.5 stars rather than 5, but audible's rating system's setting means that I have to rely on other people giving it a 4 stars to make it 4.5.

    20 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-29-11 Member Since 2016
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    "A novel that has implications for TODAY!"

    I am a huge Fan of Lois McMaster Bujold. This EXCELLENT novel shows how the idea of Human Cloning might be treated from a social and legal standpoint. When is a person NOT a person? Is an artificially designed and genetically altered living artifact really a "person"? Or are they "property"? If they are, what "rights" do they have if any? when is slavery NOT slavery? Who owns a person that has been designed and manufactured?

    Then what happens to these "manufactured human artifacts" when technology bypasses them and makes them OBSOLETE? what then? Who will maintain the very expensive habitat that they require for survival when it becomes no longer financially feasible ? And most importantly, are PEOPLE, even manufactured ones, more important than money? what is the obligation of the corporation toward their "artifacts"? Dispose of them? Sterilize them and place them in institutions downside, where they will live short and painful lives as cripples? and what happens when these "artifacts" begin to form emotional bonds in defiance of the designers plans?

    I continue to be fascinated by Lois Bujold's examination of social implications of a universe where people can be "gene cleaned", or redesigned, or even their sex changed, at will! Is a Woman who becomes a Man still a woman? (Civil Campaign) or can She/he take the place of a man? Is an 8 ft tall, female "super Soldier" with fangs, still a woman? or a thing? Is a planet full of MEN only who fear women as terrors beyond imagining who will control your mind with a glance from her evil eye...still PEOPLE. Or some sort of perverse wart on the universe that is best shoved aside?

    BEST of all, it is FASCINATING reading! (and listening!) from a very good story teller! Wow COOL, GOOD BOOK. I have read it and listened to it SEVERAL times!

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson 02-26-17
    Jefferson 02-26-17 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

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    ""What do you think one person can do?""

    The shock of the SF new in Louise McMaster Bujold's Falling Free (1986) doesn't come from the space opera stellar vista of its opening sentence: "The shining rim of the planet Rodeo wheeled dizzily past the observation port of the orbital transfer station." Instead, it comes from the interstellar corporation GalacTech's 25-year bioengineering project: four-armed humans designed to work and live in zero-gravity ("null-gee").

    Bujold's protagonist Leo Graf meets the "quaddies" in the first chapter: "Leo blinked, and caught his breath in shock. The boy had no legs. Emerging from his shorts were [sic] a second set of arms." At first Leo thinks the youth is the result of a birth defect that would make him "a cripple, downside" (on a planet with gravity), but he soon learns that the 1000 quaddies (of both genders and of varying ages up to twenty) are "The first generation of GalacTech's new super-workers." Leo is impressed by how well suited they are for their null-gee setting on the orbital habitat they call home: "Leo thought of a flock of canaries, of flying squirrels, of monkeys, of spiders, of swift bright lizards of the sort that run straight up walls." The problem for Leo "wasn't the arms, or the quick, too-many hands. . . It was their faces . . . . They were the faces of children." For he senses that the kids have been engineered and educated to be obedient slaves ripe for exploiting by the company, which defines them as "capital equipment" and "post-fetal experimental tissue cultures." (The exploitation of obviously human "non-human" products of genetic engineering prefigures the bleaker Never Let Me Go [2005])

    "Crowding forty, sandy and square," Leo has been summoned to the orbital habitat to teach the quaddies null-gee engineering (welding, inspecting, etc.). During his long career as GalacTech engineer, Leo has trained many engineers and designed many efficient and safe space stations and the like. Despite his misgivings, Leo adheres to the remit of his job. What would he do were GalacTech to terminate the quaddie project for being unprofitable or obsolete? What would he do if forced to choose between company loyalty and his sense of what is right for the quaddies?

    Complicating things for Leo is his former bad student Bruce Van Atta, now the executive in charge of the GalacTech project and hence Leo's boss. Van Atta looks down on the quaddies ("four-armed creeps"), and is quite the exploitive male chauvinist pig, calling females who displease him (like his ex-wife) "bitch" and the c-word and sexually exploiting a girl.

    Despite depicting Van Atta negatively and some strong female characters positively, Bujold does engage in a little sexist ageism, painting two of the less pleasant female characters as middle aged and ugly, like the GalacTech VP: "Dumpy, on the high end of middle-aged, frizzy gray hair cut short, she might have been somebody's grandmother, but for her eyes." And, hey, I got a bit uncomfortable about a budding romance between a teenage girl and a man about forty. (I've never read a Bujold novel featuring a romance between an older woman and a younger man.)

    Two other eyebrow raising points. First, I find it hard to believe that, among all the advanced, far future tech (artificial gravity, jumpships, wormholes, holovids, uterine replicators, etc.), condoms would still be in use. (Perhaps Bujold is educating or encouraging her circa 1986 readers to practice safe sex at the dawn of the AIDS era.) Anyway, she shouldn't tell her story so that at a crucial point I (who am no scientist or engineer) think of gasoline before Leo (consummate engineer improviser) does.

    Bujold thoroughly imagines the inchoate vision and culture of a new type of four-armed human sub-species. The quaddies have been educated for "maximum socialization" to help them share limited null-gee living and working spaces. They use some special language, like "uppers" (for their upper arms) and "lowers" (for their lower arms, legs on usual humans), and instead of saying "the next step will be…" they say "the next reach will be…" (because they move about their null-gee habitat by reaching for handholds). The little quaddie kids play a dance-like game: "It involved creating a sort of duo-decahedron in mid-air, like a human pyramid only more complex, hand to hand to hand changing its formation in time to music." Bujold even imagines sex with a four-armed person in null-gee! Because the quaddies have never been on a planet (where the gravity would oppress them), they don't know much about how "downsiders" live (apart from what they can glean from contraband holovids like The Prisoner of Zenda). When some quaddies wind up on the planet Rodeo (about which their habitat orbits), Bujold effectively demonstrates what it would be like for people born and raised with four arms in null-gee to experience gravity on a planet.

    In addition to exploring the nature of freedom, humanity, and home, the novel encourages us to make a difference by disobeying bad orders and following our consciences. At one point, Van Atta says to Leo, "There's only so much one human being can do." Not long after that, Leo begins wondering where his own limit for making a difference might lie.

    Falling Free is read, like all the Vorkosigan books, by consummate professional and uber-Bujold-voice Grover Gardner. He reads every word and sentence in just the right way and with plenty of apt emotion and intelligence.

    Although Falling Free is not so memorable and Leo is no Miles, it is a solid Bujold book-- entertaining, fast-paced, witty, unpredictable space opera comfort food with a political/social bite. I recommend it for fans of Bujold's Vorkosigan saga (for which it is a prequel), although readers new to her work should probably start with the early Vorkosigan books featuring young Miles, like Warrior's Apprentice (1986), or Miles' mother Cordelia, like Shards of Honor (1986).

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andee Logan, Utah 02-01-16
    Andee Logan, Utah 02-01-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Wonderful listen!"

    After having the Vorkosigan saga recently recommended to me, I started this book with no idea of what I was getting into. Imagine my surprise when Grover Gardner turned out to be the narrator. I have previously enjoyed Grover as the voice of Andy Carpenter. Grover gave this book justice and gave me an entertaining immersion in to the world of the Cay Project. I'm looking forward to the next book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tczucker NY 08-14-12
    tczucker NY 08-14-12 Member Since 2013

    tzs20

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    "Vorkosigan Series is EXCELLENT"
    Would you listen to Falling Free again? Why?

    I would definitely listen to this again. This series is enthralling and I have already listened to several pars of it more than once.


    What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

    I love the narrator of these books. He brings it off perfectly.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Alex
    MalakoffFrance
    2/20/15
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    "Good old-fashioned science fiction"

    Straightforward and fun: engineers are good, managers are bad, individuals good, corporations bad. Like much sci-fi of the era, it oozes with optimistic projections of American values of that time - don't look for any modern political correctness Some nice sci-fi ideas, and a story the trots along cheerfully, if a little implausibly.

    The reader was no better than OK, but didn't get in the way too much.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Rosemary Swords
    5/6/17
    Overall
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    "superb"

    if you don't know these books run and get them. pure joy. having read them several times I am now enjoying them as audio and delighting again. I was not sure about the narrator because having read a book I have a version of people in my own imagination, but the narrator was so good I found him totally compelling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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