RogerBW's Blog

The Flowers of Vashnoi, Lois McMaster Bujold 23 December 2018

2018 short science fiction novella in the Vorkosigan universe (set between Captain Vorpatril's Alliance and Cryoburn). Ekaterin, Lady Vorkosigan, is supervising an experiment in cleaning up radioactive contamination round the former city of Vorkosigan Vashnoi; but something's going awry, and old secrets will come to light.

As with most of Bujold's recent work in this setting, it's much more about the people than anything else. There is a technical element to the plot, but the story is about how Ekaterin interacts with and resolves it; if one dropped any of Bujold's other characters into the same situation, they'd deal with it differently.

Of course, that means it will make more sense if you already know Ekaterin, which means that Komarr and A Civil Campaign are effectively prerequisite reading. It probably wouldn't hurt to read The Mountains of Mourning, either, since both touch on Barrayaran culture away from the cities.

There's a bit of Miles here too, but this is mostly Ekaterin's story and it works well; we haven't had her first-person perspective at any length before, and she manages to be both consistent and unexpected. The conclusion is surprisingly open, and I suspect – and hope – Bujold may have more to say about this situation in a later book.

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