I had never read anything by Lois McMaster Bujold before picking up Cryoburn. I now feel compelled to read the previous novels in this series. While I’m sure it would have helped me better understand the plot of Cryoburn if I had read the previous books, I had no difficulty following the plot. That being said, Cryoburn turned out to be a well-paced space opera with plenty of corporate and political intrigue. I should also mention that I listened to this book during my commute rather than physically read it in my spare time. Thankfully the narrator’s voice was pleasant.
Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan, the central character of the series, is dispatched to investigate the cryo-corporations on Kibou-Daini. These Cryo-corporations enable the citizens of Kibou to avoid death by freezing them in cryogenic stasis until a cure is found for whatever ails them. These frozen citizens maintain the right to vote which is signed over to the cryo-corporations who vote by proxy and therefore control the government of Kibou. Miles finds himself thrust into the middle of the political, economic, and social turmoil created by Kibou’s unique political system.
Much of the mystery in Cryoburn revolves around the political activist Lisa Sato. She was cryogenically frozen by the authorities under dubious circumstances following a political rally that turned violent. Mile’s attempt at recovering and reviving Madame Sato’s cryo-corpse turns out to be more difficult than anticipated. Added into the mix are corrupt cryo-corp executives who attempt to bribe Miles and cover up their actions, a secret cryo-facility being run by social outcasts, a violent political activist group without any real agenda, the questionable loyalty of the embassy staff, and a boy with a large collection of animals.
Cryoburn begins with a bizarre scene in which I began to doubt whether this was the right book for me. However I was hooked by the end of the first five minutes, even though I didn’t have any idea what was going on. It turns out that Miles had escaped from some disorganized political rebels who had drugged him in order to subdue him. All of the surreal details in the opening scene are Miles’ hallucinations. This wasn’t immediately clear to me and I felt like I was reading a Philip K. Dick novel. I couldn’t easily go back and re-read the parts because I listened to the entire novel in my car. If I had a print copy of the book I could simply go back and re-read the section for more clarity.
Nevertheless Cryoburn is highly recommended to fans of the space opera genre. It’s a compelling investigative tail with enough twists to keep a reader interested. Check it out in both print and audio format.
As always questions and comments are encouraged below. Thanks for reading.