Lois McMaster Bujold (Boo-jhold), born November 2, 1949, in Columbus, Ohio, is an American author of science fiction and
fantasy works. Bujold is one of the most acclaimed writers in her field, having won the prestigious Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein's record. Her novella "The Mountains of Mourning" won both the Hugo and Nebula Award. In the fantasy sphere, The Curse of Chalion won the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature and was nominated for the 2002 World Fantasy Award for best novel, and both her fourth Hugo and second Nebula were for Paladin of Souls.
Bujold is best known for her series of novels featuring Miles Naismith Vorkosigan, a physically-impaired interstellar spy and mercenary admiral from the planet Barrayar, set approximately 1000 years in our future. The series demonstrates Bujold's mastery of various science fiction genres and sub-genres. Earlier titles are generally firmly in the space opera tradition with no shortage of battles, conspiracies, and wild twists, while in more recent volumes Miles becomes more of a detective. In A Civil Campaign, Bujold explores yet another genre: a high-society romance with a plot that pays tribute to Regency romance novelist Georgette Heyer (as acknowledged in the dedication). It centers on a catastrophic dinner party, with misunderstandings and dialogue justifying the subtitle "A Comedy of Biology and Manners". Her psychological insights and creation of complex characters are particularly appreciated by many readers.
There is considerable debate among readers as the best order to read the Vorkosigan series. Some favor reading in publication order, some in order of internal chronology, and some prefer other orders. This illustrates the widely held view that this series consists of independent works which nonetheless gain from their inter-relations. See "The Chef Recommends" for a discussion from the author on reasonable reading sequences.
The author has stated that her Miles Naismith Vorkosigan series structure is modeled after the Horatio Hornblower books documenting the life of a single person. In themes and echoes, they also reflect Dorothy L. Sayers' mystery character Lord Peter Wimsey. Bujold has also said that part of the challenge of writing a series is that many readers will encounter the stories in "utterly random order", so she must provide sufficient background in each of them without being excessively repetitious. Most recent printings of her Vorkosigan tales do include an appendix at the end summarizing the internal chronology of the series.
Bujold is the daughter of Robert Charles McMaster and attributes her early interest in science fiction, as well as certain aspects of the Vorkosigan saga, to his influence. He was editor of the monumental Nondestructive Testing Handbook generally referred to as McMaster on Materials.
Bujold currently lives in Minnesota. She is divorced and has two children.
Science fiction and fantasy
Lois Bujold wrote three books (Shards of Honor, Ethan of Athos and The Warrior's Apprentice) before The Warrior's Apprentice was accepted after four rejections. On the strength of The Warrior's Apprentice, Baen Books agreed to a three-book deal to include the two prior novels. Thus began Bujold's career in science fiction.
She also wanted to break into the fantasy genre, but met with early setbacks. Her first foray into fantasy was The Spirit Ring. She wrote the book "on spec", shopped it around, and found very low offers, forcing her to go back to Baen Books, where Jim Baen bought it for a fair price in exchange for the promise of more Vorkosigan books. Bujold called this experience, combined with the mediocre sales and lack of critical acclaim of that book, very educational.
She would not attempt to break into the fantasy market again for almost another decade, with The Curse of Chalion. This book was also written on spec and offered up to a book auction. This time, she met with considerable critical and commercial success by tapping into a crossover market of fantasy and romance genre fans.
The Vorkosigan Saga - Hugo Award, Best Series, 2017
Listed in series order:
- "Dreamweaver's Dilemma" [set in the Vorkosigan universe long before the rest of the series] (1995) (included in collection Dreamweaver's Dilemma) NESFA Press
- Falling Free [set approximately 200 years before the birth of Miles Vorkosigan] (1988) -- Nebula Award, Prometheus Award.
- Shards of Honor [set approximately 1 year before the birth of Miles Vorkosigan] (1986)
- Barrayar (1991) -- Hugo Award, Locus Award, HOMer Award
- The Warrior's Apprentice (1986)
- "The Mountains of Mourning" (1989) (included in Borders of Infinity) -- Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Science Fiction Chronicle Readers Poll. First published in Analog magazine. Available online via the Baen Free Library
- The Vor Game (1990) -- Hugo Award
- Cetaganda (1995)
- Ethan of Athos [Miles Vorkosigan is referred to, but does not actually appear, in this novel] (1986)
- "Labyrinth" (1989) (included in Borders of Infinity) --First published in Analog magazine.
- "The Borders of Infinity" (1987) (included in Borders of Infinity) -- First published as part of the anthology Free Lancers. Available online via Baen Webscription
- Borders of Infinity (1989) (Collection of "The Mountains of Mourning", "Labyrinth" and "The Borders of Infinity", tied together with an original frame story interspliced between them, which is set shortly after Brothers in Arms.)
- Brothers in Arms (1989)
- Mirror Dance (1994) -- Hugo Award, Locus Award
- Memory (1996) (unavailable in any omnibus volume)
- Komarr (1998) -- Italia Award, Minnesota Book Award
- A Civil Campaign (2000) -- Sapphire Award
- "Winterfair Gifts" (2003 in Croatian (as a "Zimoslavni darovi") and Russian, 2004 in English) -- First published in Irresistible Forces, a Science Fiction/Romance genre crossover anthology edited by Catherine Asaro. Also in the omnibus Miles in Love. The "Winterfair Gifts" novella is also available as a standalone ebook from Fictionwise.
- Diplomatic Immunity (2002)
- Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (2012)
- Cryoburn (2010)
- Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (2016)
- "The Flowers of Vashnoi" (2017)
- Cordelia's Honor (contains Shards of Honor, Barrayar)
- Young Miles (contains The Warrior's Apprentice, "The Mountains of Mourning", The Vor Game)
- Miles, Mystery and Mayhem (contains Cetaganda, Ethan of Athos, "Labyrinth")
- Miles Errant (contains "The Borders of Infinity", Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance)
- Miles, Mutants and Microbes (contains Falling Free, Diplomatic Immunity, "Labyrinth")
- Miles in Love (contains Komarr, A Civil Campaign, "Winterfair Gifts")
- Test of Honor (contains Shards of Honor, The Warrior's Apprentice)
- Vorkosigan's Game (Out of Print - contained The Vor Game, "The Mountains of Mourning", "Labyrinth", and "The Borders of Infinity" including the framing story for the collection Borders of Infinity)
- "Books-on-tape/CD" versions of Falling Free, Shards of Honor, Barrayar, The Warrior's Apprentice, The Vor Game, Cetaganda, Ethan of Athos, Borders of Infinity, and Brothers in Arms were produced by The Reader's Chair, a now defunct audio-book publisher.
- "Books-on-tape/CD/MP3 downloads" versions of The Warrior's Apprentice, The Vor Game, Cetaganda, Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance, Memory, Komarr and A Civil Campaign are produced by Blackstone Audio and are also available from Audible.com.
- The Spirit Ring (1993)
- The World of Five Gods - Hugo Award, Best Series, 2018:
- The Curse of Chalion (2001) -- Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, 2002; "The SF Site" (Reader's Choice, Best Books of 2001).
- Paladin of Souls (2003) -- Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award
- The Hallowed Hunt (2005)
- Penric's Progress (2020)
- Masquerade in Lodi (2020)
- Penric's Travels (2020)
- The Orphans of Raspay (2019)
- The Physicians of Vilnoc (2020)
- The Assassins of Thasalon (2021)
- Knot of Shadows (2021)
- The Sharing Knife:
- "Books-on-tape/CD/MP3 downloads" versions of The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, The Hallowed Hunt, The Sharing Knife: Vol1 Beguilement, The Sharing Knife: Vol 2 Legacy, and The Sharing Knife: Vol 3 Passage are produced by Blackstone Audio and are also available from Audible.com.
- Proto Zoa (2011 - contains "Dreamweaver's Dilemma" and "Aftermaths" (from Shards of Honor)). Contains early science fiction and fantasy tales.
- Sidelines: Talks and Essays (March 17, 2013)
- All of the Penric tales and the Sharing Knife take "Knife Children" came out first as ebooks.
- Co-edited Women at War, with Roland J. Green; this was published in December 1995.
- Contributed an essay to Dragonwriter: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Pern, published on August 6, 2013 by Ben Bella Books, Inc.
Major Awards (not for single works)
- 2019: Science Fiction Writers Association Damon Knight Grand Master, for contributions to the literature of Science Fiction and Fantasy, see Nebulas
- 2018: Hugo for Best Series - World of Five Gods
- 2017: Hugo for Best Series - Vorkosigan Saga
- 2013: Forry Award - Los Angeles Science Fiction Society
- 2011: Skylark Award (Edward E Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, NESFA)
- 2009: Romantic Times Achievement Awards for Sci-Fi/Fantasy
- 2008: Denver WorldCon Guest of Honor
- 2007: Ohioana Career Award
- 2002 and 2003: Fictionwise eBook Author of the Year
- 2000: Strannik Award (Russian science fiction writer's award; for the Vorkosigan Saga)
- 1996. "Miles Vorkosigan and the Power of Words: A Study of Lois McMaster Bujold's Unlikely Hero" by Anne L Hahl. Extrapolation. Kent State University Press 37
- 1998, Winter. "Lois McMaster Bujold: Feminism and 'The Gernsback Continuum' in Recent Women's SF" by Sylvia Kelso. Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 10.
- 2001, Autumn. "The Influence of Family and Moral Development in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Series" by Sandra J. Lindow. Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. 30
- 2007. Reading Her Machine Flesh: Permutations of the Cyborg Body (M.A. thesis), by Regina Yung. University of Alberta (Canada)
- 2007. "Jane Eyre in Outer Space: Victorian Motifs in Post-Feminist Science Fiction" by Jürgen Wehrmann. In Margarete Rubik and Elke Mettinger-Schartmann (ed.). A Breath of Fresh Eyre: Intertextual and Intermedial Reworkings of Jane Eyre. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi
- 2009. "Loud Achievements: Lois McMaster Bujold's Science Fiction" by Sylvia Kelso in Three Observations and a Dialogue: Round and About SF.
- 2010. "Of Marriage and Mutations: Lois McMaster Bujold and the Several Lives of Miles Naismith Vorkosigan". In John Lennard (ed.). Of Sex and Faerie: Further essays on Genre Fiction.
- 2013. Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Edited by Janet Brennan Croft. ISBN 978-1-4165-5603-9
- 2015. Lois McMaster Bujold (Modern Masters of Science Fiction) by Edward James. ISBN 978-0-252-08085-2
- 2020. Short But Concentrated: an essay symposium on the works of Lois McMaster Bujold, edited by Una McCormack and Regina Yung Lee
- 2020. Biology and Manners: Essays on the Worlds and Works of Lois McMaster Bujold edited by Una McCormack and Regina Yung Lee. Liverpool University Press
- 2008. The Vorkosigan Companion: The Universe of Lois McMaster Bujold. by Lillian Stewart Carl and John Helfers. Riverdale, NY: Baen Books.
- 2009. Vorkosigan Saga Sourcebook and Roleplaying Games by Genevieve Gogman, published by Steve Jackson Games