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Falling Free

Falling Free (1988) is set about 200 years before the birth of Miles Vorkosigan. It relates the creation of the "Quaddies", genetically modified people who have four arms, the second pair appearing where unmodified humans would have legs. They were intended to be used as a space labor force, not only superbly adapted to zero-gravity but unable to function "downside" in any but the lightest gravitational field. From the point of view of the commercial interests responsible for their creation, they would be highly profitable, requiring none of the special facilities or mandatory time off needed by other humans, whose bodies tend to deteriorate over the long term in weightlessness. They would also be completely beholden to the company for life support, and would have no rights as human beings.

Legally, the Quaddies are not classed as human but as "post-fetal experimental tissue cultures". The company treats them as chattel slaves. Their access to information is tightly controlled. Even their children's stories are about working in space. They can be ordered to reproduce or to have a pregnancy terminated. They are the subject of breeding programs, the company compelling them to mate only with one of the company's choosing, regardless of existing partners. When a new artificial gravity technology renders them both obsolete and a potential political embarrassment to the executives, there are discussions about killing them or sterilizing them. Bipedal engineer Leo Graf, who had been assigned to help train them, instead helps them break free. They eventually settle in an initially remote system that gradually becomes a major part of the Nexus.

Diplomatic Immunity, published in 2007, revisits the subject of the Quaddies, showing the state of their society some 240 years after its foundation. It takes place on Graf Station, named for Leo Graf, who is hero and patriarch to the Quaddies.

Bujold has stated in the notes of her reprints that Falling Free was the first half of the intended story. The unwritten, second story was to tell how the Quaddies settled into what would be known as "Quaddiespace".

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ISBN-10:  067157812X
ISBN-13:  978-0671578121
Author:  Lois McMaster Bujold
Genre:  Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher:  Baen (June 1, 1999)
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Quick Tip by . September 18, 2009
Falling Free and Komarr are Bujold's two most scientific stories. Her father was an engineer and it shows.
review by . March 03, 2009
Formulaic. This is the best way to describe the disappointing Falling Free, which is predictable from page one. The basic plot line should sound familiar: Multiuniversal (as opposed to multinational) corporation creates genetically engineered human beings that are perfect for work in free fall and drastically lower operating costs; these "quaddies" become obsolete after invention of artificial gravity for space stations; corporation wants to rid itself of the quaddies and cut costs. You can imagine …
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