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Falling Free

A book by Lois McMaster Bujold

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Formulaic Offering From Bujold

  • Mar 3, 2009
  • by
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 for yourself how they may want to dispose of them. Falling Free also has the standard hero who wants to save the quaddies and is set up against the heartless corporate administrator who will do anything to advance in the company and cut costs. The reader knows what will happen from page to page and it makes for a rather boring book. There is no in-depth character analysis or drama which make the Miles Vorkosigan books so enjoyable. I knew the basic plot and outcome of many of Bujold's Vorkosigan novels but her characters, humor, themes, and surprises from page to page made them greatly enjoyable and entertaining. This is not the case with Falling Free.

The most interesting aspect of Falling Free was the exposition of the horrors of genetic engineering. The "quaddies" are four armed human beings designed to work more efficiently in free fall. The quaddies are raised and completely controlled by GalacTech who exploits them to the fullest. Their eduction, reproduction, reading material, free time, literally every aspect of their lives are controlled by the corporation. When the quaddies become a liability rather than an investment the corporation cares little about how they are "disposed". Bujold could have had a more interesting book had she explored the moral dilemmas presented by genetic engineering and its possible abuses. Unfortunately, the reader's anger at the plight of the quaddies dissipates rather quickly because of the superficial nature of the entire book. Bujold's quaddies are interesting, however, and she does a nice job of briefly exploring their characters. Having been raised and educated on a space station for specific purposes affects their interactions with one another, their sexual mores, and how they interact with two-legged creatures.

For Miles Vorkosigan fans this book is NOT a must read. While the quaddies show up in the The Vor Game you really do not learn anything essential about them in Falling Free. Falling Free does not approach the high quality to which Miles Vorkosigan fans have become accustomed.

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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.
About this book


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 ...

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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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