Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Our intrepid engineer Leo starts a new job and gets to know genetically engineered humans–optimized for life in free fall, with another set of arms instead of legs. Fittingly they are called quaddies. They are also treated as something less than human and our engineer finds himself in the position of wanting to help the underdogs.
This hasn’t aged well. It feels pretty old-fashioned and quite a little sexist. If you can get past that, the story is entertaining.
The audiobook narrator does a decent job, but could have given more distinct voices to the various characters. Those are all pretty one-dimensional.
Leo is the nice guy, Mr. Fix-it, and apparently based on Bujold’s father, who was an engineer and wrote a definitive book on non-destructive testing.
The bad guy is a proper slimebag, the quaddies are all nice, naive kids.
Bujold’s imagery is very vivid. The story is well plotted and paced, if a little predictable. Every now and then she geeks out and over-indulges in engineering babble.
The ending feels a bit as if there could have been more, and I read somewhere that Bujold had indeed planned to write another book to tell the rest of the story.
Chronologically Falling Free is the first book in the Vorkosigan Saga. It is more of a prequel though, as it is set 200 years before the main series, without the central character of the series.
I plan to buddy read the whole series with some friends, in the mentioned chronological order, not in order of publication. Let’s see how far I get!
Better than just ok, but not great, 3.5 stars.