When I was searching for books to include on this list, I came across Lois McMaster Bujold’s name over and over again, and kept wondering why it sounded familiar. Turns out I have a quote from her saved at the top of a notebook I check almost daily: “If the truth doesn’t save us, what does that say about us?”
I was confident from the start that I was going to love her Vorkosigan Saga. Quick note about the Saga — Bujold wrote them out of order, so you’ll notice on my first schedule that the years jump around. Instead, I used a reading order from Goodreads, based on the internal chronology of the series.
On to the review:
Dreamweaver’s Dilemma is a quirky short story that reads a lot like a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but set way in the future. One of the trickiest things to get right in short Sci Fi works is the world. How do you immerse readers in an entirely new, sometimes alien future without writing more than twenty or so pages? But Bujold does it masterfully. The story revolves around Anias Ruey, a composer of virtual dreams that seem to function as a cross between movies and virtual realities. When she is commissioned to compose a dream that tests the limits of her ethics, she has to decide whether it’s right to make it–and live with the consequences if she does. Beyond that, we get hints of an Earth that has built at least one major space colony, and that is plagued by some sort of radiation that has turned even mild wildlife into terrors. But all that is on the edges of the story, just hints of a much bigger world than the plot spotlights.
I compare it to Sherlock Holmes because the story passes with a mellow tone, despite the serious aspects of crime being discussed. It’s not thrilling or suspenseful, just a sort of puzzle-mystery that comes out all right in the end. Also, I’ve been ranting lately about how not enough books are funny, and was pleasantly surprised at the wit in this story. Overall, it was a very fun and relaxing read.
I purchased a paperback copy that came with some other short works and essays from Bujold, but I’ll come back to those later, after I’ve dived deeper into the Vorkosigan Saga. It’s clear that this is a small taste of the series, but I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.