Falling Free
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Review by Bill Johnston

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold just didn't seem worth the award it won. But then, the awards just aren't what they used to be.

The book is about genetically engineered four-armed people who have been designed to be the ultimate free fall workers. They are considered property by the company which produced them, and they were created in a place where there was no opposing government to rule against them. About a third of the way into the book, we find out that the quaddies, our heroes, have been found to be obsolete because another company has just released a means of producing artificial gravity. The quaddies now have to be disposed of.

A negative comment I once heard about Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (and there are few of those) was that the author relied too much on cheap sympathy: Ender is abused not only by the kids at school, but by the adults at the academy. His fighting back is every class geek's dream. Looking back over the book I found this to be true to a limited extent, but in nowhere near the proportions I found it to be true in Falling Free. Slavery, sterilization, deliberate crippling, and eventually genocide are what the quaddies face in this book, and the quaddies are far more innocent than Ender was.

Another problem I had was the blatant Hollywood ending. The quaddies' ship jumped out of system only seconds before the pursuing ship was able to disable them. I hope to find something else by Bujold to counteract this book, because her writing style is very good. It kept my attention on the book despite the it's plot.

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