I would like to clone Lois McMaster Bujold...
but that's impossible and probably immoral and anyways her genetic twin would be a different person and have different interests and talents, as she herself has pointed out. So failing that, I was hoping that someone could recommend some Bujold-esque books for me.
Over the past year or more, I've become a huge fan of Lois McMaster Bujold
(author of the Chalion
, and Sharing Knife
series). However, I've now exhausted her published corpus, and re-read most of it as well, and yet my Bujold cravings go on. (Because misery loves company, I'm also happily addicting the rest of my family and friends). I was hoping that I might tap into the very well-read hive mind for some rather specific book recommendations to help wean me.
What I have been specifically enjoying in Bujold's books have a) compelling and complex characters who aren't Shining Heros or Complete Monsters but who have problems and change and grow in response to the world, but also b) the overall stories are relatively easy to read, and have a happy ending or at least leave me feeling like there is hope for the world. Within her corpus, my favorite books are those which are more character and relationship driven, rather than plot driven (Cetaganda
is my least favorite, bc it is a mystery novel without much emotional development for the characters, Dimplomatic Immunity
was only okay, and Cryoburn
was helped a lot by the character of Jin to bring in that personal connection) - and this is something that holds for my overall tastes.
On the light side of fantasy/SF, I've read lots of Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey, and enjoyed most of it. But their works can suffer from the disease I think of as the black&white-people syndrome: all non-evil people must be therefore good, and therefore get on just fine and are friends and there is no interpersonal conflict and I die of saccrine poisoning and boredom. I feel like I've exhausted their books which don't suffer from these problems, or at least don't suffer from it that badly. I like crabby characters, and flawed people, and heroes with low self-esteem who have character growth over the course of the story, and still aren't perfect at the end. (Indeed, in the Vorkosigan series, I'm as interested in the very troubled Mark as much as the the charismatic Miles, and I think the best stories about Miles are when he's at his most vulnerable, such as in Memory or a Civil Campaign, as opposed to the Vor Game or Cetaganda). The better historical romance novelists can have very good characters, and definitely have happy endings because they are required by the genre. But the restrictions on the genre and the rapidity of production by most authors leads to a great deal of repetition -- I know I've read too much Mary Balogh when I see her completely re-using characters and plot elements.
On the complex character side, I've just started reading Octavia Butler, who brings the complexity of character that I like. But at the same time, her work can be quite (realistically) dark - I just finished Kindred
, which is very good, but it did leave me feeling very down. I'm planning to continue reading her books, but I would like to leaven my reading with some other books as well - I really like when there is a happy ending (not completely happy - that would be saccrine. But the world goes on and is mostly okay and/or getting better type of ending). I also started C.J. Cherryh's Downbelow Station
and it began well (I have enjoyed her books in the past), but it seemed just a bit more idea-driven than my current craving (I put it aside for later).
I've been looking at Library Thing to get more ideas, but that seems to recommend by genre, whereas I'm currently more interested in similarities of style/characterisation (for right now). I'm not interested in other space-opera unless
like Bujold's it's more about character than ships (I tend to glaze over all of the few action scenes Bujold does include), and I'm similarly not very interested in epic fantasy unless it is character driven -- for example, I enjoyed Kate Elliott's Jaran Series
more than her Crown of Stars
, because of the deeper focus on fewer characters, though her Crown of Stars
is much more popular. I do tend to stay in the SF/Fantasy side of the pond, with dips out to historical fiction. I don't really know why - I just tend to find alien/foreign settings more interesting than contemporary ones, though I also have liked some urban fantasy.
Books I've read recently that have fit this specific craving: Jane Yolen, L.M. Montgomery, Melanie Rawn, Kate Elliott's Jaran
series, Robin McKinley, Joan D. Vinge, and (of course) Bujold.