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A Civil Campaign

Review by Mark L. Olson

A Civil Campaign

by Lois McMaster Bujold

Baen Books, 1999, 405 pp, $24.00

This is one of the most enjoyable — delightful, even — books I’ve read in years, and one of Bujold’s best.

I’m not sure, however, if I will nominate it for the Hugo because I’m not sure that it’s science fiction. The problem is that, for all it’s Sfnal trappings, it’s a Regency romance or something very close to it. With one exception — Lord Dono — there is nothing to the plot that requires a setting on Barrayar rather than in Ruritania or 19th century England. (The butter bugs, while providing a huge amount of comic relief, aren’t essential to the plot and could be replaced by any other slightly crazy, somewhat silly, money-making scheme.)

So is A Civil Campaign SF? It’s certainly on the fringes. What do I call it? A Space Regency? Maybe. Regardless, it’s a great book.

As in Memory, Bujold’s done a very good job of continuing to grow her characters and has avoided the hyperkinetic war fiction that characterized some of the earlier stories in the series. (I do hope she doesn’t lose the readers who started the series for that aspect — they’ll be missing some good SF.)

This is a series book. You probably won’t get nearly as much out of it if you haven’t read at least of few of its immediate predecessors.

A Civil Campaign is one of the two or three most enjoyable book’s I’ve read this year. And the banquet scene was one of the funniest things I’ve read in years.

Other reviews of this book: Review by Elisabeth Carey