With her complicated hero, Miles Vorkosigan, Minnesota science-fiction writer Lois Bujold leads an expedition into inner space

The series book she's just finishing will continue the arc of Miles's romance, while cracking a fresh can of plots. Minor characters encouraged the bulk of the new ideas, Bujold says. As a consequence, she has complicated Miles's narrative dominance still further. She will write from the viewpoints of five characters in A Civil Campaign: Miles, Ekaterin, Miles's cousin Ivan, Mark, and Mark's amour Kareen. "The plots all cross one another, and everybody ends up solving each other's problems," Bujold notes. "It's good fun, but, structurally, difficult and complex." She makes a sour face, and laughs. "It's like wrestling pythons."

Bujold has discovered that, if she wants to finish a book a year--as her fiscal needs demand--she must follow what she calls a "big" or challenging novel with a frothier one. So next she'll take a break and write something light and outside the series like her 1992 fantasy novel The Spirit Ring. (Her other two nonseries novels take place within the Barrayar universe but do not feature Miles; one, Falling Free, won a Nebula, the SF writer peer award.)

Daniel Corrigan

"I've got to refill my back brain!" Bujold vows. "Really," she continues, with a wry smile, "it's about me digesting my experiences growing up and growing up and growing up, as you keep doing. They don't tell you it doesn't stop at 20."

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