Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for November 1st, 2010

New book review — LMB’s “Cryoburn” — plus remembering my husband, Michael

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I reviewed Lois McMaster Bujold’s new novel about Miles Naismith Vorkosigan, Cryoburn, at the “sister” site Shiny Book Review this evening.  Please go to this link:

All I’ll say here is, Cryoburn is worthy, interesting, and weighty — but not a pleasure-read by any stretch of the imagination.  Make sure you are prepared for this, as Cryoburn, simply put, is all about death — and potential revival, for those who elect it — and that is not an easy or lightweight subject to contemplate.

And as for the writing of the review, it was far more difficult than I’d anticipated.  I really, really like Lois McMaster Bujold’s writing — I like it a whole lot.  But a novel about death, and about the survivors of those who’ve died but may yet be revived — well, it’s not an easy novel to enjoy, let’s put it that way.  (At least not for me as a widow.)


Reading Cryoburn stirred up all sorts of issues I thought I’d dealt with in my grief cycle, because I completely understood why Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan made the choice she did at the very end (in her “drabble,” a short bit of story in 100 words).   I would’ve done exactly as Cordelia, and for the same reasons, were our medical technology more advanced at the time of my beloved husband Michael’s passing; if a man has brain damage, and it is extensive — whether it’s from lack of oxygen or whatever else — and medical science cannot bring him back to the level he was before the brain damage, what kind of life would that be?

Fortunately I did not have to make that determination.  Michael fought hard for life and I knew he wanted to stay with me.  I desperately wanted him to stay with me, too, and prayed hard for that miracle to occur.  But it wasn’t to be; his life on this plane of existence ended, but who he was and what he was all about lives on.  That’s what Cordelia understood that her grieving son, Miles, did not get — maybe could not get.  Simply put: the most important thing about her husband’s life, or mine, is this — he lived it his way.

If you’ve followed my blog to this point, or know anything about me at all, you know full well that I will do whatever I possibly can, ethically and morally, to keep Michael’s writing alive.  I will finish it since I must, even though I wish with all my heart and soul and spirit  that Michael were still with us in the totality of his intelligence, bright spirit and strong will.  I’d rather he were alive to do this, because I loved watching him create, and I loved reading his stories.

Still.  I am the only one left who understands what he was getting at, and I can write his style (with great effort, but I can do it).  That’s why I will do whatever I can to complete his work, because in that way and only in that way do I feel like I’ve remembered Michael properly, as the man he always was — creative, alert, intelligent, witty, and beloved beyond words. 

It’s important to remember a person as he lived, not as he died.  That’s why the process of creation is so important to me.  It was important to Michael, too, because writing something, creating something, meant we’d done something no one else on the planet was able to do in the same way.   Creating is one way of exerting your own sense of individuality, of how you see the world, and it’s the best way to remember a creative person, in my opinion.

At any rate — while life is for the living, it’s also for remembering, positively and with great care, the honored dead.  Maybe that’s why it was so hard for me to like Cryoburn, as it hits way too close to home for comfort.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 1, 2010 at 11:30 pm