Lois McMaster Bujold
Bujold at home in 2009
Bujold at home in 2009
BornLois Joy McMaster[1]
(1949-11-02) November 2, 1949 (age 73)
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Alma materOhio State University[2]
GenreScience fiction, fantasy

Lois McMaster Bujold (/bˈʒld/ (listen) boo-ZHOHLD; born November 2, 1949) is an American speculative fiction writer.[1] She is an acclaimed writer, having won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein's record (not counting his Retro Hugos). Her novella "The Mountains of Mourning" won both the Hugo Award and Nebula Award. In the fantasy genre, The Curse of Chalion won the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature and was nominated for the 2002 World Fantasy Award for best novel, and both her fourth Hugo Award and second Nebula Award were for Paladin of Souls. In 2011 she was awarded the Skylark Award.[3] She has won two Hugo Awards for Best Series, in 2017 for the Vorkosigan Saga[4] and in 2018 for the World of the Five Gods.[5] The Science Fiction Writers of America named her its 36th SFWA Grand Master in 2019.[6]

The bulk of Bujold's works comprises three series: the Vorkosigan Saga, the World of the Five Gods, and the Sharing Knife series.


Bujold at Finncon 2012 in Tampere
Bujold at Finncon 2012 in Tampere

Bujold is the daughter of Robert Charles McMaster[7][8] and attributes her early interest in science fiction, as well as certain aspects of the Vorkosigan Saga, to his influence. He was editor[9] of the Nondestructive Testing Handbook.[10]

Bujold writes that her experience growing up with a famous father is reflected in the same experience that her characters (Miles, Fiametta) have of growing up in the shadow of a "Great Man". Having observed this tendency in both genders, she wonders why it is always called "great man's son syndrome", and never "great man's daughter's syndrome."[11] Her brother, an engineer like their father, helped provide technical details to support her writing of Falling Free.[12]

She has stated that she was always a "voracious reader".[2] She started reading adult science fiction at the age of nine, picking up the habit from her father. She became a member of science fiction fandom, joined the Central Ohio Science Fiction Society, and co-published StarDate, a science fiction fanzine in which a story of hers appeared under the byline Lois McMaster. Her reading tastes later expanded and she stated she now reads "history, mysteries, romance, travel, war, poetry, etc".[2]

She attended Ohio State University from 1968 to 1972. While she was interested in writing, she didn't pursue an English major, feeling it was too concerned with literary criticism instead of literary creation.[2]

She married John Fredric Bujold in 1971, but they divorced in the early 1990s. The marriage produced two children, a daughter named Anne (born 1979) and a son named Paul (born 1981).[13] Anne Bujold is currently (January 2020) Artist-In-Residence for the Metals Department at the Appalachian Center for Craft, a campus of Tennessee Tech;[14] formerly she was a metal artist and welder in Portland, Oregon[15] and vice president of the Northwest Blacksmith Association.[16] Bujold currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[17]


Bujold had been friends with Lillian Stewart Carl since high school, where they "collaborated on extended story lines [but where] only a fragment of the total was written out.".[2] At one point, she even co-produced a Star Trek zine called StarDate[18] which she wrote for. In college, she wrote a Sherlock Holmes mystery as well.[18] However, she stopped writing after that, being busy with marriage, family, and a career in hospital patient care.[19]

It wasn't until her thirties[19] that she returned to writing. Bujold has credited her friend Lillian Stewart Carl's first book sales with inspiring her to return to the field: "it occurred to me that if she could do it, I could do it too."[2] She originally planned to write as a hobby again, but discovered the amount of work required was too much for anything other than a profession, so she decided to turn professional. With support from Carl and Patricia Wrede,[20] she was able to complete her first novel.

Science fiction

Lois Bujold wrote three books (Shards of Honor, The Warrior's Apprentice and Ethan of Athos) before The Warrior's Apprentice was finally accepted, after four rejections. The Warrior's Apprentice was the first book purchased, though not the first Vorkosigan book written, nor would it be the first one to be published. On the strength of The Warrior's Apprentice, Baen Books agreed to a three-book deal to include the two bracketing novels. By 2010, Baen Books claimed to have sold two million copies of Bujold's books.[21]

Bujold is best known for her Vorkosigan Saga, a series of novels featuring Miles Vorkosigan, a physically impaired interstellar spy and mercenary admiral from the planet Barrayar, set approximately 1000 years in the future. The series also includes prequels starring Miles' parents, along with companion novels centered on secondary characters. Earlier titles are generally firmly in the space opera tradition with no shortage of battles, conspiracies, and wild twists, while in more recent volumes, Miles becomes more of a detective. In A Civil Campaign, Bujold explores yet another genre: a high-society romance with a plot that pays tribute to Regency romance novelist Georgette Heyer (as acknowledged in the dedication). It centers on a catastrophic dinner party, with misunderstandings and dialogue justifying the subtitle "A Comedy of Biology and Manners".

The author has stated that the series structure is modeled after the Horatio Hornblower books, documenting the life of a single person. In themes and echoes, they also reflect Dorothy L. Sayers' mystery character Lord Peter Wimsey. Bujold has also said that part of the challenge of writing a series is that many readers will encounter the stories in "utterly random order", so she must provide sufficient background in each of them without being excessively repetitious. Most recent printings of her Vorkosigan tales do include an appendix at the end of each book, summarizing the internal chronology of the series.

Bujold has discussed her own views on the optimum reading order for the Vorkosigan series in her blog.[22]


Bujold also wanted to break into the fantasy genre, but met with early setbacks. Her first foray into fantasy was The Spirit Ring. She wrote the book "on spec", shopped it around, and found low offers, sending her back to Baen Books, where Jim Baen bought it for a fair price in exchange for the promise of more Vorkosigan books. Bujold called this experience very educational; the book received little critical acclaim, and had only mediocre sales.

She would not attempt to break into the fantasy market again for almost another decade, with The Curse of Chalion. This book was also written on spec and offered up to a book auction. This time, she met with considerable critical and commercial success by tapping into a crossover market of fantasy and romance genre fans. The fantasy world of Chalion was first conceived as a result of a University of Minnesota course she was taking about medieval Spain in her spare time. She would eventually expand the setting into the World of the Five Gods series, including Paladin of Souls, The Hallowed Hunt, and the eleven novels, novellas, and short stories of the Penric and Desdemona series.[23]

The next fantasy world she created was the tetralogy set in the universe of The Sharing Knife, borrowing inspiration for its landscapes and for the dialect of the "farmers" from ones she grew up with in central Ohio.[24] She writes that her first readers who helped proofread it said she got it exactly right and they could recognize Ohio features in the descriptions and dialects.

Relation to fan fiction

Bujold has generally been supportive of fan fiction written about her characters and universe. Amy H. Sturgis, in her essay "From Both Sides Now: Bujold and the Fan Fiction Phenomenon",[18] notes that this is unusual for writers of Bujold's generation, most of whom are opposed to fan fiction. Sturgis relates this to Bujold's own production of Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes fan fiction early in her life, which Sturgis saw as an apprenticeship for her professional writing career.

Bujold herself ties her appreciation of fan fiction to her appreciation of "active" readers. To her, good readers are the "unsung collaborators" who make the story work, by actually constructing the world and characters in their heads. Books, to her, don't actually exist until they enter the reader's head and grow there. And sometimes, the characters and stories in a book grow so much that they escape the writer's original confines and become fan fiction. To Bujold, great literature is never "sterile", stopping with only what the original author wrote.[25] She further believes that fan fiction gives authors a unique chance to see into the minds of those "invisible collaborators", the readers.[26]

Despite this, she no longer reads fan fiction about her own characters due to legal and financial concerns, "fascinating as [she] finds it".[26]

Awards and nominations

  W   Won   N   Nominated
Series Book Award[27]
Hugo Locus Nebula
Falling Free (1988) N W
The Vor Game (1990) W N
Barrayar (1991) W W N
Mirror Dance (1994) W W
Memory (1996) N N N
A Civil Campaign (1999) N N N
Diplomatic Immunity (2002) N
Cryoburn (2010) N N
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (2012) N N
As a series W
World of the
Five Gods
The Curse of Chalion (2001) N N
Paladin of Souls (2003) W W W
The Hallowed Hunt (2005) N
As a series W

Bujold has also received the following accolades:

List of works

Main article: List of works by Lois McMaster Bujold


  1. ^ a b Clute, John; Langford, David; et al. (eds.). "Bujold, Lois McMaster". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (3rd ed.). Gollancz. Archived from the original on 2021-01-26. Retrieved 2021-08-07.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Lois McMaster Bujold, Biolog". dendarii.com. Archived from the original on 2019-03-21. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  3. ^ "Skylark Award". New England Science Fiction Association. Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
  4. ^ "2017 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 31 December 2016. Archived from the original on 12 August 2017. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  5. ^ "2018 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 2018-03-15. Archived from the original on 2018-04-02. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  6. ^ a b "Lois McMaster Bujold Named SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master". Nebula Awards. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. 9 December 2019. Archived from the original on 9 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  7. ^ "A Tribute to Robert Charles McMaster". Dendarii.com. Archived from the original on 2020-02-21. Retrieved 2021-08-07.
  8. ^ Jaffee, Robert I (1989). "Robert Charles McMaster". Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. pp. 266–271. doi:10.17226/1384. ISBN 978-0-309-03939-0. Archived from the original on 2015-07-27.
  9. ^ McMaster, Robert C. (June 1959). Nondestructive Testing Handbook (9780318215020): Robert C. McMaster: Books. ISBN 978-0318215020.
  10. ^ "Third Edition NDT Handbook". The American Society for Nondestructive Testing. Archived from the original on 2012-09-04.
  11. ^ Bujold, Lois Mcmaster (1997). Young Miles. BAEN. p. 830.
  12. ^ Bujold, Lois McMaster (2007). "Foreword". Miles, Mutants and Microbes (omnibus edition). Paragraphs 11 & 13.
  13. ^ "Locus Lois McMaster Bujold Biography". Dendarii.com. Archived from the original on 2013-08-03. Retrieved 2014-01-28.
  14. ^ Bujold, Anne (2019-12-26). "Anne Bujold". Rivited [sic] Rabbit Studio. Anne Bujold. Archived from the original on 2020-03-26. Retrieved 2020-03-26. Bujold is currently the Artist-In-Residence for the Metals Department at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, TN.
  15. ^ "Ann the Riveter and her Riveted Rabbit". CraftedInCarhartt.com. 5 June 2014. Archived from the original on 2015-11-30. Retrieved 2015-12-26.
  16. ^ "January 24, 2015 Regular Board Meeting Minutes" (PDF). Northwest Blacksmith Association. Northwest Blacksmith Association. 2015-01-24. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-03-26. Retrieved 2020-03-26. Anne Bujold was named Vice President.
  17. ^ "Spectrum Literary Agency - Lois McMaster Bujold". www.spectrumliteraryagency.com. Spectrum Literary Agency. Archived from the original on 2019-02-24. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  18. ^ a b c Sturgis, Amy H. (2013). "From Both Sides Now: Bujold and the Fan Fiction Phenomenon". In Croft, Janet Brennan (ed.). Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. McFarland & Company. pp. 16–25. ISBN 978-0-7864-6833-1.
  19. ^ a b "Interview with Award-Winning Author Lois McMaster Bujold". Amazing Stories. 2013-07-03. Archived from the original on 2020-09-19. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  20. ^ "My First Sale by Lois McMaster Bujold, She Got By with a Little Help From Her Friends". Dear Author. 2008-04-25. Archived from the original on 2020-09-18. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  21. ^ Jeremy L. C. Jones. "A Conversation With Lois McMaster Bujold". Clarkesworld Magazine. Archived from the original on 2011-09-18. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  22. ^ Lois McMaster Bujold. "The chef recommends". Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  23. ^ "Penric and Desdemona (Publication order) Series by Lois McMaster Bujold".
  24. ^ Lennard, John (2013). "(Absent) Gods and Sharing Knives". In Croft, Janet Brennan (ed.). Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 183–184. ISBN 978-0-7864-6833-1.
  25. ^ Bujold, Lois McMaster (2013). "The Unsung Collaborator". Sidelines: Talks and Essays.
  26. ^ a b Bujold, Lois McMaster (2013). "'Here's Looking At You, Kid...': On Fan Fiction". Sidelines: Talks and Essays.
  27. ^ "Lois McMaster Bujold Awards". Science Fiction Awards Database. Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Archived from the original on May 31, 2021. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
  28. ^ The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. "Minnesota Book Award Winners & Finalists". Archived from the original on 2019-12-17. Retrieved 2019-03-09.
  29. ^ "Forry Award". Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. Archived from the original on 2013-12-25. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
  30. ^ "Libertarian Futurist Society". Libertarian Futurist Society. Archived from the original on May 1, 2013. Retrieved April 20, 2021.

Further reading

  • BFN; Strickland, Diane; Slusser, Linda S.; O'Neil, James Francis; Tyson, Edith S.; Wehmann, Claudia J.; King, Richard L. (October 1993). "Booksearch: Favorite Writers of Science Fiction and Fantasy". English Journal. National Council of Teachers of English. 82 (6): 83–85. doi:10.2307/820174. JSTOR 820174.
  • Carl, Lillian Stewart, & Helfers, John (2008). The Vorkosigan Companion: The Universe of Lois McMaster Bujold. Riverdale, NY: Baen Books. ISBN 978-1-4165-5603-9.
  • Janet Brennan Croft, ed. (2013). Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0-7864-6833-1.
  • Haehl, Anne L. (Fall 1996). "Miles Vorkosigan and the Power of Words: A Study of Lois McMaster Bujold's Unlikely Hero". Extrapolation. Kent State University Press. 37 (3): 224–233. doi:10.3828/extr.1996.37.3.224. ISSN 0014-5483.
  • James, Edward (2015). Lois McMaster Bujold (Modern Masters of Science Fiction). Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-08085-2.
  • Kelso, Sylvia (Winter 1998). "Lois McMaster Bujold: Feminism and 'The Gernsback Continuum' in Recent Women's SF". Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts (JFA). 10 (1 [37]): 17–29. ISSN 0897-0521.
  • Kelso, Sylvia (2009). "Loud Achievements: Lois McMaster Bujold's Science Fiction". In Sylvia Kelso (ed.). Three Observations and a Dialogue: Round and About SF. Seattle: Aqueduct Press. ISBN 978-1-933500-28-7. OCLC 430954881.
  • Lennard, John (2010). "Of Marriage and Mutations: Lois McMaster Bujold and the Several Lives of Miles Naismith Vorkosigan". In John Lennard (ed.). Of Sex and Faerie: Further essays on Genre Fiction. Tirril: Humanities-Ebooks. pp. 70–111. ISBN 978-1-84760-171-1.
  • Lindow, Sandra J. (Autumn 2001). "The Influence of Family and Moral Development in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Series". Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. 30 (83): 25–34. ISSN 0306-4964.
  • Bujold, Lois McMaster (April 25, 2008). "My First Sale by Lois McMaster Bujold: She Got by with a Little Help from her Friends". Dear Author. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  • Wehrmann, Jürgen (2007). "Jane Eyre in Outer Space: Victorian Motifs in Post-Feminist Science Fiction". In Margarete Rubik and Elke Mettinger-Schartmann (ed.). A Breath of Fresh Eyre: Intertextual and Intermedial Reworkings of Jane Eyre. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi. pp. 149–165. ISBN 978-90-420-2212-6. OCLC 144615405.
  • Yung, Regina (2007). Reading Her Machine Flesh: Permutations of the Cyborg Body (M.A. thesis). University of Alberta (Canada). OCLC 261212307.