The bulk of Bujold's works comprises three separate book series: the Vorkosigan Saga, the Chalion Series, and the Sharing Knife series.
Bujold is the daughter of Robert Charles McMaster and attributes her early interest in science fiction, as well as certain aspects of the Vorkosigan Saga, to his influence. He was editor of the monumental Nondestructive Testing Handbook generally referred to as McMaster on Materials.
Bujold writes that her experience growing up with a world-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." Her brother, an engineer like their father, helped provide technical details to support her writing of Falling Free.
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.
Bujold currently lives in Medicine Lake, Minnesota. She is divorced and has two children; her daughter Anne Bujold is a Portland, Oregon metal artist, welder, and vice president of the Northwest Blacksmith Association.
Lois Bujold wrote three books (Shards of Honor, The Warrior's Apprentice and Ethan of Athos) before The Warrior's Apprentice was 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. Thus began her career in writing in science fiction. By 2010, Baen Books claimed to have sold 2 million copies of Bujold's books.
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.
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, combined with the mediocre sales of and lack of critical acclaim for that book.
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.
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. 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.
New York Review of Science Fiction - October 1998 (Number 122):
"Narrative impulsion is actually a constant in Bujold's work, as is her easy, almost transparent style with its occasional unexpected striking turn of phrase - "Death had a temperature and it was damned cold" (Komarr 27) - or its wickedly reshaped allusions: " The cream pie of justice flies one way" (Vor 336). The apparently effortless fluidity of both style and story may actually have militated against critical notice, in comparison to notorious stylists like William Gibson, or, again, Ursula Le Guin."Hugo Awards
Wins"The Mountains of Mourning" (1990)
The Vor Game (1991)
Mirror Dance (1995)
Paladin of Souls (2004)
Vorkosigan Saga (2017) Special Award for Best Series
NominationsFalling Free (1989)
A Civil Campaign (2000)
The Curse of Chalion (2002)
"Winterfair Gifts" (2005)
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (2013)
"Penric's Demon" (2016)
"Penric and the Shaman" (2017)
WinsFalling Free (1989)
"The Mountains of Mourning" (1990)
Paladin of Souls (2005)
A Civil Campaign (2001)
Diplomatic Immunity (2004)
Best Science Fiction NovelBarrayar (1992)
Mirror Dance (1995)
Best Fantasy NovelPaladin of Souls (2004)
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer