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August 6th, 2018

fictional coincidence

A common criticism of Lois Bujold is that some of her stories depend on some unlikely coincidence. Usually the writing is pretty tight and sensible otherwise, but there'll be one coincidence setting up the book's plot.

I've been on a kick of re-reading the Liaden books, maybe more accurately called the Korval series now (apart from two prequels with Liadens but no Korvals), and they chug coincidence like a caffeine addict. I've never seen anyone complain. I suppose it's so blatant you just take it with the books, along with all the protagonists being super-competent pilots-plus who achieve psychic soulbonded lifemating. (I stretch truth. Not all of them achieve lifemating. Just most of them.)

Also there's enough psychic magic reality warping bullshit that the coincidences could be due to a real thing in-universe. People even talk about Korval's 'luck', and between Cantra's Tanjalyre engineering, marrying far too many dramliz over the centuries, and the weakly godlike Tree, there are plenty of culprits.

I guess it's a case of a common pattern: something that has *one* flaw gets lots of criticism. Something with lots of flaws? Give it a pass if you pay attention to it at all.

(The Korval books are lots of fun, easy reads, and I've noticed recently, draw on some rather obscure real vocabulary. But I can't view them as other than power-fantasy romance candy.)

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Damien Sullivan
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