A Civil Campaign

A Civil Campaign: A Comedy of Biology and Manners is a science fiction novel by American writer Lois McMaster Bujold, first published in September 1999. It is a part of the Vorkosigan Saga, and is the thirteenth full-length novel in publication order. It is included in the 2008 omnibus Miles in Love. The title is an homage to the Georgette Heyer novel A Civil Contract and, like Heyer's historical romances, the novel focuses on romance, comedy, and courtship.[1] It is dedicated to "Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, and Dorothy", novelists Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Georgette Heyer, and Dorothy L. Sayers.[1][2][3]

A Civil Campaign
Cover of the first edition
AuthorLois McMaster Bujold
Audio read byGrover Gardner
Cover artistPatrick Turner
CountryUnited States
SeriesVorkosigan Saga
GenreScience fiction
Published1999 (Baen Books)
Media typePrint
Preceded byKomarr 
Followed byDiplomatic Immunity 


Miles Vorkosigan is trying to woo the recently widowed Ekaterin Vorsoisson, but fearing that an open approach would drive her away, he takes an indirect approach: to get to see her frequently and knowing of her ambition to become a landscape designer, he hires her to design a garden beside Vorkosigan House.

His clone brother Mark also has romance problems. He and Kareen Koudelka became lovers in Beta Colony, but the sexual mores of conservative Barrayar are much stricter, and she keeps their relationship a secret from her family.

A significant subplot involves Mark's first entrepreneurial venture: an ugly genetically engineered insect called the "butter bug," capable of eating all kinds of waste organic material and regurgitating a nutritious goo that Miles calls "bug vomit".

Meanwhile, two seats on the powerful Council of Counts are up for grabs, one because the current Count Vorbretten has been found to be part Cetagandan, dating back to the days of the Cetagandan occupation of Barrayar. The vacancy created by the death of Pierre Vorrutyer is contested by a distant cousin, Richars, and Pierre's sister, Donna, who undergoes gender reassignment surgery on Beta Colony, becoming a fully functional man and taking the name Dono, in order to seek the title.


A Civil Campaign was a finalist for the 2000 Hugo Award for Best Novel,[4] the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novel[5] and the 2000 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.[6]

Publishers Weekly called the novel "sprightly" and "enormously satisfying", lauding Bujold's ability to combine "quirky humor, (...) just enough action, a dab of feminist social commentary and her usual superb character development "[7] Kirkus Reviews described it as "(i)nviting if sometimes overembellished folderol, with an agreeable sense of humor".[8]

The SF Site (reviewing the audiobook) lauded it as an excellent example of a Regency romance within science fiction, with "absolutely wonderful character moments for everybody, not just the romantic leads", and "one of the best love letters (...) this side of Persuasion.[9] Infinity Plus praised Bujold's "subtle plotting and genuine wit" , calling it "truly superior farce, rich with incident and characters" and faulting it only for the extent to which it benefits from a familiarity with the previous Vorkosigan novels.[10]

Cheryl Morgan, analyzing the novel's approach to transgender issues, noted that "the nice characters in the book react positively to Dono, whereas the nasty characters recoil in horror", but stated that he is "a very unconvincing portrait of a trans person". In particular, Morgan emphasized that "(t)here's no suggestion that [Donna] wants to be a man for any reasons other than to secure the title [of Count], and for intellectual curiosity", and that "(f)or [Dono], changing gender is just a lifestyle choice." Aside from this "one very important caveat", however, Morgan found the novel to be "a lot of fun" and "remarkably readable".[11]


  1. ^ a b Walton, Jo (15 April 2009). "She's getting away! Lois McMaster Bujold's A Civil Campaign". Tor.com. Retrieved 29 October 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ David Langford (August 2003). Up Through an Empty House of Stars. Wildside Press LLC. pp. 263–4. ISBN 978-1-59224-055-5.
  3. ^ John Lennard (1 January 2010). Of Sex and Faerie: Further Essays on Genre Fiction. Humanities-Ebooks. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-1-84760-171-1.
  4. ^ 2000 Hugo awards, at TheHugoAwards.org; retrieved September 27, 2020
  5. ^ A Civil Campaign, at Science Fiction Writers of America; retrieved September 27, 2020
  6. ^ "2000 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2011-02-07. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ A Civil Campaign, reviewed at Publishers Weekly; published August 30, 1999; retrieved September 27, 2020
  8. ^ A Civil Campaign, reviewed at Kirkus Reviews; published August 1, 1999; archived online, May 20, 2010; retrieved September 27, 2020
  9. ^ A Civil Campaign, reviewed by Nicki Gerlach, at the SF Site; published 2011; retrieved September 27, 2020
  10. ^ A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold, reviewed by Simeon Shoul; originally published in Prism, the newsletter of the British Fantasy Society, September/October 2000; archived online at Infinity Plus, August 11, 2001; retrieved September 27, 2020
  11. ^ A Civil Campaign, reviewed by Cheryl Morgan, at Cheryl-Morgan.com; published August 2012; retrieved September 27, 2020

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