Bujold again offers tales of Miles Vorkosigan, a clever and outlandish science fiction hero for the modern era. Reissue.
Bujold explores the character of Mile Vorkosigan in great detail in Borders of Infinity. This may sound like an odd statement given the numerous books that have been written about Miles, but nowhere else does Bujold really probe into Miles' personality and inner motivations like she does here. The reader also learns more about the psyche of Barrayarans.
Borders of Infinity is a collection of three stories: the Hugo award winning "The Mountains of Mourning", "Labyrinth", and "The Borders of Infinity". Each stand on their own as a single story. Miles is recounting each to Simon Illyan, his father's security chief, to account for the cost overruns of the auspicious Dendarii Mercenaries. (Read Brothers in Arms for details).
"The Mountains of Mourning" finds Miles' dispatched deep into the Dendarii mountains to investigate an infanticide that has been laid before the feet of Aral, his father. The local authority appears to be stifling the investigation and letting the culprit of the crime go. Bujold uses this story to show Miles in a deeply self-conscious and introspective mood. He is forced to confront his own deformities and what that means both on Barrayar and in the world (universe) at large. Miles has a deep seeded inferiority complex that he overcomes throughout his life and here we see clearly what motivates Miles. Miles is clearly haunted by the reputations of his grandfather and father, who are Vor class military heroes. Miles innately feels he must live up to their reputations as can be seen in his reflections on his own father's stress under the weight of his grandfather's achievements. Yet, Miles has much more to overcome being a deformed, albeit brilliant, young man. He sets out to do so. In this story we see why.
[Minor Spoiler for "Labyrinth"]
In "Labyrinth" Bujold once again explores the implications of genetic engineering, especially without any moral guidelines. The Dendarii Mercenaries are sent to assist a genetic engineer escape his Jackson Whole employers. This geneticist has a variety of interesting genetic samples that are important to his research and refuses to leave without them. Unfortunately he has hidden them in the calf of this part-human,eight-foot tall, incredibly strong, wolfish looking, genetically engineered creature. Worse yet, the creature has been sold to another Jackson Whole entrepreneur and Miles must form a plan to get the material then murder the creature before the geneticist will leave. This sets up a series of very interesting events. In fact, at one point, this reader almost fell out of bed laughing.
Finally, "Borders of Infinity" finds Miles trapped in a Cetagandan prisoner of war camp. The Miles timeline in the back of many Vorkosigan books gives away the plot and if you have not read it avoid doing so. This too is a very enjoyable adventure and shows Miles at his best. We also see Miles has inherited the
empathy and hatred of unnecessary deaths that his mother and father have exhibited.
All three stories in Borders of Infinity are highly enjoyable. And you do not have to be a Miles Vorkosigan fan to enjoy any of Bujold's work (novels or short stories). They easily stand as discrete pieces. I would speculate that once you have read one, however, you will find yourself hooked.
This book is a collection of stories about Miles, who recounts them to Simon, his boss in the imperial secret services. Miles himself is in hospital and cornered by Simon to cough up some details on the somewhat ambiguous reports Miles has been sending in. Like a rat caught in the corner, Miles has no choice but to spill the details.
The first is a story of Miles' younger years when his father sends him off to judge on an issue that happened among his own people. Barrayar, unfortunately, still murders babies that are deformed. It's a short murder mystery.
The second story revolves around Jackson's whole and the dubious activities that go on there. Miles' mission is to "collect" a person; but it's never as easy as it seems.
The third is the strangest yet. Miles ends up in an enemy prison camp. At first it's not obvious how he got there, but Miles being Miles, he soon gets people moving.
Bujold's writing certainly deserves five stars, as do the stories about Miles. The reason I give this only four stars is that two out of the three stories featured in previous "collections". It's very confusing to the buyer: which novel comes before which? And although Bujold has a lovely table in the back of each book to help you with the chronology, it's almost impossible to buy books that only feature the stories you want. I now own three versions of the same story, and I resent having spent money on the same thing (not to mention the waste of trees that produced the paper for this).
But this was just about my favorite. I loved it. Read more