Outstanding Stories in the Miles Vorkosigan Universe,
This review is from: BORDERS OF INFINITY (Mass Market Paperback)Book Review by C. Douglas Baker
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.
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.