My name is Melvin, I grew up with NLS talking books, so naturally I just love Audible!! My favorite narrator is Grover Gardner!
Borders of Infinity is a great stand alone novel for the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan during his early IMSEC missions. As usual, Lois McMaster Bujold is at her best in the world of Barrayar. After enjoying these Heinleinesque adventures of the hyperactive muteeLord Miles, I strongly
recomend them as soon to be Science Fiction Classics, much in the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein and Hal Clement!
Historical & SciFi Book Lover, especially Georgette Heyer, Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis (& New Who). Also books for the kids.
Borders of Infinity is has 3 stories: "The Mountains of Mourning" (winner of a Hugo Award), "Labyrinth", and "The Borders of Infinity". They are strong, well written stories, A must for any fan of the Vorkosigan Series.
Firstly - the connective king narrative is the "weak link" in this book, and I almost wish the author had just produced these as the stories/novellas they are.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
The Borders of Infinity has a different structure than the earlier VORKOSIGAN books. It’s actually three previously published novellas with a frame story. Simon Illyan, head of Imperial Security, is visiting Miles while he’s recuperating in the hospital after a surgery for bone replacements. Knowing that the government will start asking questions, Simon needs Miles to justify three large vague items in his expense reports. When Miles protests, Simon explains that because he’s the prime minister’s son, Miles must avoid even the appearance of shady accounting practices. And so Miles explains each item and thus we get the stories in the novellas “The Mountains of Morning,” originally published in Analog in May 1989, “Labyrinth,” (Analog, August 1989) and “The Borders of Infinity” (Free Lancers anthology, 1987).
In “The Mountains of Morning” young Miles is home on the planet Barrayar after graduating from the Imperial Academy and he’s waiting for his first military assignment. One day he is sent by his father to the backwoods to investigate and deliver justice for the murder of a deformed infant. Since Miles was also born with a deformity, Aral Vorkosigan thinks his son will be the perfect envoy — clearly he intends to teach those backward folks that a twisted body doesn’t mean that a person’s brain doesn’t work. This has been a recurrent theme throughout the VORKOSIGAN SAGA.
This story is a departure from the usual tone of the series. It lacks the humor and frantic pace of the novels, but it represents an important learning experience for Miles. He has to deal with some difficult people in a tragic situation and it’s sure to affect his future behavior. “The Mountains of Morning” won the Nebula and Hugo awards for Best Novella in 1989. In the internal chronology of the entire series, these events occur after the novel Warrior’s Apprentice and before The Vor Game. You can also find this novella as a stand-alone or in the Baen omnibus edition called Young Miles.
If you want to follow the chronology, the next two stories should be read after Cetaganda and before Brothers in Arms.
“Labyrinth” tells how Miles (in his guise as Admiral Naismith) and his Dendrarii mercenary fleet go to the planet Jackson’s Whole to grab a geneticist who wants out of his contract with his evil boss so he can work for Barrayar. Jackson’s Whole has got to be the most degraded place in the entire universe. This is where mad scientists set up shop to create bizarre creatures to fulfill all their customers’ sensual desires. They also create clone bodies for rich people who want to transplant their brains into these bodies when they get old (the clones’ brains are thrown away). This is where Miles’s meets future enemies such as Baron Ryoval, Baron Fell, and Baron Bharaputra. This is also where Miles meets the eight foot tall weregirl (if that’s what she is) named Taura. You’ll definitely want to read this funny story before Taura shows up again in Mirror Dance which is my favorite VORKOSIGAN novel. You can also find “Labyrinth” as a stand-alone or in the Baen omnibus edition called Miles, Mutants and Microbes.
In “Borders of Infinity” Miles infiltrates a Cetagandan POW camp, ostensibly to find and rescue a Barrayan officer who is one of his relatives. He’s disgusted by what he finds there. The Cetagandandans are obeying the letter, but certainly not the spirit, of the universal laws for how prisoners are to be treated. Though he’s the smallest and weakest person among the thousands of prisoners, and though there’s plenty of strong opposition, Miles sets out to better their circumstances. This is an exciting story with lots of laughs and lots of loss. It’s an important part of the VORKOSIGAN series because it explains why the planet Cetaganda wants revenge on Admiral Naismith — an issue later in the series. It also explains some of Miles’ behavior in the novel Komarr. “Borders of Infinity” can also be found as a stand-alone novella and in the Baen omnibus edition called Miles Errant.
Like the other VORKOSIGAN books, The Borders of Infinity is available in audio format. Grover Gardner is doing such a great job with the narration.
The three novellas comprising this book are all thought-provoking and disturbing in different ways. All three give wonderful insights into the demons that drive Miles, in a way that maybe isn't as obvious in the novels.
In "The Mountains of Mourning" we are taken into the Barryaran backwoods to see up close the culture of mutie-phobia that Miles grew up in and that formed the basis of his very difficult relationship with his grandfather.
In "Labyrinth", we are exposed to a very personal encounter with the products of Jackson's Whole's amoral genetic engineering labs and learn the background of Taura.
"Borders of Infinity" may be the most powerful of the stories, but is also the one I am least likely to re-read,precisely because it is so searing. In it, Miles wakes to find himself in Hell, no wait, a domed Cetagandan prison camp that might as well be. The story of how he gets out of there is so stained with bitter regret that I expect the experience will forever haunt him, as well as the reader.
I know the framing story was just tossed in as an excuse to publish these three novellas together, but it was fine and not at all intrusive. The insights into Miles's character that are gained by reading all three novellas at once completely justify the repackaging of them in this format.
Final note--I am beginning to really appreciate Grover Gardner as a narrator for this series. He doesn't go to great lengths to "do" the different characters as some narrators do, yet it is always clear who is speaking and he does enough with accents to subtly create different characters. It's a somewhat different style of narration than I'm used to, but it has grown on me, primarily because most of these books are largely from Miles's perspective and Gardner does a great Miles, perfectly capturing his rather sardonic wit.
This book harkens back to The Warrior's Apprentice in action and looking into Miles' head. It is a bit more overtly philosophical, perhaps, than the earlier stuff following TWA, but it contains the heart and humor I associate with this series. That being said, the last several books have ended on a 'down' note, and I'm not quite sure what to do with that; hence the four stars rather than five. Grover Gardner is his usual stunning self doing the narration.
This book is not as compelling as others by Lois McMaster Bujold. It is the forth in the series (fifth if you count the prequel "Falling Free" that takes place in the same universe hundreds of years earlier), and the second one that centers around the character of Miles Vorkosigan. But it is really just a collection of three short stories about this character, with a few scenes to tie them together. It was interesting only if you care about the Vokosigan character from the last book: "The Warrior's Apprentice." I highly recommend the first two books in the series though: "Shards of Honor" and "Barrayar."
I am a die-hard Vorkosigan fan. I downloaded this book months ago and waited until the right time to listen to it in order to savor it as I have the others in the series. I was so sad to find that Lois was obviously uninspired when she wrote this one. It was reminiscent of Winterfair Gifts. In that book Miles was mostly absent. I felt that his spirit was gone here as well. He was described rather than experienced. The last part was thrown in inexplicably. I just don't understand how such an important piece could be handled in minutes. It made no sense. Given my harsh critique I still adore the series and consider it one of the classic character creations.
The Miles Vorkosigan books are good. This reader is painful to listen to, though. Don't recommend it.