The popular adventures of Miles Vorkosigan, a clever and outlandish science fiction hero for the modern era, continue in these three tales. In The Mountains of Mourning, Miles is dispatched to a back-country region of Barrayar, where he must act as detective, judge, and executioner in a controversial murder case.
In Labyrinth, Miles adopts his alternate persona as Dendarii Mercenary Admiral Naismith for an undercover mission to rescue an important research geneticist from Jackson’s Whole. And in the title story, Miles infiltrates an escape-proof Cetagandan POW camp and plays hero to the most deeply distressed damsel of his colorful career.
Lois McMaster Bujold burst upon the science fiction world in 1986 with Shards of Honor, the first of the Vorkosigan Saga novels. She has won the Hugo Award four times and the Nebula Award twice. The mother of two, she lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Hi-fi sci-fi: listen to more in the Vorkosigan saga.
©1989 2007 by Lois McMaster Bujold (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Essential for all sf collections.” (Library Journal)
Thank you Lois, you sounded like Churchill in some of Miles pep talks filled with fire and physicological wisdom. Expected some loose ends of incomplete stories but all three stories were rich, powerful Miles adventures up to your usual standards.Really enjoyed it. P.S. The book is not 7 hours but 9 1/2 hrs. of great reading
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
Really pleasant characters in a fleshed out universe. One of the best, highly prolific sci-fi writers I have found. These books are about people (human and otherwise) and science-fiction is only a scaffolding for the issues and actions of the characters. So far these have been quite consistently good. I really should give this 4 stars not 5 but I just can't stop myself...
In pursuit of truth, justice, and an end to spoilers!
Read this book before "Brothers in Arms!"
This a collection of three shorter stories originally published separately. To make them look like a more coherent collection, the stories are presented as "reports" Miles is giving to his IMPSEC superior.
In the grander scheme of things "Mountains of Mourning" takes place just after "Warrior's Apprentice." While fans will be interested (and if you've gotten this far, you're a fan), this is a story you can go back and catch a few books down the road. It was originally in limited publication and wasn't designed to leave anyone behind who hadn't read it.
Both "Labyrinth" and the title story, "Borders of Infinity," are stories where Miles is the main character and take place after "Cetaganda." These two stories both contain material I would have been upset to have missed if I hadn't read them in the proper order! The former introduces characters and background information that are very important to later books, and the later feeds directly into the next book in the storyline, "Brothers in Arms."
So I repeat, read this collection just before reading "Brothers in Arms!" Audible's series list for this one is a bit off, so don't be lead astray!
And as you can probably guess, I'm a HUGE fan. Love the series, love the author, and the narrator's slightly old-timey delivery is the perfect backdrop for a series that turns the early sci-fi themes on their ears.
While the narrative trick that binds these three stories together seems a bit forced, the stories themselves are natural and necessary components in the development of Miles' character. You will love the story behind how the loveable Taura became a part of the Dendari Mercenaries. And, unless you are a heartless bastard, you will need to have a box of tissue beside you as you finish the title story.
Finally, some of the stories alluded to in many of LMB's stories told in full. As usual characters that you must love, Narration great!
Not a must in enjoying the series, but a treat to have some new adventures with miles before he became the Imperial Auditor!
I really loved this book when I first read it, and still loved it after re-listening to it. Actually, listening to someone reading it adds a new depth to the story of Miles and I enjoyed it a lot. All the stories in this collection are not exactly "happy" stories, but leave you with something that makes you contemplate on the importance of "how" you live your life...
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!
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.
It is true that I know only what I have read in books. But I have read a great many books. ("Venetia" by Georgette Heyer)
Perhaps the greatest joy I've had from joining Audible three years ago is finding this series based on reader recommendations. I started with the Shards of Honor/Barrayar duology, finding both so good that I was afraid the series would inevitably go downhill once Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan ceded center stage. But no... enter their son Miles!
Miles is not the physically dominant fighter so often cast in the hero role. Far from it, he has severe physical disabilities. Resigned (maybe? sort of?) to his limitations, he discovers early in life that when you can't beat up on 'em, (1) charm them and (2) outsmart them. He proceeds to do both throughout these wonderful books, with an added dimension of compassion and a wry, witty humor unique in the science fiction I've read.
I'm more than halfway through the series and already dreading the day I finish and won't be able to experience them again for the first time.
This collection contains three novellas. Fortunately, the author's interview on Amazon ("The Chef Recommends") gives the order in which they fit into the longer sequence of novels. "Mountains of Mourning" immediately follows "The Warrior's Apprentice." It is a moving story that is more murder mystery than science fiction, recounting events that have a deep affect on Miles as he begins his career as a Vorlord and military commander.
"The Labyrinth" and the title story "Borders of Infinity" (along with "Ethan of Athos," a fun novel that is part of the Vorkosiverse but doesn't feature Miles) fit in between "Cetaganda" and "Brothers in Arms." These three form a kind of bridge between the first three Miles books and the next "trilogy" (Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance, and Memory). I haven't gotten to "Komarr" yet but gather from Bujold's notes that it moves Miles into a new phase of his career.
The icing on the cake is Grover Gardner's narration, which ranks at the very top of what I've listened to (along with Simon Vance's work on the Aubrey/Maturin novels, Davina Porter's "Outlander" series, and Simon Jones's voicing of the "Bartemeus" fantasies).
I think this is chronologically set right AFTER Brothers in Arms, and before Mirror Dance--but that is to say the linking narrative is set then, as Miles tells his mother at the end that he has much to tell her about Earth. It does have information that you might want to know before reading or listening to Mirror Dance. However, none of the information is critical. However, it works fine for filling in the gaps, any time after you feel comfortable that you know Miles and his universe. I do not recommend this as your first glimpse of this world. Unlike some others, I liked the linking narrative quite a lot, despite the fact that it is weaker than any of the individual stories.
While this book is far from the best in the series, the series is so good that I did not want to give it less than five stars.
"I can just keep coming back to her books"
It's difficult to say what it is about Bujold's books that keeps me coming back. Each time there's a turn of phrase or an insight that comes fresh.
It was such a delight when I realised that, where I thought I'd heard all the Vorkosigan audio books (having read them as hard copy in any event) there was this one I'd missed.
This is a series of short stories which might lead those unfamiliar with the series into wanting more or fills in some gaps they might not even have known were there for those who do know the other books.
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