Tor.com content by

Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Mirror Dance, Chapters 3 and 4

We’re still wading slowly into the shark-infested waters of the Doppelgangening. As of the end of chapter four, no one has been killed. Things are getting darker, though, because chapters three and four explore Mark’s childhood. Miles’s childhood involved a lot of fractures and medical procedures, a school that taught him to recite entire plays, and ponies. Mark’s did not.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Mirror Dance, Chapters 1 and 2

Chapters 1 and 2 are really just barely dipping our toes into Mirror Dance. These opening chapters are simple—almost gentle. Nothing clearly bad has happened yet. Mark gets on the Ariel and no one gets tortured or dies. That’s it. We’re OK. Everyone is OK except Mark.

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Staring into the Abyss of Mirror Dance

I’ve read all the books in this series before, some over and over, others only once. In most cases where I’ve only read the book once, it’s because it hasn’t been convenient. I lost my copy, or it came out after A Civil Campaign and I was busy rereading that. Whether I’ve read the book one time or a thousand, I usually give it a thoughtful skim before embarking on the reread. This time, we’re flying blind because Mirror Dance is terrifying. My vague recollection is that we are about to enter the dark heart of Rudyard Kipling’s “If” – We’re about to flirt with triumph and disaster, and of the two, disaster is the far superior imposter. We’re going to be trodding the well-worn paths of “If” for a while – in Memory Miles makes one heap of all his winnings, and, as Kipling suggests, he loses it. No one is tortured by being flayed and left to itch, though, so I feel that Memory offers a more optimistic path to redemption.

We’re somewhere in the general vicinity of the halfway point of the reread, and this seems like an opportune moment for some reflection on the series so far.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Brothers in Arms, Chapters 13-16

We’re approaching the end of Brothers in Arms here, which means it’s time for the dramatic rescue sequence! Miles rescues Mark from the Komarran Underground, the Barrayarans, the Cetagandans, and the London police, then rescues Ivan from the high tide and Elli from a closet (actually a closet, not a metaphorical closet).

On an aesthetic level, I feel like two planetary governments, one resistance movement, a police force, and a mercenary company is a lot of moving parts to involve in a single rescue mission. In defense of Bujold’s work (though it doesn’t need defending), it’s a single night’s work, but not a single rescue. We’ve got four rescuees, three of whom are partially self-rescuing or who make major contributions to the rescue of others.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Brothers in Arms, Chapters 11 and 12

Last week, Miles and Galeni were in Komarran custody with little chance of escape. They tried anyway—it didn’t go well. This section opens in Miles’s nightmares; In the aftermath of Dagoola, Miles is consumed by his efforts to prevent others from sacrificing themselves for him. His parents sacrificed his potential siblings when he was a child, and now Galen wants to sacrifice Mark. It’s understandable that Miles is preoccupied with this, and difficult to deal with while he’s locked up. This week, Miles and Duv have a chance to deal with their problems—they go from the fire back into the frying pan, at least for a little bit.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Brothers in Arms, Chapters 9 and 10

Chapters 9 and 10 of Brothers in Arms are like Frankenstein. Ser Galen has created a monster, and he is in the process of losing control of it. Miles is always at his best on a rescue mission; This section begins his efforts to rescue his baby brother.

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Brothers in Arms, Chapters 7 and 8

Up until this point, Miles thought he was the mastermind of his own conspiracy. That made sense—he’s the guy with a secret identity that’s running around Earth at the same time as his alter ego. He controls 5000 troops who can do almost anything and who don’t ask questions. He’s got a lover, and she’s the inestimable Quinn. Miles has had some recent problems—limited personal time, financial issues—but he’s been riding pretty high. This far away from Barrayar, he hasn’t worried about being a pawn in anyone else’s conspiracy. His calculations were incomplete. In chapters three and four, I noted Bujold’s comedic genius. This week, we’re looking at chapters seven and eight, which offer another form of genius. There are payoffs here for things that didn’t appear to be major investments, and the tight and crafty dialogue deftly complements the conspiracies that surround Miles at this point.

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Brothers in Arms, Chapters 4-6

So, I sat down to pick an end point for this week’s blog post and realized that the problem was not so much the end as the beginning. Yeah, someone forgot where the dividing line was between chapters 3 and 4. Some of the important details in chapter 4 were neglected and we need to take a second look. These issues help frame the competing forces of identities, relationships, revenge and duty in chapters 5 and 6, and those are fairly central to the book.

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Brothers in Arms, Chapters 3-4

The Warrior’s Apprentice got me into the Vorkosigan Saga, but Brothers in Arms got me hooked. I don’t want to get too bogged down in the literary analysis here—these are the chapters where Miles proves that he can show us a real good time. I’m not sure he proves that he can show Elli a real good time, but I’m good.

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Brothers in Arms

This week, the Vorkosigan reread embarks upon Brothers in Arms, a book that I remember as being a madcap screwball comedy. Brothers puts Miles in the unusual position of having to switch back and forth between his roles on short notice, while also dodging the Cetagandans who are out to assassinate him in his persona as Admiral Naismith. This is one of the places where the differences between reading order and writing order are very obvious – after Cetaganda, the Cetagandans really should be capable of spotting Lieutenant Lord Miles Vorkosigan in the wild. But of course, Cetaganda was years away, unless they know some of the things that Miles is about to learn. Brothers also introduces two characters who will go on to play enormous roles in the rest of the series – Mark and Galeni.

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: “Borders of Infinity”

This week, we’re rereading “The Borders of Infinity,” the third novella in Borders of Infinity. Together, “Borders” and “Labyrinth” provide the explanation for those cost overruns that Illyan is looking into. The story was first published in 1987, in a Baen anthology titled Free Lancers. As an introduction to Miles, “Borders” works well on its own; This is the story where Miles arrives at the Dagoola IV prison camp empty-handed, quickly loses his clothes, and then saves everyone. He’s like a leprechaun who can pull combat drop shuttles out of his butt.

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Borders of Infinity, “Labyrinth”

“Labyrinth,” the middle story of Borders of Infinity takes us to Jackson’s Whole, the Galactic Nexus’s official wretched hive of scum and villainy. We’re here to pick up Dr. Hugh Canaba, who Barrayar very much wants to involve in their genetics projects. Barrayar has genetics projects now. Which makes sense, because Barrayar has a tissue sample from Terrence Cee. We learned all about the potential multi-generational consequences of handing out your tissue samples in Ethan of Athos. Borders of Infinity was the sixth Vorkosigan book published, first appearing in 1989. This was thirteen years prior to the UN’s adoption of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, banning the recruitment of children under the age of 18 by guerrilla and non-state forces.

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Borders of Infinity, “The Mountains of Mourning”

This week, we’re heading to Vorkosigan Surleau and then into the Dendarii Mountains with Miles. We will be looking at “Mountains of Mourning,” the first of the three novellas in Borders of Infinity. We’ve gone back in time here to the moments after Miles’s academy graduation and before his sojourn at Camp Permafrost. Assuming that Barrayar’s atmosphere is similar to Earth’s, space is going to be about 62 miles away for this entire story. Some parts of this space opera are still finding their way home.

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Space Opera and the Underrated Importance of Ordinary, Everyday Life

The truth is, I’m not really a Space Opera kind of girl. Left to my own devices, I will not-infrequently choose the sort of book that has at least one psychic animal and an ill-advised romantic relationship in it. You don’t see a TON of space in those. Unless you’re reading Anne McCaffrey, and hey, those are some AMAZING cats.

I like not-space. It has great things in it, like gel pens, and cheese and crackers, and a dramatically reduced chance of dying from exposure to hard vacuum. And while I think my personal preferences are important to acknowledge, I am not immune to Space Opera’s charms.

[I love space opera that connects the big and the small.]

Series: Space Opera Week

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Borders of Infinity

We finished Ethan of Athos last week, so this week we’re starting Borders of Infinity—and we get to do BOOK COVERS!

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga