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Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Memory, Chapters 17-19

This week in the Vorkosigan reread, Simon Illyan has his chip removed! Miles gets the cause of his seizures diagnosed! Those are important. I mean, wicked, wicked important. If Illyan didn’t get his chip out he was going to have a stroke from the stress, and possibly I would have had a stroke from the stress of reading about it. Honestly, I think what happened to Illyan is in the range of what happened to Mark, and Bujold let us off light by describing it only from the perspective of observers who weren’t there for very long. Harouche says it seems a waste to lose the chip, which proves that Harouche is underinvested in preserving Simon Illyan. Miles invites Illyan to recover from surgery at Vorkosigan House. The architecture there is a lot nicer than at ImpSec, and the food is amazing.

So those are the major plot points. And without discounting them in the slightest, I would like to turn our attention now to the matter of VOR LEISURE TIME.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Memory, Chapters 13 and 14

Chapter 13 of Memory opens with a continuation of Gregor and Laisa’s romance. Miles has a great deal of assigned reading to do and Gregor and Laisa are having a courting picnic to introduce Laisa among the Emperor’s social circle. Their engagement is sort of an open secret at this point; those in attendance at the picnic certainly seem to be aware, those not in attendance are, perhaps, less well-informed.

The event also offers an occasion for Miles’s first conscious encounter with Lieutenant Vorberg. Vorberg is unlikely to ever hear Miles’s side of the story of what happened to his legs, but he gives Miles his. It is not flattering to the Dendarii. Miles tries to defend them. Oh Miles. How did you survive in covert ops? Miles’s assertion that he has heard some good things about those mercenaries who coincidentally happen to be named after some mountains he owns, but of course has no personal connection, is unconvincing.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Memory, Chapter 12

Last week, I included Miles’s birthday correspondence in my discussion of chapters 10 and 11. That doesn’t actually happen until the beginning of chapter 12—oops.

It’s an easy mistake to make because Memory tends to suck you in. I plan to read a couple chapters, just to make sure I’ve nailed down the boundaries of the next blog post, and the next thing I know someone is having brain surgery.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Memory, Chapters 10-11

This week’s chapters deal with Miles’s 30th birthday. Happy birthday, Miles!  

My copy of Memory was purchased from the Oberlin College Cooperative Bookstore shortly after I turned twenty. That was a very different time to be reading about Miles turning thirty than now, almost exactly twenty-one years later. Thirty seemed old then. I sort of got what Miles said to Martin about middle age being a moveable feast, always ten years older than you are, but it really hit home on this read. Miles is striking me as shockingly young this week because I finally noticed that his birthday means that he must have been killed at twenty-nine. Or possibly at twenty-eight—it was a long convalescence. He’s been leading the Dendarii for slightly more than a decade, and he’s been assigned to ImpSec for approximately seven years. Rank notwithstanding, his career has been meteoric; he has come an incredibly long way as a result of a few impulsive decisions he made to impress a girl while vacationing at age seventeen. Gregor has already asked him not to return the the Dendarii, but I think he needs to go further. Miles is Not Safe to be out of direct Imperial control. He’s dangerous; he needs a job.  

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Memory, Chapters 7-9

Here’s the thing: I love Barrayar.

It’s a hideous horrible clump of dirt orbiting a sun somewhere a bunch of wormhole jumps and several centuries away. Its culture is godawful and masochistic. It is dismissive of women, callous to men, and completely horrible to anyone who doesn’t fit into its limited collection of Proper Barrayaran molds. It’s overdue for a Marxist revolution, but thus far its streets have run red with blood on several notable occasions without any substantial changes to its intolerable injustices. I don’t know why anyone puts up with it.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Memory, Chapters 5 and 6

One of the many things I appreciate about Memory is that Miles’s character-shaping important mistakes are in the early chapters. He’s already shot himself in both feet (and Vorberg just below the knees) by not telling his ImpSec doctors about his seizures, not seeking medical attention for his seizures, not telling his second-in-command about his seizures, personally leading troops into combat despite his seizures, and falsifying a report to cover up his seizures. He also cut off Vorberg’s legs and argued with Quinn. There’s just one mistake left, and he already started making it when he falsified the report. He’ll finish the job in chapter six.

Before that—Duv Galeni goes on a date.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Mirror Dance, Chapters 18-33

Last week’s blog post was a fast pass through a large number of Mirror Dance’s middle chapters, and between that and having now actually reread the entire book, I’m finding it much less terrifying; the torture scenes are still lurking out there, but they are no longer lurking stealthily. It turns out they’re pretty close to the end. But now that I’ve found my peace with it, the truth about Mirror Dance is still that I would like to read something else.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Mirror Dance, Chapters 9-17

The blog index informs me that this is our seventh week of quivering in awe and trepidation under the force of Mirror Dance. This is exactly as many weeks as we spent dealing with the entirety of Ethan of Athos, a book that I actually enjoyed. I’ve been taking Mirror Dance slowly in an effort to take on the heinous torture scenes in the middle of it on my own terms, as if I have terms of my own that would somehow make the torture better. In recent days, however, I have come to the conclusion that there’s no butter in this hell, so this week we’re going to power through the hideous part so that we can move on and talk about more pleasant topics. It’s what Alys Vorpatril would do.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Mirror Dance, Chapter 8

This week, the Dendarii have a staff meeting. I don’t think I would enjoy participating in the Dendarii staff meeting, which has to deal with a particularly dire topic. However, I admire the efficiency with which Elena Bothari-Jesek approaches the agenda.

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.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Mirror Dance, Chapters 6 and 7

Somewhere in the Vorkosigan universe, Ethan is presenting a newborn son to a grateful father. Cordelia, Jole and Aral are falling ever deeper in love. The Koudelka girls are having cozy chats with their mother about baking cakes, Ma Kosti is packing lunches for her sons, Lem Ksurick is building a hydroelectric power station, Simon Illyan and Lady Alys are exchanging knowing glances, and Bothari lies at peace at the foot of an empty grave.

In our corner of the world, Mark has just proven himself the inept twin. He’s not going to hold exclusive claim to the title for long.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Mirror Dance, Chapter 5

This is the moment, people! Grab a box of tissues and keep your companion animals close at hand—we’ve reached the chapter with the raid. Nothing good is going to happen here.

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.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

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.

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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.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga