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Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga