Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Title: Memory
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Published: 1996, Baen
Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 9/10

This is only the second Miles Vorkosigan adventure I've read. I read A Civil Campaign first because that's the one with his love story in it (and you know I'm a sucker for a love story). So I was a little afraid that the other books in the series (sans romance) would not do much for me. Hoooo boy, I was so wrong.

This book falls sort of in the middle of the series. Miles has achieved military success finally, despite having been born with assorted, serious medical handicaps. I'm a little foggy on this exactly because I haven't read the earlier books, but he's established himself as an undercover agent of some sort. On a recent mission, he was nearly killed (or killed and then brought back to life, actually) and since then he's been having unexplained seizures. He doesn't want to be pulled off duty because of it, so he's been lying to his superiors about them. But then he has one during a rescue mission, and unintentionally hurts the man who he's supposed to be rescuing. Afraid that this will be the end of his military career, he lies on his report, even though he knows it's wrong and it hurts his conscience to do so.

But he's caught out in his lie and his boss, Illyan, has no choice but to put him on medical discharge. Miles, deprived of the career that he has worked so hard for, is completely lost and doesn't know what to do with himself. While Miles is casting about for his identity, Illyan appears to be having some difficulties. He has a chip in his brain that allows him to remember anything he's ever heard or seen (a handy tool for a chief of security). But the thing has started going haywire and nobody knows why. Miles wants to help, as Illyan has been a friend and mentor for years and years, but as a civilian doesn't have much power. Emperor Gregor comes up with a way to give Miles to authority to investigate the problem.

How I did love this book. How I do LOVE Miles. He's just a fascinating character--so flawed and so determined! To see him floundering after being discharged is so sad because you know he's worked many times harder than anyone else to achieve success. He's so honorable and yet he does something dishonorable because he cannot imagine a different sort of life for himself.

This seemed to me like a particularly well-rounded book. Several plotlines go on simultaneously and tons of character development--everything is given the perfect amount of emphasis and it all ties up in this nice, neat tight little package. Very good writing.

And reading these books out of order is kind of fun in a way. Little things that confused me fall into place. But I think now I'm going to go back to the beginning and watch Miles from the start. I ordered Young Miles, which has two novels and a novella packed into one book for $7.99 (what a deal!). :)


Li said...

It's no secret that I absolutely love the Vorkosigan books. And Miles. And Ivan. And Gregor. *g*

They're just so readable - and there are certain scenes I can re-read over and over again, because they're so satisfying.

Memory is one of my favourite ones, but I do find the opening scenes rather painful (you just cringe watching Miles metaphorically(?) shoot himself in the foot) - until he picks himself up again, anyway! Apart from A Civil Campaign, I also really like Cetaganda - I envy you having (practically) the whole series left to read.

I read them in chronological order, though I believe Lois McMaster Bujold actually wrote them out of order. There's also a prequel of sorts (Cordelia's Honor) to Miles' books that tells how Aral and Cordelia met.

jmc said...

More Miles love! Like Li, there are parts of Memory that make me cringe when I read them, because disaster is looming. But there are many more scenes that I love.

I sometimes selfishly wish that Bujold was a more prolific writer. But I suppose the trade of for the long gaps between books is the excellent quality of the books when they are published.

pip said...

happy happy birthday, jennie (twin)!

marmee said...

"Can you read, Pooh?" Owl asked a little anxiously. . . . So Owl wrote, and this is what he wrote:
Pooh looked on admiringly.
"I'm just saying `A Happy Birthday'," said Owl carelessly.
"It's a nice long one," said Pooh, very much impressed.
"Well, actually, of course, I'm saying `A Very Happy Birthday with Love from Pooh'. Naturally it takes a good deal of pencil to say a long thing like that."

A very happy birthday to my golden oldest daughter-- and see you soon for celebrations, good times, larks and your choice of menu.

Jennie said...

Li--It is painful to watch Miles make such a mistake--but it helped that I knew from later books that he comes about all right. :) Good to meet another Vorkosigan fan! I have read Cordelia's Honor--was my first Bujold actually. I love Cordelia! She's one tough cookie.

jmc--There are some great scenes in this--though painful, the first confrontation between Miles and Illyan is amazing. I'm glad I have so many Bujolds left to read--the Vorkosigan series is quite long. And we have the Sharing Knife coming up soon. :)

Thanks, Pip. Are you going to be extra nice to Twin tomorrow? She's quite old now, you know, you have to humor her. Maybe ya'll should go out for some bee-bim-bop. (sp?)

Marmee--Pooh bear! Awwww! Great quote. We've got a little list going of things to do/eat while visiting next week. Can't wait!

pip said...

i will most certainly be nice to twin (zemo). i'll try to speak more slowly, and be a little quieter. ;)

i did make your grandmother's chocolate cupcakes - you know, from the recipe you shared with us all on twin's blog. it's my third go at since you've posted the recipe, and i must say, perhaps my best yet. i'll be sure to send one (or three) home for you.

hope you had a great day. oh, and it's bibimbop (and its so good and so fun to say - but not as good or fun to say as bulgogi).