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Mirror Dance (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures) Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1995
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Miles Vorkosigan faces more than his share of troubles as the protagonist in Mirror Dance. Not only is he deformed and undersized but he has a cloned brother who gets into a jam in the free enterprise plague spot known as Jackson's Whole. Miles tries to help his brother but ends up injured, placed on cryogenic suspension and then lost in intergalactic limbo. And that's just in the first 100 pages. The following 300 pages add a wealth more to this fantastic tale that's both humorous and finely written. Mirror Dance won the 1995 Hugo Award for Science Fiction.
"...intricate and rousing new installment of the Vorkosigan adventures...". -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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In this ninth entry in the Vorkosigan Saga, Miles' clone-brother, Mark, comes into his own. He takes center stage throughout much of the novel. In a sense, though Mark was introduced in the preceding book, Brothers in Arms, this is his coming-of-age story. We follow his development from antagonist to collaborator, through a long series of conflicts and adventures that force him to grow. We learned in Brothers in Arms that Mark was designed and raised on the criminal planet Jackson's Whole to impersonate Miles and eventually worm his way onto the throne of the Barrayaran Empire. In that book, the two brothers finally met. Now, as Mirror Dance opens, Miles is away from his fleet, engaged on business in his guise as Admiral Miles Naismith of the Denarii Mercenaries. Mark seizes the opportunity to commandeer one of Miles' warships and sets out on a mission to avenge the crimes committed against him on Jackson's Whole. The two brothers come together again when Mark's mission has gone awry, as is so often the case with so many of their adventures.
Lois McMaster Bujold is an American science fiction writer who rivals Robert Heinlein in the number of major awards she has won for her work. The first book in the Vorkosigan Saga, Shards of Honor, was published in 1986. The most recent appeared in May 2018. Apparently, then, we can hope for many more installments in this charming series of novels.
There are a few big problems Bujold must overcome - problems she gives herself. First, there is Mark's lack of character. He is a poor-man's Miles who "grew up" with many of his problems (and more) and none of his role models or training. Then there is the betrayal of one of Miles' most loyal followers. No matter his/her motivations, it becomes a co-conspirator in a clearly underplanned, overconfident mission that leads to tragedy. Third, there's the 'then what' waiting that turns all of Simon Illyan's precision and cleverness into bumbling ineptitude.
And then there's the frankly disgusting torture. Not cool. I don't need to know these things. It doesn't make me pity/understand Mark more, it just makes me want him and all his issues to go away.
The 4 stars are largely for Cordelia and Aral. Oh, how I've missed them. They are written beautifully here, dealing with their more advanced ages, the family horrors, and the perfectly believable consequences of Mark's actions. Aral reacts to Mark as a man of his background would. Cordelia is the voice of the mother we all wanted and now try to be. Even Gregor and Ivan's outlines are filled in in ways that make me want to visit Barrayar just to meet them.
The book ends. And the reader likely has found a way to deal with Mark and his mountain of baggage. I will admit it makes me want to read Memory immediately, just to get the taste of him out of my mouth.
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