Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Young Miles

For someone who likes Science Fiction it might seem strange that I'm only recently acquainted with the irrepressible Miles Vorkosigan. Better late than never though. I've just burned my way through the first three books featuring the little guy. Maybe it is for the best though, because if I'd read them as they were being published then I wouldn't have been able to read them in chronological order, as some of the books filled in the gaps between previously published books. I'm a linear sort of bloke really. The first book, The Warrior's Apprentice, is a roller coaster of a ride, that really gets going after Miles tells his first little untruth to resolve a situation. The fun starts when the little fib snowballs into a web of lies and half truths with Miles at the centre of an expanding net. I know, I shouldn't really try to get away with such an awful mixed metaphor.
The second story, The Mountains of Mourning, which is more of a novella than a book, ditches the space opera format in favour of a more thoughtful look at the roots of Barrayan society with Miles investigating a Murder in a back woods village. It won the Nebula award. Seeing Miles in such a different setting gives the author an opportunity to show Miles in a different light. It is well handled and the shorter format seems to have focused the author's storytelling and exploration of themes into a more cogent whole.
The third book, The Vor Game, won a Hugo. Different again. The initial setting of the ice base was one that I was really enjoying. Just as you are getting used to the cold, Bujold pulls the rug out from under you again and we are off into the space opera driven rush of spiraling events, the eventual reunion with the Dendarii mercenaries and all those previously laid lies introduced in the first book. Very enjoyable, with no sense ever that the story is being padded, which is something that often happens to long running series. At the heart of it all though is the character of Miles. He's just a wonderful character. You can't really help but like him. If you could bottle his energy in liquid form I wouldn't drink anything else.

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