Recommended - Hugo Winner

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Bujold, Lois M.
book-date: 1994
cvr art:
cvr price:
(Tall) Hardcover
Gary Ruddell
Book= VG+ to near-Fine
Dustjacket= near-Fine

Baen "First printing, March 1994" hardcover. Cover by Gary Ruddell, 392 pages, $21.00 cover price. Size is 6-3/8" by 9-1/2" Condition is VG+ to near-Fine in a near-Fine dustjacket: book is tight and almost square (bottom is square, top has very slight tilt); with the usual light bumping to spine ends, age-tanning is very mild and uniform. Unclipped dustjacket ($21.00 price at top of inside flap) has no tears and slight overall wear. No stamps, marks or writing - a clean copy.

Mirror Dance (1994) - a novel in Bujold's "Vorkosigan" series featuring Miles, and his clone brother - taking place after Brothers in Arms (1989), and before Memory (1996). This won the Hugo award for "best novel" in 1995.

[I'm quoting most of a review in LOCUS for a reasonable plot summary/set-up, and follow with some comments of my own]:
"It's obvious by now that the wit, charm, and headlong, impetuous genius of Miles Naismith Vorkosigan (and his various personae) have transformed the stuff of standard military space opera into something far more delicious - and addictive. But Lois McMaster Bujold's "Vorkosigan" series does not depend on Miles alone, as she already demonstrated in Barrayar, set before his birth and focusing on the perilous trans-cultural love match of his parents. Now in Mirror Dance, the first series book since Barrayar. another Vorkosigan steps into the spotlight: Miles' clone Mark, first encountered in Brothers in Arms.

Where Brothers was a fast-paced romp, Mirror Dance is something different, no less urgent but taking its timing from Mark, not Miles. The brothers are far from exact duplicates, physically or mentally, despite their shared dwarfism. Miles runs on adrenaline overdrive and thinks on his feet; Mark struggles against weight gain and prefers painstaking analysis to immediate action. Or so we'll come to find. As the book begins, Mark is doing his best to impersonate Miles - or Admiral Naismith, leader of the Free Dendarii Mercenaries - so he can co-opt part of the fleet for a mission of his own, a planetary smash-and-grab, just the sort of thing Miles might do. Caught unawares, the real Miles races to catch up... but then, instead of the brilliant impromptu brother act of the earlier book, we get a complex mingling of success and disaster.

The focus shifts to Mark, still with the Dendarii but no longer in charge of them or, in some ways, of himself. Just who is he? A trained killer, a botched copy of his brilliant brother, a young man who's never known a home or family, the brutalized victim of a horrific childhood... yet a Vorkosigan for all that, with his own role to play in Barrayar's endless political machinations? As Mark struggles to understand himself, his brother, and their worlds (with a life-and-death concern driving the search), people and places we thought we knew take on entirely new dimensions. Instead of Miles' fireworks and lightning bursts, the scenes are chiaroscuro - often darker than anything Bujold has achieved before, but never merely dark, for the Naismith-Vorkosigan clan is incapable of abandoning wit and style, however harsh the circumstances.

In some ways, Mirror Dance is a breakthrough, in others another sequence in a fine continuing saga. but I can't say more without disclosing loo much of the plot. So go discover this impressive book for yourself: you're in for some surprises, but I don't think you'll be disappointed." [-Farren Miller, LOCUS January 1994]

[My own comments]: I strongly recommend Mirror Dance, but hope you've read most of the preceding books in the series before tackling this one. Whatever you do - don't believe the flap-copy is any kind of accurate representation of the plot. It implies that Mark still wants to take Miles' place (he doesn't - really!) As the review above suggests, this is a "darker" or more serious entry in the series, many of which could be described as "manic" or "romps." As with any book by Bujold, there is plenty of wit, and sometimes black humor. One thing Bujold has a gift for is coining a phrase to exactly describe a situation - my favorite from this book is introducing a post-combat debriefing as "like being trapped in a locked room with half a dozen serial killers with hangovers." One of the questions asked during this de-briefing session is: who is Mark when he is not playing Miles (or the Admiral)? When Mark visits Barrayar, he unexpectedly finds someone who is willing to accept him as a person on his own - the Countess (Cordelia.) That question of identity is the heart of this book - not just for Mark, but for Miles when he wakes up after cryo-revival. Yes, he was killed, prepped under combat conditions, stuffed into a cryo-chamber - which was then misplaced or lost. One of the primary problems of revival is cryo-amnesiacs can be so hungry for identity, they pick a mistaken one. Since Miles has multiple roles as a Vor lord, and an Impsec covert ops Admiral who claimed to be a clone - he could easily assemble evidence for a mistaken identity. And his benefactors need him to be the right one for their survival.

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