Bujold, Lois M.
book-date: 1996
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Gary Ruddell

Hugo-nominee for "best novel" in 1997.

Memory (1996) - a novel in Bujold's "Vorkosigan" series featuring Miles Vorkosigan, which takes place after Mirror Dance (1994), and before Komarr (1998). This was a Hugo nominee for "best novel" in 1997.

[For a reasonable plot summary/set-up, I'm quoting a review in LOCUS]:
Memory, latest in the chronicles of Miles Vorkosigan, follows through on the new depth (and sometimes darkness) introduced along with Miles's clone-brother Mark in the previous book, Mirror Dance - and goes further into psychological crisis - without entirely sacrificing the fast-paced adventure and sheer intellectual brio that has distinguished this series of bravura space operas.

Mark doesn't make an appearance this time. No, the forces working against Miles's alternate persona of mercenary leader Admiral Naismith begin with Miles himself. At 29-going-on-30, he may seem a bit young for a midlife crisis, but technically this is more like the start of a second life after his revival from death last time - and that new life has a hidden, physical flaw. A combination of bad luck, bad judgement, and desperation soon brings Miles to what seems to him the nadir of his life: stuck back on Barrayar, with the Naismith role lost to him, perhaps forever, and the prospect of spending decades as an idle aristocrat on a backwater planet.

Two events shake up the status quo on Barrayar, however. Miles's friend (and, indirectly, employer) the emperor Gregor falls in love, and his direct boss, head of ImpSec Illyan, abruptly begins to suffer from a health crisis far worse than Miles's troubles. For Illyan, it's a matter of memory: the experimental eidetic memory chip he's had within his brain for 35 years has gone haywire, and the trauma just might kill him.

Miles has enough of his old panache left to spring into action on the problem of Illvan's strange crisis. Was it induced deliberately? An array of questions must follow if that first one gets the answer "yes." It's fortunate that Miles is very good at finding the answers to questions. Still, the action's not so headlong that he can entirely forget his own dilemma - a matter of identity. As he comes to realize, "what you were was what you did... and I did more, oh yes. If a hunger for identity were translated into, say, a hunger for food, he'd be a more fantastic glutton than Mark had ever dreamed of being." Which leads him to wonder, "Is it irrational, to want to be so much, to want so hard it hurts?"

Thus Miles has two mysteries to unravel, the identity and motives of Illyan's attacker, and the nature of his own complex personality, once Naismith has been hooked offstage. It will not surprise Bujold's avid readers that this young Lord Vorkosigan manages both tasks, but some of the answers may prove surprising. This is a tale of growth and change, with a inner momentum that takes it past the pat resolution of a standard mystery, even as its outward momentum also leads to a startling change in Miles's circumstances.

As ever with Bujold, Memory is a delight. It's also a fascinating psychological study of an extraordinary man, and the strange interplay of the future with a past he may have thought he'd left behind. [-Farren Miller, LOCUS September 1996]