Borders of Infinity

by Lois McMaster Bujold

Cover image

Series: Vorkosigan #6
Publisher: Baen
Copyright: October 1989
Printing: July 2000
ISBN: 0-671-72093-7
Format: Mass market
Pages: 311

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This is a collection of short stories (novellas, really) sprinkled through the early time frame of the Vorkosigan series. "The Mountains of Mourning" takes place between The Warrior's Apprentice and The Vor Game, and "Labyrinth" and "The Borders of Infinity" take place between Cetaganda and Brothers in Arms (after Ethan of Athos, not that it matters a lot). There is also a very thin framing story that takes place between Brothers in Arms and Mirror Dance. It's just barely sufficient as a framing device and doesn't really add anything to the book.

I don't recommend reading these stories without having read at least through The Warrior's Apprentice; you would be missing too much background. Note that much of the Vorkosigan series has since been reprinted in omnibus editions that combine a couple of the novels with one of these short stories, which may be an easier way to get these stories.

"The Mountains of Mourning": The mother of a murdered infant born with a birth defect reaches the Vorkosigan home to plead for justice, and Miles's father sends him to deal with the situation, both as a way to teach him how to be a lord and to make a point. (Miles suffers from genetic damage that left him less than five feet tall with extremely brittle bones.) The story, as expected, revolves around the reaction of the Barrayarans to genetic disorders and Miles's attempt to change their opinions, and other than that is a traditional mystery complete with conversations with everyone involved and a dramatic revelation scene. The mystery isn't particularly rewarding, as it's rather easy to figure out who did it, and the rest of the story seemed rather preachy to me. Still, it's fun to watch Miles do his thing. (6)

"Labyrinth": A pickup of a scientist by the Dendarii Mercenaries becomes far more complex than expected when Miles manages to step into internecine warfare among the syndicates of Jackson's Whole. A Quaddies (from Falling Free) shows up, but the core of the story is Miles's discovery of the results of a super-soldier genetic engineering program and his efforts to play good samaritan and get everyone likeable away from the syndicate bosses.

Most of this story is fairly average Miles stuff, but I was surprised by his reaction to the super soldier experiment. It's not at all what I was expecting and gave the story a different emotional tone. That being said, it wasn't well-defended in the story, and much of the rest of the plot seemed a bit too easy to me. (6)

"The Borders of Infinity": This is, in many ways, the archetype of a Miles story. He starts in a down and out situation (this one being a prison camp, far worse than most) and gets people to rally around him through the sheer force of personality, hope, and imagination. That, plus a fair bit of luck and good connections, lets him turn the situation on its head and make everything work out. The story ended up working far better than I was expecting after the brutal beginning and shows a lot about Miles's loyalty to the people under his command. (7)

Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed: 2005-08-22

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