Mirror Dance - Lois McMaster Bujold

A while back I'd read an article about the science fiction genre in Re:generation Quarterly (a now-defunct magazine), and the author was a big fan of Lois McMaster Bujold. Up until then I don't think I even had even heard of Bujold, but I added her to my list of authors to eventually read. I came across this one at the Grant County Library; it's well into the Vorkosigan series but I figured I'd give it a shot and see if it made sense anyway. Fortunately for me, there was a small timeline in the back summarizing the major events from the series up through this book, which made everything much easier to follow.

Without going through the entire timeline, the basic storyline of the series follows Miles Vorkosigan, son of a Count, who also has a created identity as Admiral Miles Naismith and runs around having adventures (which, presumably, Lord Miles cannot). In the previous books there was an assassination plot involving a clone of Miles, who has since been named Mark and repeatedly escapes surveillance. The plot of Mirror Dance is a chaotic way to be introduced to all the characters: Mark assumes Miles' identity and takes one of his mercenary ships for a personal mission, which he botches. Miles is then forced to show up to rescue his troopers and his clone-brother. For various reasons, the identities of the two get mixed up throughout the book, with each playing the role of the other at times.

Back to that RQ article: the author's argument was that science fiction is not actually about the times and places far away, but is actually about the here and now. Science fiction allows an author to take a situation or scenario and distance it by projecting into the future or into a different culture, and then examine it from a different angle. My friend Nate, however, edited the article and said that while he appreciated the author's enthusiasm about science fiction, he found the arguments quite flawed, particularly because the passages from sci-fi novels that he picked to support his argument were, well, not relevant to everyday life. Having read this book, I might have to agree. I did enjoy the book, particularly the development of Mark's character and the questions of identity and purpose. But I do admit that the scenarios and conflicts and challenges the characters find themselves in would be hard to find parallels for in our world. Cryo-revival, clones, daring space rescues ... I suppose the closest thing would be identity theft, though the way it's handled here isn't exactly a useful example for us.

In the end, I just enjoyed the book as sci-fi without trying to make it pertain to 21st-century Earth, and that seemed to work just fine. I'd be interested to read more of Bujold's work in the future but I don't think I'll go out of my way to find it, either.

Fed to jonathan's brain | June 10, 2005 | Comments (0)


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