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Lois McMaster Bujold
Narrated by Grover Gardner, unabridged
Blackstone Audio, 14 hours, 32 minutes

Lois McMaster Bujold
Lois McMaster Bujold was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1949. She attended Ohio State and later worked as a pharmacy technician at the Ohio State University Hospitals. She has two children and now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her first novel, Shards of Honor, was completed in 1983 and published in 1986. Her first professional sale was a story in 1984 to Twilight Zone Magazine. Falling Free was her first Nebula Award. Since then she has won another Nebula, and 4 Hugo Awards.

Lois McMaster Bujold Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Mirror Dance
SF Site Review: Cetaganda
SF Site Review: Borders of Infinity
SF Site Review: The Vor Game
SF Site Review: Cryoburn
SF Site Review: Brothers in Arms
SF Site Review: Ethan of Athos
SF Site Review: Falling Free
SF Site Review: The Warrior's Apprentice
SF Site Review: Barrayar
SF Site Review: The Sharing Knife: Beguilement and The Sharing Knife: Legacy
SF Site Review: The Miles Vorkosigan Saga
SF Site Review: Paladin of Souls
SF Site Review: The Curse of Chalion
SF Site Review: The Spirit Ring

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nicki Gerlach

Miles Vorkosigan has made a lot of mistakes in his thirteen years of military service, but he's always been able to bounce back stronger than before. But at the start of Memory, Miles makes a series of errors in judgment that could cost him everything. After his brush with death in Mirror Dance, Miles's cryo-revival procedure has seemingly gone without a hitch -- except for the fact that he now has unexplained, unpredictable, and uncontrollable seizures. When a seizure causes some unfortunate friendly fire on an otherwise routine Dendarii rescue mission, Miles tweaks his report to hide the fact, fearing being pulled from active duty and getting stuck on a desk job.

The consequences of his report wind up being even worse than Miles had feared. Simon Illyan, the head of Imperial Security, has an eidetic memory chip that allows him to catch Miles in his lies. Furious at this deception from someone who was being groomed as his replacement, Illyan discharges Miles from the Imperial Military Service, which simultaneously strips away his ability to use his alternate identity as Admiral Miles Naismith of the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet. In one blow, Miles sees all of his future plans -- both as Admiral Naismith and as Lieutenant Vorkosigan -- stripped away, just days before his thirtieth birthday.

Miles sinks into one of his black depressions, but his self-pity doesn't last for long; something is going seriously wrong at ImpSec. Simon Illyan appears to be losing his mind, or at least the part of his mind that is contained in his memory chip. As his condition deteriorates, ImpSec higher-ups are left with a puzzle: is this a natural chip malfunction, or deliberate sabotage? And even though Miles no longer officially works for ImpSec, he's determined to get to the bottom of this mystery one way or another.

Memory is in many ways a transitional novel: the closing of one phase of Miles's life and the beginning of another one. Yet it's simultaneously an independent and relatively self-contained story, and I appreciated Lois McMaster Bujold's decision to give this book a plot of its own rather than attempting to hang an entire novel on Miles's personal development. As a result, though, the plot is somewhat oddly structured: a self-contained mystery novel bookended by large segments of series continuity. Thus the "real" plot feels like it takes a long time to get started; the crisis that sparks the mystery (i.e., who or what destroyed Illyan's chip?) doesn't appear until almost 40 percent of the way through. Reading about Miles doing nothing except simmering in his deep depression is not uninteresting, per se -- Bujold throws in too many nice character moments, callbacks to previous books, and dryly funny bits for that -- but it is also not something that I would describe as "action packed."

Once the mystery starts, however, the plot picks up the pace. It took me a bit to get my footing in the plot -- while I'm sure Illyan's memory chip has been mentioned in the series prior to this point, it wasn't something of which I made any particular note (not having an eidetic memory of my own), and thus its failure as a key plot point seemed to come from left field.

But my larger problem with the mystery was that I didn't find it all that mysterious. I'm not a huge reader of mysteries, but in this case, I had the solution pegged -- correctly, as it turns out -- almost from the word go. Miles is usually so intelligent that as the investigation went on, and clues continued to be dropped, I felt like his failure to see the right answer was a result of his being deliberately obtuse. It wound up making what would otherwise have been highly enjoyable listening -- see above re: funny, clever, and excellent character development -- more frustrating than it needed to be. If only there were a way to reach into a book and slap the main character around until they remember the basics of criminal investigations...

But, for all that, any time spent in the universe of the Vorkosigan Saga is time well-spent, even when an individual installment doesn't quite live up to the heights set by some of its predecessors, and I certainly enjoyed the listening experience. The audio production and Grover Gardner's narration were seamlessly excellent, as always, and I'm looking forward to listening to more, especially given the new path on which Memory seems to have set Miles's life.

Copyright © 2011 Nicki Gerlach

Nicki Gerlach is a mad scientist by day and an avid reader the rest of the time.  More of her book reviews can be found at her blog,

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