Miles in Love, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Since the library manager decided to introduce people to the new online library catalogue in this month’s village newsletter, instead of to a new book, Ook is presenting a rerun from 2009.

It’s not many space operas that could get away with a mushy title like Miles in Love. This is in fact an omnibus volume containing the novels Komarr and A Civil Campaign, and the novella “Winterfair Gifts”. Miles Vorkosigan has been admiral of a mercenary fleet, an undercover agent, has been accused of treason and almost everything else, has saved an enemy empire as well as his own, and mostly before the age of thirty. In Komarr, the dwarfish, epileptic, and ever-charming trouble-magnet Miles is sent to investigate what is either a terrible accident or terrorism, on a conquered planet where his surname is synonymous with betrayal and massacre. Ekaterin, the other hero of the book, is a dutiful wife to an emotionally abusive civil servant; she is caught up in Miles’s investigation and ends up facing down the terrorists. Bujold doesn’t do hapless, helpless females waiting to be rescued, as readers of the first two books in the series, about Miles’ mother Captain Naismith, will know. (These were Shards of Honor and Barrayar, republished in one volume as Cordelia’s Honor, which you can also find in our library.) In A Civil Campaign, genetic engineering, gender-restricted politics and the politics of gender, and a threatened coup complicate an imperial wedding, while Miles, in true Miles fashion, blows up his own courtship of widowed Ekaterin. “Winterfair Gifts” is a mystery about attempted murder at Miles’ own wedding.

Bujold is one of those master writers whose stories contain the full range of human experience, tragedy, defeat, victory over the self as well as external enemies, a deft comic touch, tenderness and horror. The role and duty of the individual within society and to his or her self, gender and family, engineering, and politics, are all crucial themes or elements in her stories and she is one of the most interesting writers currently exploring the social ramifications of future technology. She is one of the great writers of our time, four-time winner of the Hugo Award for best novel. We also have Bujold’s Memory, which is one of the best science fiction novels and a great novel, period, as well as Diplomatic Immunity and Cryoburn. Even non science-fiction readers have found themselves captivated by Miles and the Vorkosigan saga.