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NANO is Why: Review of Borders of infinity

Bujold, Lois McMaster. 1989. Borders of infinity. The Vorkosigan saga. New York: Baen Books. Find in a Library: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/20275581

Rating: 5 stars

Best Line: How could I have died and gone to hell without noticing the transition?

Best Scene: Miles convincing the female troops to seize control of the camp.

Review: The book Borders of Infinity is actually three novellas in one, along with a framing story of Miles trying to explain his expenses to his boss while laid up in the hospital. All three stories “Mountains of Mourning”, “Labyrinth”, and “Borders of Infinity” are five star stories that fully engage you.

“Mountains of Mourning” – Miles Vorkosigan is considered a mutant on his home world of Barrayar. In times past and in the rural present, infanticide was practiced when a child was suspected of being a mutant. In this story, Miles, as representative of the District Count his father has to investigate a claimed infanticide. The mother is sure who did it. The answer turns out to be complicated and shocking. Perhaps not shocking to people who know how the barbaric custom of female circumcision is upheld. Clues are provided, but you’re kept guessing until the end when you’re confident justice is served even though no one else has to die.

“Labyrinth” starts out as a simple covert pickup. It converts into a search and destroy mission. When Miles discovers the “experiment” he is supposed to destroy is a sentient teenager, he risks everything (while getting whomped in the process) to rescue her from her captors. I find it to be a pretty pro-life story. Every sentient being matters, even if they are an artificial chimera construct.

“Borders of Infinity” is probably the best story of the book because for 90% of it all Miles has to work with is his wit. He doesn’t even have the clothes on his back. No, not a nudist colony, but a prison camp. A camp where a climate controlled force field dome is all it took to reduce 10,000 professional soldiers to savagery. No guards are needed to dehumanize these prisoners, they took care of that themselves. Miles uses the gift of gab and inventiveness that you’ve come to love in previous books to remind people of who and what they are. And how to get a square meal in the face of bullies. While the last chapter or so is pulled off by the Dendarii Mercenaries, they couldn’t have pulled it off without Miles’ wit to get the prisoners to cooperate in their own best interest.

A book to keep you up late at night. But in a good way.

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