Science Fiction

Shards of Honor (SoH)

A basic intergalactic egalitarian female ship commander meets male neofeudal Military commander story. They fall in love. They lose each other. They find each other.

Hmmm...well that description isn't going to sell anything. How about this. SoH introduces some incredibly compelling characters.

Aral Vorkosigan. A cross between Winston Churchill and Athos of the Musketeers. A man of honor who must make the hard choices.

Cordelia Naismith. A rational woman in a war zone who is trying to find her way. Paper, scissors, stone.

Bothari. Ah Bothari. Insane, changeable, an elemental force in the landscape. I wouldn't want to meet him, but I can pity him.

Barrayar (B)

This is one of my favorite books. A deft combination of a adventure, romance after the marriage, and an exploration of motherhood.

There are also several hilarious scenes in which our main character (Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan)'s Betan (read hyper Californian) sensibilities run up against Barrayaran cultural walls.

Before starting however, go back and read SoH.

Warriors Apprentice (WA)

I cry every time I read this book. Not through the whole book mind you. But there's this scene which just rips my heart out every time. I would recommend reading SoH and B first to give "the scene" added punch and relevance.

This is not Lois' most polished book. However, it is the first book to focus on Miles Vorkosigan, the physically disabled son of the main characters of SoH and B. Miles may not be strong, but he is magnetically charismatic. Miles not only bedazzles other characters, but readers as well.

The book's plot is fairly standard space opera involving an escalating series of adventures. There are some rather nice space battles and a great scene involving Mercenary 401K plans.

The Vor Game (VG)

This is a fun book to read

Lois, as always, puts Miles through, well hades if not hell, just to see what interesting things he'll do. The action is fast paced. There is adventure, intrigue, and a damn fine space battle at the end.

VG expands Lois' universe and gives readers a better intro to some of the background cast. Miles is in fine fettle as he re-encounters the Dendarii mercenaries and deals with intergalactic intrigue.

Although this is a midstream book, I like to recommend readers read VG first. Mainly because Lois hits her stride in this Hugo (plug, plug, plug) award winning book.

Cetaganda (C)

A light fluffy, I'm in a bad mood, give me a fun adventure romp book.

Miles and his cousin Ivan visit Eta Ceta, the center of the Cetagandan Empire, for a state funeral. Adventure ensues.

One of the things I like about Lois' writing is that technology is not just window dressing. It has a societal effect. Just as the car and the computer affect how I live my life, inventions like artificial wombs and genome mapping shape Cetagandan society. Since Miles is an outsider, we get to explore Cetaganda from an outsider's point of view.

Gosh, and this is one of her light books.

Ethan of Athos (EoA)

Small word of warning this is not a Miles book. Same universe though.

A light fluffy book, with one of the most brilliant dead body disposals I've ever read. Also some nice gender bending characterization. (just for reference, this is the only gay obstetrician adventure story I've ever encountered.)

Brothers in Arms (BiA)

Good adventure plot. Miles as always beguiles with his quick wits and general hyperactivity.

Miles pays a visit to London, Earth. He encounters Cetagandan hit squads, Komarran rebels, his cousin Ivan, and an unexpected relative Mark.

Miles problems with keeping his two identities separate sets much of the stage for MD and M.

Borders of Infinity (BoI)

This book contains three short stories within a plot frame.

The first short story, Mountain's of Mourning, has always been my favorite. A few short pages get across the message that physically disabled does not mean useless. Not a straight forward adventure, the stories' power relies on character interaction. Also, a very necessary story for reading M.

The second story, Labyrinth, involves mutants, intergalactic crime lords, space mercenaries, and alot of sneaking around.

The third and final story, Border's of Infinity, takes place in a prisoner of war camp. Miles, while completely naked, manages to assemble a credible army based on a quote from Pilgrim's Progress.

Mirror Dance (MD)

I'm always a little equivocal on this one. A great book, but very hard to read in parts because Lois really puts characters that I love through utter hell.

The first book in which Mark plays a major role and is Lois' first two perspective book. It also gives readers a chance to revisit Cordelia, Aral, and the gang on Barrayar.

After Miles has been silenced in about the only way effective, Mark takes center stage as he tries to figure out just who is Mark and what does he want.

A good book for anyone who has ever been a teenager.

Memory (M), Komarr (K), and A Civil Campaign (ACC)

M is a book of life change. Miles makes a major mistake and must pay the consequences. A mistake which is entirely consistent with his character and behavior. A mistake which forces Miles to re-evaluate his life. This is a very hard book to read, but very rewarding.

One of things I appreciate about M is that Miles doesn't just have one epiphany. There is no reset button in this book. Miles has serious issues to work through, as well as a mystery involving Imperial Security.

However, do not try and read this book first.

K is the book in the middle. Miles gets an emotional break and a chance to explore his new career as Imperial Auditor. It is the other main view point character, Ekatarine, who must go through a dark tea time of the soul.

The action centers around a mystery on Komarr, a vassal planet in the Barrayaran empire. Miles and Co. investigate goings on while Ekaterine gives the reader the first

ACC is M's light hearted twin. There are five view point characters who are trying to find happiness, love, commercial success, freedom, themselves. Most of the tension is aimed at the middle of the book where in a hilarious scene everyone drops the ball. The rest of the book is recovery.

Miles role in ACC is largely passive. Once again he has to reexamine his behavior. M was the big whack in the spiritual head. ACC is the light tap on the shoulder. I must say, I like the fact that the lessons Miles learned in M's take several books to absorb. Miles is a flawed hero. That's why I like him. However, he learns from his mistakes.

ACC includes one of the most emotionally moving love letters I have ever read. Like its recipient, I have reread it many times

Which brings us to perspective two, Ekaterine. In ACC, Ekaterine absorbs some of the sense of the self worth she gained in K. I love Ekatarine's final soliloquy. Very "for every thing there is a season."

We revisit characters from MD, as both Mark and his girl friend, Kareen, get viewpoint character duties. Both Mark and Kareen are trying to define themselves as adults and as a couple.

And finally Ivan, poor Ivan. Not really such an idiot after all, he is an absolutely hilarious view point character.

Altogether, a very satisfying and addicting set of books