Sunday, June 2, 2019

Review: Young Miles by Lois Mcmaster Bujold

Being Space Opera, Young Miles had to work extra hard to win my interest. If a friend hadn't recommended it I never would have picked it up.

Now I'm recommending it to you.

Lois McMaster Bujold's fast-paced style beckons the reader through high wit sparked by a well-meaning sardonic character who often bites off more than he can chew. In contrast, dark moments of suicidal ideation give realistic weight to Mile's snowballing lies and the all-or-nothing risks they represent. Bujold's exemplary diction is like the written version of perfect comedic timing, layered like icing on top of expertly-woven comedy of circumstance and clashing personalities. Her deft handling of despair rounds out characters who care for the potential consequences of their actions, real or imagined. It's a rare book that can make me laugh out loud one minute and shudder in sympathy the next.

Many readers will appreciate Mile's physical limitations, his leg braces and brittle bones making him more than the odd man out in a prejudiced future where an advanced medical field lays side-by-side with superstitious mountain folk who still slaughter babies born with extra fingers and toes. Mile's differences pervade each story in both the occasional outright oppression and in the subtle, everyday experiences necessitated by walking, getting dressed, and moving through the physical world--okay, and in hand-to-hand combat.

If Space Opera is your thing there's plenty of space battles, both of the ship-to-ship and the chase scene variety. Homeworld and galactic politics give Miles a run for his money--literally. Or, more accurately, his father's money.

Young Miles is a collection of short novels following Miles from his moment of epic failure in the Barrayan Military Academy, through unexpected adventures involving mercenaries, through barren wastelands ruled by despotic military higher-ups, and most of all, through Mile's search for himself and his place in the galaxy. You can find many other books by Bujold in the Vorkosigan Series, and like many great series, there's debate as to the best reading order--chronological, or publication date? Young Miles makes for an excellent first taste of the Vorkosigan Series.

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