on 3 January 2012
Up until this story, I had only read Bujold's full-length fiction, and enjoyed it very much. Pleasingly, Mountains of Mourning proves that she has just as much facility with a shorter medium.
This short novella follows Miles Vorkosigan, the author's intelligent, determined protagonist from the last book (The Warrior's Apprentice) being assigned a task by his formidable father. It seems that the infant daughter of one of his subjects has been murdered by her own father, apparently for the crime of being born deformed.
It's a crime that obviously resounds with Miles, himself left stunted and brittle of bone by a chemical attack in the womb. And so he sets off with only a couple of men for backup, attempting to not only bring justice but also to change the attitudes of generations.
The rural setting of the story makes a nice change from the usual hi-tech cities and spaceports, and the supporting cast is uniformly well-drawn. The case is not as simple as it first appears, and despite there being little action per se, tension is maintained throughout.
The sheer humanity of the story is the main draw, though, with Miles as a sympathetic vector to explore such heady concepts as euthanasia, the march of progess and the nature of justice. It's a relatively brief read, but both thrilling and touching in equal measure.
on 18 February 2012
It's good to read scifi that doesn't depend on science. The hero of this novella is disabled: poisoned in the womb, his growth was stunted and his brittle bones mean he can only walk with calipers. But his intelligence makes up for his physical limitations when he is sent on a mission to solve a murder mystery in a remote rural outpost of the post-apocalyptic world he inhabits. The plot is original and story is well told.