by Lois McMaster Bujold
Review by James Walton

I have a minor disagreement with Ann. I think Memory is a competently written, dull book, while Ann thinks it's a poorly written, dull book. Ann also thinks the painting on the cover is horrible. I think the cover is pretty cool. It's much more interesting than the book.

Memory is the latest in Bujold's extremely popular Miles Vorkosigan series. In this one, Miles is suffering from medical problems as a result of an incident in a previous book. (He was dead and they brought him back. He's lucky his problems are so minuscule.) Said problems make Miles unfit for military duty but he hides them with disastrous results. Miles then lies to his superior officers about his problems and is, of course, caught and thrown out of the service.

Bujold shows us Miles' depression and self pity at being cashiered. He didn't know how to be anything except a soldier and Bujold has him contemplate suicide. Of course, at no time was I worried about Miles. Bujold never allowed him to do anything that seemed suicidal. He always picked nice safe places to be depressed and to get drunk. Miles is supposed to be a military man, used to dishing out death and destruction. Not once did Bujold have him put a gun to his head. Almost none of Miles' depression rang true.

Later, when Miles has come to his senses, Bujold shows us parts of high society on Miles home planet of Vor. Miles is some sort of Lord and has duties to perform. All this is good therapy but it doesn't make the book more interesting. Many of the scenes could have been lifted from the first part of War and Peace.

Which brings us to the question "What exactly is science fiction about this book?" Except for a few name changes and references to spaceships and such, Memory could be a period piece from any time in the last 300 years of Earth history.

Oh, did I mention that this is also a murder mystery? Bujold seems to have tacked it on as an afterthought, and no one really dies. People who have read all the Miles Vorkosigan novels say they knew who the "murderer" was as soon as he was introduced. I admit to being fooled for a few pages.

I was never particularly interested in reading any of the previous books in the Vorkosigan Saga, (they all seemed rather bland) and this installment doesn't change my mind.

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