Lois McMaster Bujold
Borders of Infinity (C) (1989)
This collection gathers three Miles Vorkosigan novellas set at different points in time throughout the first five years of Miles's career. As usual, Bujold eschews originality but creates very vivid characters and employs the occasional subtle and witty humor. The shorter form of the novella allows for stories to exploit interesting ideas that are too limited in scope to support a full-fledged novel.
"The Mountains of Morning":
Winner of the 1989 Nebula and 1990 Hugo Awards for Best Novella.
Ensign Vorkosigan, who has just graduated from the Imperial Service Academy, is sent by his father to investigate the seemingly obvious case of a backcountry infanticide and administer justice. In the Barrayaran backwoods children born deformed are still routinely killed. A shameful act of barbary staining Barrayar's image in the eyes of other worlds. The Vorkosigans try hard to stamp out this practice. On location, things turn out to be more complicated than expected, and Miles must solve the case through deduction rather than sheer force against the superstitions of the uncooperative country folk. The final quest for justice is a very fine piece of writing.
Jackson's Whole is an outlaw world. It offers all kinds of services and wares illegal elsewhere, the trade being controled by several Syndicate Houses with a monopoly on their respective specialty. Miles is sent with his Dendarii Mercenaries to smuggle a scientist of great interest to Barrayar from the world. The mission takes a somewhat different direction than intended when Miles takes it upon him to also save a damsel in deep distress.
In my opinion the best story of the collection.
"The Borders of Infinity":
The Cetagandans have invaded the planet Marilac. Since Barrayar isn't on all that good terms with Cetaganda for related historical reasons, the Barrayarans plan to foster Marilacan resistance. To advance this goal Miles is sent as a mole into an escape-proof Cetagendan POW camp on Dagoola IV. For much of the novella, the reader is left on his own to figure out what is going on.
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