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Mirror Dance won the Hugo award for 1995; the other nominees were John Barnes' Mother of Storms, Nancy Kress' Beggars and Choosers, Michael Bishop's Brittle Innings and James Morrow's Towing Jehovah. The only other one I've read is the Kress, which I really didn't think was very good. This was the year that the inexplicably award-winning Robert Sawyer got a Nebula for The Terminal Experiment, but the BSFA shortlist included three excellent books - Baxter's The Time Ships, McDonald's Chaga and Priest's The Prestige. (Baxter won.)

I'm a huge Bujold fan, and Mirror Dance is the start of the superb four-book sequence of the Vorkosigan series that continues with Memory, Komarr and A Civil Campaign. I had forgotten just how much I liked it. It's a tale of redemption, of Mark, the lost clone twin, discovering his own place in the universe rather than being defined as Miles' double; it's a tale of resurrection, Miles himself dying and being brought back to life; and it's a tale of unorthodox families, Mark's relationship with the Vorkosigans of Barrayar contrasting with the corrupt and brutal dynasties of Jackson's Whole, with the Durona clones caught in the middle. It's the first book apart from Ethan of Athos in the series which is not largely told from the viewpoint of Miles or his mother, but from the point of view of a character who has previously been defined by their relationship with Miles. But also Bujold uses Mark to show us Miles's flaws in a way she had not previously done: her unlikely hero has a dark side as well, and Mark both resembles him and differs from him. It's an excellent book and I think might even be a good one to recommend to newcomers to the Vorkosigan universe.

(Only two more Hugo winners to go.)


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2010 06:24 pm (UTC)
For a long time, I refused to read anything in the Vorkosiverse despite numerous recommendations, because from all the stuff the specific recommenders said about Miles, I was quite convinced I'd loathe and despise him and didn't want to read anything about such a little jerk. (I have not changed my mind about Miles, at least early Miles, despite becoming quite a fan of the series since then.)

Eventually my then-husband walked up to me and handed me two books: Mirror Dance and Memory. He said, "Here. If you hate Miles, you'll like these best. He spends most of the first one dead and the second one coping with getting THOROUGHLY hoist by his own petard."

I read them both and loved many of the side characters, including Mark; and he was absolutely right: I had no problem with Miles in either book. In Mirror Dance he was mostly out of my way, and in Memory he was getting what I had long been convinced he deserved, and I enjoyed watching it happen.

It was a lot easier to cope with the other books after I'd seen that, because I knew what he had coming.
Dec. 15th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
the inexplicably award-winning Robert Sawyer

This phrase made my day.
Dec. 15th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
I would love to know just what is wrong with Sawyer's writing such that he shouldn't be winning these awards.

Oooh, that sounds as though I'm snarking at you, doesn't it?

Actually, I do mean it seriously, because I too can't work out why people are voting for him, while myself finding him terribly blah. It's sometimes said that the Nebulas are the educated award as against the populist Hugos, yet here is Sawyer winning a Nebula.
Dec. 15th, 2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
As with many things, I think it comes down to the indisputable fact that "well-written" and "entertaining" are distinct categories with less overlap than one might expect (or prefer). There are clearly lots of people who find books by e.g. Dan Brown extremely entertaining. Are those books well-written? Not particularly. But for many readers that's not all that relevant.

The only book of Sawyer's I've read is WWW: Wake, which I actually found to be tolerably well-written (at least until the last thirty pages) and not the slightest bit entertaining. So perhaps he's one of those writers people vote for because they feel they ought to have liked his books and if they didn't then it's their fault for not understanding or appreciating them well enough.

Edited at 2010-12-15 07:26 pm (UTC)
Dec. 15th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)

But there are plenty of other writers with more dazzle, so why aren't 'they' voting for them.

I can't say I was at all impressed by Wake - if I'd had to have paid for it, I'd have been distinctly annoyed.
Dec. 15th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)
Of those, I really enjoyed Brittle Innings, and Towing Jehovah, the latter of which I routinely recommend to non-SF readers as a gateway drug. Enjoyed Mirror Dance and Mother of Storms. Not a huge fan of the Beggars... books since I feel that for being incredibly bright the characters don't act in a manner that supports the claim.
Dec. 17th, 2010 05:57 am (UTC)
Hi, I found your LJ semi-randomly (I believe because we had both read a couple of the same Doctor Who novels) and I wanted to tell you that I just spent an enjoyable couple of weeks slowly reading through your backlog of book posts—and loading up on many recommendations! I've been writing up my own reading for the last couple of years, too, and it's always a pleasure to find other people who do the same—especially when the results are so insightful and entertaining! I will definitely be checking back here (a.k.a., continuing to stalk your book posts).

To make this comment somewhat relevant to the topic at hand: a friend and I were just discussing our mutual regard for this part of the Vorkosigan saga; Mirror Dance may well be my favorite of the books. 2011 may be time for a reread...
Dec. 17th, 2010 06:23 am (UTC)
Thank you, and I'm sorry if my post of a few days back seemed unnecessarily snarky!!!!!

You'l be glad to know that Cryoburn, which I have almost finished, is pretty much a sequel to Mirror Dance in a lot of ways.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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