Mirror Dance

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

He’s back! And this time there are three of him! Not even the senior officers of the Dendarii mercenary fleet realize what is happening when their dashing Admiral Naismith orders his flagship on a suicide run to the hellhole planet Jackson’s Whole.

Actually it is not Miles Naismith/Lord Miles Vorkosigan in command, but his double, Mark, discovered in BROTHERS IN ARMS (1989). Secretly cloned by enemies of Miles’s father, Mark was created to masquerade as Miles and eventually bring down the Vor regime. Yet once his owners were caught, Mark turned out to be a decent, likable young man. Under Barrayan law, he is Miles’s brother. Mark is as naive as Miles is wily, but the two young men share a taste for heroics, and a basic loneliness which nudges them into friendship despite an unpromising beginning.

So why is Mark stealing Miles’s ship? It’s that Vorkosigan urge to do daring deeds and set things right. House Bharaputra, where Mark was “born,” breeds children as replacement body shells for the aging rich and powerful. Mark is horrified enough to try a rescue mission. Amazingly, he succeeds in getting most of the children out. Nevertheless, Mark himself, along with the crack Green Squad and Captain Thorne, gets trapped on planet. Miles flies in, angry but determined to pull his people out. In the dash to the shuttles’ safety, Miles is direly wounded and disappears.

Now Mark has to search for Miles. Not even knowing if he is still alive, Mark feels enormous guilt for drawing his brother into the fiasco. How Miles recovers, and why he ultimately ends up rescuing a chastened clone-brother once again, makes a stirring, suspense-filled tale.

Bujold’s other works about Miles and company have won three Hugos. Her novels combine space adventure, ideas on future biotechnology, and memorable, complex characters. Anyone who has read and liked these books will surely enjoy the twists MIRROR DANCE brings to Miles’s already complicated life.