Memory, written by Lois McMaster Bujold and published by Baen Books in 1996, is the eleventh published novel in the universe of the Vorkosigan Saga. It was published first in hardcover, then in paperback October 1997. Within the universe, it chronologically followed Mirror Dance and was followed by Komarr. In 2007, Blackstone Audio produced an audio version; it was read by Grover Gardner.
Memory was nominated for a Hugo Award and a HOMer Award, and came in third for a Locus Award, all in 1997; and in 1998 was nominated for a Nebula Award.
Publisher's summary[edit | edit source]
Dying is easy. Coming back to life is hard. At least that's what Miles Vorkosigan thinks and he should know, having done both once already.
Thanks to quick thinking on the part of his staff, and incredible artistry on the part of the specialist who revived him, his first death won't be his last. But his next one might be, a realization he finds profoundly unsettling. Even after he returns to military duty, his late death seems to be having a greater effect than he's willing to admit. Unfortunately, his weakness reveals itself to the world at large at just the wrong time and in just the wrong way, and Miles is summoned home to face Barrayaran security chief Simon Illyan. But when things begin to go subtly wrong in Imperial Security itself, "Who shall guard the guardians?" becomes a more-than-rhetorical question, with a potentially lethal answer.
Things look bad, but they are far worse than Miles imagines, as he discovers his worst nightmares about Simon Illyan don't compare to Illyan's worst nightmares - or are they memories?
Plot summary[edit | edit source]
Miles Vorkosigan's experience with being raised from the dead came with one tiny hitch – stress-exacerbated seizures. His attempt to conceal this newly-acquired health problem failed spectacularly on his very first post-resurrection mission out: he crippled his rescuee, Lieutenant Vorberg, got caught lying about that failure, and was fired from Barrayaran Imperial Security.
He was barely underway rebuilding his life without the little Admiral when he began getting back-channel news about Simon Illyan; something was very wrong with his memory chip, and nobody with authority was telling Miles anything – especially not the acting Chief of Imperial Security, General Lucas Haroche. When the news got too troubling, Miles paid a visit to Emperor Gregor; he claimed that the matter was sufficiently serious as to warrant the attentions of an Imperial Auditor. Gregor agreed, but rather than put one of his permanent auditors to the task, he assigned Miles the job of acting 9th Auditor.
- "Working in the chain of command for the last thirteen years has been like trying to waltz with an elephant. Slow, lumbering, ready to step on you at any moment and reduce you to grease. D'you have any idea how nice it would be just once to be able to dance on top of the damned elephant, instead of under it?"
- ―Miles is delighted at being named an auditor[src]
Miles arrived at ImpSec with an agenda: get Illyan properly taken care of, then discover what caused the failure. The chip was removed a few days later; Illyan and Miles removed to Vorkosigan House to recuperate and await further information. Soon enough, news came: the failure was a deliberate act of sabotage. Suddenly, Miles's job was much more serious – find out who did this and why, and stop them.
- "Ah, the motivations of men. Money, power, revenge, sex... The Polian ambassador indicated to Vortala that what he'd really always secretly wanted most in his life was an elephant.
[A tale of the acquisition of an elephant for the Polian ambassador]
It expanded my world view, ever after. Money, power, sex ... and elephants."
- ―Illyan meditates on motivations[src]
- "Identity. That's my elephant."
- ―Miles looks at his own motivations[src]
His next arrival at ImpSec took more the form of a hurricane's arrival on a small island: he shook up the entire place by paying visits to every department from the top of the building down, interrogating everyone he came across. Three days later he arrived in the Evidence Rooms in the sub-sub-basement and got his first break in the case: he himself had been recorded as visiting them at a time when he knew he had done nothing of the sort. Further searching turned up missing capsules in a box labeled "Komarran virus" – a bioengineered apoptotic prokaryote specifically designed to eat Illyan's memory chip.
At this point, Lucas Haroche confused the situation by arresting Duv Galeni for the crime. When Miles refused to accept the accusation, Haroche further misdirected him by offering to give him back his old job as Admiral Naismith as soon as the case was closed.
- "I'm blind, blind, blind! Motive! What's an elephant got to do around here, to advance and be recognized?"
- ―Miles realizes the whole case is about identity[src]
- "I am who I choose to be. I always have been what I chose ... though not always what I pleased."
- ―Miles finally realizes who he is[src]
Abruptly, Miles realized what he should have seen all along – it had been Haroche who'd attacked Illyan in order to take over his job as Chief of ImpSec. Further, the only evidence that could prove Miles right was going to be trapped in the air filters. So he showed up at ImpSec again, this time with a Dr Weddell-supplied spray that could identify which filter had been in the room where the attack took place. He then made sure Haroche knew just enough of what he was doing to realize that he needed to act immediately to conceal his role. When Haroche hurried to his office to perform a swap, Miles followed with a collection of witnesses and caught him in the act.
- "Some prices are just too high, no matter how much you may want the prize. The one thing you can't trade for your heart's desire is your heart."
- ―Why Miles turned down the identity bribe[src]
The reward for a job well done was to be appointed to the job of 8th Imperial Auditor, making Miles the youngest Auditor in post-Time-of-Isolation history.
Major characters[edit | edit source]
Supporting characters[edit | edit source]
Minor characters[edit | edit source]
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
- Lois McMaster Bujold stated that Memory was the only book not to be included in an omnibus edition because it represented a key event in the Vorkosigan series, and will always be a standalone novel.
- The tale of Illyan's chip failure was partly inspired by a friend's care for a mother with Alzheimers; the effects of the failure on Illyan have some similarities to that ailment.
- There are clear connections between this tale and Henry James' book The Golden Bowl.