Labyrinth, by Lois McMaster Bujold

>> Monday, October 27, 2014

TITLE: Labyrinth
AUTHOR: Lois McMaster Bujold

COPYRIGHT: 1989
PAGES: 101
PUBLISHER: Self-published

SETTING: Futuristic
TYPE: Science fiction
SERIES: Comes after Cetaganda, which is the 5th full length book in the series.

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Miles and his Dendarii mercenaries are on a mission in Jackson's Hole to retrieve a geneticist, who unexpectedly says he won't leave until a certain "monster" is neutralized and a tissue sample is taken from it. What Miles finds is something vastly different from what he was led to expect....
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This short story was published in an anthology called Borders of Infinity, just like the third story in it (which I'll be reviewing next). The first story is The Mountains of Mourning. I read that one a few months ago, as it's set quite early in the series, and waited until I'd read to the right point in the series before I started the other two.

In Labrynth, Miles is in Jackson's Whole to rescue a scientist from an earlier contract and deliver him to the Barrayarans. It really is rescuing; Dr. Canaba wants to get himself far, far away from the morally corrupt uses science is put to in Jackson's Whole, where money really can buy anything. However, he refuses to leave until Miles recovers some particularly valuable genetic material... which Dr. Canaba had earlier stored on the product of a super-soldier genetic experiment.

Miles is meant to not only retrieve the genetic material but to kill the 'monster' on whom it's stored, whom Dr. Canaba now regrets having agreed to create. Not an easy mission, and one in which everything goes wrong, ending with Miles being locked into a dank basement with the monster, to the amusement of the sadistic guards. But it turns out the monster is much more human that expected...

I liked this one. I was initially a bit queasy about a certain sexual element, but felt a lot more comfortable with it by the end. I liked the friendship that develops between Miles and Taura (the name he offers to the creature previously known only as #9). It felt like there was a real connection, two people whose outside shape conceals the person inside, although in completely different ways. And of course, there's the usual creative genius from Miles, manipulating people like crazy and wiggling out of an impossible situation by playing off the various evil sides against each other.

It was also nice to see people I remembered. I loved that the quaddies have thrived in the 200 years since Falling Free. Also, I remember being very intrigued by Taura when I read about her in Winterfair Gifts (which comes much later in the series, but is the only Miles story I'd read before starting on this read-through, as it was on an anthology with other authors I really liked). I also liked that Bel got a nice romantic entanglement. Very enjoyable.

MY GRADE: A B+.

2 comments:

CD,  28 October 2014 at 22:19  

Such a tease, Rosario ;-)...

I have to say that as much as I love both characters in LABYRINTH, I felt a bit icky about their encounter here.

Hurry up now and finish BROTHERS IN ARMS and then clear your calender and take a (very) deep breath before starting MIRROR DANCE.

Rosario 29 October 2014 at 19:23  

I'm taking my time, doing it in order :)

Yeah, I know, it didn't feel right as I was reading the first encounter, but then I didn't really mind the one at the end. I felt a bit more confident that no one was being taken advantage of, basically.

I'm almost afraid to ask why I need a deep breath before Mirror Dance!

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