Diamond Age 75 (21)
August 4, 2019
One in a series of posts about the 75 best science fiction novels published during the genre’s Diamond Age era (from 1984–2003, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema). For Josh Glenn’s complete Diamond Age Sci-Fi 75 list, click here.
Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga adventure The Vor Game (1990).
The sixth installment in the Vorkosigan Saga (1986–ongoing) is a fun one. Miles Vorkosigan, the protagonist of most of the series, is the brilliant, driven scion of an aristocratic family from the feudalistic, swords’n’spaceships planet of Barrayar; he is disadvantaged in his abitions because his mother is a Betan (she hails from a technology-rich, egalitarian galactic society), and because he is a dwarf. In a previous series installment, The Warrior’s Apprentice (1986), Miles manages to get himself accepted into the Barrayaran Imperial Military Service, after a brief career as “Admiral Naismith,” the swashbuckling leader of a mercenary space fleet. Here, shortly after graduating from the academy, Miles is assigned to a winter infantry training post, where he runs afoul of the tyrannical base commander. Charged with mutiny, he is recruited to work for Barrayaran Covert Ops, and winds up in a prison cell with Barrayar’s young emperor, Gregor, who had sneaked away from his palace. Worse, a Cetagandan invasion fleet — Cetaganda has staged several unsuccessful wars against Barrayar, in previous Vorkosigan books — may be en route towards the space station where they’re imprisoned. In order to repel the attack, Miles must outwit a femme fatale (herself a mercenary leader), his former commanding officer, and reconnect with his mercenary friends.
Fun facts: Bujold has stated that the Vorkosigan Saga’s structure is modeled after the Horatio Hornblower books. The first several chapters of The Vor Game were originally published in a slightly different form as “The Weatherman” in the February 1990 issue of Analog. The Vor Game won the 1991 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI at HILOBROW: William Gibson | Bruce Sterling | Margaret Atwood | Ann Nocenti | Frank Miller | Alan Moore | Octavia E. Butler | Iain M. Banks | Grant Morrison | Neal Stephenson | Jonathan Lethem | Charles Burns | China Miéville.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.