Memory (novel)

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Cover of the first edition
AuthorLois McMaster Bujold
Audio read byGrover Gardner
Cover artistGary Ruddell
CountryUnited States
SeriesVorkosigan Saga
GenreScience fiction
PublisherBaen Books
Publication date
Preceded byCetaganda 
Followed byKomarr 

Memory is a science fiction novel by American writer Lois McMaster Bujold, first published in October 1996. It is a part of the Vorkosigan Saga, and is the eleventh full-length novel in publication order.

Plot summary[edit]

While leading the Dendarii Mercenaries on a hostage rescue mission, Miles Vorkosigan has a seizure — a recurring consequence of his death and resuscitation in Mirror Dance — which results in his accidentally severing the rescued hostage's legs with his plasma arc weapon. Terrified of the consequences if his boss, Simon Illyan, the head of Imperial Security (ImpSec), finds out, Miles falsifies his mission report. However, Illyan finds out anyway from spies planted among the Dendarii, and Miles is forced to accept a medical discharge.

Miles enters a period of depression, isolating himself in the Vorkosigan mansion, which is deserted due to his parents' taking charge of the new colony on the planet Sergyar. His cousin Ivan Vorpatril is sent to check on him. He arrives with Captain Duv Galeni of Imperial Security, who encountered Miles during the events of Brothers in Arms. They plunge Miles into an ice bath and then bully him into breaking out of his funk. Ivan moves into Vorkosigan House to keep an eye on Miles.

Miles goes to Emperor Gregor, to apologize formally for his failures as an ImpSec officer. Gregor then surprises him by inviting him to a meeting with a Komarran guest. After years of refusing to marry any of the tall, slim, eligible Barrayaran ladies paraded in front of him by Alys Vorpatril, Gregor unexpectedly falls in love with a short, voluptuous Komarran, Laisa Toscane, a wealthy heiress and member of a Komarran economic delegation. Duv Galeni, an Impsec analyst, fellow Komarran and Miles' friend, also had romantic designs on Laisa, but had proceeded so slowly and circumspectly that Laisa was unaware of his interest (a mistake Miles himself would repeat in A Civil Campaign).

When Illyan suffers a sudden, crippling mental impairment, Miles attempts to investigate, but receives no cooperation from Lucas Haroche, ImpSec's acting chief, so he asks Gregor to assign him an Imperial Auditor, a top-level troubleshooter with practically unlimited authority and answerable only to the Emperor. Gregor unexpectedly decides that it would save many steps (and his time) by making Miles himself a temporary Auditor. There are several problems, including the fact that Haroche considers Miles a prime suspect.

Illyan's breakdown is caused by the memory device implanted in his brain when he was a young lieutenant, a whim of then-Emperor Ezar, Gregor's grandfather. The device begins dumping random sets of memories into Illyan's mind at an accelerating pace, causing him to believe he is at different points in his life. Miles discovers that Impsec doctors are seeking to download any vital secrets stored in the device, but after consulting with Gregor, Miles orders them to remove the device as soon as possible. Then he sets out to find out whether the breakdown was natural or artificial. He recruits the arrogant, brilliant researcher "Dr. Waddell", formerly Hugh Canaba, whom he extracted from Jackson's Whole in the story "Labyrinth". Waddell discovers a synthetic biological agent is the culprit. While making a thorough inspection of Impsec headquarters (to while away the time), Miles finds the first clue: a false record that claims he entered ImpSec's storeroom recently. An inventory establishes that the agent was stolen from the stores. Someone within ImpSec has tried to frame Lieutenant Vorkosigan, not being able to anticipate that Miles would become a Lord Auditor.

Later, Duv Galeni is arrested for the crime. Galeni is the son of Ser Galen, a Komarran terrorist who was responsible for several plots against Barrayar, including the attempt to replace Miles Vorkosigan with a clone in Brothers in Arms. The biological agent was seized from Ser Galen's organization. Galeni also launched into a tirade against the Vor class when he learned that Laisa was going to marry Gregor. However, Miles is certain that this is also a frameup.

When Haroche offers to reinstate Miles and put him back in charge of the Dendarii Mercenaries, Miles realizes that he has been offered a (nearly irresistible) bribe and that Haroche committed the crime. After Miles figures out a way to prove it, Gregor consults with the other Auditors and makes Miles' appointment permanent.

Miles makes one final attempt to persuade his second-in-command and lover, Elli Quinn, to accept his marriage proposal, but she cannot bear being planet-bound, so he gives her command of the Dendarii. Gregor and Laisa get married. Illyan and Alys, meanwhile, have become secret lovers, to Ivan's dismay. Duv Galeni becomes engaged to Delia Koudelka.

Miles undergoes surgery to implant a device that can trigger a milder seizure at a time of his choosing as a palliative measure, the underlying condition being incurable.


Memory was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards for Best Novel in 1997.[1]

In the New York Review of Science Fiction (October 1998, number 122), the novel is summarized as follows:

In force and intensity as well as this elegiac undertone, Memory is indeed a quantum jump ahead of The Warrior's Apprentice, although in Miles' double trajectory it fills the same position of excursion from "childhood" and foundation of a new personality. But where Mark subsumes and reconciles himself to his dark internal Others, Miles' integration is achieved by an excision - or, as Bujold put it, a "repossession" ("Letterspace", Letter 8[2] ), with all the word's overtones, theological as well as financial - and a metamorphosis at very high cost. Nor is the cost limited to the characters. Reading Memory, I myself felt very much like Wordsworth seems to have when he wrote "Ode on the Intimations of Immortality": what we had here was remarkable, spectacular, far more powerful than Apprentice and its ilk, but it was also darker, less sparkling, without that adolescent, outrageous joie d'esprit.[3]


  1. ^ "1997 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
  2. ^ Sylvia Kelso, Three Observations and a Dialog. Round and About SF Seatlle, Aqueduct Press, 2009
  3. ^ Loud Achievements: Lois McMaster Bujold's Science Fiction