Bujold_BordersOfInfinity_coverBrothers in Arms m-a făcut să-mi doresc să nu fi sărit peste nuvelele (novella) din seria Vorkosigan a lui Lois McMaster Bujold. Ocazia să recuperez pe acest plan a apărut cu ocazia Borders of Infinity, volum care adună trei dintre ele într-un singur loc. Combinate printr-o poveste de fundal simplă şi eficientă (Miles se află pe spatul de spital, recuperându-se după operaţia de înlocuire a oaselor de la picioare, şi îşi aduce aminte de cele trei aventuri ca urmare a întrebărilor lui Simon Illyan, şeful Securităţii de pe Barrayar), mini romanele îşi păstrează totuşi aerul distinct, formând un trio excelent, trei mini-episoade sclipitoare într-o sagă SF.

Pentru că-s puţine pagini într-o nuvelă, să fie doar câteva vorbe despre fiecare, zic. Şi citate multe, pentru că nu m-am putut abţine.

mountains of mourning_coverThe Mountains of Mourning

„He would take whatever assignment fate dealt him, that was the first rule of the game. And win with the hand he was dealt.”

O nuvelă premiată bine în momentul publicării (premiul Hugo, premiul Nebula, nominalizare Locus), The Mountains of Mourning este construită pe tiparul unei poveşti „poliţiste”, Miles jucând rolul de detectiv în cazul unei crime petrecute într-un sat izolat din munţi. Cu toate acestea, din punctul meu de vedere, accentul nu cade neapărat pe ideea „detectivistă” (deşi Miles în acţiune e un spectacol în sine, ca cititor, odată ce ai toate informaţiile, nu ai nevoie de deducţii logice sclipitoare ca să bănuieşti ce se întâmplă), ci pe ideea schimbării mentalităţilor. Autoarea deschide subiectul puterii tehnologiei asupra societăţii umane şi pe modul în care aceasta contribuie la evoluţia perspectivei asupra practicilor adânc înrădăcinate.

În centrul poveştii se află tradiţia barrayană de a omorî copiii care se nasc cu mutaţii (precum „buză de iepure”). Deşi este interzisă prin lege şi se fac eforturi pentrua  creşte accesul oamenilor la tehnologiile de care au nevoie pentru a corecta defectele copiilor (construirea de spitale), în comunităţile izolate, aceasta continuă. Miles este trimis de tatăl său în mjlocul unei astfel de comunităţi pentru a investiga o crimă, a pedepsi un vinovat şi, prin această acţiune, a încerca să aducă o schimbare.

***

“When you can’t get what you want, you take what you can get. As you are finding.”

***

„He wants me to be clever, Miles thought morosely. Worse, he wants me to be seen to be clever, by everyone here. He prayed he was not about to be spectacularly stupid instead.”

***

„The fundamental principle was clear; the spirit was to be preferred over the letter, truth over technicalities. Precedent was held subordinate to the judgment of the man on the spot. Alas, the man on the spot was himself. There was no refuge for him in automated rules, no hiding behind the law says as if the law were some living overlord with a real Voice. The only voice here was his own.”

***

„As you say, just so. Ordinary people need extraordinary examples. So they can say to themselves, well, if he can do that, I can surely do this. No excuses.”

***

„What God means you to do, Miles’s theist mother claimed, could be deduced from the talents He gave you. (…) What you did best, that was what was wanted from you.”

***

labyrinth_cover

Labyrinth

Wish to be yourself. To the hilt. Find out what you’re best at, and develop it. Hopscotch your weaknesses. There isn’t time for them.”

Nici vorbă de poveste poliţistă de această dată, Bujold se întoarce la ceea ce a consacrat saga – acţiune spaţială. Labyrinth este o novella  stranie, care se desfăşoară pe o planetă unde joaca de-a genetica este la ordinea zilei şi a devenit o afacere profitabilă – Jackson’s Whole. Aflat într-o misiune alături de gruparea lui mercenară Dendarii, Miles Naismith trebuie să salveze un om de ştiinţă, dar ajunge prins într-o închisoare alături de un experiment eşuat: soldatul perfect, rezultat din combinaţia genelor umane cu cele animale – Taura.

Elementele romantice (care alunecă puţin pe o fină graniţă stranie) adaugă o dimensiune exotică scurtului roman, însă tema esenţială rămâne – o căutare a sinelui, o încercare de a te integra într-o lume normală care te percepe drept un anormal, şi care, prin aceasta, te determină să te percepi ca anormal. E problema Taurei, dar în aceeaşi măsură, este eterna problemă a lui Miles.

***

Jacksonians claimed their corruption was entirely imported—if the galaxy were willing to pay for virtue what it paid for vice, the place would be a pilgrimage shrine. In Miles’s view this seemed rather like debating which was superior, maggots or the rotten meat they fed off.

***

If you can’t be seven feet tall, be seven feet smart.

***

A war of words should be won with words.

***

It’s not what you don’t know that’ll hurt you, the old saying went. It’s what you do know that isn’t so.

***

One of his mother’s favorite aphorisms drifted through his head. Anything worth doing, she always said, is worth doing well.

***

„There’s no shame in a strategic retreat to a better position.”

***

Like Commodore Tung says, on hemmed-in ground, use subterfuge.” Miles recognized one of Tung’s favorite Sun Tzu aphorisms. On bad days Tung had a habit of quoting the 4000-year-dead general in the original Chinese; when Tung was feeling benign they got a translation.

On desperate ground, Sun Tzu advised, fight.

***

One maneuvers to the limit, but the golden moment demands action. If you miss it, the gods damn you forever. And vice versa. . . .

***

„Then don’t wish to be normal,” said Miles passionately, rising to pace. „You’ll only waste your precious time in futile frustration. Wish to be great! That at least you have a fighting chance for. Great at whatever you are. A great trooper, a great sergeant. A great quartermaster, for God’s sake, if that’s what comes with ease. A great musician like Nicol—only think how horrible if she were wasting her talents trying to be merely normal.” Miles paused self-consciously in his pep talk, thinking, Easier to preach than practice. . . .

***

borders_of_infinity

The Borders of Infinity

„How could I have died and gone to hell without noticing the transition?”

The Borders of Infinity este unul dintre cele mai bune mini-romane citite până acum de subsemnata (aflate pe acelaşi nivel cu ale lui Sanderson, pe scala preferinţelor personale) şi una dintre pietrele preţioase ale colecţiei Vorkosigan. Un micro-studiu social, o analiză teologică, un coşmar al unui viitor în care tehnologia permite crearea închisorii perfecte, un pachet strâns de paragrafe geniale, replici puternice una după alta, un balans perfect şi aproape incredibil între cele mai negre scene şi cel mai sclipitor umor, un final ca o tăietură de sabie – n-ai crede că încap atât de multe într-un roman atât de micuţ, tensionant până în dinţi.

Miles e captiv în închisoarea perfectă de pe Cetaganda. Fără paznici, fără zăbrele, fără posibilitate de evadare. Doar el şi ceilalţi prizonieri de război, închişi într-un dom perfect. Şi o monotonie care sugrumă fără milă chiar şi cel mai puternic spirit.

***

„I see. Um . . .” How was it that he always attracted the nut cases? He licked the last drops of water from his lips. The fellow might have some screws loose, but he was certainly an improvement over the last lot, always presuming he didn’t have another personality or two of the homicidal loonie variety tucked away in his head. No, in that case he’d be introducing himself as the Chosen Two, and not be looking for outside assistance. „Um . . . what’s your name?”

***

Sheer chance, that this had hit his rawest nerve, his darkest fears, threatened his most dangerous weakness. I could die here, he realized, without ever seeing the enemy’s face.

***

„In here it’s always today.”

***

Don’t you know that when you’re given a task, you’re given the power to accomplish it as well?”

***

„He was a commando,” Suegar whispered worriedly. „He can break you in half.” „Nine-tenths of the people in this camp can break me in half, including the girls,” Miles whispered back. „It’s not a significant consideration.”

***

„Now, there’s this about cynicism, Sergeant. It’s the universe’s most supine moral position. Real comfortable. If nothing can be done, then you’re not some kind of shit for not doing it, and you can lie there and stink to yourself in perfect peace.”

***

Miles’s eyes swept the scene, teasing out the pattern from the limited cues of position, grouping, activity. „Yes . . . predator pressure produces herd behavior. Social—fragmentation here being what it is, the pressure must be pretty high, to hold a group of that size together. But I hadn’t noticed any incidents since I got here. . .

***

Anyway, I can’t quit, once I’ve started. I’ve been told I’m pathologically persistent. I can’t quit.”

***

The woman in charge had clearly been a front line trooper once, not a tech like the majority of the females. She had certainly not acquired the muscles that flowed like braided leather cords beneath her skin from crouching by the hour in front of a holovid display in some rear-echelon underground post. She had toted the real weapons that spat real death, and sometimes broke down; had rammed against the limits of what could really be done by flesh and bone and metal, and been marked by that deforming press. Illusion had been burned out of her like an infection, leaving a cauterized scar. Rage burned permanently in her eyes like a fire in a coal seam, underground and unquenchable. She might be thirty-five, or forty.

***

The wounded want power, nothing else; they think it will keep them from being hurt again.

***

„Command of this camp is mine to create,” he asserted. „Note, please, that what I offer is power, not revenge. Revenge is too expensive a luxury. Commanders can’t afford it.”

***

„Power is better than revenge,” suggested Miles, not flinching before her snake-cold, set face, her hot coal eyes. „Power is a live thing, by which you reach out to grasp the future. Revenge is a dead thing, reaching out from the past to grasp you.”

***

„No,” Miles denied, and tapped his forehead. „This is power. And I own the store. This controls that,” he slapped his bunched fist. „Men may move mountains, but ideas move men. Minds can be reached through bodies—what else is the point of all this,” he waved at the camp, „but to reach your minds through your bodies. But that power flows both ways, and the outflow is the stronger tide.

***

And where the devil does not exist, Miles thought to himself, it may become expedient to invent him. His stomach churned, but he kept his face set in righteous rage.

***

Repeated pain, as he had reason to know, made one more afraid of injury, not less, a growing, gut-wrenching dread. Not again, never again . . .