The Mountains of Mourning
Louis McMaster Bujold
Nebula Award for Best Novella (1989) and Hugo Award for Best Novella (1990).
This novella, included in the omnibus edition Young Miles, won both the Hugo and Nebula awards -- the highest honors in science fiction. (The Vor Game, also included in Young Miles, won the Hugo in 1991). Bujold's hero, Miles Vorkosigan, is a remarkable young man -- the product of a feudalistic military society, long isolated from the rest of the galaxy, forced to go from cavalry to spaceships in the span of one generation. He's determined to live up to his heroic ancestors, but also physically handicapped by brittle bones, the result of poison gas attack on his mother when he was in utero. In "The Mountains of Mourning" Miles is deputized to solve the murder of a newborn girl with a birth defect. He finds a purpose in life--to not just tilt at windmills on behalf of the helpless, but to blow them sky-high.
Janet Brennan Croft is Head of Access Services for University Libraries. She has recently edited a collection of critical essays on Lois McMaster Bujold.