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It's here!

  • Jackson's Whole's neighbors find it a "secretly useful interface with the sub-economy" – fic plz?

  • JW was a hijacker-base only a century or two back – wasn't this about when Barrayar was rediscovered?

  • Money laundering, weapons deals, bio/gene stuff, fence and ransom deals... such delicious fic ideas.

  • Poor Bel, so lonely – and aware of Miles' secret identity, perhaps?

  • Saris on women, coffee-colored skin on Bharaputrans, the very name Bharaputra – it would seem that JW got a significant population/cultural influx from India.

  • Uterine replicators practical only for last ~200 years – so the Cetagandans, herms, and quaddies are significantly more recent than I'd thought.

  • Quaddies aren't widely known of outside quaddiespace.

  • The treatment of Bel being in love is rather ... heterocentric. Bel flirts with a man? Bel's playing up the womanly side! Bel flirts with a woman? Bel's playing up the manly side!

  • Bel's suggestion of "Fry 'em from orbit" re: Ryoval was very apt, especially considering what will come up later.

  • Nicol's contract woes are sadly familiar to all who've looked into migrant workers from Southeast Asia.

  • Between The Vor Game and this, Miles seems to be a bit of a duct expert.

  • why is there a dubcon sex scene here WTF LMB no

  • Oh, Miles, and his lessons on tactics.

  • Tung quotes Sun Tzu in the orginal Chinese? Oh Ky.

  • Hey, a timeline! 4 000 years after the death of Sun Tzu, which happened c. 496 BCE – so it's c. 3500 CE.

  • Needed: Miles strangling an enemy with pajama pants/successfully crashing an aircraft by throwing underwear in the air intakes.

Next: "The Borders of Infinity" on the 13th of November.
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[personal profile] extrapenguin
It's here, and rather more issue-y than I recalled.

  • Genetically repairing fetuses is a thing.

  • Homophobia is alive and well at Kline Station.

  • Ethan is woefully underprepared and has no idea what he's doing.

  • "Quinn Excites Dismay" :D

  • "women's work" – sexism is alive and well in the Nexus, sigh.


  • Did no-one import the tech for same-sex couples to have kids genetically related to both? That's a thing that should exist, given the biotech level.

  • Quinn mailed Okita's clothes to Admiral Naismith – I now want fic of Miles receiving the clothes.

  • Terrence is very, very screwed up, consistently with his upbringing.

  • ...Speaking of which, did no-one in the Cetagandan administration pause and think "this is a terrible idea, the kids'll be able to read minds" and then order them to be treated well? Like, Terrence's upbringing counts as major Idiot Ball imo.

  • Elli is delightfully dramatic.

  • Did Terrence rent the Presidential Suite, or were they taking turns pacing?

  • Ethan shows his ingenuity with the grocery shopping.

  • Does Elli regularly talk with the not-present Naismith to develop plots?

  • The false disease vector report thing was very ingenious.

  • My favorite minor character is the Security guy who cites the codes Millisor's violating. Bureacracy!

  • So, what can we learn of Millisor's lifestyle from the doc's report, beyond the fact that he's stressed?

  • Based on the remark that Mr. Coffee-Colored Skin couldn't be Cetagandan: are all Cetagandans pale skinned? (Some must be, since Barrayaran Ceta descendents are still being discovered, ergo they can't all have been much different to Barrayarans in skin tone, but all? Is this using the shorthand Cetagandan = ghem?)

  • Apparently Bharaputra's hitmen have coffee-colored skin as a common feature.

  • Did Elli get the hobby of "banging her head against brick walls" from Miles, or did she already have it?

  • The resolution was a bit too pat and not that foreshadowed.

Next: "Labyrinth", on Sunday 16.10. (I'm increasing the gap to 4 weeks, since my schedule is rather full.)
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[personal profile] extrapenguin

  • Tung collects Wise Old Chinese Sayings and makes Miles memorize them – though I'm reasonably sure that "war is but a continuation of diplomacy by other means" is Clausewitz

  • The Cetagandan Empire has 8 developed planets (the Something Cetas with satrap governors etc) and a fringe of 8 allied or puppet dependencies (how're they governed? Ghemish council?)

  • Fletchir Giaja, at age 70-something, has selected no Crown Prince yet – do haut typically live to 120?

  • Vorob'yev house colors are wine-red with a black trim

  • The current ghemish movement for the dissatisfied young artistes is "retro-avant"

  • Lord Yenaro got called "Yenni" – how common are surname-based nicknames?

  • Miles, when being interrogated, somehow manages to ask all of the questions. Typical.


  • The plot hook setup for Ethan of Athos is really, really obvious and a bit clumsy

  • What became of the kitten tree? Did its owner place more poorly due to Ivan's interference?

  • I am bizarrely entertained by Lady Arvin and Lady Benello – they have managed to become some of my favorite bit part characters

  • So, why does "man talk" work as an excuse? Is it the particulars of Ladies Arvin and Benello, or is it the culture?

  • Ah, Miles stringing around Lord Vorreedi, treating his superior like a mushroom, as typical

  • I now want the Ivan's Dick Bush, obvious winner of the 150th Annual Bioesthetics Exhibition

  • How large a percentage of the haut are on Eta Ceta vs the other satrapies?

  • The haut-lady eugenics council's sessions sound ... interesting

  • The data dump was a brilliant idea

  • Benin, at age 40 and a bit, was young for a Colonel, but now he's really young for a General. And wasn't there a mention earlier on that a ghem-lord can't really expect to achieve power before the age of 70?

  • The "greatest danger would be for the haut to lose control of the ghem" – hmm. Hmmm. *walks over to Bujold Ficathon, leaves prompt*

Next up: Ethan of Athos, 18th of September
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[personal profile] extrapenguin
So, here we are, book number 4.

  • The Ensigns are in random order, apparently, not any sort of alphabetic. Unless the Barrayaran Cyrillic alphabetical order is way different to modern?

  • Did Zubachik end up as Gregor's guard?

  • The common job is from 7 to 5, as per Ivan

  • Miles is at this point 4'9 (145cm)

  • "for the mutants that may come after me" is expressed this early? I only recall it coming from an older Miles after Memory

  • Camp Permafrost is not quite northerly enough for midnight sun or tundra

  • What is this 3rd Cetagandan War anyway – "peculiar" victory? Was Major Duvallier's execution for espionage related?

  • Miles handles Olney and Pattas rather well :D

  • The Komarran conquest was really recent as of Shards of Honor; I'd have expected it to be a few years earlier

  • Gregor: thin, middle height (which is... how tall on Barrayar? 175cm? 180cm?), dark hair, hazel eyes, "skinny neurasthenic git"

  • Jacksonian law: complete shitshow

  • Someone give Gregor a hug. "Greg Bleakman"?

  • So, how large was the shitshow on Komarr after Gregor evaporates, no note, no trace, from a fully guarded room?

  • Miles Vorkosigan, Quality Control Inspector is a thing that a) should exist and b) I want all the fic of

  • "Space them" is Oser's most inspired decision, as is the order to silence Miles, should he speak

  • Should all hell break loose, the military would go with Count Vorinnis against the anti-centralization liberals, the French-speakers would go with Vorville, the Russian-speakers with Vortugalov, the far-right blow-up-the-wormhole extremists would field Count Vortrifani against the anti-Vor pro-galactics who want a written constitution... I think I want this fic.

  • All the Nexus also calls Miles a mutant; it's not just Barrayar

  • Miles' interesting staff meeting, with two people tied to their chairs and gagged. Was either of them the Peregrine's captain? Who was the other?

  • "Non-communications officer" is gold. As is the whole rest of what Miles said to Cavilo.

  • Gregor <3

Next: Cetaganda, discussion on Sunday 28.8., with a reminder the prior week.
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[personal profile] extrapenguin
Okay, so I noticed interest dwindling in the comment sections of the readthrough posts. Why is that, and how can I fix it? Are we going too fast? Are my conversation starters bad? Something else?
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[personal profile] extrapenguin
Funnier than I remembered!

  • At the start, the reason for forsaking the "Vor-" at the start of the names is to make the castes equal in the Emperor's service now, stated to be part of Aral's reforms.

  • What were the 2nd and 3rd Cetagandan wars? #3 happened during the Regency and #2 before, but do we know anything else?

  • Betans "clip their children's tubes" at age 12

  • oh, poor Miles, getting pitied and apologised to, wanting to fix that

  • Mental Health Board: rather nefarious

  • Oh, Miles, the whole General Fleet Inspection bit was so hilarious (as were a lot of the other Miles-as-Naismith bits)

  • "Vorthalia the Bold demanding a whole-life policy from his Emperor at sword's point"

  • Lead-lined rubber hoses? What else do the Barrayaran Regs hide within?

  • Such an intriguing pile of ragtag recruits from on-planet. Interesting. I wonder how they all got there?

  • Oof, Elena, having everything hid from her for her whole life only to have it all come crashing down.

  • "personal hygiene and absence of head-lice" is an intriguing glimpse into the role of the Barrayaran Baba

Next up, "Mountains of Mourning", discussion on the 9th of July.
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[personal profile] extrapenguin
This is slightly ahead of schedule, since apparently my weekend shall be consumed by the Barrayar-approved activity of "boffering", that is, "playing medieval warfare with pieces of drainage pipe coated with foam plastic". In any case, here are my notes on Barrayar:

  • Hmm, no regents for 120 years?

  • There's a very nice description of the Residence near the beginning!

  • Aral, you really should've briefed Cordelia before sending her to meet with Kareen. Or given her a Barrayar Translator.

  • Kareen only wears half-mourning (grey) in private. Scandalous, or expected?

  • What's going on in Darkoi with Count Vorlakial? Do we ever get an answer?

  • Kou is 6'4. Barrayarans: tall. Very tall. That's like 193cm in real units. Though since he's a grocer's son, I guess he got adequate nutrition while growing up?

  • "Appeal to Irrelevant Authorities at Headquarters" oh, Cordelia

  • Bujold: very good with foreshadowing – Vordarian's family tree, Bothari the midwife, A+

  • Alys has two sisters.

  • Cordelia's Rules of Barrayaran Sexual Behavior :DDD

  • Hm, Piotr enjoys explaining Barrayar to Cordelia. An interesting, if tragically brief, moment in canon.

  • Gergor's birthday seems to be in the autumn. Ezar's was earlier in the year.

  • Cordelia's conversation with Vordarian: very confusing for both of them. Yet another example of Cordelia operating from a completely different reference system.

  • Barrayaran therapy: not all that good, it seems.

  • The Caravanserai is part of Vorbarr Sultana, but guarded by Count Vorbohn's guard? What's going on here?

  • There are a surprising amount of incidents summarizable as "Kou noooo".

  • "Post-partum fatigue" oh dear. :D

  • Aral and Piotr's arguments are very gut-punching. Piotr, please get your head out of your ass.

  • Drou: A+ pulling of Kou's strings during the start of their rescue mission.

  • Dorca's great-uncle kept over 300 horses in the old old imperial stables.

  • The amount of gut-punch lines seems to have increased notably: ghost of his most notable failure at his banquet of victory

  • Vordarian's head! On the table!

  • Captain Illyan: certified grade-A puppy.

  • Cordelia has a lot of troubles adjusting to the Barrayaran attitude, it seems.

Next book (The Warrior's Apprentice) will be later, I fear, since I'll be going abroad for a while. I can't promise anything, but somewhere in the vicinity of the 6th of July.
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[personal profile] extrapenguin
So, we've read the book and are here to discuss! I am unfortunately not all that good at thematic analysis or arc stuff, but here are some jotted-down notes from my read:
  • Requests for next Bujold Fest: A treatise on Sergyaran nature.

  • Huh, nerve disruptors cause blisters?

  • Nuovo Brasil is name-dropped along with Barrayar and Cetaganda – now I'm curious about the Nuovo Brasilians!

  • Do they have no blue cheese dressing on Barrayar, or does it taste different from the Betan artificial version?

  • Aral's command issues, lol. "Now who in my command is so confused in his thinking as to betray both sides at once?"

  • As was mentioned in the Tor readthrough, Aral confesses to 0.6 murders per day on their trek to the supply cache. I like that this is a valid statistic to measure. :P

  • Koudelka! Gottyan? Nilesa! (I have no idea what I was aiming at with this note, but whatever!)

  • Aral: very abrupt, and not all that good at convincing. "My planet sucks and I fell in love with you while you were puking!" is not the height of romance.

  • It seems like Aral's almost trying to sabotage the invasion by telling Cordelia a lot about the plans.

  • Cordelia: very ingenious. I can definitely see where Miles gets it from!

  • What happened to Cordelia's belt???? It was used to tie up Gottyan, but Aral released him and no further mention was made of the belt. Did Aral keep it as a memento? (Oh, and Aral, get better pants. Yours don't fit. Pants should stay up without a belt!)

  • Cordelia: very good at emotional band-aids

  • 17 replicators, just given to Barrayar, and some of what was said there makes me a bit uncomfortable. "A couple of them were pretty emotionally divided about abortions." Um. And they were given to Barrayar, with the expectation that... they'd be aborted? They'd grow up to be cogs in the Barrayaran machine, off to kill their fully Escobaran half-siblings should a second war happen?

  • How come no-one voted for Steady Freddy?

  • Hm, the Betan and Escobaran psychs seem to have done nothing more than give Cordelia a stutter.

  • oh Cordelia's daring escape :D (an excellent combination of ingenuity and emotional band-aids!)

  • Hm, Aral loathes tiny women? (Another things Miles seems to have inherited...)

  • The Bothari bits make me uncomfortable.

  • Count Vortala A+ snark. I don't suppose we see much more of him?

  • "declare everyone a Vor and be done with the whole bloody nonsense forever" oh, Aral.

  • The Escobaran war's called the 120 day war, despite only lasting for 118 days and a part of an hour!

  • Mother's Tears charms don't seem to return IIRC?

  • Medtech Boni carries around a wedding dress??? Okay this section is creepy.

All in all, better than I remembered, especially re: Cordelia and Aral's relationship. It is still structured so that Cordelia gives up everything while Aral gives up pretty much nothing, but it's more that Cordelia is driven away from Beta than that she walks voluntarily. I wonder what it'd have been like had Dr. Mehta and her colleagues not been such colossal assholes to Cordelia.

Next up is Barrayar, with a discussion post hopefully up on the 18th or 19th.
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[personal profile] extrapenguin
Okay, there was some interest, so let's begin! We'll be doing this in internal chronological order (save Falling Free), one book/short story at a time.

First: Shards of Honor, discussion on the 10th of June.

  1. Shards of Honor and "Aftermaths"

  2. Barrayar

  3. The Warrior's Apprentice

  4. "Mountains of Mourning"

  5. The Vor Game

  6. Cetaganda

  7. Ethan of Athos

  8. "Labyrinth"

  9. "The Borders of Infinity"

  10. Brothers in Arms

  11. the untitled frame story of Borders of Infinity

  12. Mirror Dance

  13. Memory

  14. Komarr

  15. A Civil Campaign

  16. "Winterfair Gifts"

  17. Falling Free

  18. Diplomatic Immunity

  19. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance

  20. Cryoburn

  21. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

...that's a lot of Vorkosigan saga! In any case, does that order satisfy you, or have I made a terrible mistake somewhere?
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[personal profile] extrapenguin
So, there shall be another Bujold Fest on AO3 in the early autumn (prompting'll start in early August, I think), and in preparation, I suggest a readthrough! (Or themed discussion posts? Perhaps both?)

Now, looking back, the last readthrough (in 2009) didn't reach The Vor Game, so I guess we could either start with that, or start from Shards of Honor, and then continue in chronological order. How do people feel about it?

EDIT: One book at a time, or each book in many segments? (I'd prefer one book per post, and feel like that would be easiest to organize.)

flourish: A woman, Taura, whose face is a blend of human and beast: brown braided fur, fanged mouth set in a neutral expression. (Vorkosigan taura)
[personal profile] flourish
The last readthrough was supposed to be The Warrior's Apprentice AND "The Mountains of Mourning," but I'm forgetful and we only talked about The Warrior's Apprentice, and I said that next time we were only going to talk about "The Mountains of Mourning."


So, to get us back on track, let's do "The Mountains of Mourning" AND The Vor Game on July 1, how's that? Can people do both?

ETA: It's been pointed out that MoM is much closer thematically to The Warrior's Apprentice than Vor Game, so let's do an emergency discussion about just MoM on June 21 (that's in two days). Then we can do Vor Game as scheduled on July 1. :)
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[personal profile] flourish
A day late and a dollar short, again, on this readthrough - and I didn't remind anyone beforehand, so it's likely that I'm the only one who's made it through. Ah well. Some thoughts to start our discussion off:
  • Having just re-read Cordelia's Honor, I was startled to find myself seeing a completely new bit of Bothari. That is, Bothari seems to have genuinely grown and changed in the intervening time, and it's not just because Miles' perspective is radically different from Cordelia's.
  • Similarly, I think that the perspective shift was more pronounced reading Barrayar and then immediately The Warrior's Apprentice. Miles as a boy is much more Vor than Cordelia will ever become, and he has so little contact with his mother in this book that it's almost as if he and she live in different Barrayars. Which, I suppose, is true, in a way.
  • Elena's marriage to Baz struck me this time as a much more cold-blooded compromise than I had ever seen it before. I had thought of Elena as someone who successfully escaped Barrayar's constrained gender system, but in this read-through, I was able to see how Elena was constrained by it herself (and not just in that she was more than a little bitter by the end). This read-through, I seemed to recognize for the first time that on one level, Elena was not able to conceive of staying away from Barrayar without marrying away from it.
  • I had forgotten what a manic little crazy person Miles really was in this book - and what a screaming ride it is. ("Créme de meth" was a great crack, and very accurate...) It put me in mind of some of Cordelia's observations in later books where she points out that Miles practically creates a split personality for himself - Vorkosigan, who is restrained, versus Naismith, who is utterly unbridled. Yet the Vorkosigan pre-Naismith doesn't seem particularly restrained to me - he's very focused on one path to greatness, but he isn't a goody-goody, isn't the same sort of stiff-necked character that Miles fears Vorkosigan is in later books. This casts into sharp relief the fact that Miles's "split" (if it can be called that) arose not out of some innate need of Miles', but rather due to the limitations Vor society placed on him. I wonder how he would have been if he had had no galactic escape?
  • At the end of this book, Gregor seems quite estranged from Miles. I wonder whether that's due to the way that Bujold wrote the books out of order, so at the time The Warrior's Apprentice was written she hadn't quite worked out their status with each other? That somehow doesn't ring true to me... Simple drifting apart as Gregor hit teenager-hood and Miles was still a child, then Gregor became emperor and didn't have time? There's some good fanfic about this, I know...
Next up, on July 1: "The Mountains of Mourning."
flourish: A woman, Taura, whose face is a blend of human and beast: brown braided fur, fanged mouth set in a neutral expression. (Vorkosigan taura)
[personal profile] flourish
Okay, readthrough #2: Barrayar! Sorry that this one's a day late - I just got back from vacation last night and was too pooped to post. ;) Some thoughts to kick us off:
  • In my readthrough of this novel, I was surprised to see how much the "gun principle" applied. You know - "if you see a gun in the first act of the play, it will certainly be fired by the third act"? Only it applied to everything, not just nerve disruptors. For instance: Drou's disappointment when Cordelia wants to go shopping (and her parallel thrill when they go to Siegling's) is echoed in Cordelia bringing Vordarian's head back in a shopping bag. Even Cordelia remarking on how Drou looks awful in the "superior servant" dresses is echoed by Alys Vorpatril dressing her beautfiully for her wedding. Maybe this is part of what it is to write a really tight story?
  • I was kind of uncomfortable with Koudelka's ideas about what he was "doing to" Drou. I think that given Barrayaran society, it's perfectly... understandable? That's not the right word, but you know what I mean. But because we don't really deeply delve into Barrayaran society until books later in the timeline (they were, I think, previously published, though) it is jarring. I'm now kind of itching for fanfic.
  • Speaking of itching for fanfic, Barrayar brought up all this great stuff about the Time of Isolation and the Cetagandan war that I'd really, really love to see handled.
On those topics, would people be interested in doing some kind of a fest? I'd be into running one, if people were into writing for one, but I'm nervous that there are too few Vorkosigan fanfic writers around to make it very big at all. Worth it anyway, do you all think?
flourish: A woman, Taura, whose face is a blend of human and beast: brown braided fur, fanged mouth set in a neutral expression. (Vorkosigan taura)
[personal profile] flourish
To kick off our Vorkosiverse reread: Shards of Honor! I've just got some quick thoughts, and look forward to hearing all of yours too:
  • Cordelia discusses herself as being somewhat socially awkward or incapable when she talks about the bad relationship she was in pre-Aral, but she doesn't actually end up being that way in the series later. Is this just self-doubt? Or could it be that Cordelia is "out of step" with Beta colony and for some reason has assumptions about the way people interact that's more suited to life on Barrayar (or, even, not on Barrayar either, but at least on Barrayar she knows her assumptions are likely to be wrong)?
  • I've recently seen some people complaining about the question of "blood guilt" that gets brought up with the fetuses in replicators, suggesting that Bujold has some kind of anti-abortion axe to grind. Rereading it this time, I wonder if it isn't perfectly reasonable: on Beta colony there are not typically any unwanted pregnancies, nor would I imagine are they very common on Escobar. The idea that Betan culture - how does Cordelia put it? "has a respect for life"? - has a very different tenor than it does in the United States today, then, or on Barrayar for that matter. I don't have any opinion on the topic that I care to share, but it was interesting to me to meditate on how it affects our understanding of Cordelia...
  • It's also interesting that Cordelia explicitly positions herself as a theist. I like that Bujold does not just allow the assumption that everyone is a theist, or everyone is an atheist, or whatever.
  • It just occurred to me: Konstantine Bothari - he's Greek! And so is Elena, then. Somehow it did not occur to me that 'Konstantine' established him as part of the Greek minority on Barrayar.
  • Rereading Shards of Honor reminded me of Xav Vorbarra's Betan wife. To refresh: Xav is the younger son of Dorca the Just, half-brother to Mad Emperor Yuri. He ended up living through the end of the Time of Isolation (or at least Dorca's reign overlapped the Time of Isolation's end, so I assume Xav lived through it) and ended up bringing home a Betan wife from his ambassadorship to Beta colony. I don't know if we know her name, but his daughter Olivia married Piotr and therefore was Aral's mother; another daughter was Padma Vorpatril's mother. Can we say wonderful fanfiction topic? I would love to dig my teeth into writing about the experience of a Betan going to just-post-Time of Isolation Barrayar! Holy jeez, talk about culture shock.
What are you all thinking about?

Remember: the next book in our readthrough is Barrayar, and we'll be discussing it on June 1!
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