Headscratchers / Vorkosigan Saga

Shards of Honor

  • What's the running joke about "well, I didn't vote for president Steady Freddy"? All I can think of is that he lost the election but jiggered the results...? Because surely somebody had to vote for him if he's president now, right?
    • If Beta Colony has some type of ranked preferential voting system, they might not have, especially if they've got multiple major parties. If, say, 20% of the public wanted candidate A, but would rather have Steady Freddy than candidates B,C, D, or E, and another 20% feels the same way about each of the other preferred candidates, then you wind up with a situation where no one's first choice has enough votes to win, so all the votes get punted to second choice, and you get a guy that no one likes, but everyone hates less than the people it could have been, and they all really voted for candidates A,B,C,D and E, not this jerk who's actually president.
    • Or, it might be like trying to find someone who voted for President Obama in the 2012 election, in Utah.

Diplomatic Immunity

  • The dust-up that got Ensign Corbeau and his prejudiced fellow-soldiers arrested is said to have happened in Garnet Five's living quarters. Later Corbeau comments that he didn't start fighting till the other soldiers dumped Garnet Five out of her float chair. Therefore the fight happened on the artificial-gravity side of the station; quaddies don't use float chairs in free-fall nor could anyone be "dumped" out of one without gravity. But why on Graf Station does a quaddie dancer have living quarters on the gravity side?
    • "Dumped out of her chair" probably means "thrown out of the chair". Alternately, floatsider rooms can have gravity if desired, and Garnet turned it on to be nice to Corbeau.
    • If she was in her chair in the first place then that almost certainly means there was gravity and it was turned on. As previously mentioned, quaddies don't need float chairs in zero-G.
  • In quaddie culture, each person has only a first name, plus a number if their name is popular enough to have been chosen by others (eg. Garnet Five, Leo Ninety-Nine.) The names all sound like first names from some culture or other (Garnet, Pramod, Teris, Leo) except the names of the quaddie authorities Miles meets, which are given with their titles and sound very much like last names: Sealer Greenlaw, Adjudicator Leutwyn, and Boss Watts. What happened here: did some quaddie moms really give their kids the names Greenlaw, Leutwyn and Watts, are the "last names" an oversight on Bujold's part, or is there some other explanation?
    • Presumably yes. We know quaddies name themselves after their historical heroes, maybe "Greenlaw" was a particularly heroic downsider.

Brothers In Arms

  • What's the first name of Duv Galeni's father? He is referred to and addressed universally as 'Ser Galen', but in Komarr and Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Ser and Sera are Komarran honorifics, roughly equivalent to Mr and Ms in modern English. Presumably, therefore, 'Ser' is not the elder Galen's given name, but we never find out what it might be.

Saga in General

  • Nervous systems are replaceable, limbs and organs can be grown in vitro for transplant, functional sex change is routine and all kinds of other medical marvels - but gestation and childbirth - natural processes - are 'too dangerous'.
    • Sure they are. For starters, a substantial amount of pregnancies end in miscarriages, even in relatively healthy women, risking the health of the mother. There's all kinds of medical issues that routinely come up during pregnancy, not to mention childbirth. And, while most or all of them can probably be dealt with, if you have a safer option - to say nothing of not having to endure mood swings, morning sickness, high blood pressure and the general discomfort of having an ever growing child pressing on your bladder and squashing your internal organs, with a painful delivery to look forward to at the end of nine months of this - why wouldn't you take it?
    • Not necessarily "too dangerous". Even on Beta Colony, where the uterine replicator was invented, there are still women who opt for body birth as a matter of personal preference. However, there can be absolutely no question that women bear the bulk of the labor (pun intended) in the reproductive process as compared to men. Given medical advances that free them from that, why wouldn't they take it? Miles and Ekaterin were able to take an extended holiday while their first two children were gestating in replicators, something which would have been a much less pleasant experience for Ekaterin if she had to deal with the physical effects of pregnancy along with interstellar travel, and which would have possibly involved risks to her and the pregnancy. If men can spend the time it takes to bring a child to term doing whatever they want, why shouldn't women have such freedom too? Especially in a spacefaring culture, there are risks that we do not have even in the modern day real world (yet). But, for example, it is generally not considered a good idea for women to become pregnant on long space missions, and even hypothetical trips to Mars anticipate that the women will not be allowed to get pregnant while in space.
      • I agree uterine replicators are more convenient and pleasant. It is the demonization of body birth as some kind of horrible risk - under ultra modern medical conditions mind you - that I object to.
    • I wonder if this isn't a case of the author not having totally worked out the worldbuilding in the earlier books? In Shards, Cordelia explains uterine replicators to Aral, saying, "we use them all the time at home, for medical emergencies," and that they're very expensive. But in Barrayar, Cordelia thinks about couples on Beta choosing replicator births for their kids by a ratio of almost 3:1. I can't imagine that on a world with such advanced medical technology, such a large percentage of births are "medical emergencies" requiring replicators. So did LMB only further develop her thoughts/worldbuilding with regard to the uterine replicators after Shards was written?
  • In some of the later-written books (Barrayar, A Civil Campaign, and Captain Vorpatril's Alliance) it's assumed that having a contraceptive implant is standard for women and hermaphrodites on most planets except Barrayar. The implant is required on Beta Colony, but very common in most other galactic civilizations. However, in Shards of Honor, seventeen of the Escobaran and Betan female soldiers abused by Vorrutyer and his officers end up pregnant. Cordelia even includes herself in that category. When contemplating the uterine replicators, she muses to Aral, "One of those canned kids might have mine and Vorrutyer's, or mine and Bothari's." This seems strange, since in Barrayar (which takes place right after Shards, though it was written like five years later) Cordelia tells Drou that she had to have her contraceptive implant removed before she and Aral could conceive Miles. Even if you assume that Serg and Vorrutyer had Elena Visconti's implant removed specifically so they could have a pregnant victim, the other Barrayaran officers probably wouldn't do likewise (or even think to do so- contraceptive implants are probably not common on Barrayar at this point, given Drou's concerns about getting pregnant with Kou). So how did sixteen Escobaran/Betan women end up pregnant? If the implants are as widely used as we assume, doesn't that seem like a very high failure rate? The inconsistency about Cordelia's likelihood of getting pregnant is the most baffling, unless LMB hadn't yet thought up the contraceptive implant as a technology required for all women on Beta.

Ethan from Athos

  • Real Life Athos is a very strict male Orthodox monasterynote  on the eponymous mountain in Greece, so it stands to reason that the original population of the respectively named Cult Colony would be Orthodox and/or Greek as well. Instead, the Athosian names in the book are far more varied — Janos sounds vaguely Hungarian, Urquhart is Scottish, etc. The thing is, men from these non-Orthodox places would be unlikely to name their cult colony after an Orthodox monastery.
    • Cultures and nations are not static, but change over time. It is entirely possible that there were population movements over the centuries, especially given Earth's many conflicts, which resulted in some drift.

The Warrior's Apprentice

  • During Piotr's funeral reception, Cordelia complains to Miles, "Ever since Lord Vorpatril died she (Lady Vorpatril) has been expecting him (Aral) to stand in loco parentis to that idiot Ivan," especially with regard to not harassing servant girls. The way Cordelia says it makes it sound like Lord Vorpatril's death is recent. But in Barrayar, written a few years later, Lord Padma Vorpatril died the night of Ivan's birth. Cordelia's comment could simply be exposition so new readers know that there is a close relationship between the Vorpatrils and Vorkosigans, but it feels jarring if you read Barrayar before Warrior's Apprentice.