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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.
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    • Or, it might be like trying to find someone who voted for President Obama in the 2012 election, in Utah.
      • Or like getting someone to admit they voted for Nixon, post-Watergate: I think he's just an embarrassment. Question is, did people not know he was embarrassing when they voted for him, or was there some secret motivation that they're too embarrassed to admit, like racism, or lower taxes for their particular community at the expense of the unfortunate?


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.
    • The author has stated that she never gave him one.

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.
      • It's probably worth noting that the characters we see specifically being violently against body-birth - Cordelia, Alys, Ekaterin, and Miles - have all very specifically encountered serious issues that would have been avoided given the use of a uterine replicator over a body-birth. We actually see Cordelia's violent mental rejection of body-birth after the soltoxin incident. Other characters might be less vehement about it.
      • Also note that infant and mother mortality was ridiculously high during the Time of Isolation, when modern medicine was not available. That is before you factor in the infanticide of "mutant" children born with birth defects. Galactic women likely opt for the replicator out of convenience. Barrayaran women adopting the technology are being lured more by the promise of guaranteed healthy births, because even the young ones like Ekaterin grew up on stories of how many mothers and children died, and likely had such deaths in their own families. Then you have somebody like Emperor Gregor, who is afraid that he carries dangerous genes but can reassure himself that his children will not inherit them thanks to gene cleaning.
    • 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?
      • It is perhaps worth noting that, in one of her editorial pieces at the end of one of the books (forget which one), Bujold says that a central focus of the series is the effect uterine replicators have on society, both in regards to clones, and also in regards to social mores. The oddities of Shards probably come from Bujold realizing afterwards that the devices would have a greater impact than she realized.
      • Also, consider how long she has been writing this series and how she has had to adapt to advances in real life technology. For example, the entire plot of Ethan of Athos now feels a little dated since in real life it is projected that producing a viable embryo from two same-sex parents will probably be attainable within a few decades. The more recent novels adapted to this and depicted it as something the Betans can do quite easily and have indicated that the capability is becoming more widespread on other colonies, including Barrayar.
        • Yes, but Athos is a relatively low-tech world, which is why they need the ovarian cultures. Trying to duplicate the technologies and techniques from scratch would be quite difficult. And even making an embryo from the genomes of two men still requires a viable egg cell, so some kind of ovary harvesting would be required. Why go through all the technical trouble when you can simply combine sperm and egg and put the result into a replicator?
    • Well, yes - gestation and childbirth, especially childbirth are dangerous. Natural life is dangerous, actually, that's why we rely on tech in the first place!
  • 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.
    • In Shards, Vorrutyer explicitly says he plans to send Cordelia to sickbay later. Given Serg's pregnant woman fetish, this was presumably to remove their contraceptive implant so they could be impregnated. If we posit that Bothari and Vorrutyer were not the only participants in the abuse of female prisoners, the other pregnancies make sense. It would also make sense that the other fathers were all dead, as they would likely have been serving on Vorrutyer/Serg's flagship when it was destroyed.
    • Even in a society where everyone gets an implant at adolescence, some people will have them temporarily removed. People trying for in vivo fertilization (and a quarter of all Betan, and plausibly Escobaran, pregnancies are in vivo) are going to remove their implants for as long as they're trying to get pregnant (which can be several months). If the war starts before they succeed, they might not get them replaced, just plan to stop trying until the war's over. People planning on in vitro fertilization need to have eggs harvested. Depending on how Escobaran implants work, they might need to be removed for a few months before the retrieval...and the people planning on an egg harvest will be fertile then, too.
    • Also, contraceptive implants might be removed by captors who aren't Serg and Vorrutyer, but do either have a very restrictive and archaic view of gender roles and see contraception as a galactic perversion, or are paranoid and think the implants are tiny bombs, or bioweapons, or listening devices.

Ethan of 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 novel has explicit statements, mostly via Ethan's mental asides, that there has been immigration to Athos during most of the history of the colony on Athos, just not that much of it.
    • Well, why? It means that group that founded Athos should knew about monastery and their approach to women. Let's say it's not something mystic or hidden. At least, we can definitely say that said Cult wasn't Orthodox (just look at their culture, with approved non-marriage same-sex unions!).
    • One should also consider how unrealistic it was of the Founding Fathers to assume that their personal choice of celibacy would also be followed by their descendants in perpetuity. Especially once the colony population grew large enough that most men would have to pursue secular professions to keep their society going rather than just being religious ascetics. The real Athos is not a complete, self-sustaining civilization. This Athos is. As such, people have normal desires for things like love and sex. Ironically, the Founding Fathers just created a theology that made having those things with women unacceptable to their religion and created a planet where the only option for these things is between men.

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.
    • This is just probably Cordelia's observation. That is, I doubt Lady Vorpatril has ever said "I expect Aral to be like a father to Ivan," but her behavior leads Cordelia to suspect this as a motive. If Lady Vorpatril is always pestering Cordelia for Aral's intervention, then this isn't something that Miles would necessarily know.
    • Also, because of Miles' perceived status as a "mutie", Ivan was technically next in line for the camp stool should anything happen to Gregor. So it was actually rather natural that the Regent would be expected to act as a father figure to the second-in-line to become Emperor. Cordelia, who (despite many readers seeming to constantly forget) was a Betan and not Barryaran, and at the time not a huge fan of the Vor system, was more preoccupied with her own son. She was also frustrated at having had to set aside her own dream of a large family. A little resentment would not have been unusual under the circumstances.

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