Follow TV Tropes

Discussion Literature / VorkosiganSaga

Go To

May 1st 2013 at 9:21:00 PM •••

What is the point of Vor insisting that they are "a military caste not an aristocracy." Isn't that pretty much the definition of aristocracy in almost every culture that has one?

Hide/Show Replies
Sep 28th 2013 at 7:24:57 PM •••

I think the idea is that they serve a vital and personally dangerous role in society. How true that is, of course, is debatable.

Mar 8th 2013 at 11:47:06 AM •••

Why does no one note that the Betans are merchants of death? Surely it sounds odd for people whose prime export is weapons to condemn Barryarans as barbaric? At least they have the decency to risk their own lives when they make mayhem.

Hide/Show Replies
Sep 29th 2013 at 2:45:47 PM •••

What makes you think that Beta's prime export is weapons? Weapons get mentioned a lot, because the early books were military SF, but they only make up a part of their exports. Beta exports high tech of all kinds, and they are also pretty picky about who they sell to.

Jan 13th 2014 at 3:33:31 PM •••

Maybe the fact that every new weapon that appears in the series seems to have originated on Beta? And their tech tends to get into all kinds of hands after that first sale. I imagine they need the money to support their welfare state.

Feb 10th 2014 at 9:18:14 AM •••

Betans, for one, invented the uterine replicator, so, yes, they're not just about weapons tech. There are Jackson's Whole houses that specialize in weaponry, including one that does bioweaponry.

Aug 22nd 2014 at 10:53:15 AM •••

Betans fill the role of being the "most advanced" society in the 'verse. That goes for their social mores, and all of their technology, from medicine to weapons. In 'Ethan of Athos' it's implied that Betan medicine pretty much sets the standard for Galactic medical research (and they won't try to swindle you like Jackson's Whole), so they're merchants of life as well, not just death.

However, Beta is still shown to be a flawed, imperfect society, not an utopia, so it's not at all beyond them to be hypocrites, as well. It'd be fully in-character for Betans as a whole to look down on Barrayar for violence while also dealing weapons on the side.

As for the claim that Barrayarans at least 'risk their own lives when they make mayhem,' that's clearly not entirely true. Heck, the plot to half the books wouldn't exist if Barrayar didn't have a fondness for secretly employing mercenaries (recruited from a wide range of worlds) to make mayhem that can't be traced back to them. Barrayarans (like Klingons in the Star Trek 'verse) talk about honour a lot, right up until the point when they find it useful to stab someone in the back. :P

Edited by
Apr 5th 2016 at 7:27:18 PM •••

Well, that's because Barrayarans did start as Klingons. The series as a whole grew out of the Star Trek fanfic by LMB, which later gradually morphed into the Shards of Honor, losing the Star Trek setting in the process, but keeping the Klingon sensibilities for the Barrayarans.

Edited by Khathi
Jul 18th 2012 at 3:25:28 PM •••

I see there's been discussion of whether the following is a Sherlock Holmes Shout-Out:

  • And a not so subtle one in a rephrase of Holmes famous 'You have been in Afghanistan I perceive."
    To the former Lady Donna: "Lord Dono, you have been to Beta Colony I perceive."

I think it is, and is along the lines of a similar joke used in A Study In Emerald. Basically, the original quote is the very first Sherlock Scan- which deduced Watson served in Afghanistan based upon obscure clues. Miles uses the same wording, but in this case, he's deducing something obvious (someone who had a sex change obviously went to the sex change capital of the universe).

I bring up A Study In Emerald, because that's a Holmes pastiche that likewise has a joke about the Sherlock Scan being used for obvious or unusual deductions (i.e. the narrator being in Afganistan based on the fact he was obviously tortured by an Eldritch Abomination/ a foreign prince identified by his multiple limbs and green blood).

Hide/Show Replies
Jul 18th 2012 at 5:43:09 PM •••

In Miles' case he is also just confirming something that he already knew. He had been told that Lady Donna had just returned from Beta Colony. I do think that Bujold meant for this line to be Miles paraphrasing Holmes.

Jul 18th 2012 at 5:54:49 PM •••

I think it's pushing it to call it a shout out. I admit that it might be—in fact, I recognized the echo when I first read it—but it's also just something you might expect the character to say in that circumstance. Without Word of God to back it up, it seems too speculative. (It's also not a particularly well-known Holmes line, unlike, say, comments about dogs and nights.)

eta: at the very least, I disagree with the "not-so-subtle" part; I think it's so subtle that I can't be sure it's there! ;)

Edited by Xtifr
Jul 18th 2012 at 6:40:34 PM •••

Xtifr hit the nail for why I keep deleting it. Sure, it might be a Shout-Out, but it also might not be. "Genius and wonder" is at least a specific use of the same adjectives in the same form, very few things are described as such. Commenting that somebody has been somewhere, particularly when you've been told they've been somewhere, just seems like a thing that somebody says.

Jul 19th 2012 at 6:33:37 AM •••

Frankly I find it much less subtle then the 'genius and wonder' line since 'You have been in Afghanistan I perceive is the the first thing Holmes ever says to Watson. However I will bow to the majority.

Jul 19th 2012 at 1:23:56 PM •••

It may be less obscure (and indeed, I doubt I would have recognized the "genius and wonder" one if it hadn't been pointed out), but that doesn't necessarily make it less subtle.

eta: of course, if someone wanted to try to obtain Word of God on the matter, that would definitely change things. Bujold is hardly a recluse, and she might well respond to a question.

Edited by Xtifr
Jul 21st 2012 at 12:54:35 PM •••

It's not a YMMV trope though, is it? I agree that it seems likely to be a Holmes Shout-Out, but can see the reasons for leaving it off. Would be cool if someone would write Bujold to ask/confirm (I'm busy at present).

Jul 21st 2012 at 8:53:47 PM •••

Shout-outs are borderline trivia in any case, and I see little point in obsessing over catching them all, but if we really wanted to, I bet that this book alone, dedicated "To Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, and Dorothy", has a whole bunch that we've missed. I've read most of Jane, and a fair amount of Georgette and Dorothy, but not recently enough to spot what shout-outs there may be; still, I'm confident they're there.

Jul 24th 2012 at 9:25:14 AM •••

I've read all of Jane, Charlotte's most famous and some of Georgette's and can't say I've noticed shout outs to any of them. Who the heck is 'Dorothy'?

Jul 25th 2012 at 12:43:56 PM •••

Okay I really haven't noticed any Peter Wimsey shout outs.

Jul 25th 2012 at 6:20:45 PM •••

Miles relationship with Ekatrian (sorry, not sure how to spell her name) is pretty close to Lord Peter's relationship with Harriet Vane- same kind of idea of how the guy is kind of a savior and the woman isn't really comfortable with the idea of starting a relationship with someone they feel indebted to.

And I'd say generally that after settling down in Komarr and A Civil Campaign, Miles becomes a fair amount like Peter in personality (a "gentleman detective").

Sep 12th 2012 at 10:05:17 PM •••

There is also Ekaterin's maiden name: Vorvayne

Sep 12th 2012 at 10:12:13 PM •••

Wow, never knew/noticed that. That's a pretty obvious hint.

Jul 17th 2012 at 8:38:19 AM •••

Am I the only troper to have raised hackles over Bujold's characterization of natural gestation and childbirth as 'dangerous and undesirable'? In a society where they revive the dead and give people new nervous systems all the old medical dangers must have been eliminated. Extracting ovum isn't exactly non-intrusive and free of medical hazard (ask any woman undergoing fertility treatment!).

And why is it that Betan WOMEN (and hermaphrodites) get government mandated contraceptive implants? Why not the MEN instead? Or also?? Last time I looked it takes two to make a baby! Nothing intrusive about the government REQUIRING you to get an artificial implant in your body - oh no! While socially mandated chastity and monogamy are JUST AWFUL!

Dear GOD!

Hide/Show Replies
Jul 17th 2012 at 8:44:27 AM •••

Roxana, I think you're confusing a character viewpoint with an author viewpoint. To my knowledge Bujold has never in real life said "Natural birth is disgusting and should be stamped out as soon as humanly possible," and she has never said "Beta is my ideal world and I wholeheartedly endorse all their social practices." There's many different societies in the universe, each of which have their own viewpoint on things like sex and reproduction, and to my knowledge Bujold hasn't pointed to any said that they are absolutely correct.

Also, live-birth is more dangerous than a uterine replicator given the dangers of the world. Life is dangerous. There are car accidents, food poisoning, even just accidentally falling down the stairs. A replicator keeps the baby safe and secure and away from all the natural hazards (Although it does bring up all sorts of new hazards, like what if the power goes out, or there's no staff to extract it at the end of the cycle, etc.).

Jul 18th 2012 at 1:16:16 PM •••

And the serious squickiness of getting your ova extracted. Betans do seem to be detaching themselves from nature as much as possible. Perhaps an inevitable result of having to live in artificially created arcologies but Cordelia's Betan bigotry REALLY gets to me. I still want to know why it's the WOMEN who get their bodies messed with and men get off scott free.

Jul 18th 2012 at 6:43:09 PM •••

Cultural baggage. There's criticism of women in real life for using birth control (Being on the pill can get you labelled "Slut") but I've never heard the same applied to a man who uses birth control (A condom). Beta is a relatively nice society, with a lot of equality, but nobody (Not even Cordelia within the series) thinks it's perfect.

Jul 19th 2012 at 6:37:28 AM •••

I'd mind less if they'd just admit that the chief advantage of uterine replicators is convenience because there is no question that pregnancy does cramp a woman's style. It's the relentless demonization of 'body birth' as primitive and dangerous that raised my hackles. One cannot but notice that Beta's 'unisex' society depends on eliminating female biology as much as possible to bring them closer to the 'male' norm.

Jul 20th 2012 at 11:56:58 AM •••

And nobody seems to be addressing - or even considering - the elist nature of the 'benefits' of uterine replicators which are CLEARLY limited to the more affluent middle classes and above.

Jul 20th 2012 at 12:17:55 PM •••

On Beta I'm pretty sure they're universal, everybody has access to uterine replicator's if they want to use one as part of their basic healthcare (Just like nobody does not have a com console in the home).

Jul 21st 2012 at 9:03:46 AM •••

I was thinking about Barrayar. Clearly cost IS an issue there.

Jul 21st 2012 at 9:07:24 AM •••

Oh, quite true, but Barrayar is still a caste-based society, they've got social issues coming out the wazoo.

Jul 24th 2012 at 9:23:09 AM •••

So does Beta, or at least civil liberties issues. Freewheeling sexual mores are a good way to distract people from the freedoms they DON'T have. Not to mention a president that nobody seems to have voted for. Hmmmm.

Sep 12th 2012 at 10:17:58 PM •••

Replicator use isn't universal on Beta. Bujold says that it's about 3:1 vitro:vivo, in Barrayar. Cordelia's brother was vivo, and her sister-in-law chose in-vivo births for her children.

Cordelia's own dislike for them comes from bitter experience, both with Miles' poisoning, and the birth of Ivan. She herself wasn't opposed to them, in principle, at the beginning of Barrayar.

Sep 24th 2012 at 9:21:03 AM •••

And that's another thing; granted Miles was poisoned because she was but if he'd been in her womb she wouldn't have had to sneak into enemy territory to rescue him. IMO her personal experience pretty much exposes the flaws of BOTH systems.

Sep 24th 2012 at 12:22:43 PM •••

Guys, the discussion page is supposed to be about the article, not the subject. Unless this debate is aimed at figuring out which tropes go here, it should probably be moved to the forum thread, here.

Edited by Xtifr
Aug 22nd 2014 at 11:01:47 AM •••

Natural birth remains dangerous on Barrayar for quite a long while after the planet gets re-introduced to Galactic medicine. Heck, halfway through the series, there are backwater towns on Barrayar that are still struggling to build their first hospital. No-one's going to be using uterine replicators there either, for the same reason, of course, but it'd certainly add to the perception of childbirth as inherently dangerous to anyone from off-planet.

The mention that Betan birth control only targets women made me pause too, though. Maybe it's because birth control would be seen as a matter of the woman's personal health, rather than a social or moral issue. I.e. men don't get birth control implants because men don't face the risk of unwanted pregnancy; it's a preventative treatment that's only given to those who need it. That would actually fit Beta's attitudes, I think: They'd see pregnancy not as a social matter (beyond the need to limit the birth rate, which would probably also be seen as the woman's personal, individual responsibility), or as an issue that involves two people; they'd see pregnancy as a personal medical condition involving just one person, i.e. the pregnant woman. They treat it accordingly.

Edited by
Mar 19th 2012 at 11:31:53 AM •••

Where did this article get the idea that the characters were socially liberal compared with those of other Military Science Fiction? It seems to me that Eric Flint goes a lot farther in that direction.

Most of the characters here seem reasonably happy with a society whose mores are roughly comparable to those of nineteenth century Eastern Europe. The most socially liberal thing they do is to work against anti-disabled prejudice. Which is socially liberal for Barrayar but not for most reader's countries.

Hide/Show Replies
Mar 19th 2012 at 11:36:45 AM •••

The stories endorse sexual tolerance, non-traditional gender roles and reassignment surgery, and a benevolent representative government. Barrayar might still be a backward society, but the "message" (If there was a message to take away from this) is that this is a problem.

Mar 19th 2012 at 12:10:28 PM •••

Again, they are "socially liberal" by Barryaran standards. The author comes from a country where one of the foremost socially conservative speakers is a woman who brags about how many moose she can shoot, and where being against the infanticide of cripples is closer to being a socially conservative cause than to a socially liberal cause. And no known socially liberal or socially conservative wants to be ruled by an emperor. Cordelia is the only character that could count as socially liberal by the reader's standards as opposed to in-verse standards.

Edited by jatay3
Mar 19th 2012 at 12:45:02 PM •••

The article talked of the characters as well as the message. The characters were not socially liberal by modern standards; Aral is very much like a typical nineteenth century monarchist, and would be recognized by Winston Churchill, Gustav Mannerheim, or Captain von Trapp. Simon is a strategic technician. And Ivan is just a courtier. Both are pretty much apolitical, but insofar as they have political opinions they are more or less happy with their society. And all the Armsmen are satisfied to be Battle Butler s. Miles seems fairly mild in his political opinions; he is certainly perfectly satisfied to be an aristocrat.

Edited by jatay3
May 29th 2012 at 5:13:41 PM •••

Um, pretty much everyone who's not from Barrayar itself would seem to qualify—not just Cordelia. Betans in particular, but Cordelia's not even the only Betan among the main characters—there's also Bel Thorne. Jackson's Whole may have a thoroughly messed-up political system, but Jacksonians are pretty liberal overall, as evidenced by Lord Mark. Cetegandans have their highly stratified society, but as far as matters that don't cross class lines, they seem to be extremely liberal. Even Komarrans, despite being notionally members of the Barrayaran Empire, are fairly liberal. Nobody in the Dendarii fleet seems to mind working with a hermaphrodite, and Eli Quinn is only briefly fazed to meet a man from a single-sex planet.

Funny how in your attempt to disprove it, you limited yourself to discussing only Barrayaran characters—the only ones who wouldn't qualify. (Although Miles himself seems to try, no doubt because of his mother's influence, plus all the time he spent with the fleet, pretending to be full-Betan.)

Jul 17th 2012 at 9:14:59 AM •••

I think I might have added that at some point, based on my understanding that most military science fiction authors can't go five pages without talking about how terrible liberals are. That being said, it's funny that on a re-read of The Warrior's Apprentice, I noticed how Beta seemed to be presented (at least through the POV of Miles and other Barryarans) as a case of Political Correctness Gone Mad.

I've also noticed that Bujold seems to have a thing for gay (or at least bay-leaning bi) characters ending up marring people of the opposite sex, so not really sure of her actual social views...

I do think that overall, characters have pretty socially liberal views. Not so sure now of economic ones. I haven't read up to the present, but my impression was that Miles seems relatively sympathetic toward the idea of equality of outcome, albeit in a noblesse oblige kind of way, and while Mark is something of a Crazy Survivalist libertarian, his actions are also somewhat in that direction.

Sep 25th 2012 at 10:09:45 AM •••

Seeings as how Cordelia and Cordelia's views are depicted as the ultimate in enlightenment and wisdom I'd definitely go for 'liberal' in terms of sexual morality, conservative in terms of value of human life, and undecided re: economic liberty.

Aug 22nd 2014 at 11:17:41 AM •••

I personally have the annoying feeling that the "most liberal" characters in the books still aren't liberal enough for me. Ultra-liberal Cordelia sure did give up her career in a hurry to play housewife to a strong male, there. (Okay, so she wasn't exactly welcome on Beta Colony at that point, but still — in all the years after, for all her complaining about Barrayar culture, never once does she say "gee, I feel tempted to stop playing second fiddle to my husband and feel like commanding a starship instead" or something). People throughout the 'verse sure do go on and on about how "misguided" the creation of Betan hermaphrodites was, even though the hermaphrodites themselves (that we meet) seem happy enough with their nature. People sure do have a tendency to raise their eyebrows at any mention of homosexuality. For all the female soldiers we meet, there sure still seem to be plenty of thoroughly male-dominated careers.

Ultimately, I get over it by reminding myself that a lot of these books were written in the 1980s and then-abouts, and that that's the time the 'verse as a whole was created. The "most liberal" characters are the most liberal that average people in the 1980s would tolerate reading about. Fair for Its Day, in short.

Needless to say, Beta Colony is the only place in this 'verse where I'd feel comfortable living — and you really get the sense it was set up as some sort of straw-liberal "political correctness gone mad!" world that we're supposed to see as being just as silly as conservative Barrayar, in its own way...

Edited by
Mar 16th 2012 at 3:09:28 PM •••

Just for fun, why not compare the different worlds with the Seven Deadly Sins:

  • Barryar=Wrath
  • Beta=Lust
  • Cetaganda=Pride
  • Jacksons Whole=Avarice

What do you think? What would fit the other three?

Edited by jatay3 Hide/Show Replies
FastEddie MOD
Mar 16th 2012 at 3:14:21 PM •••

Kibou-daini ("New Hope") has to be Sloth.

Mar 16th 2012 at 3:26:51 PM •••

This page is for discussing changes to the article. Discussing the work itself belongs on the forum.

Mar 7th 2013 at 10:32:48 PM •••

Actually I forget. It just seems amusing.

Jan 30th 2012 at 4:28:17 PM •••

I've been trying to see Bujold's point in creating Jackson's Whole - an "anarchist dystopia" with "no government", ruled by the profitmongering Houses of "pirates" and "criminals". She may be missing the point there - government by criminals is still government. What's the difference between the House Lords and Varadar Tau, the first Emperor of Barrayar, who explicitly started out as a bandit and became a ruler through force of arms? Barrayar is superior simply because they have a unified form of domination, enforcing prejudice against women and the disabled? She at least admits that the liberal utopia of Beta Colony practices Mind Control. But she never gives the Jacksonians any credit for refusing to see a difference between state-sponsored violence and back-street violence?

Hide/Show Replies
Jan 30th 2012 at 7:34:45 PM •••

This page is for discussing changes to the article, not for talking about the work in general. We have the forums for that.

Feb 20th 2012 at 1:18:05 PM •••

I'm trying to get somewhere in the vicinity of Hypocrite and/or Not So Different without pidgeonholing.

Feb 29th 2012 at 8:49:10 AM •••

That's really a stretch. First off, Barrayar's government is not "enforcing prejudice against women and the disabled." Those are cultural attitudes that were already present that the current government is trying to correct for. Second, a lot of people _do_ see a difference between "state-sponsored violence" and "back-street violence." Those people would rather live in a society where there are a set of laws that apply to everyone, clearly spelling out what is allowed and what isn't, and what the punishments are for breaking those laws. Especially if along with those laws comes a set of rights. As opposed to "you can do whatever you want as long as you don't piss off someone stronger than you." Third, "X used to be like Y" is not a good "Not So Different" setup. The key being "used to be". "I've changed" is one of the classic rejoinders to the "We're not so different" accusation. If one of the Houses achieved total domination on Jackson's Whole and spent a century or two working out a relatively fair and consistent legal system _then_ they would be pretty much the same as Barrayar. Finally it's a fallacy to think that any form of government is perfect (or at least no counter-examples have been found so far.) Beta Colony provides a lot of benefits to its citizens, but not free of cost. Every form of government meets certain needs and fails to meet others, so how "good" it is depends on what you want out of your government. If you prefer back-street violence to the rule of law then Jackson's Whole _is_ your utopia, but the rest of us would prefer to live on Barrayar or Beta Colony.

Feb 29th 2012 at 9:24:45 AM •••

Good points. Also, a couple other things. I think to some degree Miles is an Unreliable Narrator. I mean his ancestry is Barrayaran and Betan, so of course they come across pretty well, which is a bit odd given some of Barrayar's past history.

Also, I get the impression that Komarr and Escobar (and probably some other places) are quite libertarian/free market oriented, and they are presented positively, so I'm not sure Bujold is completely using Jackson's Whole to attack/strawman that kind of society- Jackson's Whole is a bad example of that type (by way of comparison, I think that to an extent, Cetaganda is the bad example of the authoritarian type).

Finally, I haven't read the most recent novel to see if this is continued, but I got the impression that Mark is presented as a good person who endorses some of the Jacksonian ethos (the non-evil parts).

Mar 16th 2012 at 3:07:34 PM •••

Barrayar comes across as quite flawed. It simply comes across as a society with virtues as well as flaws. Miles admitted Barrayar's flaws quite plainly; he was a fairly conspicuous victim after all(even though being a prince kind of evened things out). Actually what I liked was that the viewpoint character was not from a United Space of America and had the perspective of a viewpoint society that would be strange to the reader. It allows for a certain mental stretch.

Edited by jatay3
May 29th 2012 at 12:37:09 AM •••

The difference between state-sponsored violence and back-street violence is the difference between taxes and protection money - very little.

Mar 8th 2013 at 3:26:47 PM •••

Barryarans clearly consider the system legitimate and consider themselves a part of it. Peasants take pride in once having been soldiers, and celebrate the Emperor's Birthday. No one celebrates the birthday of a crime lord.

A closer analogy to a protection racket would be Komarr but not Barryar itself as Komarr is ruled by authorities alien to it.

As for State-sponsored violence being the same as backstreet violence, that is clearly not the case; it takes different forms and has different goals. In any case the proper term is physical force, not violence; violence comes from the same root as violation and thus in itself implies illegitimacy. Now if you are an absolute pacifist presumably you think all physical force is illegitimate. But most people in fact are not.

Mar 9th 2013 at 3:26:57 PM •••

The difference between state-sponsored violence and back-street violence is the difference between taxes and protection money - very little.

A mafia racket seldom offers education, healthcare, minority protection, or any form of basic social safety net. Admittedly, Barrayar isn't very good at much of that either, but that's because the books very much present it as a former feudal kleptocracy that's trying to stop being one. As for Beta Colony mind control... you may have to remind me of that bit.

Sep 3rd 2013 at 9:45:26 PM •••

Word of God is that Jackson's Whole is a Take That! against anarchy/anarcho-capitalism: "Everybody says they want a world with no government. Well, here's a world with no government. How do you like it?"

Jan 1st 2012 at 8:04:51 AM •••

Me and donaithnen have been going back and forth for a while over whether or not Aral Vorkosign is an example of the But Not Too Bi trope, with me arguing against and donaithnen arguing for. We've apparently reached an impasse, and instead of just cursing at each other, we've actually decided to get outside commentary (Can you believe that?).

My argument boils down to the fact that, throughout the series, Aral is only involved in one single romantic relationship (Cordelia, obviously). But Not Too Bi is when a character claims to be bi, but their relationships present in the work are predisposed towards one gender or the other and is almost a case of Informed Ability, talking about it but never showing it. I agree that Aral was never shown in a relationship with a man, which is almost the textbook definition of Informed Ability (Talk about it, but it never happens), except that's going to be automatic for any story where a character only has one relationship. If Cordelia had been male then it'd be same situation, Aral would still be But Not Too Bi in the other direction. The trope can't apply when you haven't seen multiple relationships since then we can't trace it, we can't look at numbers, at writing style, at matching the authors words with actions, etc. The trope can't fit without more relationships; with only one relationship it's just a non-connection.

donaithnen, you're argument?

Edited by JBK405 Hide/Show Replies
Jan 9th 2012 at 12:59:18 PM •••

To me, as it seems to be described on the trope page, But Not Too Bi is not about the actions of the motivations of the character per se, it is about the use of bisexuality as a tool by the author. It applies when the author decides that the character trait of being bisexual would add something to a character (depth, drama, humor, whatever) but for whatever reason chooses to minimize that character's relation with one of the sexes. The trope page lists a number of ways in which that can be done, but the relevant one in Aral's case is example #1, "Time: Alice used to date or sleep with both sexes, but there is no indication that she does so now." Yes, there are reasons internal to the story why Aral doesn't get involved with males in the present, but the author chose to have it be that way. Bujold could have had Aral involved in a male relationship when he met Cordelia and dealt with the resulting drama, or she could drop hints that Aral was still attracted to other men, even if he never acted on it because he was faithful to Cordelia. But whatever her reasons Aral's bisexuality has never been relevant except as part of Aral's history, and has barely even been mentioned since "Barrayar."

Jan 9th 2012 at 3:00:19 PM •••

I think I must have drastically misunderstood what you were trying to say when we were talking in private messages, because when I read it all together your point is quite cogent.

Edited by JBK405
Jan 9th 2012 at 6:57:17 PM •••

FWIW, his history/past relationship with Ges Vorrutyer forms a significant subplot in the first book.

Jan 10th 2012 at 1:11:08 PM •••

Yes, but only the history, nothing actually happens in the present. In "Barrayar" someone tries to taunt Cordelia using that history. After that i believe it's brought up once more in the next ten books, and even then only as an aside. That's why it qualifies under case #1, he used to be actively bisexual, but doesn't demonstrate any such traits now. Bujold used his bisexuality to good effect in the first book or two, but after that for whatever reason she didn't want to deal with it anymore. This is definitely a case of Tropes Are Not Bad. Bujold has demonstrated elsewhere that she's not afraid of dealing with LGBT issues, she didn't just throw the bisexuality in there for the shock value and then drop it. It's possible that she felt that delving into it more might have turned off some readers, but it's at least as likely that it just wasn't a direction she wanted to take Aral in. But whatever the reason she did use the character trait in the way described by the trope.

Jan 10th 2012 at 6:44:28 PM •••

*shrugs* I don't particularly care but he simply becomes less important as a character in the following books (as Miles becomes central) hence we have no idea what's happening in Aral's world or mind. Its not that his bisexuality gets sidelined...the whole character gets sidelined. Is that the same thing?

Edited by Falco
Feb 22nd 2012 at 6:26:21 PM •••

I think Aral fits the trope. He definitely fits #1 of the But Not Too Bi criteria, in that he used to have a boyfriend, but had already broken up with him by the time the series began. I also think he fits #3 because Vorrutyer was a Depraved Bisexual, which implies a value judgment on his relationships with men vs. women since the boyfriend was a homicidal psychopath and the girlfriend was the love of his life.

Mar 16th 2012 at 3:03:01 PM •••

The only time I remember it coming up, was a silly gossip mentioning it at a party in Barrayar. But I haven't read the whole series yet.

Mar 16th 2012 at 10:41:17 PM •••

Well... 1) If you're referring to the party near the beginning of Barrayar, it wasn't silly gossip. It was a deliberate attempt to destroy Aral's marriage by exploiting his wife's homo/biphobia, foiled by the fact that Cordelia (unlike the average Barrayaran) is not actually homo/biphobic. It's a plot point because it provides Cordelia with reason to suspect Vordarian of working against them. Aral's bisexuality is also a plot point in Shards of Honor, as the villain is his ex-boyfriend and, due to the failed relationship, hates both him and his new girlfriend.

2) I don't think the relative importance of the trope to the overall plot of the work makes a difference when including it on the work page. We can list a trope that's only mentioned in one sentence as easily as a trope that is explored in depth across the entire work. So even if it is just silly gossip, that doesn't disqualify it from being listed.

Nov 8th 2011 at 11:01:06 AM •••

"Arguably" for Uterine Replicators. The example was not using the word "Arguably" in the sense warned against in "Examples Are Not Arguable." Uterine Replicators are clearly present in the series, it's just arguable whether one wants to consider them the "The central technological innovation of the series." Removing just the word "Arguably" doesn't improve anything, it only changes it from something that's definitely true to something people might argue over.

Oct 31st 2011 at 8:41:55 PM •••

Warning: Tropes and subpages may contain unmarked spoilers.

Is there a good reason for this other than sheer laziness?

Hide/Show Replies
Aug 31st 2011 at 5:11:18 PM •••

Just to test the waters, has the series reached the Loads and Loads of Characters threshold yet? (The number of characters that have appeared in at least two stories and have a significant role in at least one of them is easily over 20.)

Hide/Show Replies
Aug 31st 2011 at 5:43:48 PM •••

I think so.

I've also been thinking that we ought to start a characters page.

Aug 31st 2011 at 6:07:32 PM •••

A Character Sheet was put up a week or two ago. There's even a link button on the main page, but I suppose I could insert another link toward the end of the main article text.

Feb 10th 2014 at 9:19:02 AM •••

There's a Wiki for the series, too. Seems to still be in construction, but already they have loads of character profiles.

Apr 11th 2011 at 12:09:49 PM •••

About the second example of Ascended Fan Fic- does that mean Bujold plagiarized someone's fan fiction?

Or is it that she saw the story, liked it, and compensated the person/or at least got their approval?

Hide/Show Replies
Apr 11th 2011 at 12:15:04 PM •••

Neither. The author of the story de-Vorkosiganized it and published it himself (I don't know if he got her approval or not).

Apr 15th 2011 at 2:26:09 PM •••

To expand a bit, the original fanfic story was set at the time of Shards of Honor, and it's the story of how Negri's Imp Sec spies on Beta Colony learned about the Plasma Mirrors.

It was rewritten by the same author into a more generic SF/Spy story, changing the names of characters, and governments, and the nature of the SF phlebotinum being stolen.

Feb 12th 2011 at 12:24:46 PM •••

I think he falls into the category of "Transhuman Alien."

Feb 11th 2011 at 4:56:13 AM •••

There is an interesting parallel between The Warrior's Apprentice and Diplomatic Immunity, where in both Miles is incapacitated before bringing his scheme to fruition, and in both his current lady-love (Elena in the former, Ekaterine in the latter) takes over. This isn't really Meaningful Echo, is it? Is there a trope it fits better?

Nov 14th 2010 at 8:54:01 AM •••

I was thinking about Tien Vorsoisson and in particular his horrible financial fortune (pun somewhat intended) and started looking for appropriate tropes and couldn't find many that really fit.

Butt-Monkey and Chew Toy have too many comedic implications.

Failure Is the Only Option seems mostly pointed at the entire narrative structure, but could be folded/spindled/mutilated to work, I suppose.

A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted doesn't fit, as he never gets enough of a payout to even pretend to live beyond his means.

Perpetual Poverty might be made to fit, I suppose.

Or am I overthinking things?

Edited by GymQuirk Hide/Show Replies
Nov 14th 2010 at 8:23:33 PM •••

Tien has what I call Gaius Baltar Syndrome or Reverse Midas Syndrome: everything he touches turns to shit. IIRC, "an amazing talent for turning gold into lead" is actually a quote from the books. And if we don't have a trope for that yet, we absolutely should.

Nov 14th 2010 at 8:56:34 PM •••

Tien is actually a stock character used before in Cordelia's Honor - Cordelia's first husband was the same way.

"Parasite" was a term used to describe both.

Nov 5th 2010 at 12:49:29 PM •••

Can we start filling the CMOA and CMOF pages? :)

Hide/Show Replies
Nov 5th 2010 at 6:31:20 PM •••

I was thinking about starting on CMoA in the next week or two. Right now, I'm potholing appropriate entries from the LMB related-to page. I appear to be responsible for about half of the entries that upped the related-to count from 430-odd in September to the 500+ now listed. I wonder if we can break 1k. :-)

I'm also considering putting together a Character Sheet.

Sep 21st 2010 at 7:03:13 PM •••

D Sample cut this from the page:

'' Since the OP got Drou's name wrong in this entry, I'm assuming that the rest of it is questionable too.

  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: It's painful to say, but LMB's grasp on foreign languages can use some work. Her Russian is self-admittedly VERY rusty, and it shows (which wouldn't be that much of a problem, hadn't Barrayaran culture been heavily based on Russian), and her Japanese is even worse.
    • She uses Drou's full surname, "Droushniakovy", as if it's a normal singular name. The only problem — it's plural in Russian.
    • Kibou-daini doesn't mean "Second Hope", as author supposedly thought. It means "Hope #2", number sign and all, — it's a very formal and technical form in Japanese and isn't usually seen out of signs and manuals.''

OP here. Again, I must 'fess up on not dotting my 'i's and not crossing my 't's. Drou's name indeed is Droushnakovi, and not "Droushnyakovy" as I've put it there. Still, this, considering an ENORMOUS number of ways you can screw up the transliteration of the Russian name in English, doesn't change the fact that it is a plural in Russian. In Cyrillic it would be "Друшнаковы", and that's a plural of "Друшнаков" (or "Друшнакова" in feminine). So, if the Russian didn't change much in all that time (and it's unlikely, as it's a very slowly changing language — the tenth century texts are still understandable by the modern speaker, if barely, while Ye A Englisk of the same time would be completely unintelligible to the modern speaker) she really should be "Droushnakova". So, my screwup or not, LMB is wrong here.

Edited by Khathi Hide/Show Replies
Oct 18th 2010 at 8:42:19 PM •••

Ah, but Barrayar wasn't only Russian-settled: there were French and English and a relatively small contingent of Greeks (who seem, in The Vor Game, to have been comparatively unassimilated). Still, there shouldn't have been enough of a planetary population to allow them to remain aloof and preserve the purity of their language. So you have to reckon with the Barrayaran languages being not Russian, French, English, and Greek as we know them, but dialects of each which very likely borrow words, or prefixes/suffixes, or grammatical rules, from one another at random. Four different lingua francas — hell of a way to run a planet. (Brothers in Arms specifically speaks of the Barrayaran dialects.) And that might allow for the Russian family names turning into something they couldn't, in 21st-Century Russian, properly be.

Oct 25th 2010 at 10:56:14 PM •••

Nope, that's not the way languages work. In Barrayar's case the population would've most probably turn to code-switching, that is, speaking the language most appropriate to the situation, but NOT mixing their grammar. There are various pidgins out there, formed from two or sometimes three different languages, but they are usually formed taking the vocabulary of one (or both) and grammar of another, the grammar itself may get simplified, or created anew from the whole cloth, but NOT amalgamated. In short, while words and morphemes do migrate from language to language, grammar rules do not. Sure, it's a nitpicking, but still. And my point about Kibou Dai-ni still stands. Thst's not the way you call a planet in Japanese. ;) It could work out if it was a technical index, like "the second planet of the Kibou system", but I've got the impression that LMB intended it to be a proper name.

Oct 25th 2010 at 11:19:45 PM •••

If it was intended to be modern times or something that was relatively well-preserved, I'd agree with you. But Barrayar was isolated for centuries and their languages mingled. It's highly likely that their languages changed significantly. How specifically they changed, you might think less likely, but you can hardly say that the human brain is hard-wired so that a singular form never becomes a plural form - look at the English pronouns "you" and "they".

To sum up, you can't prove it couldn't happen that way, just that it's unlikely to, and that's not enough to qualify for the trope.

edit: To respond to your Japanese point, maybe it was intended to sound like a number and not a proper name. There's a tradition in science fiction to name planets and moons with numbers, as if in a technical index. Frex, Omicron Persei 8 from Futurama. Or Yavin 4 from Star Wars. Or Beta Colony from this universe.

Edited by SylviaSybil
Oct 26th 2010 at 5:09:12 PM •••

I'd happily agree with you if not for several other obviously Russian surnames that didn't display that pattern: for example, Barrayaran ambassador in Cetaganda, Vorob'yev. Which is honest to good modern Russian surname that just happens to have a noble prefix preattached;), but by your logic should've been written "Vorobyevi". The second point, which you seem to miss, is that yes, languages change, but there are LAWS and RULES for these changes. And they don't match the results. Given that, I believe that is easier to admit that LMB just fumbled a bit, than to invent a lot of implausible justifications. Also, note that Barrayar was written in 90, well before she established the contact with the Russian fans, and her Russian (IIRC, she did study it a bit) is self-admittedly bad.

Yep, and that always struck me as a really odd thing. After all, we usually don't address our Blue Marble as "Sol 3", we call it all the names various languages of the Earth have for it. So why anyone should do it in fiction always mystified me.

Edited by Khathi
Oct 26th 2010 at 6:13:54 PM •••

You can't have "laws" for linguistic drift! Or at least not iron-clad ones. There may be patterns it usually fits into, but it's not like people pull out a textbook and look up how they're allowed to change it! It happens naturally, as people use the words over time. As I said before, you can't prove that it couldn't happen that way, just that's unlikely to.

As far as other names fitting other patterns, that happens in real life. I've encountered five or six ways of spelling my given name and about a dozen different ways of spelling my surname. To say that a modern person can't have the surname Smythe because the Old English didn't use Y as a vowel or use silent E's is silly. Same for saying that someone named Smythe can't coexist with someone named Smith. They had different but not mutually exclusive patterns of drift.

I don't speak Russian so I'm not trying to say that LMB's Russian is good, and if you tell me that it's bad I'll believe you. It's just that this particular example doesn't fit the trope. One, As Long as It Sounds Foreign is about authors just picking words that sound foreign. In this case there's a minor difference in one name and not in others, not that she just made up some foreign-sounding words. Two, you're right that this is an in-universe explanation, but so what? Lingual drift fits the series. In fact, I'd raise an eyebrow if all the names were perfectly modern ones, given the Time of Isolation.

As far as the planetary naming system, I found the trope: Numbered Homeworld. I always thought the explanation was that your species would name the planet they were born on, but as they begin exploring space naturally they catalog whatever planets they find with numbers instead of wasting time and creativity trying to come up with names. Anyway, "Hope #2" is an example of Numbered Homeworld, not As Long as It Sounds Foreign. I'll go ahead and add it to that page.

Dec 17th 2010 at 2:00:03 PM •••

I'm not sure if it's something that's been altered in the book, but my most recent reading of Cryoburn I noticed that the planet really is called New Hope #2; the joke is that "New Hope" is such an obvious name that there are a bunch of colonies called that.

Apr 10th 2011 at 2:13:14 AM •••

The primary language in use on Barrayar, and throughout the wormhole nexus, seems to be English. There are references to other languages being spoken, but by and large they are secondary. The "Greekie" minority on Barrayar may speak with one another in their own language, but everyone of that group who has had any significant role in a story also spoke English. There are several French sounding names, but there has been one joke in the series that you had to have some knowledge of French to appreciate.

Non-English words and phrases show up, but as James Nicoll noted, English is a language that follows other languages into dark alleyways, and mugs them for loose vocabulary. Barrayaran folk lore has tales that were obviously derived from Russian stories, but as far as we know, those stories got passed down to Miles in their English translations. Miles can speak the Barrayarn version of Greek (with an execrable accent) and we can suppose that the same is true for the other minority languages on Barrayar, but for the most part everyone speaks English.

Jul 19th 2010 at 7:03:59 PM •••

So would Mark and Kareen in A Civil Campaign qualify as a Beta Couple, or would that be trying too hard for the pun based on where they're going to school?

Hide/Show Replies
Jul 19th 2010 at 8:04:17 PM •••

I think Mark & Kareen and Gregor & Laisa both fit the definition of Beta Couple. And somewhere I read a comment by the author that A Civil Campaign was structured around three romances: Miles & Ekaterina, Mark & Kareen, and Ivan & Dono/a, and the story is told from their viewpoints excepting Dono/a.

Jul 6th 2010 at 5:46:25 AM •••

"Creator Provincialism": Maybe I'm just fanwanking here (which is why I haven't edited the main page), but I find both examples misplaced. First off, on the one hand there are plenty of examples of people drinking tea in the series, and on the other hand it's not like they don't also drink plenty of coffee in Britain (and probably Russia as well).

As to the "Dendarii Mountains come off as West Virginia"...well, yes, it does seem quite clear that Bujold modeled many elements of Vorkosigan's District after West Virginia, right down to the "inbred hillbilly" jokes. And if she were writing a series of historical novels about Tsarist Russia, she would probably deserve the Creator Provincialism tag as a result. But Barrayar is not Russia, despite all the old Russian folk tales that Miles thinks of as old Barrayaran folk tales. Barrayar isn't Japan either, although Meiji Japan is one of the acknowledged models for Barryaran history (isolated society coming into sudden—and violent—contact with high-tech outsiders), and the Vor resemble the samurai more than anything from Russian history. Barrayar is Barrayar: A fictional planet set in a future starfaring civilization many centuries from now. Who is to say some parts of that particular planet won't happen to wind up sort of vaguely West Virginian, just as the planet as a whole winds up sort of vaguely Russian-with-elements-of-Meiji Japan? (And the Dendarii Mountains aren't pure West Virginia, either—the bloody, generation-long guerilla war against outside invaders is more reminiscent of Afghanistan; the religion followed there is Barrayar's standard Japanese-ish ancestor worship, not Pentecostal Christianity; I don't believe infanticide of "mutants" has ever been all that widespread in West Virginia; West Virginia is not a feudal society with "Count's heirs" personally dispensing justice; etc., etc.

Hide/Show Replies
Jul 6th 2010 at 9:29:29 PM •••

OK. Removed:

  • Creator Provincialism: Despite the generally excelent writing and author doing her homework, it still rises its ugly head sometimes, mostly in the Write What You Know situations.
    • Dendarii mountains certainly look and feel much more like West Virginia than some Russian backwoods as was intended.
    • Despite Barrayar being settled mostly by Russians and Brits as per Word of God, there's a definite lack of the tea in the series — everybody just drink coffee.

Jul 19th 2010 at 11:00:25 AM •••

I recently re-read Komarr and A Civil Campaign and noted that there is a fair amount of tea mentioned; it seems concentrated among the high Vor, particularly the ladies, but their male relatives are known to drink it as well. (Reference to Count Piotr's "planning parties" — as opposed to the more alcoholic arm-twisting parties — being stocked with coffee and tea to keep the participants alert.)

Tea is also rather common among the dendarii hill-folk and other rural barrayarans, as the local water supply is not necessarily safe to drink without boiling. (Moreso during the Regency and earlier than in Miles' time period.)

Sep 21st 2010 at 6:50:49 PM •••

Okay, you got me here. ;) I admit that the last time I've read the series was a pretty long ago, so my memory probably betrayed me. Still, I feel that LMB went for what she knew, and that it was generally a good thing, if somewhat confusing (for me).

Edited by Khathi
Jun 1st 2010 at 12:28:26 PM •••

OK, the Author Avatar thing has been added, commented skeptically on (by myself), deleted, and re-added. I'm thinking about re-deleting it. Anyway, how on earth do Ekaterin and Cordelia have the same past and personality?

Hide/Show Replies
FastEddie MOD
Jun 12th 2010 at 2:03:58 AM •••

JAF 1970, I've locked the article for you. The constant screwing up of the indentation even after several messages is just too much of a pain to keep fixing.

Let me know here that you have gotten the message, and I'll unlock it.

Edited by FastEddie
Jun 12th 2010 at 11:38:53 PM •••

I've gotten the message and I'm conused. Screwing up of indentation?

Are you referring to "Tear Jerker: The epilogue of Shards of Honor, which deals with medtechs retrieving the bodies of the dead from the Escobar War. One of the bodies the medtech finds is her daughter."

That. Was. Not. Me.

Edited by JAF1970
FastEddie MOD
Jun 12th 2010 at 11:49:02 PM •••

Please have a look at this article: Example Indentation In Trope Lists

Lock lifted.

Edited by FastEddie
Jun 13th 2010 at 12:17:06 AM •••

And I looked at the history and you changed no indentation of mine.

Jun 13th 2010 at 8:55:12 PM •••

Oh, wait. Was it that you have to indent if you increase an entry to two + topics? Ah, okay, now my mistake is clear.

Edited by JAF1970
May 23rd 2010 at 8:30:51 AM •••

Wow. Tried to find a replacement for the (rightly cut) image... there are really no good pics of Miles out there, are there?

Hide/Show Replies
Sep 21st 2010 at 7:07:40 PM •••

No. There are decent ones for the Russian editions (at least the artist did read the books), but they're still far from what I'd call "good".

May 18th 2010 at 2:09:30 AM •••

There has to be something that covers Illyan's line from "A Civil Campaign" : "The lady asked you to unhand her, Lieuenant. She shouldn't have to ask twice. Or... once."

That and the Hanna and Lem chapter from "Memory". It's a Crowning Moment of something, but doesn't really fit into "Awesome", "Funny" or "Heartwarming".

Hide/Show Replies
Jul 19th 2010 at 11:35:39 AM •••

Ooh, that's such a great scene for Illyan. Maybe you could stick it under Retired Badass? I think what Bujold was trying to underscore with that scene was that Illyan deserves his sinister reputation. Who else could take a subordinate officer to task and order him out of someones home...despite the fact that he doesn't have any actual military authority (besides Miles, that is).

Also makes Illyan an example of Officer and a Gentleman, since defending women from unwanted romantic advances is one of their signature moves.

Type the word in the image. This goes away if you get known.
If you can't read this one, hit reload for the page.
The next one might be easier to see.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: