Chapters 2 and 3 of Cetaganda posed a reading dilemma—are they best read as intergalactic space opera mystery adventure, or is it fair to scrutinize them as though they were the reading material for an advanced seminar in intergalactic race, class, and gender issues? I don’t think these readings are mutually exclusive, but on this occasion, they didn’t fit into a single blog post either. So here we are at Cetaganda, chapters 2-3, the encore presentation!
Later in his life, Miles Vorkosigan will periodically point out that fish don’t notice the water. His comments on this aquatic situation are usually intended to point out something about heightened levels of security and/or political power, but they are equally true of race, class, and gender issues, which are often invisible to those whose position in these hierarchies is relatively privileged. Miles, for example, is a Vor male. While his fragile bones deprive him of some of the status associated with his class and gender, Miles is unquestionably a member of the Barrayaran elite, and consequently has access to economic resources, medical care, political advocacy, and opportunities for meaningful work that are not widely available to most of the Barrayaran population.