Apr 17 2009 4:17pm

Choose again, and change: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga

The Vorkosigan saga began to be published in 1986, there are thirteen volumes so far, the most recent one published in 2002, and there’s a new one being written. It’s a series of standalone volumes that you can start almost anywhere, a series where very few of the books are like each other, where the volumes build on other volumes so that you want to read them all but you don’t need to for it to make sense. It’s science fiction, specifically space opera set in societies where the introduction of new technologies is changing everything. Some volumes are military science fiction, some are mysteries, one is a romance (arguably two), some are political and deal with the fates of empires, others are up-close character studies with nothing more (or less) at stake than one person’s integrity. It’s a series with at least three beginnings, and with at least two possible ends, although it is ongoing. Lots of people love it, as you can see by the threads about it here, but others despise it, saying that technologies of birth and death are not technological enough. As a series, it’s constantly surprising, never predictable, almost never what you might expect—which may well be what has kept it fresh and improving for so long.

I started it first in the middle, went back to the beginning, read the books in entirely random order until I was caught up, and subsequently read the books as they came out. My shelves started off with scruffy second hand British paperbacks, graduated to smarter new British paperbacks, then new US paperbacks, then US hardbacks.  Over time I’ve replaced the second-hand British paperbacks (except for Shards of Honor) and for this re-read where I’ve been reading really fast and carrying the books around with me, I replaced my hardcovers with paperbacks. (I’d never buy hardcovers if it wasn’t for impatience. I often end up buying a hardcover and then replacing it with a paperback. When we finally get print on demand, I’m going to demand trade paperbacks instantly at hardcover prices.) I first started reading them in the early nineties and I’ve re-read them often in the two decades since, but always in internal chronological order. I started reading with Brothers in Arms and got hooked on Shards of Honor.

And I’ve been re-reading them non-stop for a fortnight now. I’ve done 13 posts about them in 15 days. (I’ve been so entirely immersed in them I had a terrific dream about the Third Cetagandan War the other night.) I started reading them in publication order to consider them as a series that improves as it goes on, and I’ve been thinking about them as a series and as a whole.

I find them remarkably easy to be entirely absorbed in, and surprisingly hard to stand away from and analyse. Some of these posts I’ve managed it, others I’ve just burbled. Gossiping about the characters is easy.

I have a theory that that’s one of the functions of long-running series. It’s not just art, which is between you and the artist, it’s also gossip, between you and other people. Certainly I have discussed these books a lot. With a long series where details and information and events reflect on other volumes, there’s more to discuss because there’s more context. There’s more gossip. The Vorkosiverse is very open to gossip, about the characters, about the history, about the details. Consider the discussion about the Escobaran replicators still going on a week after I posted about Barrayar. People care about the characters, and the history, and it all fits together well enough that you can trust it.

Bujold has said she reserves the right to have a better idea. Nevertheless, she does remarkably little changing things—you get occasional things, like “Luigi Bharaputra” losing the “and Sons” but mostly the universe can be trusted to stay where she put it. When you get more history it almost always appears to be fractally opening out from what you already knew.

There are good things with long series, where little things from early on get picked up and built on, or just mentioned. Miles never stops missing Bothari. Elena is visiting her mother. Ivan isn’t an idiot.

Occasionally, I noticed a tech thing where the real world has moved faster than you’d expect. In Komarr, Miles uses (and snoops on) Ekaterin’s comconsole. Yeah, I used to borrow other people’s computers to check my mail in 1998 as well. There’s surprisingly little of this, considering that a lot of books written in the late eighties have been entirely left behind by widespread home computers, the internet, and ubiquitous mobile phones.

Some people who started reading late in the order of the published series say they like Lord Vorkosigan more than Admiral Naismith, others have other opinions. I’ve always liked the duality in Miles, the multiplicity in Mark, the complexity of the universe.

As I was finishing Diplomatic Immunity the other day and considering whether it made a good end for the series, I realised that I had no idea what the new book would be about. No idea who it would be focused on, when it would be set, or even what subgenre it would be in. She could do anything with this series. I’d rather thought she’d moved beyond it, with the Five Gods books and the Sharing Knife books, but I’m really pleased she’s coming back to it—or going on to it, as Elena says in Memory, you don’t go back, you go forward.

The quote for this post comes from Brothers in Arms, and it’s what Miles says to Mark when Mark is terrified and stuck and totally in control of Miles, who is strapped to a chair at the time. Mark says who and what he is, and Miles tells him to choose again, and change. (Someone else in that situation might beg him to, Miles pretty much orders him to.) The series seems to have taken that advice, it makes new choices, it changes, it goes on from where it is and becomes something different.

So I was thinking what I’d like to be in the new volume. Ideally, I’d like it to have some Mark and Ivan. I’d like it to be partly set on Barrayar and partly elsewhere. And I’d like it to entirely surprise me. How about you? What do you especially hope for, or especially dread?

I was also wondering about dangling loose ends. There are surprisingly few. There’s Sergyar, how nice it was to see someone from Sergyar in Diplomatic Immunity, and with worm-plague scars too. I’d be so interested to find out more about what it’s like now. Miles and Ekaterin’s children, how will they grow up, and how will Miles cope with fatherhood. Will Nikki be a problem? Will Aral die, as Bujold has hinted he might? Will the damage from the Cetagandan bioweapon prove as subtle and lingering as the cryofreezing damage? How will Mark and Kareen develop? Where is Cavilo, and what is she doing these days? How is Elli Quinn coping alone? Taura’s decline and death—Quinn promised to call Miles when she started to decline. That’s got to happen at some point. When did Miles perform an assassination for Illyan? (Mentioned in A Civil Campaign. Did I miss it, or is it something unwritten?) Do Miles and the Cetagandan Emperor have a future destiny? (Thank goodness he didn’t give Miles a haut wife at the end of Diplomatic Immunity. Gosh that would have ruined his life. Would have been interesting though. I can imagine him and Ekaterin a bit like Charles and Camilla.)  Will Arde Mayhew ever find an RG freighter? Will anyone ever uncover any of the buried secrets? (In Anthony Price’s Audley series, one of the later volumes is about some people investigating the events of one of the earlier volumes. I can see totally see someone writing a book about the invasion of Sergyar and finding out more than they wanted to.)

Any more?

Jo Walton
1. bluejo
Also: Is sending Vormoncrieff to Kyril Island going to backfire? It wasn't such a good idea for Metzov.
CD Covington
2. ccovington
IVAN. Preferably not getting married and catching the baby fever. (Up through Memory, he's shown little to no interest in settling down. Beyond that, my recollection is hazy since I've only read the subsequent books once each. OK, and maybe I'm biased because I like the forever bachelor character.)
Brad J.
3. Brad J.
OOC - did you deliberately leave Winterfair Gifts off the reading list, or was it just forgotten?
Mike Scott
4. drplokta
Miles has not yet finished growing up. He has always had a superior somewhere to fall back on -- Aral, Cordelia, Illyan, Gregor. Even when he's completely out on his own tactically (for example, in The Borders of Infinity), he's serving someone else's strategy. And this is just as well, as Miles to date is a brilliant tactician and a lousy strategist.

To complete the long arc of Mile's maturity, he needs to lose that safety net. Gregor goes AWOL in some way, Aral dies (perhaps in suspicious circumstances), Cordelia heads for Beta Colony on the first transport, and Miles is left trying to hold Barrayar together with no grown-ups to take charge. Even harder, he has to turn to Ivan (who is a considerably better strategic thinker) for help and advice.
Brad J.
5. Anton P. Nym
My nightmare Vorkosiverse novel would be an inverse of "All the President's Men"; Lord Auditor Vorkosigan summoned by Emperor Gregor because the "secret of the Two Sergs" is starting to be disinterred by a journalist of the "back to the Time of Isolation" faction. Miles, with his prediliction for plumbing, becoming a Nixonian "Plumber" because the truth is too dangerous to be free and having to wrestle with this extraordinary fork of duty and honour... plenty of room to drag Aral and Cordelia into this too, and the ghost of Ezar, and Alys and Illyan.

It'd be a good book, but *man* it'd be an emotional wringer.

-- Steve
Brad J.
6. Reddwarf
What a brilliant series, thanks to Jo for writing so many great articles, and of course to Lois for writing them!

What else would I like to read about in the Vorkosigan Universe? There are so many options, I don't know where to start!

I'd love to read about the Fifty thousand firsters and the original settlement/creation of Barrayar. How did sizable colony of spacers end up living in castles, riding horses and firing solid gold (round!) shot at each other? and how come there are 4 languages (and an odd combination as well). I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but i think a lot more must have gone wrong than simply being cut off from the rest of galaxy.

I'd also like to know more about the Time of Isolation (Barrayaran Folktales anyone?), or about Aral and Cordelia's earlier careers, and of course, more about Miles' missions for Impsec (what is the Zvegan smartbomb/when did Miles break his hand to get out of cuffs/when did he assasinate someone?)Also, at some point - those telepath babies are going to grow up....

but obviously, I look forward to reading whatever Lois wants to write :-)
Brad J.
7. Tatterbots
I want to know more about Sergyar too. And I firmly believe that there's a town/city on Sergyar called Rosemont.

I'd love to read about the end of the Time of Isolation - perhaps through the eyes of a woman of Piotr's generation who lives to see the whole process through from "Once upon a time, 'tis said, there were other worlds," to "You can have a baby without being pregnant?"

If Aral dies, and Cordelia goes back to Beta Colony, might Mark go with her? What about Kareen? And what becomes of the butter bugs?

I'm rereading A Civil Campaign and I just noticed that everyone at the Infamous Dinner Party is paired off by the end of the book ... except Ivan. And Ivan will probably stay that way for life, or until he emigrates to Komarr in despair.
Brad J.
8. EmmetAOBrien
Most of the thoughts I have in this direction predate Memory and seem less likely to happen now than they might have before the more recent few books, but still, fwiw:

One of the directions I thought the series up to Mirror Dance might be taking was that sooner or later, Miles would be sure he knew best what to do to save Barrayar and have a direct order from Gregor not to do it, and no wiggle room. And that he would save Barrayar anyway and in so doing become every Barrayaran mutant villain stereotype he's been fighting not to be seen as.

The other thing, in terms of the way the books rgeularly provide Miles with challenges right on the edge of what he can handle and force him to do some really hard growing, would be for him to find out - perhaps, indeed, via having children - that some of his physical handicaps are genetic rather than teratogenic after all. Again, lots of room for cultural angst there.

I also spent some time kind of hoping there would be a really hefty book that was to Cetaganda what Mirror Dance is to Brothers in Arms, but I can see how Diplomatic Immunity could be construed as doing some of that.

I also have a hankering to see what Cetagandan society looks like four or five centuries down the road, but without much expectation of getting to see it.
Brad J.
9. Jon Meltzer
One thing I noticed in Diplomatic Immunity: no mention of any children of Gregor's. As all of Barrayar is expecting Laisa to become pregnant immediately after the wedding (if not before), what gives? Suppose Gregor is sterile. Hmmm ...
Ursula L
10. Ursula
I'd like to hear about the origins of the Cetagandan haut. Who were the first haut? What made them think an open-ended experiment in human genetics was a good idea? When, why and how did they establish themselves as socially distinct and isolated from the rest of humanity? Did this happen on Cetaganda after it was established, or did they move to Cetaganda from elsewhere to set up their society, or was it an existing population that moved itself from place to place for a while before settling down on Cetaganda? Who had the first idea of setting up the haut? How many people started out in the haut experiment? How did those people come together, and make a common purpose?

I'm also curious about the origins of the Quaddies. They started out looking for a distant, isolated place to live. How isolated were they, at first? Did they have a cultural period similar to the Barrayan Time of Isolation? How did their culture handle having more contact with the outside world, when they had gone out of the way to isolate themselves?


Jon wrote at #9:

One thing I noticed in Diplomatic Immunity: no mention of any children of Gregor's. As all of Barrayar is expecting Laisa to become pregnant immediately after the wedding (if not before), what gives? Suppose Gregor is sterile. Hmmm ...

Gregor and Liasa made it clear that they were going to use uterine replicators. So even if he was sterile, it probably wouldn't make a difference, as viable sperm don't seem to be necessary - Cordelia tells Aral in Barrayar that all they'd need was her little finger and his big toe to have the genetic material needed to make more children. The common practice might still be to use sperm and egg, as it might be cheaper and easier than using regular cells (as with Miles watching his son's conception) but it isn't necessary.

I suspect that they started the fashion of twins in boy-girl pairs, to encourage people to have an equal number of boys and girls, thus relieving the demographic problem Miles's generation of Vor had of having many more boys than girls.

We haven't heard about Gregor's children because we've barely seen Gregor since his wedding, and there was no real reason to talk about them, in terms of advancing the plot of Diplomatic Immunity.
Paul Howard
11. DrakBibliophile
The origin of the Quaddies was told in _Falling Free_.
Ursula L
12. Ursula
The origin of the Quaddies was told in _Falling Free_.

I know that - I'm curious about Part II of Falling Free - the journey to their new home, and even more in Part III - establishing the new home, developing a culture, and learning to deal with legged humans as equals.

The end of Falling Free is a huge cliffhanger. They're only one wormhole jump away from where they were created, with no idea about where they are going, how they'll get there, how they'll keep themselves supplied with necessary things (like fuel for their giant spaceship) while they get wherever they're going to go, how they'll manage to raise the younger Quaddie children, how they'll interact with all the humans they meet along the way, etc.

The only people with experience with outsiders are an engineer, a doctor, a classical musician and a nursery school teacher. There is no one trained in diplomacy or international/interplanetary law, to negotiate their passage through space controlled by various governments. There is no one skilled in business and interplanetary trade, to help obtain all the things they'll need to get along the way.

The poor Quaddie kids have a lot of adventures in their near future, at the end of Faling Free.
- -
13. heresiarch
The worst thing that could happen to Miles at this point is if Aral dies, and then Aral dies.

What do they do? Assuming no other sons, do they skip over Helen in the succession, maybe to Mark's children? What if Mark's children are just about as thrilled about this idea as Mark would be? What if Helen wants the Countship? What if Helen already ran off to join the Dendarii, fed up with sexist Barrayar?

You could see the extended Vorkosigan household falling into civil war over this.
Brad J.
14. R. Emrys
Wish list: Ivan getting swept off his feet, probably by a galactic. Miles trying to figure out parenting. Nicki dealing with being totally outnumbered by hypermanipulative bipolar genius siblings. More on the trade-offs of Betan society, something we haven't seen directly since Shards of Honor. Terence Cee's descendants. Someone who is actually gay, and not just bisexual-in-the-background, dealing with Barayaran society--maybe one of Miles' kids. Ekaterin trying to balance her beloved gardens with the world-shaking accomplishments that Miles expects from her.

Second the question about Winterfair Gifts.
Helen Wright
15. arkessian
Veering ever so slightly O/T: Oooh, Anthony Price's Audley series. Must go re-read...
Brad J.
16. sixpence
I'd like to see Ivan get that life changing challenge that forces him to grow up. And that Aral lives to see it, and be amused by it. I'd like to have a back story about Aral and Ivan's father.
I'd like to know what happens to Elena. And to Tung - can't believe he will settle into a placid retirement!

One if the things I cherish about Bujold's writing is the tossed off phrases that stick in the files f my mind and pop out at opportune moments: "Challenges are gifts and great challenges are great gifts", and something about the greatest evils being created by men in silk lined rooms, which the politics of the last few years keeps bringing up.
The relationship between Miles and Bothari is so well done. We know how damaged Bothari is, and Miles would too if he thought about it, but the attachment is there and Miles never really does think it through.
Brad J.
17. SteveC
Well, I've had my preferred next novel in mind for a while. It happens that I am terminally infatuated with Cordelia, and want to see more of her in action. Cordelia Naismith, late of the Betan Astronomical Survey. That Cordelia.

And, something we;v never had a chance, is the team of Naismith and Naismith together onb a mission.

But how could such a thing happen?

First, we need a way to keep Aral and Cordelia alive and active. This is much easier than it might appear. Galactic society is in the middle of a biotech revolution, and the Vorkosigans are admirably positioned to be among the first to take advantage of the fruits of this revolution. Miles has a "special relationship" with the Cetagandan nobility, while Mark is heavily invested in the Durona group. Sooner or later, probably sooner, there *will be* life extension technology available. Cordelia and Aral can remain active for as long as Ms. Bujold is willing to permit.

Next, we need a motivation for such a mission. What would induce Miles to take up the identity of the Little Admiral, and for Cordelia to join him.

I think this would have to be Aral's disappearance and presumed kidnapping by party or parties unknown. Surely the Empire will do whatever it can through its channels - but there will be things only the Dendarii can accomplish.

There are all kinds of other cool stuff that could go into such a story - but I just want to see Naismith and Naismith in action!

Brad J.
18. cbyler
These are all interesting ideas.

My idea for a nightmare scenario is probably too painful to write (or read) - Gregor develops the hereditary insanity of his family (Serg's mother was Yuri's sister, we learned from an offhand comment in ACC), as he feared he would, and Miles is the second one to notice (after Laisa - but having one-on-one conversations with the Emperor's wife is kind of dangerous when the Emperor is becoming violently paranoid.) All Miles's family except Mark have independent loyalties to Gregor (and how strongly will his parents resist the idea that their upbringing of Gregor, and the secret purpose of the Escobar War, were all in vain?) - but I know just where Miles can find a whole fleet of people who will follow Miles first and ask questions later.

So Miles and Mark decide to abduct Gregor (he trusts them as much as he trusts anyone these days) and take him to some other advanced planet for treatment - and then Ivan finds out about the plot. Now there's a decision he can't kick up the chain of command to one of his cousins!

Even if it ended up successfully (i.e. not having to depose Gregor's entire bloodline to prevent the problem from infinitely recurring), a lot of previously trusting relationships would end up very strained.

P.S. I really do want to see Ivan face a problem he can't hand off to one of his cousins, but maybe not that specific one.
Scott Raun
19. sraun
I've heard Lois read a bit of the next Miles novel - it's not Aral dies. In the past she's claimed that's the next big milestone coming in Miles' life - I suspect it's one she's not ready to write yet.

There are three POV characters - Miles, Roic and a previously unknown boy. It's on a previously unspecified world - there's throw-away line that is going to bug the wormhole mappers nuts! I suspect it's going to have similarities to Cetaganda and Diplomatic Immunity - Miles is on a diplomatic mission, someone attempts to kidnap him, he's going to have to solve a local political problem. Oh, and I suspect Roic and Miles are both going to be going nuts because it looks like they each believe they have to rescue the other.
Brad J.
20. NancyM
I started the series in the middle (with Memory. As previously noted, not the best place to start, if only for all the spoilers for everything that came before). I then read the rest in a somewhat haphazard order. The thing that surprised me the most when I reached the end was how little there was of Miles actually off on missions with the Dendarii. Maybe a single mission maps more easily to a short story, and a novel needs something more to hang on. I guess I just wanted to see more of Miles being clever.
Brad J.
21. The Amazee AZ
I'd love to read about Mad Yuri's War.

Bujold's the master of writing a prequel that tells you what happens in a captivating way and doesn't need retconning.

Here's everything we know:
We know Aral was at a dinner table. His mother, sister and brother were killed. He tried to stab the man who killed his mother with a butter knife and got thrown out of the room. He lost his hearing due to the sonic grenade the assassin fired into his mother's stomach.

Bujold never says if Piotr was there, but Aral accuses him of having "failed" his older brother.

Squads were also sent to Padma Vorpatril's and Xav's. Xav's livery fought them off and the death squads ignored the 1 year old Padma, but killed his mother Vorbarra and the rest of his family.

Aral somehow met with his father and grandfather who went to Ezar. They conspire to overthrow the emperor. At this point- and it's something I've never understood- overthrowing Yuri makes Xav emperor and Aral his heir. By putting Ezar on the throne, Xav cuts off himself. Aral has no ambitions to be emperor, but why not Xav (apart from being scared of the job)?

Xav, Ezar and Piotr marshall troops. This was made easy as Piotr was under control of Barrayar's armed forces. Piotr contrasts Vordarian's coup with his how, but I forgot how.

Ezar marries Yuri's sister, giving him a tenuous claim to the throne. Ezar's relation to Yuri's sister isn't explicit, but I think it's close enough to be squicky.

Aral regains his hearing sometime during the fighting. He was deaf for a while.

It's untold how long the war lasted, but Yuri is captured. He is executed publicly in the rain, with one knife and men lining up to stab at him repeatedly. Aral gets the first cut and stabs him in the stomach.

Aral lives with his grandparents after. Xav, who didn't get along with Piotr to begin with, but put aside his differences during the war, is his political enemy again.
Brad J.
22. Shakatany
Wasn't Aral's mother or grandmother also Betan. I don't recall any explanation of how an offworlder married into Vor aristocracy so soon after Barrayar's Time of Isolation ended. There's definitely a story there.
Jo Walton
23. bluejo
Shakatany: Aral's maternal grandmother, Prince Xav's wife, was Betan, and I seem to remember they met right after the Time of Isolation when Prince Xav was the Barrayaran ambassador or something of that kind.
Brad J.
24. cbyler
From Chapter 2 of _Shards of Honor_:

"My maternal grandfather was Prince Xav Vorbarra, the diplomat. He held the post of ambassador to Beta Colony for a time, in his youth, before the First Cetagandan War. I believe my grandmother was in your Bureau for Interstellar Trade."
"Did you know her well?"
"After my mother--died, and Yuri Vorbarra's Civil War was brought to an end, I spent some school vacations at the Prince's home in the capital. He was at odds with my father, though, before and after that war, being of different political parties. Xav was the leading light of the progressives in his day, and of course my father was--is--part of the last stand of the old military aristocracy."

Incidentally, this proves I was wrong above about when Xav died, and leaves unanswered the question that if even Ezar considered Xav's descendants' claim superior to his own, what exactly was Ezar doing on the throne instead of Xav?
Brad J.
25. Yrf
Ezar was on the throne because Piotr and Xav explicitly decided to put him there. This is in Barrayar. Ezar was a general with his own power base, as was Piotr, and Xav was the 'rightful' heir. The combination of all three men was likely necessary to defeat entrenched, paranoid Yuri.

There's no indication Xav ever wanted to be Emperor. He wanted to take down Yuri, though, and to do that apparently he felt he needed both Piotr and Ezar, who was Piotr's military apprentice and protege.
Brad J.
26. legionseagle
I suspect having gone through one civil war Xav is keen at all costs to avoid another. If we remember Miles' intimate knowledge of Shakespeare's Richard III we can assume that Xav knows he is in the position of the Yorkist nobles who acceded to Henry Tudor's (much weaker) claim by blood because his tenure of the throne, especially following his wedding to Elizabeth of York, which was intended to reconcile the warring factions. Ezar's marriage to Yuri's system (unfortunate as it was for the genetic cocktail which became Prince Serg) had precisely that dynastic aim. If Xav had become Emperor rather than Ezar you would have had an elderly emperor whose line of succession was two minor grandchildren whose claim was through Xav's deceased daughters, which, given the patrilinear structure of immediately post-Isolation Barrayaran society would have made their claims immediately open to challenge. Aral specifically implies that there's a Salic law equivalent operating on Barrayar and even if it was not set in stone it would certainly have made another round of civil war inevitable - exactly as the accession of the infant Henry VI had in the Wars of the Roses.
Brad J.
27. OwenMS
I'm just rereading the series for the, ah, third time? Fourth for some of the stories--given that I can read 1.5 of them a day, well, it's not that impressive, I suppose.
A couple things:
"Piotr contrasts Vordarian's coup with his how, but I forgot how."
I know Piotr says something to the effect of "discussing the merits of a commanding officer who bases his whole strategy around an assassination he doesn't pull off." Or maybe it's Aral...Either way, a telling comment.

As far as Salic law goes, there are dissenting opinions about that, as I recall. Aral argues for it because he does NOT want to be Emperor. Cue Henry the 5th: Salic law applied to Germany, but the French King applied the bar Salic to dismiss Harry's claim to the throne of France.

Also, someone above said something about Miles being a terrible strategist, and Ivan a much better one. I'm not disagreeing (I've never given it much thought) but could you provide examples?

Lots of great ideas here. I trust Lois will come up with something that simultaneously surprises and satisfies everyone.
Maiane Bakroeva
28. Isilel
I am very much afraid that the stories I'd love to read about Vorkosiverse aren't the ones Ms. Bujold wants to write... :(.

I adore the series and yet I feel that after the early volumes it has lost something, became a little self-indulgent. I am tired of Miles always and largely single-handedly finding the very best, cost-free solution to every crisis.

Shards of Honor/Barrayar (and to a lesser degree BoI and WA) are so much more realistic and poignant. Sure, protagonists do the best they can and it is impressive indeed, but they do make mistakes and some things are beyond their control. And it costs, costs terribly.

This world is so rich and developed by now, peopled by so many great characters... I want to see a great story in it. A War and Peace à la Barrayar. Not because I wish to see more military action or want the Little Admiral to return (on the contrary), but because the stakes would be so much higher, psychological pressure so much greater, the characters psychological depths could be plumbed and weighed much more ruthlessly. Doing the worst things to the characters and all that ;).

They have become far too comfortable, IMHO.

It would also be the deepest irony if "the great war" came, but Miles had to be the diplomat who'd have to keep opportunistic neighbors from falling Barrayar in the back, desperately negotiating alliances, etc. using all of his ingenuity, instead of "the great admiral" he always dreamed of being.
And wouldn't it be a double whammy if Ivan has to fight instead?
And if Mark becomes the pillar of the extended family after Aral dies?

I want Gregor to come into his own as a leader. Big decision-making can be depicted in exciting ways, as "24" proved.
I want to see the cost of Imperial marriage to Laisa and how she deals with it.

I want to read a double POV book of Ivan and Miles , where Ivan and Gregor have somehow gone MIA and are desperately trying to get back, while Miles is cracking down under pressure as a regent, having found one area where he _doesn't_ excel.

I want to see Ekaterin with the kids on the run from assassins or alternatively representing Vorkosigan county in the Council of Counts as Miles' Voice.

While Cordelia holds the beleaguered Sergyar against invaders.
I love Aral to pieces, but any competent aggressor would try to remove him ASAP. And he is a safety net for his extended family that needs to be gone.

Sigh... unlikely, I know.

Yuri's war would also be great - I find characters of Ezar, Piotr, Xav and Xav's unnamed wife utterly fascinating. Equally unlikely...

Prince Xav's saga - Rediscovery, First Cetagandan War, embassy to Beta, weapons smuggling, maybe partly from his wife's POV...
Donna Camp
29. Vidalia
"When did Miles perform an assassination for Illyan? (Mentioned in A Civil Campaign. Did I miss it, or is it something unwritten?").

i think the reference was not to a job Illyan sent him on, but to the job required by Weddell/Canaba to kill Taura.
Brad J.
30. Solveig
In "Memory", and again in "Komarr", there is mention of a common mission in that planet by Galeni and Miles, where Galeni finally comes to terms with the invasion and the fact that Miles is his friend and also Aral "the Butcher's" son.

Unless it is a novel published in a magazine or a book that I've never seen, it looks like an intriguing story and I'd love to know more about it. Yes, I like Galeni, but not him as himself, I like his friendship with Miles.
Brad J.
31. avanntika
All these are brilliant ideas but not likely to happen anytime. What we do have is a lot of ideas that would make great fanfictions, though.

And I would totally love to see another Regency novel. Going from the end of Vordarian's war straight to two years after the end of Aral's regency is just not fair. And I would like to see Aral do more than just be a background for Miles.
Brad J.
32. Alfvaen
If anyone's interested, I'm starting up a Vorkosigan Saga reread blog over at I've just posted the first two chapters of Shards of Honour, so feel free to come check it out.

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