Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Cryoburn, Chapter 5

Welcome back to the Vorkosigan reread! This week’s Cryoburn cover is by Dave Seeley. This painting was used on the Baen first edition, apparently with some darker filters applied. Baen did something similar to the cover of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. Later Baen editions have brighter colors, although the color palette Seeley is using can’t really be called bright. I chose to use the Spanish version from Ediciones B here because the Baen edition has more marketing copy obscuring the art.

The cover shows two figures on a rooftop, looking down at a city. Several key scenes in his book take place on rooftops. My first instinct is that this must be Jin’s roof farm, but it doesn’t seem improvisational enough, and Seeley didn’t paint any chickens. I’ve said before that I trust Seeley to do a pin-up. He also paints a lot of lightflyers. We’ve been in this reread for just a little short of three years—I’m pretty sure I’ve gone on record with my issues on lightflyer aesthetics. Apparently, many lightflyer customers like their vehicles to have the approximate shape of a swollen tick. I really like the lightflyer on this cover—it looks streamlined and speedy. It also looks like it might be having an emissions problem. I’m speculating here. I don’t know what kind of drive train and power source a lightflyer uses, so I can’t evaluate its exhaust. That gold trail could be the fairy dust needed to make the car fly. Or it could be Kibou-Daini’s impending environmental crisis. We don’t have those details—we’re only here for a short visit.

From Roic’s perspective, that visit has barely gotten started and has already made itself extremely unpleasant. Roic is free from the bolt chaining him to the wall, but still confined to a room. It’s time for another session in our ongoing informal seminar on self-rescuing hostages! I realize that many of you may not have been aware that you were enrolled in this class. It’s okay—there are no exams.

Miles regards himself as a hostage rescue expert. He did a lot of these with the Dendarii. Many of Miles’s rescues relied on a combination of careful planning, flexibility in pursuing mission objectives, Miles’s personal genius, and unlimited support from Miles’s trusted staff. These missions were risky and expensive. They were also insanely high stakes. I’m not clear on who the New Hope Legacy Liberators (NHLL) managed to capture in their raid on the hotel, so it’s possible they have someone in their custody who would merit a Dendarii rescue mission, if such a mission were required.

Raven Durona, one of Lilly Durona’s clone family, attending the cryonics crisis to give a presentation on cryorevival, is a doctor, not a hostage rescue team. He began his escape attempt at some point before Roic got out of his room. In Roic’s defense, Roic’s efforts also began well before that point, and Raven wasn’t chained up. Raven’s notions of self-rescue seem to have been drawn mainly from popular media. The options he considers include walking hundreds of miles without a map or shoes, and “teaming up” with Roic to steal a lightflyer when someone emerges from the building with keys. Roic interprets this suggestion as “you jump him, I’ll cheer you on.” In short, Raven is flailing and he knows it. He’s considering going back to his room and waiting for a later opportunity. Although he is having a hard time fitting an escape plan to his available resources, Raven is an excellent source of information on what the NHLL has been up to: They seem to be attempting brainwashing. The hostage audience has been largely unreceptive.

Roic has been in Miles’s service for over five years now. He’s an ex-cop. His plan is to find a comm link and call the police.

Miles isn’t here and Raven recognizes that Roic ranks him in this situation. They hide in a power boat until the cops show up to rescue all the hostages. It’s a little like having a pizza delivered. If this seems lazy, please recall that Roic did a lot of heavy lifting on keeping people from becoming hostages in the first place, back when the cryonics conference was disrupted by militants. Roic’s approach wouldn’t fit a number of the situations Miles has found himself in over the years, but it works beautifully here. Roic calls the Barrayaran consulate while they wait. From their perspective, Miles is still missing.

BUT, Jin never came back to Suze’s so Miles has gone looking for him. This is convenient. Everyone’s going to meet at the Barrayaran embassy—everyone except Jin, who has been released into the custody of his aunt, who is also his legal guardian. The consulate’s lawyer can’t do anything about this. Don’t worry—Miles isn’t going to let it go. We’ll catch up with Jin next week.

Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer teaches history and reads a lot.

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