Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shards of Miles

Recently I picked up Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold as an audiobook from Audible. Shards is the first book in the Vorkosigan series and covers the meeting of Miles's parents, Aral and Cordelia.

One thing that constantly amazes me when I go back and read (or listen to- I have all the Vorkosigan series available through Audible) earlier books in the series is how it's all there. The seed of Miles's personality is clearly there in both Aral and Cordelia. Aral runs right over his superiors and Cordelia considers herself socially awkward. He's constantly plotting and she's constantly charging into tight spots. It even cracks me up when Cordelia signs off on radio transmissions "Naismith out," just like her son will in 20 years or so. I never recognized these things the first time around. I wasn't familiar enough with the series. After listening to the other books umpteen times I'm even recognizing the names of soldiers who eventually become trusted armsmen in later books. No one appears from no where in this series. Even though the backdrop for these stories is all of space, the military and political society of Barrayar is a very small community. At this point in the series we know these people. If we've never met this particular character before then we know their father or uncle or something. It's as familiar as if we'd grown up there ourselves.

When I'm reading later books in the series I often find myself agreeing with Cordelia and some of the other more enlightened women of Miles's acquaintance who feel it's ridiculous to go through the dangers of a body birth when there are uterine replicators available. Duh. Who wouldn't? Except, whoops! We don't have those yet, do we? Sometimes I forget these books are only fiction.

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