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#vorkosigan#i love that lois created this group of people with vastly altered There's those flimsy little paper tabs at the bottom, pieces of his. Sergeant Bothari has, according to Aral, no sense of self. · Miles Naismith Vorkosigan finds himself becoming Admiral Naismith (his fictional identity) more and. Captain Vorpatril's alliance / Lois McMaster Bujold. p. cm. — (Vorkosigan saga). ISBN (hardback). 1. BARCLAYS BITCOIN ACCOUNT
Nobody has to be trapped in cultural stereotypes. One of the key aspects of the Vorkosigan saga is the conflict between character and culture. What will a handicapped man, or a very able woman, do on a patriarchal world where soldiering is the only truly respected trade? Whether a hero wants to work with the prevailing power structures or against them, there is plenty of scope for roleplaying.
Laws, customs, beliefs, and traditions have evolved an antisocial Betan, the universe is wide enough to allow it, and the stories are human enough to recognize that there is more to a person than his origin and occupation. Your characters can — and will — become the heroes and villains that your story demands. So, while this universe contains standard science-fiction elements — spaceships, death rays, stunners, clones, wormhole jumps, and strange new worlds — the stories are not about gadgets.
Ultimately, people drive the action. Individual people can — and do — affect the worlds around them. Barrayar is an extreme example — it spent several centuries isolated from the rest of the galaxy, fighting a cruel environment with failing technology. A native of Barrayar will have grown up with these beliefs, and will have to decide whether to maintain or reject them. A galactic outsider who deals with Barrayarans must deal with both their strengths and their prejudices.
Star travel in the Vorkosigan setting is reasonably easy, but fairly slow and constrained to a few routes. This makes star systems defensible, but control of large regions is difficult. Relationships among the worlds. In our normal three-dimensional space, each wormhole appears to be in two places at once, so for instance , a ship can go from Barrayar to Komarr, or vice versa, instantly. Most systems have no useful planets, so wormholes leading there are useless — unless other wormholes can be found near the exit point.
In that case, it may be possible to trace a multi-jump route to somewhere worth visiting. Most jump routes involve multiple wormhole passages, one after another, as quickly as a ship can move from one exit to the next entrance point.
Travelers can visit only those systems connected by wormholes. Who can say how many habitable planets might lie off the wormhole routes, never to be discovered? Wormholes are the highways that tie the worlds together. Should the discovery of a new wormhole connect two formerly distant areas, the whole shape of galactic commerce will change! A link between rivals could mean instant war, or a new alliance. See p. A dead-end wormhole route such as the KomarrBarrayar passage might seem less important than one between two heavily populated areas, but it is vital to the world on the far end!
Some groups, such as the Founding Fathers of Athos p. If such a world has the resources to be self-sufficient, it can be extremely attractive to a group who wants to avoid contact with the rest of the galaxy, whatever their reasons. Most of the planets linked by wormholes are so far away from each other that nobody has ever attempted to make the trip by normal space travel.
Beta Colony, originally reached by sub-lightspeed ships from Earth, is very much the exception rather than the rule. A planet at the junction of several wormhole routes, such as Escobar or the Hegen Hub, will become immensely important. In the early days of interstellar exploration, hub worlds were rapidly developed to serve as jumping-off points for further missions. This gave them strong economies to start with. Stretch your legs, try a few games of chance, meet some friendly natives.
Some, like the former Komarran government, add little value, but pile on taxes, tariffs, and trade duties. Unless their neighbors are very peaceful indeed, hubs plow some of those profits back into defense. Within systems, and between systems not connected by wormholes, messages travel only at the speed of light. Most wormholes have dedicated communications ships, which jump back and forth on a regular schedule to carry messages both ways.
On less-traveled routes, though, communications have to wait for the next ship to pass by. Truly vital data is rarely entrusted to any public system; it usually travels by fast courier. Each wormhole exits onto a fixed point in space; that point can be garrisoned to halt or destroy all ships coming through.
Thus, it has a stranglehold on commerce, and presents a serious obstacle to unfriendly visitors. Even a minor planetary power such as Vervain, located between the Hegen Hub and the Cetagandan Empire, could hope to thwart Cetagandan invasions, just because they controlled the Cetagandan point of entry into the Vervani system. But the Cetagandans, of course, wanted to own both sides of that point.
They may use trading ships to smuggle weapons, troops, or agents, or disguise warships as traders. They may embargo trade, lobby other powers to bring political pressure on their rivals, and hire mercenaries to beef up their own strength. Other worlds, or even powerful corporations, may get involved to protect their own interests — especially if both sides are financing their disagreement by charging tolls on passage through the wormhole!
This may lead to third-, fourth-, and fifth-party spies and mercenaries infesting any disputed area. These agents may not even know who they are working for. Blocking a Wormhole Wormhole volumes are tiny on an astronomical scale, and can easily be blockaded or defended with fleets or stations. Attackers cannot come through in large groups. Thirty seconds between arrivals is considered the minimum safe spacing, so ships clear out of the arrival volume as fast as possible.
The nexus also needs to be kept free of debris, or similar problems will occur. Just seeding a wormhole area with junk will make it riskier for attackers to jump in. If you control one end of a wormhole, it is possible to close it temporarily by having a pilot sacrifice himself and his ship mid-jump. However, the disruption damps out in a matter of weeks, and the wormhole is once again traversable.
Wormholes also open, close, and shift due to physical events in 3- and 5-space, but these are beyond the control of human technology. The equipment required to detect this trail, the amount of information that can be gleaned from it, and the time that it persists, are highly classified. Brooding, Illyan shook his head. Colony ships were built — not generation ships, but vessels that would take 20 years or more to reach their destinations. A couple of nearby stars were chosen — nearby, in this case, meaning within 40 light-years of Earth.
The first was Alpha Colony. The world seemed promising, but the colony failed utterly. Traces were found by later expeditions, but there were no signs of what had happened. But the second attempt, Beta Colony p. Global disasters on Earth put a temporary halt to interstellar colonization. The details are never specified, but radioactivity was involved, and the aftermath included some really nasty mutant mosquitoes.
Perhaps not. This disaster wiped out Cleveland, and maybe some other cities I dislike. However, America had been particularly hard hit; the new colonies came mainly from other Earth societies. One promising new world was called Barrayar. For a while. Beta Colony invented the uterine replicator, resulting in an immediate surge of interest in genetic engineering.
At this time, various new human types, including hermaphrodites p. Galactic opinion eventually turned against this, especially after the Nuovo Brasilian cloning fiasco. The Jacksonians p. No longer did personnel in zero gravity need to visit planetside regularly, or spend several hours exercising each day, to prevent physical degeneration.
Space stations were promptly built at important wormhole junctions which lacked habitable planets nearby, such as Kline Station and Dalton Station. Subcultures began to develop on these stations, as permanent populations grew up and new generations spent their entire lives without seeing a planet.
So what could possibly go wrong? The Vorkosigan universe is constantly expanding and evolving. Even if its heroes win peace for a time, the next generation will encounter its own problems. New discoveries will bring 12 both opportunities and ethical issues. Human beings are human beings — that, in itself, is enough to create as many interesting situations as any GM could possibly want. See Chapter 8 p. Why not emigrants?
A lot of Barrayarans are moving to Komarr these days. There go two of our biggest reasons for emigrating. Better to be tourists. Waverd raised a hand thoughtfully. That gives us an excuse to be wandering around generally. If someone spots you, it could give the whole game away. Mine happens to be three papers that ImpSec suppressed before publication, an offer of tenure that ImpSec requested I turn down, and having to miss every damn interesting conference.
Even my academic record at ISI has been sanitized. I am a fake identity. More than either of the young officers with their proud silver eyes, this rumpled civilian had given himself to Barrayar. The Barrayaran Imperium includes three planets: Barrayar itself, Komarr, and, most recently, Sergyar. It has a violent and bloody history, but is currently a peaceful galactic power under Emperor Gregor — though its neighbors are well aware that its ruling caste remains military and its space fleet is large and modern.
Barrayar is us. It is a culture which has undergone wrenching changes in a very short time, which is, of course, the story of the twentieth century. It was rediscovered after being isolated from the rest of the galaxy for several centuries. This reinforced the warrior ethos of Barrayaran culture, and resulted, after the Cetagandans had been driven off, in the aggressive conquest of Komarr and a later attack on Escobar. More recently, galactic influence on the current Emperor in the person of the Betan-born Countess Cordelia Vorkosigan has resulted in a progressive policy of peaceful expansion.
Even so, the Vor warrior caste still rules through a feudal system of an Emperor and a council of 60 Counts. Many galactics see Barrayar as a world of jackbooted thugs, led by an ornately decorated aristocracy barely above barbarism. There are two main continents; a few scattered islands are also inhabited. The North Continent is the heart of Barrayar.
It is divided into 60 Districts, each governed by a Count. Farther north lie the lowlands, green where they have been terraformed with Earth plants, red-brown where native vegetation still flourishes. The occasional irradiated area, a relic of the Cetagandan invasion, mars the landscape. Road networks outside the cities are still poor. Travelers without their own lightflyers usually find it easier to use the monorail system that passes through most Districts.
The only Barrayaran vegetation he could identify and name offhand was that to which he was violently allergic. They discovered that the planet was usable, but the ecology was hostile. Then, without warning, the Barrayar wormhole collapsed, trapping the Firsters and bathing the world in radiation. The colonists, cut off from all support, lowered their priorities to simple survival.
Thus began the Time of Isolation. Almost all the Firsters were on the North Continent. Even there, society rapidly degenerated to the feudal level. Technological items wore out or were destroyed. The battle with the native plants dropped to the most basic and tedious level: slash, burn, fertilize, and replant.
Medical technology declined too quickly for the colonists to be able to perform genetic corrections. Infanticide, usually by the mother or a female relative, became the customary way of dealing with misshapen children. The first Counts emerged during the Time of Isolation. They were in fact accountants, tax collectors for Varadar Tau, who started as a bandit and became a ruler by force of arms. Auditors p. The military Vor caste also appeared during this period. A family could only be raised to Vor rank by the Much of the native Barrayaran vegetation is poisonous to Earth-descended life.
It is usually various shades of redbrown, ranging from scarlet to chestnut. Lord Vorlopulous was feuding razor-grass tall and billowing blond , strangle-vines with several neighbors, and found his new allotment of 20 a major problem for South Continent farmers , Armsmen quite inadequate for his needs. In bloat, goatbane. The swords, and so on. The Emperor, however, was not amused, native scrub was burned off when the wind would and arrested Vorlopulous for treason — for which the penalty blow the poisonous smoke away from settled areas.
The soil was treated with organic waste of EarthThe man with 2, cooks was condemned to starve to death DNA origin, and Earth stock was planted. There was in the Great Square of Vorbarr Sultana. How deeply the agony and the fear are embedded, which drive the visible anxieties, and, ah, as you Betans would see it, bad manners. Naturally, the Counts were all Vor. Dorca Vorbarra the Just was the first Emperor to gain true and absolute control over Barrayar.
He is a key figure in history. Counts were limited to 20 armed followers, the Armsmen see p. The end of the Time of Isolation came when the Komarrans discovered a wormhole route leading from their system to Barrayar. They were, naturally, astonished to discover this lost colony — and somewhat stunned by what Barrayaran culture had become. Unfortunately, the Komarrans then permitted the Cetagandans to take a fleet through the wormhole to invade Barrayar.
The Cetagandans began with nuclear strikes, taking out several of the recently built shuttleport fields. The radiation increased the incidence of mutations, leading to more infanticide. Conquest, to the Barrayaran mind, is perfectly reasonable, but these invaders were mutating their babies. The Barrayarans fought back with surprising effectiveness. They took to the mountains and wilderness, launching commando strikes on the invaders, and practicing guerrilla warfare from the shadows.
His name is still a byword for ruthless violence. The young Count Piotr Vorkosigan was another notable figure in the resistance, adept at mastering modern technology — at least as far as it related to killing Cetagandans. The pressure of war led to an important social change — talent, not birth, became most important for promotion in the Service. It was now possible for a non-Vor with suitable abilities and skills to train and serve as an officer, to earn enough honor and respect that he could be accepted among Vor and in society, and even to achieve high command.
Eventually, the resistance made the war too costly for the Cetagandans. After 20 years, they retreated back past Komarr. They left behind much of their equipment and infrastructure, which helped Barrayar bootstrap itself to higher levels of technology, particularly in weapons and spaceflight. The newly rediscovered world would certainly have looked like an easy conquest: little technology, only partly colonized, and with no galactic allies.
But why bother? Its population was suitable for little more than manual labor. Its resources are unspectacular. And Barrayar is a galactic dead end, with its only wormhole access being via Komarr. Its strategic worth is almost nil. Could the Cetagandans have been leading up to a two-pronged attack on the Komarrans?
Or did they hope for a reappearance of the original wormhole? There is also the possibility that the geneticists at the heart of the Cetagandan Empire see p. Did the Cetagandans pull out because their interstellar priorities had changed, because they had given up on their Barrayaran objective. The Cetagandans are not interested in explaining themselves, and the ghem-generals who led the invasion have all expiated their failure by heroic death or suicide.
But internal Barrayaran affairs rapidly took precedence. Whether it was the best claim is arguable. Aral Vorkosigan had some right to the throne by descent; so did several others. The fighting ended two years later, when Yuri was captured. He was quickly and brutally executed in Vorhartung Castle. His cured scalp is still exhibited there. Ezar, the new Emperor, had to balance the Vor warrior aristocrats against the rising new men of the bureaucracy.
He tried to strengthen the ministries at the expense of the Counts, but he went too far; the Counts were severely weakened, and the ministries became corrupt. The Ministry of Political Education became a powerful and oppressive force.
And, of course, Barrayar had not forgotten that Komarr had permitted the Cetagandan attack. The Komarran War p. Unfortunately, Prince Serg, the heir to Emperor Ezar, was a weak, perverse character, with no motivation except his own amusement. Serg was encouraged by the licentious Admiral Ges Vorrutyer, who himself was a pawn of Minister Grishnov. He and the Princess Kareen had one son — a child only a few years old, named Gregor. Old and sick, Emperor Ezar knew he had only a few years left to save Barrayar from his son.
But Prince Serg could not simply be disinherited. He was too powerful, too well entrenched. Even if Serg were somehow removed peacefully, Grishnov and his party would slide into the power vacuum when Ezar died. The planet that would become Sergyar had recently been discovered by Barrayaran Service explorers, via a wormhole jump from Komarr; it proved to be linked by another wormhole to Escobar. A Betan Astronomical Survey ship, led by Captain Cordelia Naismith, had also discovered the planet, but the Barrayarans were quick to use force to back their claim.
That was when my father threw his corps behind Ezar Vorbarra, in the civil war that followed. Now Prince Serg and Admiral Vorrutyer, supported by the militarist faction of the Council of Counts and the Ministries, were clamoring to use the Sergyar wormhole for an invasion of wealthy, high-tech Escobar.
He knew, through intelligence reports, that the Betans had recently developed a device which obsoleted Barrayaran weaponry see p. And Beta was allied with Escobar. But Ezar did not share this information. Instead, while seeming to oppose the invasion, he let Prince Serg and the war party have their way. Only a few officers on the invasion fleet, including Admiral Aral Vorkosigan, knew what was about to happen. Prince Serg died nobly leading the attack, his ship destroyed by its own reflected fire.
The Barrayaran fleet retreated in haste, though Admiral Vorkosigan took command and was able to minimize losses. Conveniently timed riots burned down the Ministry of Political Education when news of the defeat reached Barrayar. When Ezar died, he left Admiral Vorkosigan as Regent for the infant Gregor, with the war party thoroughly crushed.
Secrets Few of the true reasons behind the Escobar War are generally known. The public record shows that Prince Serg was a hero who died for the Empire; the planet Sergyar received its name in his glorious memory. Some who knew Serg or Admiral Vorrutyer may doubt that they suddenly became brave heroes, but it is one of the best-kept secrets on Barrayar that Emperor Ezar permitted the doomed attack on Escobar, sacrificing thousands of his own men, in order to eliminate his own son.
That was the nightmare that haunted him. The next year, Count Vidal Vordarian, a rejected candidate for the Regency, made a bid for power. The young Emperor became a ward of Regent Vorkosigan and his wife. Naturally, Countess Cordelia took the opportunity to expose him to Betan and galactic thinking, giving him a far broader perspective than the average Vor.
Its military action was confined to Komarr, but the repercussions were felt on Barrayar in terms of public prejudice toward Komarr and increased tension from the Conservative party. There were two further disputes with the Cetagandans, which Barrayar calls the Second and Third Cetagandan Wars, and Cetaganda records, if at all, as brief, unauthorized ghem-adventures.
After that, matters continued more or less on an even keel until Gregor reached maturity and the Regent handed over the reins of power. Naturally, powerful men immediately sought to gain influence over the young Emperor. The charges were disproved, the plotters were executed, and the Dendarii Mercenaries became a Crown Troop.
Shortly afterward, Emperor Gregor temporarily abandoned his position, after discovering what sort of person his father had really been. He eluded his own security and fled Barrayar, ending up in the Hegen Hub.
Fortunately, he ran into Miles Vorkosigan, who was investigating the area as an ImpSec agent. Between them, the two dealt with a Cetagandan attack on the planet Vervain. Miles held the Cetagandans off with the Dendarii Mercenaries while Gregor brought in Barrayaran backup. The whole affair put a temporary stop to Cetagandan aggression, improving relations between Barrayar and the Hub worlds.
As matters on Barrayar stabilized, the Emperor became more settled in his role, finding a balance between selfassertion and attention to his Counts. Even the affair of the broken Komarran soletta p. Laisa Toscane. Their marriage was the occasion for planetwide festivities, and many hope that it will augur better relations between Barrayar and Komarr.
The rapids and falls upstream are checked by dams and locks, to allow boat transport. The modern city spilled back from them to the north and south. The capital is slowly adapting to modern technology and transport. Streets built for horse-drawn traffic are not necessarily suited for fast-moving groundcars. The municipal government is working to implement traffic-control schemes and automated air systems for lightflyers; the air system has priority, due to the increasing number of fatal lightflyer accidents.
A shuttleport is located just outside the city. Vorbarr Sultana has two faces: the old and the new. The old district shows its age, despite recent improvements. The streets are warrens, underlain by at least three different sets of old sewage and transport tunnels. The buildings are short and old-fashioned. The caravanserai area that used to be the center of the Old Town slums has been cleaned up in recent years, and even attracts a certain amount of tourist trade — but its maze of alleys is no place for unwary strangers.
Tall modern towers rise among the more classical buildings. Notable locations in Vorbarr Sultana include the following places. The Imperial Residence This is an ancient architectural pile; parts date back to very early in the Time of Isolation, and it has been growing ever since. Sprawling wings rise two to four stories high, accented by occasional towers that appear to have been dropped randomly around the building.
Additions of different ages crisscross each other, creating both large and small courtyards. Ancient basements and tunnels, many known only to Imperial Security, connect in unexpected ways. After part of the Residence burned down during the Vordarian Pretendership, it was rebuilt in a more modern style, with technological conveniences such as lift-tubes. Naturally, as the home of the Emperor, the Residence seethes with bureaucrats, random Vor, and trained ImpSec bodyguards thinly disguised as servants.
The Emperor Gregor has a private office here, which he often uses for working meetings. The Council of Counts meets in the huge wood-paneled Council chamber; spectators may observe from an ornate, railed gallery. It occupies a whole wing of the castle, and is devoted to the arms and armor of the Vor from the Time of Isolation. Servicemen in uniform are admitted free, as are Vor. The exhibit also includes the tanned scalp of Mad Emperor Yuri, on loan from a private collection.
The famous Star Bridge connects the two shores. Vorkosigan House The residence of the Vorkosigans is in the old part of the city. The huge stone house was designed and built in the preelectric Time of Isolation, but every original window has been replaced with modern, high-grade armor-glass and fitted with automatic shutters. It is surrounded by a stone wall topped with black wrought-iron spikes, with a force screen just inside the wall, scanner beams, and a tanglefield.
A concrete kiosk beside the gate houses the ImpSec gate guards. The great entry hall, with its black-and-white paved floor, opens onto drawing rooms, libraries, and conference rooms. Next to the house, Lady Ekaterin Vorkosigan has created a garden of native Barrayaran vegetation, open for everyone to enjoy.
The ground floor has a few gunslits, but no windows at all. The double doors into the courtyard are thick ironbound planks, undecorated. Even the floor plan is designed for crossfire and control of the surrounding ground, from a day when black powder was the height of technology.
They sell hunting weapons, stunners for self-defense, and traditional arms such as sabers, knives, and swordsticks. Much of its faculty is from offworld, and its Barrayaran professors are of equal quality and are often invited to lecture on other planets. The campus is located between the old and new parts of the city, and often finds itself used as a traffic shortcut.
The old residential streets behind it house families of senior professors and staff. These homes represent the architecture of the last unelectrified decade before the end of the Time of Isolation, and have only in the last decade been reclaimed from urban decay. The Vorbarra District Agricultural and Engineering Institute The largest and busiest school in the capital, dedicated to turning out the professionals that Barrayar will need to continue its development.
The Imperial Military Academy Service officers are trained here. Imperial Security Headquarters A hideous, windowless block of concrete which has become a tourist attraction for its spectacular ugliness. Madame Estelle does not advertise. Her patrons are the cream of Vor society, and they know perfectly well where to find her discreet second-floor location. Each creation by Estelle will be individual, perfectly fitted to both the buyer and the occasion, and of the best quality and workmanship.
It has always been agricultural, and is landlocked, so it has no coastal trade. Only about the northern fifth is flat fertile plains, and of that, only about half is usable — the rest either awaits terraforming or is still radioactive because of Cetagandan bombing. The District has lagged behind many others in development.
Hassadar, the new capital, lies in the fertile area. Because most of it has been built in the last 30 years, it is laid out like a developed galactic city, relying on newer methods of transport than horse-carts. To the southeast, downwind and downstream, are the irradiated remains of Vorkosigan Vashnoi, the old capital; the surrounding country is wild and lovely, and should be safe for humans in 50 years or so.
It was planted by General Piotr Vorkosigan about 50 years ago and has been carefully cultivated since, with an eye to a future wood trade. It contains many Earth trees, including oak, maple, elm, hickory, vesper-birch, and a new strain of winter-hardy ebony. Another product of the District is wine; there are a number of vineyards and a fairly modern winery, and some of the Vorkosigan estate vintages are very fine. In the west of the District are the lake and village of Vorkosigan Surleau, the favorite retreat of the Vorkosigan Counts for centuries.
The lake is cold and deep, fine for fishing and boating. While the castle is ruined and burned out — again, by the Cetagandans — the old stone barracks have been converted into the Vorkosigan summer residence. The new guard barracks are concealed in the trees downslope. There has been a minor population explosion in the area, with up to a hundred new families from Hassadar or Vorbarr Sultana moving there each year or buying summer homes; the village prospers accordingly.
The Vorkosigan graveyard for family and retainers is next to the residence, and is the final resting place of both General Piotr Vorkosigan and Sergeant Konstantin Bothari. While many parts of the Dendarii Mountains are still primitive when compared to the rest of Barrayar, the whole District is moving slowly toward greater industrialization and education, with several villages collaborating to build local hydroelectric dams or to arrange education for their children.
One thing the District still lacks is convenient space access. Bonsanklar On the east coast of North Continent, south of the Dendarii range, are a number of beach resorts; one of the more famous is Bonsanklar, an upper-class resort seaside town. To its north is a large virgin forest, leading up to the mountains.
South Continent Smaller than the North Continent and only partly terraformed, this continent was almost empty until the Time of Isolation ended. South Continent is generally level country, with the notable exception of the Black Escarpment, the highest mountain range on Barrayar. It runs north to south, with snow, murderous terrain, and bone-dry air. Settled after the age when the Counts were carving out their Districts, South Continent is not part of that system; its administrative chain bypasses the Counts and leads to the Emperor.
Much of South Continent is still empty; it vies with the new world of Sergyar p. Most of the people there now are farmers and terraformers, but in towns like Vandeville one can find technology, modern transport to the North Continent, and Vor who are considerably less highflown than their cousins in Vorbarr Sultana.
The water will freeze a swimmer in minutes, the bogs are lethal, and the winds can blow away groundcars. The trainees come and go, but the permanent staff is stuck there. The Council of Counts is not merely a rubber stamp for the Emperor, though. Most votes are settled by a simple majority, though certain extraordinary actions require more.
The Emperor may cast a vote in his capacity as Count Vorbarra; he also has the right to veto petitions or refuse to hear appeals. Each Count has the right to run his District as he sees fit, unless reined in by the Emperor or his brother Counts. He can create local laws, structure District government to suit himself, impose taxes, provide public services, and so forth. Since every Count hoped to attract immigrants from other Districts, this measure easily passed through the Council. Every Imperial subject now has the right to vote with his feet; if he dislikes his current Count, he can move.
Some provide modern social services, such as medical care and education; others are more restrictive or old-fashioned. The degree of industrialization also varies widely. Some Districts got a boost from the Cetagandans, who built infrastructure during their occupation and left much of it intact. Almost every District has a shuttleport.
Rights of Succession A Count names his successor, who is usually his eldest living son. The chosen heir must be formally presented to the Council of Counts and approved by a simple majority. In one famous case, Count Vortala quarreled with his son, disinherited him, and maneuvered the Council into approving his horse, Midnight, as the new heir. The heir to a Count — or his eldest child, if an heir has not been named — is addressed as Lord or Lady Vorwhoever, while younger children are titled Lord or Lady Name Vorwhoever.
Emperor Gregor The present Emperor blends traditional Barrayaran and modern galactic ideals. He was raised on Barrayar, and went through the standard Vor schools and the Imperial Military Academy. He makes no secret that he favors the Progressive Party, but he also works to keep the Conservatives reasonably happy and cooperative, and he certainly wants to protect the best traditions of Barrayar.
In this modern age, galactic innovations and new attitudes appear with every ship that lands. If a Count imports fertilizers that improve the harvest but pollutes the rivers, for instance, the Emperor and his appointees must handle the issue. His marriage to an off-planet woman, besides being a true love match, was also prompted by an urge to avoid further Vor inbreeding.
Gregor is a tall, quiet man with the typical Vor dark hair and eyes. Their name comes from the fact that the original Counts were tax collectors — thus, the Emperor appointed Auditors to police the Counts. There are traditionally nine Auditors, but usually only eight hold office at a time, with the ninth position being kept open for appointments on a case-by-case basis. They may command anything, up to and including forcible fast-penta, arrests, and executions.
Auditors can only be removed by the Emperor himself, or by a three-quarters vote of impeachment by the Council of Counts and the Council of Ministers in full joint session. Gregor had grown so neutral as to seem almost gray. It is a world where women are barred from most legal oaths, most positions of power, and, until very recently, all official military service. The world is far from fully tamed — farmers spend their lives slowly transforming the land, seeding it with Earth DNA.
Its culture is likewise being seeded by galactic attitudes, but just as slowly. Anything done twice on Barrayar is a tradition. But it is still illegal for anyone but Vor to own weapons — although non-Vor can carry weapons in the service of their liege lord or the Emperor. The traditional obligations of the Vor involve honor, duty, and responsibility.
A true Vor — male or female — remembers the duty owed to the Emperor, to family, and to liegemen, and preserves certain standards of courage, decorum, and style. Nowadays, some families have cast aside the Vor codes of behavior.
Some take up more modern galactic principles, while others display no principles at all. However, many Vor still serve as their forefathers did. Ideally, the Vor are the backbone of the Imperium, wearing their chains of responsibility and duty, prepared to sacrifice themselves if necessary for the good of Barrayar. No new Vor families have been created for a very long time. Historically, the Vor are a warrior caste. In practical terms, the Vor are the aristocracy of Barrayaran society — all Counts are Vor, as are a substantial majority of ranking military officers and Ministers.
Strictures on the Vor class are becoming less absolute. As it stands, though a non-Vor man should not aspire to join the Council of Counts, military talent will see him promoted past Vor of lesser skill. Scientists, industrialists, academics, and financiers can now gain great status and personal power, though the old Vor and the Conservatives may consider them upstarts. A non-Vor may even become an Auditor p. Non-Vor women can have careers, though they are legally unable to take certain oaths by reason of their gender.
Despite the handicaps imposed by Barrayaran society, they can be self-supporting and even prestigious in their fields. Languages An occasional factor in Barrayaran politics is the language issue. The original colonists spoke four different tongues. Of course, there are many, many Vor families other than those of the Counts.
To create a new Vor name, do what the old Emperors did, and tack the syllable Vor onto any family name. For extra authenticity, start with an English, French, Russian, or Greek name. English is the language of business and government, but there are separatist parties for each of the minority groups — the Russian faction is led by Count Vortugalov, and the French-speaking party head is Count Vorville.
These parties have little real power, but there have been riots over particularly public cases of racial prejudice, and cultural cliques do form in unexpected places — even in the Service. It is also the end of the fiscal year, and tax day for the Counts. However, officially calling it that would imply too subordinate a relationship.
The actual funds, assessed from each District, are sent by electronic transfer. Clothing Death-Offerings While there is little religion on Barrayar, some traditions have religious overtones. One of the most important is the death-offering, burned on the grave of the departed, or on the site where he died, by his children or close friends. Most families have a metal brazier and tripod for such offerings. The person performing the rite always burns a lock of his hair, and often adds some juniper bark, locks of hair from other people concerned, or other meaningful items, such as a document or a piece of clothing.
It is customary to fast before burning death-offerings, so they are often dawn events. It is usually private, but the death of a prominent person may be followed by a public death-offering at which anyone may pay his respects. Women may wear dresses, or skirt and blouse, often adding a bolero. At balls and parties, it is usual for women to wear flowers in their hair. Uniform is appropriate wear for any member of the Service at any social occasion. Among Vor men, pseudo-military ornamentation such as braid, frogging, and even epaulets are popular, along with boots or half-boots which suggest military footgear.
Trousers often have a stripe up the side. Since non-Vor may not carry arms except those issued by a liege lord or commanding officer, a weapon is a status indicator. It is not unusual for a Vor to wear a knife at his belt, or a sword when dressing up, and military Vor wear two swords when in parade uniform. It is always appropriate for a Vor, male or female, to wear the colors of his or her House.
Proper full mourning is black, with decorations embroidered in black silk, although this depth of ceremony is only expected from Vor, and only on state occasions or for a recent widow. Very dark shades of the House colors are appropriate as less formal mourning wear. Most galactics view the position of women on Barrayar with horrified disbelief. Women are legally unable to make most oaths, or to hold official posts. A Countess lacks the powers of a Count; the only situation under which she might exercise such powers would be as a temporary regent for a young heir.
The Vor dances seemed to tend to the formal and slow, with couples arranged in complex groups rather than couples alone, and with far too many precise moves to memorize. Mark found it vaguely allegorical of how things were done here. It is mainly the women who network and introduce young people, arrange marriages, and keep up the links between families. Slowly, matters are changing — women can obtain an education, hold professional positions scientists, professors, attorneys, teachers , and leave Barrayar for Komarr, Sergyar, or even more distant planets.
However, those who respect the traditions, whether they are Vor or non-Vor, still consider it proper to hire a Baba, or go-between, to arrange matters. Of course, in these degenerate modern times, either the man or the woman can just skip the formalities and propose. She may not be aware she is being courted until her parents tell her the Baba has visited! She may also chaperone private meetings between the couple.
In modern times, though a woman may reject a proposal, her family may pressure her to accept. Once the woman has accepted the proposal, matters are put in train for the wedding. Again, the Baba may arrange all the technical aspects, including finding a location, organizing the guest lists, checking the text of the marriage vows, and so forth.
The bride and groom need only show up on the day and repeat the vows. In some cases, especially among the High Vor families, an official betrothal may take place before the wedding. The bride and groom are escorted by their parents and Seconds, and the Baba stands between the two groups. The traditional wedding ceremony is a civil procedure, requiring neither priest nor magistrate.
The couple make their own marriage official simply by exchanging vows. Groats, the common Barrayaran grain for this occasion, often colored , are used to form patterns on the floor. Except in certain rural communities, they are no longer required to strip naked to demonstrate that they have no hidden mutations. The senior witness then breaks the circle of groats to release the happy couple, and the partying starts. Guests often keep a handful of the groats after the wedding, as a souvenir — or use them to fill the bridal bed.
Childbirth is becoming less hazardous, as more and more couples have begun to use uterine replicators. However, the poor and the lower middle class are unlikely to be able to afford them, even if they have access to modern hospitals.
A divorce can be obtained by an appeal to the ruling Count of the District. This may be a mere formality, if both partners want to separate and the Count or his Voice is prepared to make matters easy — or it can be an awkward, tangled matter. Sons from the marriage stay with the father, while daughters go with the mother.
A divorced wife still has rights to her dower properties and goods, but otherwise she is dependent on the generosity of her husband in the settlement, unless the Count adjudicating the matter decides to intervene to her benefit. Such materialities expand those various senses——meanings, sensations, and affects——in and through which our actions as this present will entail futures, some with perhaps irrevocable consequences, however uncertain or predictable, or, for that matter, alterable.
Think of global climate change as one vivid example. We deliberately offer our en-trans-ing examples as those that can never instantiate some essential truth about what is happening: either as an object of critique or as a moment of breakthrough. That which is wrong about something is thankfully not all that it is. Nor is it any conclusion…. Let us begin, then, abruptly. Standing before clear panels in his glassed-in control room, Anderton resembles a master orchestra conductor as he vigorously summons images from his Pre-Cogs, wipes them away, reframes them, advances and rewinds the action, requests new angles——anything to pick up clues as to location, identities and sequence of events….
On the basis of this unblemished success record, and the belief that the system is infallible, a vote is pending to take Pre-Crime national. We wonder, however, whether Adams et al are science fiction readers. Indeed, across all these ecologies and temporalities, it is popular entertainment channels that circulate many current technoscientific imaginaries and more effectively than do sober channels of science communication or research policy agenda-setting.
We might even say that a scholarly focus on premediation is an effect of those now past once-futures, as they offer up to us a future-anticipated present, one that may even misrecognize or only partially recognize some of its own spacetimes. Gibson ; Haran, et al. We would suggest that attention to historiography is as crucial as attention to anticipation work for our own activity in the present. We must continue to narrate the social and economic histories of science s in dialogue with our utopian and dystopian technoscientific futures.
Feminist science fiction writer, Ellen Klages , , turned to writing historical fiction for children to explore the non-heroic aspects of national investments in science, educating young people and reminding their elders who read along about how the nuclear arms race was initiated and how the US space program was indebted to laborers enslaved by the Nazis. Indeed, despite all the imaginative or anticipatory work that might have seemed to call such into being, paying attention to hauntings makes sensible once-totalizing futures that have not come to pass.
Since a range of technoscientific and transmedia apparatus shape some of these effects and affects, we want to highlight their transnational, transdisciplinary, and transmedia valences. The important factor was that Underkoffler conscientiously treated this cinematic representation as an actual prototype.
This real world prototype in turn led to a development contract with defense giant Raytheon to produce gestural interface technology for the US military. This allows them to map out the social, political, economic and practical possibilities of a technology before it is even considered for development. What kinds of innovations are these? And what are their circumstances of play? This term intellectual entrepreneur is intended to shadow those double bind circumstances requiring so-called innovation that transnational knowledge workers, since the nineties, live within, with their uneven, sometimes abusive effects.
But it is also intended to honor how creatively we practice our survival of these, to care about and for what we make and what we are becoming…. For example, in their US game design textbook Rules of Play , Salen and Zimmerman rely on Bateson to analyze the double consciousness in which play allows selves to keep track of as well as inhabit more than one reality simultaneously. Our proposal centered on a game that was to be played by two or more participants within [a game environment simultaneously a Sukkah, a desert, and a building].
Anticipation work, as described by Adams, Murphy, and Clarke, attempts to grapple with all these possibilities as speculative predictions that pressure the present with totalizing structures of feeling, explorations of risk, damage. Transcontextual tangles are rarely benign: those he analyzed as abusive double binds range in severity from the disorienting to the psychotic Bateson a ; b .
But these are not outside of double bind circumstances. What sensitivities of feeling, thinking, sharing do such objects among entities involve? To examine so-called innovation as many double bind processes that take place in often quite abusive circumstances is not to minimize their damage, but to survive it.
For some, SF is a shuttling back and forth not just across temporalities but also across justices, utopian or dystopian, and damages, psychic and collective. In this next section Haran reweaves what counts as utopian in order to open up intra-psychic processes as collective forms of recognition and survival.
She is critical of feminist texts that constitute explanations as totalities rather than as partial. We would argue that science fiction——and feminist science fiction in particular——models this conversation between explanations, and as such can sensitize its readers to the process of testing explanations against each other.
It can also be read productively in conversation with feminist theory produced in multiple disciplines to think and feel our way towards what we might call an ethicopolitics. SF allows for thinking and feeling into and through questions of what might be desirable feminist transformations better than theory, or perhaps better than theory alone.
Nonetheless, I wish to claim a distinctive mode for SF. An unexamined clarity experienced as excluding, damaging or alienating may be an unintended effect of some academic critique. Intersubjectivity is not only explored within the text, it is constituted through the text in a complex networking of multiple imagined relationships between and among writers and readers and texts and worlds.
However, other readers do engage with this text and with conversations it facilitates. Boundary objects are those lively agencies that gather persons across possible disunities, even sometimes unconsciously in a misrecognized assumption of commonality not in fact actual at all, yet naturalized in a valuable work-around practice that permits consensual action without agreement Star As such a boundary object, The Fifth Sacred Thing becomes somehow even a particularly curious occasion to wonder about the reading strategies and political and theoretical affiliations of other readers.
What is it about the text that calls out to them? Is it the depiction of polyamory, the espousal of non-violent direct action in the face of murderous opposition, the account of earth-based spirituality and magic, the imagined project of building a better world from the debris of our own?
Its version of the Goddess, for example, is remarkably pragmatic and postmodern, self-consciously calling attention to our creation of enabling myths and metaphors. As a psychoanalyst, Benjamin is referring to our capacity to intervene in or survive the destructive wishes and fantasies of the other, but as Starhawk, Sobchack, and Butler——among others——point out, we are vulnerable to harm and injury from others much in excess of ill-wishing or destructive fantasizing.
Ethicopolitics captures both the sense of knowing feminism through multiple conversations that others share, and also a feminist project about that unending negotiation necessary to extend to all other subjects the just and flourishing lives that we seek for ourselves.
They may trigger individual and collective disaster as well.
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