[LMB] Imperial Auditors, what took the Vorkosigans so long?

Mark A Mandel mam at theworld.com
Wed, 6 Feb 2002 22:28:47 -0500

On Wed, 6 Feb 2002, Royce Day wrote:

#This came up during an off-list discussion with DianeE.  In _Memory_,
#Aral notes that Miles is the first Vorkosigan to ever be assigned to the
#post of Imperial Auditor, an honor that he and Piotr both managed to
#The question I propose is: Why?  Especially with House Vorkosigan's long
#history of service and loyalty to the Imperium?

The answer I propose is, Why not? Which comes out to too many implied
negatives, so I'll spell it out: Why *should* we expect a Vorkosigan to
have been an Auditor? There are only ever nine at any one time, and
they're in office practically for life except for ninth Auditors. How
many opportunities are there to appoint a new Auditor? They don't have
to be drawn from the ranks of High Vor, or even of Vor:

"And Admiral Valentine has been too frail for some years to actively
participate," Vorhovis added. -- Memory, ch28, p432 in Baen 1st paper

-- although the eligibility of non-Vor may date only from Ezar's reign
and the opening of the pathways of merit. I'm thinking of Aral's answer
to Cordelia about the three roads to power -- inheritance, Imperial
appointment, and merit via the Council of Ministers -- but I don't
remember exactly where it is, and I don't remember how recent the way of
merit is.

Hmm... Taking my own question literally, "How many chances...?", I made
a couple of assumptions and did a little arithmetic, and the answer I
got surprised me. Please check me:

Leave the short-term ninth Auditorship aside for a moment. Suppose that
the mean Auditorial time-in-office is 20 years, e.g., appointed at 50,
retires or dies at 70. Eight positions, each changing at 20-year
intervals, means a chance to appoint a new Auditor every 2.5 years!
That's very unlike the impression we get (well, I get) from the scene
near the end of _Memory_ that I quoted from above. That makes an average
of forty appointments per century.

This frequency (4.63 microHertz) would be reduced by
 - more durable Auditors. Thirty-five years of service makes about 4.38
years between appointments.
 - vacant seats. "Miles had been dimly aware of the loss two years ago
of the eighth Auditor, the elderly Vorsmythe." (loc. cit.)

It would be increased by shorter terms of service, and *is* increased by
the ninth Auditor, although those may be infrequently called for;
once every ten years would raise the frequency to 50/century.

-- Mark A. Mandel