[LMB] A question about Barrayar

Gwynne Powell gwynnepowell at hotmail.com
Wed Nov 3 03:05:40 GMT 2010

> Date: Mon, 1 Nov 2010 22:14:09 -0400
> From: "Whitcomb Johnstone" <wjohnstone at mtso.edu>
> Subject: Re: [LMB] A question about Barrayar
> To: "'Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold.'"
> <lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk>
> Message-ID:
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> I get the impression from the books that while Barryaran doctors may have
> known ABOUT uterine replicators since they emerged from the Time of
> Isolation, they had not actually gotten their hands on a working model until
> the Escobarans delivered a set to them during Shards of Honor. I admit that
> it does boggle the mind that Komarr had no replicators on hand when they
> were conquered by Barryarans, but that is the impression the canon gives.
> Perhaps replicators were less popular on Komarr then they were in most of
> the rest of the galaxy, and the Barryarans accidentally destroyed the only
> hospital that had any, or something like that. Also, a fascist like Ezar is
> not going to want his subjects to have much access to outside information,
> or too much ability to communicate with eachother, so no Barryaran
> counterparts to the Internet or Wikipedia. Probably ordinary Barrayaran
> civilians were not allowed to travel to Komarr, or off-planet at all, until
> after Ezar's death. Think North Korea levels of isolation from the rest of
> the universe. Starship design may be important enough to allow starship
> designers to risk ideological contamination by reading offworld texts.
> Pediatric medicine isn't- especially since doctoring isn't a very
> high-status profession in a society which is just emerging from a period
> with a tech level similar to that of the 1700s, where "doctor" and "quack"
> were near synonyms. Think about how contemptuous old Count Pitor was of
> doctors in Miles' memories in "Mountains of Mourning". Finally, while the
> doctors currently practicing medicine during Cordileia's Honor were not
> trained during the Time of Isolation, the doctors that trained them were!
> They're only one generation removed from leaches being state of the art
> medicine. And I can't imagine that there was much chance to go to Beta and
> study medicine during the Cetagandan Occupation. And I expect that Mad
> Emperor Yuri was worse than Ezar about allowing contact with offworld ideas.

Remember the reaction of many of the Counts to Donna/Dono's transformation
 - there were a lot of 'protecting our wives and daughters from this off-planet 
perversion' comments.  I can believe that the idea of replicators would receive
the same sort of reaction from the old men, the feeling that you don't mess with 
the sanctity of reproduction.  Also that babies were women's work, and there 
may simply not have been the interest in bringing in that kind of technology - 
perhaps men, especially of the older generation, just didn't discuss such 
embarrassing female activities.
Also there's the attitude of some older women, as in 'Mountains of Mourning' 
- the 'we had to do it the hard way, why should they get it so easy now' refrain.
So between the older, conservative male counts and older, ultra-traditional 
women, plus add in a high level of distrust for anything galactic, just after a 
shattering invasion attempt - it's not surprising that the technology didn't take 
off very quickly.
But younger doctors may have been keen to find out about them - witness the 
doctor's reaction when he saw the replicators on Sergyar. So when they finally
did arrive, there was a pretty fast grass-roots acceptance.

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