[LMB] Ivan (was the ten best Bujold characters)

Elizabeth Holden azurite at rogers.com
Thu Nov 4 20:24:23 GMT 2010

--- On Thu, 11/4/10, kerry weisselberg <kerilli at gmail.com> wrote:

> I get the impression that Ivan was a really obnoxious, nasty kid 

How so? I didn't get that impression at all. I had the impression he was normal enough, not overly ambitious, not able to keep up in energy with the Vorkosigans, but liking and admiring their good traits. A laid back sort of kid, who was probably bullied and manipulated shamelessly by Miles (as we see happening when they are adults) but who was happy to do things for him, because he could walk, and was utterly healthy.  I think he admired Miles and loved him, and envied him, and pitied him, all at once.

>  - he certainly doesn't see Aral as a father figure
> at all iirc,

He sees Aral as an authority figure, mostly one to be avoided. 

> so there was no
> obvious 'good male role model' to straighten him out.

Aral was as close as he ever got, but all Aral's fatherly feelings were focussed on Miles and he seems to have seen Ivan as a bit of a nuisance. (Besides thinking he was stupid.)

> Also, he was everything Miles wasn't, and could not be -
> tall, physically perfect, MOBILE for heaven's sakes. 

Absolutely. I think the whole Vorkosigan family was rather over-aware of that, to Ivan's detriment.  It must have been uncomfortable for Ivan. Imagine feeling guilty because you can walk, and run, and do all the physical things any normal Vor youth does.  

Of course, Elena was mobile and tall as well, but she was obviously treated like a girl, with different expectations.  

> I doubt he'd have been a tactful child -
> I get the impression that Gregor was, and not only because
> he was older - since Ivan's not a tactful adolescent, he's 
> wince-worthily callous about
> Miles failing the physical at the start of TWA, iirc. 

I'm not sure what passage you're referring to here.  I think that Ivan was so accustomed to Miles' physical problems that he took them for granted.  They don't bother being tactful with each other - they prefer banter and interfamilial insults.

> Plus, I don't like his
> attempt to derail Miles' courtship of Ekaterin at the start
> of ACC,

How many times have I said I must read ACC again?  I don't remember having any problem with Ivan there - but then, if it isn't clear, I like Ivan so much I seldom have a problem with him.  I find him usually protective of Miles, in a way that Miles is oblivious to.

> I think Aral probably slightly despised him for his
> tactlessness, and his
> relative stupidity (compared to Miles, and Gregor) 

I *is* a family that values high intelligence. I find it interesting that both Aral and Cordelia treat Mark with an automatic loving kindness and caring they never seem to offer Ivan.

> and that Cordelia possibly resented every little barb that he sent,
> unknowingly or otherwise, to stick in Miles' hypersensitive flesh.

Miles is hypersenitive?  I don't see that.  Miles is... driven. He overcompensates, but he isn't hypersensitive about his situation.  He's  defensive.  Even agressive, sometimes. 

> He's matured a lot, and I loved what he did in Memory and
> the end of ACC, 

I loved the way Ivan helped Miles in Memory, but I see him as doing that kind of thing throughout the series, even in WA - keeping an eye on the hyperactive broken cousin just to make sure he doesn't kill himself and too many others in any given escapade.

> so I'm eager for an Ivan book now, but I'm glad we didn't get
> one when he was younger. I really don't want to hear what he got up to at
> the Academy, whereas I'm agog for more Miles stories. 

I'd love to hear about them both. But clearly I love Ivan much more than you do, and give him more credit, and enjoy his personal failings and strengths.

> I always got the impression that
> Miles and Ivan didn't actually like each other that much,

I had the impression that Miles totally takes Ivan for granted and doesn't think much about him except for his usefulness.  Ivan shows many signs of loving Miles, but plays it in a laid-back sort of way that Miles can't even recognize. I think Ivan thinks very highly of Miles and tries to hide it.

> that they were thrown together but were never true friends, 

I think they were friends, but never understood each other - being totally different temperaments.  I'm sure there are Myers-Briggs letters to designate it.  Ivan thinks Miles is a loose cannon (and he's generally right) while Miles just thinks Ivan is an idiot who has his uses.

> unlike Gregor and Miles, who
> have a deep mutual trust and understanding.

Yes. I do see Ivan as the odd child out - liked but not loved or understood by the others, tolerated because he was the different one, but not appreciated.

> Until Ivan did the Ice Bath thing, I didn't think he'd lift
> a finger for anyone, really, 

He's already done a lot of things to help Miles. Sometimes at risk to himself, sometime when it was inconvenient for him.

> unless it was under an unsquirm-out-from-able direct Order
> from on high.

That happened sometimes. Orders gave him an excuse to do things for Miles  without betraying vulnerabilities.  Ivan never seems to mind being treated like a Vorkosigan servant.


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