[LMB] More aftermaths, was Cryoburn review by Strange Horizons

RebReader at aol.com RebReader at aol.com
Sat Feb 19 22:25:51 GMT 2011

There has been a long thread about "what Lois did wrong" about  Aral's 
death.  Here is the best of her come-back.  (possible hints for  the future)
Rebecca Taylor
RebReader at aol.com

In a message dated 2/19/2011 3:09:47 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
lbujold at myinfmail.com writes:

[LMB]  Cryoburn review by Strange Horizons
Anke Wehner anke.wehner at  gmail.com
Sat Feb 19 17:13:19 GMT 2011

Lois McMaster Bujold  wrote
> The whole death issue, now... would require another  post.  Or a novel,
> which, coincidentally...

Carol  Cooper: > That last throwaway bit seems to have gone largely 
unremarked  - maybe I'm
> reading too much into it?  But, Lois, you're a tease  - does this mean 
> brewing another book  idea?

Anke:  I thought Cryoburn was all about death and how  people deal with it.

LMB:  Correct.  It's the book  you already have in your hand, or on your 
shelf, or on your hard drive or  iPod, depending.

With respect to the theme of mortality, at least, it's  "been there done 
that, done now", in other words.  I have nothing  further to add on that 
subject at this time, which makes all the cries for  some lengthy view of 
Aral's funeral, etc., fall very strangely on my  ear.

There is nothing emotionally significant I could add in 50,000  words 
that I did not already say in 500.

Also, in the aftermath of  that event, there is no commercial plot to be 
had.  Not one single  exploding spaceship of any kind.

Which is Aral's ultimate political  triumph: that his death should be a 
political non-event for  Barrayar.  This forcing of his planet to go into 
withdrawal (or  detox, depending on one's point of view) from his 
leadership is something  he's been consciously working on since Gregor's 
majority, and fully  engaged with since his move to Sergyar.   I am 
certainly not  going to take that quiet victory away from him.

Meantime, Megara  wrote:

"This whole conversation is making me want to argue, but that's  not what I
meant when I said Aral's death came at the wrong place in the  book (adding
"for me" makes me want to cringe, because it is and it isn't  accurate).
It's how the living dealt with his death and learned  from it that I needed
to read.

I understand that Lois didn't want to  write that book.  But that's the book
about Aral's death that would  have worked better -- okay, for me, dammit."

LMB:.  Hm, I  hear you.

But I don't need a novel to tell that; I could sum it up in a  page.

Everyone who was truly close to Aral -- Miles, Cordelia, to a  lesser 
extent Gregor, some others -- gets to walk around for about a year  with 
their brains scrambled.  They keep thinking they're getting over  it, but 
(since their brains are in fact still scrambled) they keep finding  out 
that they're wrong.  However, all of them have on-going work to  keep 
them occupied, which gets them through.

Miles has made all the  major decisions and commitments for the next 
phase of his life already --  marriage, his children -- now he only has 
to go the distance.  His  kids do a lot to keep him on-track.  They are 
all too young to have  been much affected by Aral's death, in part 
because they only saw him a  few times a year, in part because, well, 
grandparents aren't the same  thing as parents in these issues.  (There 
will be two more kids  eventually, a boy and a girl.  Don't ask me to 
name  them.)

Ditto the Countship; Miles is committed to it, and now he just  has to 
walk the walk. (I'd say it's about time the District got some  attention, 
except that Ekaterin has been doing that half of the job ably  for 
several years and continues to do so, so Miles likely takes the  Vorbarr 
Sultana half.  I've long thought that Counts are overworked,  as they 
have to be simultaneously the equivalents of state governors and  state 

I've not quite decided about Miles's post as an  Imperial Auditor.  
Properly, he should resign, due to too many tasks  on his plate to do 
them all properly.  Especially if it involves long  galactic trips, his 
former specialty, not to mention potential conflicts  of interest at home.

Miles is also his father's executor; Cordelia, to  her enormous relief, 
gets to skip out of most of the heavy lifting on that  score.

Cordelia, taking the good Betan advice to make no major  decisions or 
changes in one's life for at least a year after such profound  
bereavement, returns to Sergyar as its sole Vicereine, ably assisted by  
her old friend Admiral Jole to ride shotgun on the military/wormhole  
defense issues.  Since she's been doing this job for over a decade,  she 
can pretty much do it in her sleep, which is fortunate.  At the  end of, 
she finds, about two years, she finally gets her brain back and  begins 
to find her own center and balance, at which point she is able to  figure 
out what *she* really wants to do, and does it.  (And it's not  more 
Barrayaran politics, although there would be a period of transition,  to 
hand things over in optimum order to her successor.)

I do find  it interesting that after the recovery period Miles's life 
choices narrow,  but Cordelia's widen out.  But then, she has a lot more 
years ahead  of her than he does.

As another character deeply experienced in  bereavement said in another 
context: "You go on.  You just go  on.  There's nothing more to it, and 
there's no trick to make it  easier.  You just go on."

I don't think I need to spend a whole  novel repeating what was said so 
well the first time.

Ta,  L.

(Well, and Aral Alexander, at age 18, deeply influenced by his  
Great-uncle Vorthys, with whom he is close, decides he wants to go to  
engineering school.  Miles... gets over it.  But that's another  story.)

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