[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)
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
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
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.
(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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