[LMB] Shards to Cryoburn - Aral's life and death

Paula Lieberman paal at filker.org
Wed Jun 11 17:29:30 BST 2014

Aral's coping mechanism was booze.  He explicitly said to Miles about Camp 
Permafrost, "I stayed drunk all the time."


To me, there -is- a distinction.  There are authors who decide how a story 
is going to go, and -force- it to go that way, despite all.  There are other 
authors who get surprised by where stories go.  Writing the Crystal books, 
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller discovered that Cantra yos'Phelium had been 
lying to them in her diaries quoted in the previously written and published 

It makes a difference because if they had forcefit the Crystal books to have 
Cantra's diary contents in the other books be accurate historical reporting, 
the Crystal books would have not been the books they are, and Cantra would 
have been a different character in her thoughts and actions and backstory. 
The backstory for long-dead Cantra in the far up the timeline books, and the 
backstory of Cantra in the Crystal books, don't match, and the reason why it 
works in the series, is that Cantra was lying in what she wrote in her 
diaries... but the people hundreds of years later up the timeline, have no 
realization/awareness of that, they take Cantra's diary backstory content as 

I think it's also notable that there are -two- authors involved, and that 
both of them had the same reactions/responses regarding what Cantra had to 
be like, when they were writing the Crystal books.  They have a almost 
seamless collaboration as authors, which other writing teams who know them, 
are extremely envious of.

In real life, the talent who play Sid and Nancy in the film, said that when 
they were working on the film, their recreation of the characters, persuaded 
them that what had to have happened was what the film showed as recreationg, 
that in portraying the characters, they got into the head of the two doomed 
people and their mindsets (but the acting talent did retain the separation 
to not become submerged and self-destructive channeling the people they were 

Jack Nicholson warned Heather Ledger about portraying the batshit crazy 
Joker, to keep some distance from the character he was portraying, or else 
playing the Joker might be lethal.  Alas, playing the Joker turned out to be 
lethal for Ledger.

Those sorts of things support the assertion that some things logically -do- 
drive others in fact and fiction as regards people
's/characters's lives and even deaths.  Social expectations can, 
also--Romans suiciding out of honor, Japanese committing seppuku for 
honor... culture and personal values and inculcation, can drive people to 
actions and perspectives, which are envelope sorts of things and even mass 
movements, and someone channeling those influences, may generally come up 
with the same conclusions/perspectives/direction of action and actions 

The ugly sorts of examples are "I turned into one of them" where someone got 
into a position where the person wondered or was averse to what previous 
people in such positions had done, and wound up behaving/doing the exact 
same thing/ways.

A friend took a job and discovered that the files left by the previous 
person were sparse.   The friend worked diligently, but kept being 
stonewalled/obstructed by the stuck-in-the-19th-century mindset owners/top 
management of the company from making changes, including changes to improve 
the working conditions for the low level staff, and eventually went 
jobhunting and found a less frustrating position, and left files in a 
parallel condition to what had been there when the friend got hired in--the 
conditions the friend was in in the position, led the friend to the same 
conclusions and ultimate actions, that the predecessor had taken, withuot 
ever having known or been in any contract with the predecessor!

Would -everyone- write Aral the way Lois did, and have his  story go forward 
the same way?  I doubt it, but, I expect that there were be very strong 
similarities, and that many, or even most, writers of the type of genres and 
voices which Lois writes in, would have the same or similar outcome 
regarding Aral.

Consider things such as Jungian archetypes, and compliance to them, or the 
end imposed on the film El Cid, in reality Rodrgio Diaz de Bivar survived 
that final battle and rule Valencia as a principality for a number of years, 
before dying in peacetime.  But for the film dramatic impact and from the 
source material used with its dramatic impact, he had to die in battle and 
as the symbol....

--Paula Lieberman
-----Original Message----- 
From: mmjustus at mmjustus.com
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 05:03 PM
To: Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold.
Subject: [LMB] Shards to Cryoburn - Aral's life and death

> Practical?  Now I don't understand your question. It's conceptual, not
> practical in any way.  People were saying Aral had to die because he's
> old, had a weak heart, etc., and that's all within the text.

> I'm saying he died because (Doylistically) that's the way Lois wrote it,
> and the way she wanted it to be. Not a whim, but an overarching part of
> the stories that she set up carefully over many books. She *could* have
> written books in which less time passed (so Aral was still fairly young in
> Cyroburn), or he was younger to start with, or in which medical advances
> were so great that his physical problems were overcome. Or he could hae
> gone through the Weapon X program and become practically immortal. [1] She
> didn't write that.  She wrote what she wanted and intended to write, and
> Aral's death was a thematic part of that.

Yes, but the only difference between what you're saying and what other
people are saying is on the theoretical level.  What I'm asking is what
difference making that distinction is on the practical level, as in how
making that distinction has changed the books as they are.  Saying that Aral
had to die because of what's within the text or because that's the way the
author wrote it both have the same result.  Aral died.  I'm afraid that
unless it makes sense on a practical level, it doesn't seem like a useful
distinction at all.

> He doesn't get blinded by depression, but, occasionally, by drink.

I think the drink is a result of depression.  A vicious spiral.

> Being bisexual in a society that disclaims bisexuality leaves a mark on
> the personality too, even if just in a sense of being an outsider. And
> Aral had a leaning towards art - to an appreciation of the visual - that I
> don't see in Miles.

Good points, both.


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