[LMB] SP: Another blog post about the new book LOTS of spoilers, but also backstory and backstory-debate

Paula Lieberman paal at filker.org
Wed Apr 8 00:56:33 BST 2015


The power imbalance was even greater in ancient Greece between the adult 
male and the young male  protege/lover, but it was a socially -ordinary- and 
common and acceptable situation.

A European-born and raised WWII veteran who was an analyst and something of 
a historian also, told me that the European military, it was an accepted 
tradition that to get promoted, a subordinate would "bend over" (literally) 
for his commanding officer.

Aral/Jole  type relationships therefore were not exactly nonexistent 
historically-what they are is edited/redacted out of the generally told/pop 
culture historical memes for general public consumption in the USA.  (von 
Steuben was in the USA on the other side of an ocean from people who were 
using him being homosexual as grounds for eliminating him if they caught up 
with him...)

Lt Gen Henry of the USAF, Commander of Space Division and Vice Commander I 
think of Space Command, was his own subordinate, and wrote letters to 
himself on occasion, eg. "Lt Gen Henry VIce Command Space Command to Lt Gen. 
Hemry Command Space Division,  and the reverse for the reply.  He wrote the 
letters weearing his two different hats.

--Paula Lieberman
-----Original Message----- 
From: Jeff Shultz
Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2015 07:07 PM
To: Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold.
Subject: Re: [LMB] SP: Another blog post about the new book LOTS of 
spoilers, but also backstory and backstory-debate


On Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 3:01 PM, Lois McMaster Bujold
<lbujold at myinfmail.com> wrote:
> [LMB] SP: Another blog post about the new book
> Jeff Shultz jeffshultz at gmail.com
> Tue Apr 7 20:35:04 BST 2015

> JS:  I'm gonna get massacred for this, probably, but... if her conclusions
> are correct, I just lost some respect for Aral
> LMB:  I actually consider this a perfectly reasonably arguable position,
> well worth debate (if premature -- the actual book is going to give you 
> more
> to think about) but a few points of order, below...
> 1a. Yes, he is Aral's subordinate. Jole is Aral's Aide de Camp when we
> first meet him,
> LMB:  Acting as such, certainly, but not so technically; "military
> secretary" may mean either an executive-level secretary assigned to P.M.
> Aral as a courtesy from the Service, or a person with actual liaison 
> duties
> between the P.M.'s office and the General Staff.  Or, this being Barrayar,
> some confusing amalgam of both.
Flat out, if Aral says "Frog" Jole's proper response is, "How high,
sir?" That's a level of power imbalance that exceeds that of, oh, a
certain US President and an intern, as an example. (Yeah, it US
politics, but it's also a great illustration of the difference in
power levels) Improper, even if consensual (and totally disregarding
the marital complications/agreements in either case).  And that goes
for TVG, CYA, and potentially Cryoburn era Aral-Oliver relationships.
Once Jole hits Admiral the power imbalance isn't quite as much,
frankly, but there is still subordination by position. Sort of like a
college professor and their student... it's kosher a lot of places,
but forbidden or frowned on nonetheless in others.
> Another interesting point to consider: if subordinates and juniors are 
> both
> out, the pool of potentially sexually interesting persons who are both
> senior to and older than Aral, at either time, would consist of... who,
> exactly?
> ("Cordelia" is another reasonable answer, natch.)
The retired? Or... With great power comes great... etc... (I always
thought that was a purile line, but I've never much liked Spiderman
anyway. Too much psychological masochism.) Frankly, he's in a position
that he may not have wanted, but accepted, and thus accepted it's
limitations. And yes, Cordelia, natch. :-)

> 2. He's apparently accelerated that subordinate who he's sleeping
> with's career along. That's a bit beyond simple nepotism.... even if,
> in Aral's mind, Jole was worthy of it.
> LMB:  Both accelerated and delayed, variously.  Darn I wish the book were
> out already.

Well, if you want to skim a copy over to me, I wouldn't complain....
I'd even copy-edit it for you. :->

> JS:  Donning flame retardant gloves now...
> LMB:  No flames from here.  It's a tangle of problems and issues, which of
> course is why I find it interesting.  Though two points not to lose track 
> of
> are that the Barrayaran Imperial Service is not and never was the 21st C.
> United States military, and Vorbarr Sultana is not and never was 
> Washington,
> DC.

This is true.... sometimes I wonder exactly how much influence Aral's
Betan grandmother had on him. And whether being several planets away
will prevent Cordelia from being the same sort of influence on Lord
Aral Alexander and Lady Helen? Btw, don't Miles and Ekaterin need to
balance out the numbers regarding the sex of their children? Aral
Alexander was getting badly outnumbered by the end of Cryoburn.

> ***
> Another interesting debate that no one has yet taken up, and which could
> actually be discussed free of spoilers for the new book, is, just what 
> _was_
> Aral's legal position during the whole Hegen Hub crisis?  If he had any
> legal pretext at all for what he was doing, including assuming tight
> military command, it had to have been a pretty lacy fig-leaf, though he
> would not have been at all above lying through his teeth to make what he
> thought needed to happen, happen timely,  if he thought it necessary.
> Taking points from Miles, or vice versa?  The stuff landing in his lap at
> that moment would certainly have made legal niceties seem the least of his
> worries.

In US practice, in order to be President, military officers had to
retire first (GenArmy Eisenhower comes particularly to mind)... I
would think that on Barrayar this might not be the case, and that
members of the military who were serving Counts or had other
governmental roles (perhaps some sort of ministerial post) were a
special category of serving officer - still in the Imperial Service
and due the same customs and courtesies, but not expected to fill a
particular military role. Or perhaps like Secretary of the Navy Lehman
during a past US Administration, serving as a reservist where they
only got out to play occasionally. SecNav Lehman was a Navy Lieutenant
Commander, I believe, and a naval aviator. He was in his own chain of
command... Then again, Rene Vorbretten had to resign from the Service
in order to take up his Countship, didn't he? Maybe it only works that
way after you reach a certain rank.

Anyway, to yank back in line, that would mean that Admiral Count Aral
Vorkosigan was still seen as a serving officer, and effectively
recalled himself to active duty as the senior officer present to put
himself in military charge of the Hegan Hub Alliance Navy. No fig
leaves needed, nice and legal all the way down. Who would argue with

I also think that the in the Bararyarran version of Checks and
Balances, the Prime Minister may have some level or type of control
over the military forces, although not as the Commander in Chief, that
being Gregor's role. And it gets him a recruiting poster of a
Lieutenant Jole as his aide de camp, although I can easily see your
version of going through civilian secretaries like tissue paper until
finally picking his own from the Service as well.

> Afterwards, whatever barracks-lawyers (or Council of Counts lawyers) were
> taking opportunistic political potshots over protocols, the embarrassed
> Gregor would have covered.  Turnabout being fair play...

My version keeps things simpler. Yours probably makes for a better story. 

Jeff Shultz
A railfan approaches a grade crossing hoping that there will be a train.
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