[LMB] Two magazine articles worth attention

Marc Wilson marc.wilson at gmx.co.uk
Sat Apr 30 01:49:25 BST 2016

On Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:34:03 -0500 (CDT), Lois McMaster Bujold
<lbujold at myinfmail.com> wrote:

>[LMB] Two magazine articles worth attention
>Lois Aleta Fundis loisaletafundis at gmail.com
>Fri Apr 29 20:05:41 BST 2016
>On topic:: The newest issue of Analog has in the "Reference Library"
>section a very nice review of "Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen". Not *too*
>many spoilers in the review but a few.
>LMB:  If anyone can easily send me a scan of the review by e-mail 
>attachment, or whatever mode, I'd like to see it.  I can catch up with 
>an Analog on the hoof, but I don't plan on getting over to Uncle Hugo's 
>very soon.
>Ta, L.  Remembering that very first review of _Shards of Honor_ in 
>Analog, back when.

Which brings us to: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen Lois McMaster
Bujold Baen, 344 pages, $27.00 (hardcover) iBooks, Kindle, Nook: $9.99
(e-book) ISBN: 978-1-4767-8122-8 Series: Miles Vorkosigan 15 Genre:
Biological SF, Psychological/Sociological SF 

There are few phrases that set a modern SF reader’s heart a-flutter as
much as “new Vorkosigan book.” Over the last thirty years, Lois McMaster
Bujold has chronicled the life and family of Miles Vorkosigan, flawed
hero of the interstellar empire based on the world Barrayar. At first
the books seemed to be fairly standard military SF, a quirky
Horatio-Hornblower-in-space crossed with Gordon R. Dickson’s Dorsai. As
the series progressed, it became much broader, involving espionage,
political intrigue, psychodrama, detective stories, and even good old
comedies of manners. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is both the
newest-published Vorkosigan book and the latest in chronological order.
It focuses mostly on Cordelia Vorkosigan, indomitable mother of series
protagonist Miles and the “Red Queen” of the title. (Don’t worry, Miles
and his family come into the story in due time, with the usual chaos in
his wake.) It’s been three years since Cordelia’s husband died. Aral
Vorkosigan, Miles’s father, was a beloved war hero and political leader,
for many years viceroy of the colony world Sergyar. His death left
Cordelia as vicereine, and she’s struggled to protect her late husband’s
legacy. As the book opens, a seventy-year-old Cordelia returns to
Sergyar after a sojourn on Barrayar. She’s met by an old friend,
fifty-yearold Admiral Oliver Jole. Long-term aide to Aral and friend to
the couple, Jole has more recently been in command of the planet’s
military forces. In a private lunch, Cordelia explains that she’s
returned with an invaluable package: some of Aral’s gametes, frozen
decades ago. She confides to Jole her plans to retire her position and
raise a new family, up to six daughters conceived in vitro with her own
genetic material and Aral’s. Cordelia, a product of the genetic science
of her home world Beta, can expect to live another five or six decades,
so there’s plenty of time to raise the girls. Before Joel can react,
Cordelia makes him an offer. Aral’s remaining gametes, she tells him,
can be inserted into ova with their nuclei removed. Then these ova can
be fertilized with Jole’s own genetic material, creating viable children
with two biological fathers, Aral and Jole. As it turns out, Admiral
Jole and Aral Vorkosigan—with Cordelia’s full knowledge and
approval—were involved in their own romantic relationship. Indeed,
Cordelia even refers to herself and Jole as Aral’s “co-spouses”—an
arrangement common enough on Beta, but highly unusual in the Barrayaran
Empire. What follows is a mature and tender book about career,
parenthood, duty, and love. There are political machinations: Cordelia’s
trying to persuade a reluctant colony to move their capital to a better
location, Jole’s dealing with the construction of a new military base,
both are entangled with intrigue involving a visiting ambassadorial
delegation from the unfriendly planet Cetaganda. There’s biology, both
human and alien. And there’s Miles along with his own wife and
children—Miles who knows nothing of either Cordelia’s plans or his
father’s relationship with Jole. And at the center of it all there’s a
love story, as two people who loved and lost the same man seek comfort
in one another. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is, as I’ve said, a
mature story. It’s about older adults dealing with life transitions
seldom explored in science fiction—widowhood, retirement, parenthood.
It’s deeply concerned with family ties and responsibilities. By its
nature, it’s a more reflective book than the field is accustomed to.
Very highly recommended.
Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.  - W.B. Yeats

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