[LMB] Vorkosigan Surleau

Beatrice Otter beatrice_otter at zoho.com
Thu Jul 22 23:30:33 BST 2021

---- On Thu, 22 Jul 2021 14:44:58 -0700 Kevin Kennedy <kevink45 at hotmail.com> wrote ----

The residence in Vorkosigan Surleau is a renovated barracks, since the big house was a war casualty.  Life in general and the family fortune haven’t been up to new construction. 
Does Miles make enough from bug butter dividends and whatever else of Mark's schemes he's invested in, plus Ma Kosti's cooking, to build someplace new? How big would it be? Local or imported architect?  NOT anyone who likes Cockroach Central. Speculation, anyone?  I'd maybe leave the old place as a guest house, for starters.

Beatrice Otter:

The thing is, historically, big huge ostentatious residences are that size for practical reasons. They weren't just building big homes for the ostentation of it; that was a side effect, generally. The embellishment and ornamentation was the ostentatious bit. Let's look at the reasons for building residences that big, and how Miles fits into that.

1) Large extended families. When you have large extended families that often live together, you need space. (Miles doesn't have a large extended family, he has a lot of kids but only Ivan and Gregor as cousins, both of whom have their own homes, and his brother Mark doesn't even usually live on the same PLANET.)

2) Lots of servants. Before modern materials and technology, things like cleaning and cooking and maintaining the grounds took a *lot* of man-hours. Or, more to the point, woman hours. In England, up until 1900, almost 40% of all women were in domestic service of one kind or another. All the people doing all that work have to have places to live and room to do their work. But Barrayar is a modern planet, now, with modern conveniences. It takes a lot fewer people to do the scut-work of keeping the place running. Also, there's modern transportation; they don't have to live in, but can have their own homes if they want them (which many do) which greatly reduces the square footage you need.

3) Administration. Many large residences were centers of administration for the area. Vorkosigan Surleau is a vacation home, not a seat of government.

4) House parties. The eras when you had the largest homes were also when you had rotating house parties. Large groups of people would spend their lives traveling from one house party to the next, so you had to have room for all those guests. If you're hosting enough guests to have a literal ball, and they're going to be staying for two weeks, and it's a long and arduous journey to get anywhere else, you have to be able to put them up in comfort. If, on the other hand, it's no hassle to have most of your guests at the ball fly in from around the planet on the day of, you don't need as many guest rooms.

So there's no *practical* reason to need a bigger house. The question is, "is the current building comfortable for the family and does it provide for their needs?" Now, it has until this point; but it's been literal decades since you had Vorkosigans living on planet with time for more than the occasional holiday. Aral and Cordelia were extremely busy as Regent and then Prime Minister, and we are told the District was largely neglected during that time. Miles was offworld. Now, however, Miles and his family are living on Barrayar and he has more children, and also he's probably less busy. Being an Auditor is a very important job, yes, but it's not like there's a constant and consistent daily task that has to be done, as there is with governance. He's got time to devote to the District, and to his family, in a way his father never really got. So he may find the Vorkosigan Surleau house not quite adequate.

Beatrice Otter

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