[LMB] Miles, Ekaterin and the Orb

Corrina Lavitt corrinal at cox.net
Fri, 14 Nov 2003 08:01:08 -0500

Combining responses here...

On DI, Kat said:
> Um, warren zevon?  did a little googling, and found the lyrics to both
> songs... certainly sounds appropriate.  Oh, and the song is titled The
> Envoy, not DI.
> http://www.yimpan.com/Songsite/Lyric/index.asp?sid=3079

Oops. Can't believe I screwed the title up. But the lyrics do work. Zevon
wrote the song in honor of former Special Envoy to the Middle East Philip
Habib. What's scary is how timely the lyrics still are.

Debbie, my profound condolences on the death of your son and my deepest
sympathy to Kat for the loss of her child.

I realize as my personal experience is sensitive, so is those of the others
on this list. I am trying to keep my comments, as much as possible to the
characters as presented on the page.

On Ekaterin:
As I said, I don't have any problems with Ekaterin being as calm as she is
after Tien's death, due to shock and her own personality. And I can surely
see why she'd want to seek treatment for Nikki as soon as possible.

I certainly feel Ekaterin's numbness was well-presented--it's the general
impression that Nikki doesn't feel any loss at all, that in fact his medical
treatment had more of an impact on him than his father's death that I object
to. Miles says at one point he felt Aral's life shifted when Piotr died. But
there's no indication from Nikki that his life has. It could be a delayed
reaction but there would be some hints, beyond the very, very mild protests
of locking himself in the bathroom. It's not even hinted that Nikki was
worried about his mother going away so soon after his father's death. Again,
a natural reaction to cling to the parent that's missing. I can buy some of
these reactions are delayed/surpressed but Nikki's pretty much missing them

Despite Tien's distance, Ekaterin does say he charms, lies, cajoles to her
any number of times to get her to stay. I would assume Tien did not
completely utterly ignore his son--but even if he did, Tien was home each
day and night after work--so his presence would be a force for the
household, for bad or good. Nikki could even be thrilled his dad is dead at
first, he could be crushed, he could be....something. But he's not. And yes,
he would take after his mother but given his personality *before* Tien dies,
he's not nearly emotionally closed as Ekaterin--simply because Nikki's the
one person Ekaterin *hasn't distanced herself from.

Megaera said:
Corrina's comments about Nikki are interesting, though I think they should
be directed to the possibility that maybe Nikki's the character you have
problems with rather than Ekaterin herself?

--->Oh, I definitely have problems with Nikki as a character. He seems
nothing more than a plot device to explain why Ekaterin hasn't left Tien
already. But that doesn't mean Ekaterin should have totally dismissed the
feeling her son would have at his father's death. Have trouble seeing why
he'd miss his father, yes. But her actions don't even hint at the fact that
dealing with his dad's death is a problem and neither do any of Nikki's own
actions--there's not a hint of repression, anger, glee......the only
reaction is that he's scared other kids will think he's a mutie. And even
that magically goes 'poof' due to Miles' charm.

---> It didn't even occur to me that
Nikki would be dealing with it, I think because the point is made several
times that Tien had alienated him as thoroughly as he had Ekaterin, and
because his fear of his illness and of being alone was also made.  That
business of children being self-centered.  And we do get the bit at the
beginning of ACC where he's described at the funeral as being so pale, etc.
I get the feeling that it just didn't hit him till later on.

But...Lois is usually so very good at hinting about internal thought when
not in a character's point of view. We've never had Aral's point of
view--and we don't really need it.

The point that Barrayar is different and Nikki would be sent off to school
is a good one but...Ekaterin has had to deal with the death of her own
mother at a tender age. Wouldn't she react from that level of emotions and
have more empathy with Nikki rather than follow custom? Especially a school
that Nikki's leaving just 'as soon as possible' in any event?

I guess I can't get past the fact that as presented in Komarr, Nikki seems
totally unrealistic to me and Ekaterin a lousy mom. It's different in CC,
much better, and I'm glad I read that book first, as I said. I adore the
Vorkosigan-verse and I worship at the feet of Lois' incredible talent.

But none of that helps me see Ekaterin as a character rather than a
construct. The bathroom scene irks me on a personal level because I cannot
imagine ever needing a stranger to con my kids out of a locked bathroom
under any circumstances nor my children listening to said stranger. Can you
picture Cordelia in the same situation and needing the help of someone
they've known only a week? Or, switching to a better Ekaterin equivalent,
Alys? Drou? And yes, Ekaterin is repressed but the one thing she's
concentrated on over the years is Nikki.

The only way I can explain away that scene to myself is to say it was just a
plot device to show how good a father Miles would be to Nikki. Not
well-written and move onto the same, but better-written characters in CC.