Re Newest Bujold, Big Spoilers

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Wed Aug 14 15:37:51 EDT 2002

On Wed, 14 Aug 2002 11:46:53 -0700 (PDT), Ven wrote:

>Melissa wrote about uterine replicators
> (Did you also notice that the social 
>implications changed from _Shards
>of Honor_, in which the U.R. is unique and used 
>rarely on Beta Colony, to
>_Barrayar_ where suddenly it's the hip thing to 
>do and everyone's doing it,
>and if only we had galactic technology on dear 
>old Barrayar?  Somewhere in
>those five years she changed her mind.  Hmmmmm.)>

>I think this was for plot reasons, the UR was
>what made possible the society of Athos, the
>Quaddies, the Jacksonians and the Cetagandans
>would be possible without the uterine replicator
>so she made it's use a galactic commonplace .

I agree.  I think it was a nifty idea that she realized could be even more
interesting than she'd originally imagined.  And much as I enjoy quibbling,
I don't really mind if an author has to rewrite some of what she came up
with originally if it will make a better story.
>As to Barrayar you could view it as an example of
>the rapid rate of cultural change in those years,
>But I don't think she has worked through the
>transition very well.

The five years I referred to was the real time between the publication of
the two books.  Internally, there's only a short time (like, weeks) between
the end of _Shards_ and the beginning of _Barrayar_.  So there's Cordelia on
the prison planet telling Aral about how rare and unusual the u.r. is, and
it's really only used for medical emergencies, and less than a year later
she's expounding on how wonderfully popular they are on Beta and how
backward Barrayar is for not having them in common use.  If you read those
two Cordelia novels back to back, it's a jarring transition.  If you read
the books in publication order, it's a much smoother transition--with five
books and a handful of stories separating them, including, as you say,
_Ethan of Athos_.  But, again, I figure authors have the right to mess up
their own internal chronology for the sake of plot.  :)  

>I googled this issue on rec arts written. Among
>those concerned about the implications to the
>bonding process was someone who thought it would
>be too easy to get a child and then grow bored
>and throw it out like a Christmas puppy (which
>happens too often with natural births in any

As far as I'm concerned even once is too many.  Or like the example you
gave, where the parents keep IMAGINING they want a child and they go on this
loop of getting bored with it and then wanting it back.  Or the ones who
want a child but then don't really want to have the child around...there was
a _Twilight Zone_ episode about that once and it was so depressing.  On
second thought I'm sort of glad Bujold isn't tackling any of that.  I'm
depressed now.  Fortunately most of the bonding between parent and child
goes on ex utero, or nobody would ever be able to bond with an adopted

See also Sharon Shinn's novel _Jenna Starborn_ for a similar problem; the
setup is that people can contract to have children created for them (if they
are infertile or don't have a partner or whatever) but are not necessarily
obligated to keep them afterward.  The novel is a reworking of _Jane Eyre_
and I wasn't really thrilled by it, because it was SO faithful to the
book...if I wanted to read _Jane Eyre_ I'd have read _Jane Eyre_.  The issue
of the woman in the attic was much more sympathetic than in the original,
and I liked that part.  But plotline and character aside, I was interested
in her handling of genetic engineering, cloning, and cyborgs (don't think
that's what they called them, but my brain refuses to disgorge the
information.  It appears to be holding the database hostage until I feed it
some chili and cornbread).

Melissa Proffitt
starving now

To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list