In the light of the (authorised) spoilers about the forthcoming Vorkosigan book, my already dim hopes have got dimmer. It’s not Bujold, it’s me. Well, it is her, because she’s the one writing it, but I’m the one reading, and I’m just not that interested these days in reading what she wants to write.
Source here. It has been backed up elsewhere, and appears to be legit.
Short version, Aral and Cordelia were in a poly relationship with the once or twice-mentioned Admiral Jole, commander of the Sergyar fleet, who was Aral’s lover (but – it is not entirely clear – probably not Cordelia’s). This isn’t flashback – it is set after Aral’s death. Holy ducking of the hard bits, Batman! I think the chances of my being interested in this story are going to be slim*. For a start, the technical challenges in pulling off the retcon of a series-long romance, after the death of one of the parties, in a way that retains the reader’s sympathy with all concerned, are no small thing. Some people in Bujold fandom are really happy with the development** and think it is great and Bujold can do it well, and I wish them well. I am less convinced by the latter, but ultimately my fundamental objection is that comedy of manners shenanigans are not what I read these books for. I think I might have mentioned that just a teeny bit on a previous occasion, and the fact that it is Aral and Cordelia and not Ivan doesn’t make a fundamental difference. Also, it apparently involves more Vorkosiverse baby discussions.
It’s true the series started with a romance, so I can’t really claim that Bujold is introducing an unknown factor here. However even in Shards of Honor, it’s the exploration of the contextual framework that makes the romance more than enemies-fall-in-love-by-numbers. And that contextual framework is receding book by book.
The fact is, I’m not very interested in Aral’s private romantic life as the main subject of a story. Shards of Honor also introduced the Butcher of Komarr who was also the honourable enemy, the man who wasn’t into politics who was also the instrument of the Emperor’s biggest ever political plot, who brings peace (ish) to Barrayar by invading other planets. Likewise Cordelia-the-social-and-psychological-ge
I don’t know, perhaps it is all brilliant authorial structure, and what we’re seeing is things turning full circle, but the new circle starting better. After all, the series opened with the married second-in-command to the Emperor having a sexual relationship with his fleet Admiral, perhaps we’re about to see it close with the same.
A final thought (I keep having them, but am saving the next ones for another post as they don't specifically relate to this book), given the implied timescale, that this has been going on for years, then surely Illyan doesn’t know, because if he did Aral would have had to tell Miles rather than risk Illyan accidentally letting the secret slip. If Illyan doesn’t know, then ImpSec has missed something really, really big. Which raises the question of what else they might have missed.
*Not none. If the revelation in the Barrayaran media caused enormous political fall-out, it could be a hugely interesting and entertaining novel. Not least because it would involve the story of either how the ruling class was losing control of the media, or that factions of it with powers of getting round the canonical censorship were aiming to damage either Aral/Miles/Cordelia/Jole or – by association – Gregor.
**There’s a large fic series on the subject. Not being interested in the subject, I’ve not actually read the fic, but I get the impression that many fans of the fic are excited about seeing the scenario play out in canon, which I can appreciate.
***Actually, that’s another way it could be an interesting story for me, focusing on Cordelia’s handling of the knowledge that the creation of the triumphant Miles Vorkosigan comes at the price of the Miles Naismith who might have been. Or a complete AU, Miles Naismith, Betan Investigator, the planet’s top policeman.
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