It is happening again. That blog you like is going to come back in style. Or at least produce another new post, which is to say, this one. The Vorkosigan Saga Reread did not, in fact, kill Laura Palmer, but it is attempting to summarize and provide insightful commentary on the books of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, and it is now on the home stretch, in the last book chronologically, CryoBurn. (And recent statements by the author have not indicated any particular plans for a new book in the near future.) This week we go through the sixth chapter, in which people are reunited and other people run away again.
Roic is relieved to actually talk to m’lord, but wonders why he insists that Roic bring Dr. Durona along with him. Raven says he’d been planning to pick up his luggage and then leave, but Miles encourages him to stay, pointing out that there are daily jumpships; he even evinces willingness to pay for Raven’s time. By midafternoon, they are being dropped off at the consulate, where Roic craves shower and sleep; the police had fed them, albeit only ration bars. He nobly holds off, though, until he can speak to m’lord, and Johannes guides them to where Miles has taken over the basement secure-communications room.
Miles greets them both, dismisses Johannes, and debriefs them thoroughly; after they’re done telling their story, he says he’s glad Raven is all right. He’d hoped the Duronas would send Rowan, but Raven says she’s too busy, heading up the Cryonics department and preparing for the birth of her and her husband’s second child; Raven says she hardly gets to do any real work, and reminisces over Miles’s eighteen-hour cryorevival, back in the day. Miles confirms Roic’s suspicion that he’d invited Dr. Durona to come to the conference, though Raven notes that they’d been planning to send someone anyway, though more likely a junior resident.
Miles asks Raven if he saw anything interesting; Raven says the technology seems standard, though he notes they’re more interested in freezing people than thawing them these days. Miles says the cryocorps are mostly interested in accumulating their “patrons'” proxy votes; he notes that the political atmosphere seems full of debate, noisier than Barrayar or Jackson’s Whole, even with incompetent crazies like the N.H.L.L. Thanks to their interference in the conference, though, he has loads of new questions.
He tells them his own story, about the Cryocombs and the illicit freezing operation; Raven is unimpressed and doesn’t give them much chance of success, but Miles says that the cyrocorps don’t seem to feel too threatened by those kinds of operations. In fact, the only thing that did seem to frighten them was Lisa Sato’s organization, which they put a lot of effort into breaking up; in fact, his research has turned up the fact that several others of them seem to have died or been frozen. What he can’t find out is why, exactly, they were thought to be so troublesome, since somebody seems to have done a good job of expunging all that information.
Roic asks what all this has to do with Barrayar, and m’lord says it’s too early to tell; he’s reminded of the Emperor’s warning about Miles’s tendency to “expensive knight-errantry”, and wonders if he’s supposed to try to keep it in check. Consul Vorlynkin arrives with news about Jin’s legal status; there’s nothing they can do, legally, because he’s not an orphan, but at least he has been released from police custody into that of his relatives.
“Damn!” M’lord slumped. “Damn. I hope Ako proves a more faithful zookeeper than I did.”
“Well, it’s not as if we could kidnap him,” said Vorlynkin, with a faint smile. M’lord eyed him. Perhaps thinking better of this mild venture into humor, Vorlynkin cleared his throat and went back to looking bland. Roic wondered if he should take Vorlynkin aside later and warn him not to say things like that around m’lord, and not because the Lord Auditor might take offense.
Roic suggests that they sleep on it, since m’lord doesn’t look any better rested than he does; he asks, knowingly, if m’lord has checked his neurotransmitter levels, and Miles mutters unconvincingly. He dismisses Raven to go back to his hotel, though not without a secured wristcom; he laments his lack of data. He tells Vorlynkin that if WhiteChrys or one of the other cryocorps calls looking for him, he’s to pass on that the Lord Auditor is furious with the disruptions and ready to go home and complain in the Emperor’s ear; he assures Vorlynkin that this is a test to see how much the corps want to stay in his good books, and he encourages the consul to consider bribes, if they’re offered, as long as he tells Miles about them.
They go up to the consulate’s guest bedroom and Roic prepares the seizure stimulator as Miles gets undressed; he asks m’lord if he’s supposed to be trusting the consulate staff, and Miles admits he doesn’t know, based on past experience. He encourages Roic to sound them out when he’s not around, and see if he can come to any conclusions about them; it may just be a question of whether or not anybody thought the Barrayaran consulate staff was worth buying before now.
Roic triggers the seizure, which is a longish one, and the aftermath is, as always, unpleasant for m’lord, probably good to knock him out for at least a day, if not two. M’lord goes to bed finally, his energy thoroughly drained.
Jin awakens in his sister’s darkened bedroom with chagrin, having wanted to stay awake to try to outwit his captors–his aunt and uncle–but had been too tired. He’s wearing nothing but his underwear, neither of his cousins being a match in size, and he doesn’t know where Aunt Lorna took his clothes. The window doesn’t open, Uncle Hikaru having put a rod in to block it opening further after an argument at supper. When he’d run away last year, he’d just gone out the window, gathered up his animals from where his aunt had exiled them outside, loaded them in an old stroller, and gotten away clean. The door is locked too, leaving with only a bucket for any bathroom needs.
He wonders if Miles-san is looking after his animals, and whether he’d blame Jin for losing his money to the police, or if he’d just think Jin had stolen it. He makes vague plans to hide a screwdriver or something in the room to try to break the locks, though he’s not sure he knows how to do that; he knows he should wait until their suspicions are lulled, but he can’t make himself stay here that long. Soon they’re even going to sign him up for school, which will be even harder to escape from.
The door opens, and it turns out to be his sister, Mina; Jin growls at her, asking what she wants, expecting something annoyingly trivial. Instead, she asks if he’ll take her with him if she lets him out; caught off guard, he refuses at first, then changes his mind when she starts closing the door again, and insists they talk downstairs.
Mina asked, “Do you remember Daddy?”
“Sort of. Some.”
“I don’t. Just his picture in the family shrine Mommy set up.”
“You were three.” Jin had been seven when their father had died. Four years ago–it seemed half a lifetime. He remembered his mother’s extravagant grief and anger rather better, and how seldom he’d seen her after that–as if one death had stolen both parents, even before the policewomen had come for her. “Doesn’t Aunt Lorna keep the family shrine anymore?”
“She let me keep it in my room for a while, but then we ran out of space when I needed a desk for school, so she boxed it up and put it away. I wasn’t sure if to set your picture in it or not.”
He tells her again that she can’t come with him, even as she’s putting her shoes on; he says it’s too far, and wonders why she’d want to go anyway. She says her cousins tease her a lot, though Jin doesn’t see why that should upset her so. She says she wants her own brother, she doesn’t want her aunt and uncle to adopt her, like they’re planning. She says she’ll scream and holler if he tries to leave without her, and he realizes she probably isn’t bluffing; she adds that she has saved up some money, too, and helps him find his clothes and shoes, so he gives in.
Mina is a little uncomfortable being out in the dark, but determined; she mentions Aunt Lorna’s threat to have Jin frozen as a repeat runaway, and Jin says she was probably just making that up to scare him.
An unwelcome memory rose in Jin’s mind. It wasn’t the clammy smell of the night that triggered it, because the policewomen had come for his mother in the daytime, but the clammy chill in his gut that day had felt much like this. Mom kneeling down, gripping his shoulders, saying, Jin, help look after Mina, all right? Be a good big brother, and do what Aunt Lorna tells you.
Jin had given up on that last when Aunt Lorna had insisted that he get rid of all of his pets, yes, all, a clean sweep, there was no room and they smelled and pooped too much and that bird was homicidal and to top everything, Ken was supposedly allergic to Lucky, who was too lazy to scratch anyone. Jin just figured his cousin was doing all that sniffling and blowing on purpose, to be annoying, in which he certainly succeeded. Jin had forgotten the first part of that maternal parting . . . blessing, curse, whatever it was, because, after all, nobody yelled at Mina they way they’d yelled at him and his pets.
Maybe I missed it, but while Roic talks about Miles checking his neurotransmitter levels, all we see him do is just trigger his seizure. Does he not normally check? Was he just sure that it was time? Or did he just figure that it was better to get it out of the way now anyway? I suppose he’s used to them by now, but not, apparently wholly reconciled to them yet. Did they get any worse after the whole Cetagandan bioweapon incident?
I suppose it’s not that surprising that Raven is there because of Miles, or at least partially. Even if the Duronas probably owe more to Mark than they do to Miles, he does have a few favours he can call in. I suppose that Lily is over Miles now, given that she’s married to an Escobaran and has children, but it might still have been nicer to see her instead of Raven. For one thing, there’s a shortage of female characters; I suppose there are a few so-far minor characters back at the illicit cryohouse, but the Barrayarans are, of course, all male.
It’s a bit weird to be getting Roic POV when Miles is around. It’s like the author is deliberately trying to keep us out of Miles’s head. When we were in his head, he was thinking more about his current situation and speculation, but from what Roic saw there’s some kind of scheme going on, Miles trying to invite bribery from the cryocorps and all that. It’s time to unpack, Miles.
Jin’s aunt and uncle totally sound like the Dursleys, except that there are two Dudleys…and Jin’s sister in the mix. We don’t get to actually see any of them except the sister, though, just vague second-hand reports in Jin’s head. And just like that, he’s out on the loose again, with his sister in tow. So…another potential complication has been swept aside, or at least transformed into something different. Not so much of Jin being trapped until Miles could rescue him, or he rescue himself, but more of a way for him to collect Mina.
Jin’s mother seems to be increasing in importance, which also makes Jin a little more important. Though, of course, I always get a little suspicious when randomly encountered characters turn out to be significant–it just seems too much of a coincidence. If it’s not intentional on one side or the other, then somehow it just seems too convenient for the author…
I’m sure you can count on me for another chapter next week…why not?