And here we observe the Vorkosigan Saga Reread, in its natural habitat. As discerning blogwatchers will know, this particular blog appears approximately every seven days, its plumage encompassing a summary and discussion of some portion of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga. In this season, it’s wearing a coat of CryoBurn, and I see by the markings on its feathers that we’re up to the sixteen chapter. Let’s examine it more closely, shall we?
Roic interrogates the goons, Hans and Oki, confirming that the deaths of Lisa Sato’s friends had been mostly accidental, but murderers or manslaughterers, Miles isn’t sure what to do with them. He can’t just let them go now; eventually they should be given to police who can’t be suborned by the cryocorps, but he’s pretty sure that NewEgypt would just disown them in any case. Roic gives them water and takes them to the bathroom, and, for now, they’re re-sedated; freezing may be the right thing to do with them, because he sure as hell isn’t going to take them back to Barrayar with him. At least NewEgypt must be panicking about their minions having disappeared without a trace, and Leiber too.
In the meantime, Miles makes another appointment with Wing at WhiteChrys for that afternoon. They are greeted by a secretary with an astonishing sphinx-like pet (named Nefertiti); the pets, Jacksonian-made, were apparently given out as part of a promotion by NewEgypt on the first day of the conference.
Wing brings Miles into his office, leaving Roic outside with the secretary and the sphinx; Miles says that he’s done a little digging and discovered a problem with his new investment, and asked Wing if he knew about it. He says the commodified contracts they bought from NewEgypt are going to go bad, and ruin their stock price, and tells Wing about the flawed preservative fluid. Wing seems surprised, but a little impressed at the scam with the contracts; Miles says he can prove they knew eighteen months ago, and suggests that they sue NewEgypt. Wing says that won’t help protect his investment, unless they get a chance to offload those contracts again first, and then let the news come from a more neutral source; Miles pretends outrage, really being disappointed that WhiteChrys isn’t willing to fight. Wing even says that it’ll be best to tell all their competitors about it, so they can figure out what to do next.
“But where, in all this, do those NewEgypt bastards get nailed to the wall?” Miles tried to keep his tone plaintive and not outraged.
“Have you ever heard the phrase, Living well is the best revenge?”
“Where I come from, someone’s head in a bag is generally considered the best revenge.”
Wing says he needs to get back to work to deal with this new information, but Miles takes him up on his polite offer of tea before he leaves. They head back to the outer office, where Roic is taking possession of Nefertiti; he explains to Miles that he knows someone who would love to take care of her, and Miles hopes that he’s gotten something of value in exchange.
While his mother and Mina nap in the isolation booth, Jin lets himself out; he’s happy to have his mother back, but he’s beginning to feel uncertain about the future, with all these grownups trying to determine it. He hears voices in the hallway and goes to investigate; he’s stunned to see Vorlynkin and Raven with two new people, a blond woman and a man who’s just like Miles except fatter and younger-looking. Vorlynkin says he was just about to go back to the consulate when they arrived; Raven heads back to check in Jin’s mother.
The woman asks about Jin, and Vorlynkin introduces them; the new people are Lord Mark Vorkosigan and his “partner”, Miss Kareen Koudelka, from Barrayar, who shake his hand. Jin asks if he’s Miles’s brother, and Mark says they’re “twins, born six years apart”, and, when Jin asks, he adds that he’s perfectly happy not to look exactly like his brother. Raven returns to recommend Mark meet with Suze; he seems to be interested in buying the place, and notes that the legal owner is one Ted Fuwa, but Raven says he’ll need Suze’s buy-in if he wants to get more than just the physical plant.
“Did your brother know you were arriving, Lord Mark?” asked Vorlynkin. “He hadn’t mentioned it to me. Nor had Dr. Durona.” His glance under his lashes at Raven-sensei was not very friendly.
“We caught an earlier ship than expected,” said Miss Koudelka.
“I actually haven’t any interest in impinging on whatever hornet’s nest Miles is presently poking,” said Lord Mark. “We don’t normally comment on each other’s enterprises. Think of it as the parallel-play stage of siblinghood.”
Kareen points out the consulate’s duty to assist Barrayaran businesspeople, and Vorlynkin says that the Auditorial investigation has been taking precedence recently; she invites the consul to come along for their meeting, and Raven says that Jin will be welcome too. At Suze’s office, the door is opened by Tenbury, who is upset to see still more new people, especially another “sawed-off galactic”, but lets them in to talk to Suze.
Suze asks Raven when she gets her two free revivals, and Raven proposes changing the Deal…to something more like two thousand revivals; he introduces Vorlynkin and the two newcomers, adding that Mark is co-owner of the Durona Group. Mark says he’s an entrepreneur who’s interested in knocking the clone-brain-transplant industry out of business, and the Duronas are considering expanding to Kibou-daini, since the cryo-revival industry there seems to be somewhat neglected.
He says they’re proposing reviving the current frozen tenants of the building, close to three thousand by this point, which are proving such an obstacle to its sale; Suze asks derisively if they’ve developed a cure for old age, and Mark says that they may have found a “fountain of middle age” which should give as much as twenty more years to older patients. They’re currently doing their first trial on Lily Durona herself, and they hope that with two or three thousand more they’ll be able to work through a lot of the potential problems. Suze says that this sounds pretty lucrative, but Mark says that it’s not going to satisfy an eighty-year-old who wants a body of sixteen, not sixty, so it’s only a side venture; he adds that it should work even better on those who have never been frozen, and Suze says it sounds less dangerous than freezing, or brain transplants.
Medtech Tanaka said, “But what about the poor?”
Lord Mark gave her a blank look. “What about ’em?”
Their stares of mutual incomprehension lengthened. Miss Koudelka put in, “If I may offer an interpretation, Mark, I believe Madame Suzuki and her friends feel just as strongly about Kibou’s poor being shut out of their chance at the future as you feel about the Jacksonian clones being shut out of their chance at a future. Or they wouldn’t have been running this place as a protest for more years than you’ve been running the Durona group.” She turned to Suze-san. “Mark, and Dr. Durona for that matter, were both raised on Jackson’s Whole, where one must hustle constantly to survive, and there is seldom margin to think of others. They’re both getting over it, slowly.
Kareen says that they’re planning to meet with Mr. Fuwa about purchasing the building, and are hoping for an inspection tour first; Suze turns mulish, but Kareen points out that cooperation would yield benefits for all of them. Suze tells Tenbury to show them around, while she thinks about it; as they’re leaving, Jin asks Vorlynkin why she was so upset, and Vorlynkin explains that she’s afraid of what Mark will do if he buys the building, like maybe throwing out her and all the squatters. Jin says that would be horrible, and Vorlynkin says that hopefully that is not Lord Mark’s plan. He then has to explain to Jin why he’s “Lord Mark” and not “Lord Vorkosigan”; Jin is still left confused about the brothers’ family history–one Jacksonian, and one Barrayaran?–but is eager to try listening in and learn things.
After hours of following Tenbury, Mark and the others around, though, Jin is thoroughly bored. At one point they hear banging and shouts from a locked door, and Raven explains to the newcomers that that’s just Lord Vorkosigan’s prisoners, now awake; Mark doesn’t seem that concerned, though he hopes they’ll be gone before he closes the deal on the building. Then Jin hears the voice clearly and realizes it’s Yani; they go over to investigate, and Yani tells them that he’d come to investigate the noises, and the two men inside beat him up and locked him inside instead. They let Yani out, Raven muttering about how the Lord Auditor is not going to be happy about this.
Had NewEgypt really managed to keep the problem with the flawed solution hidden? Were they the only ones who used It? I didn’t get that impression from Leiber’s story, but maybe I missed something. I suppose that if they’re all affected by it, it would explain Wing’s eagerness to try to keep it under wraps, along with the commodified contracts NewEgypt had duped them into. I’m not sure why Miles had expected anything better from them, but I suppose he had to try. And…now they have a sphinx. A Jacksonian creation? Seems almost more like one of those Cetagandan ghem-lady things, like the kitten tree. Well, Jin should like it, at least.
I remembered that Mark showed up before the end, though I’m sure it caught me pretty much off guard the first time through. I mean, I knew he was associated with the Durona group, and there was already a Durona on the planet, but nonetheless, it seemed out of the blue, and a little random. Despite Miles’s conviction that he needs help, he still doesn’t seem very threatened, so adding more clout on his side seemed like overkill.
It was nice to see Mark and Kareen again, still together but still not married, apparently, still exercising their mutual option, whatever. But then, it was “nice” to see Duv and Delia Gelani in _Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance_, but for longtime readers there’s still a lot of rehashing of backstory that we already know about. The longevity treatment sounded interesting, though, but I can’t help thinking of it in terms of Count Aral, and the ending of the book…
Oh, and the goons have escaped. Yay. Will we actually get some physical jeopardy before the end of the book?
Four more chapters, plus the extra bit, so I think with any luck I’ll be done by the end of April. My enthusiasm has been waning as I get into my least favourite end of the series, but I promise I will carry on at least to the end of CryoBurn. After that, who knows?