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Archive for March, 2015

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?

Chapter Sixteen

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.

Comments

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?

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Time, like an ever-flowing river, has moved forward another week, and so we have arrived at an odd structure on the shores of that river: another installment of the Vorkosigan Saga Reread.  It marks a spot close to the end (so far) of the river flowing through Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, in the swamps of CryoBurn, where I managed to slog through Chapter Fifteen, just for you.

Chapter Fifteen

Before seeing to Leiber, Miles goes to check on the other captives, sedated into unconsciousness; Roic has been searching them and their van, and says that not only is the van registered to NewEgypt, but their outfits are company issue and their IDs have their real names.  One of them is in charge of plant security, and the other one is his personal assistant, promoted there eighteen months earlier; Roic surmises that they threw together this operation in a hurry.

Roic asks what they should do with them, since they can’t really keep them forever; he suggests just leaving them to wake up in their van near Leiber’s hotel.  Miles notes that they saw Roic, if not Johannes, and that they might bring charges; he suggests having Suze freeze store them, which Roic doesn’t think much of, so they put off the decision for now.

Miles sets up his interrogation chamber next to Lisa Sato’s, and gives her a wristcom to listen in, and a window to peek through; he wants to start the questioning without Leiber knowing of Sato’s presence.  Raven and Roic bring him in and sit him down; Raven gives an injection of synergine, which alarms Leiber at first, but he soon realizes it’s not actually fast-penta.  Miles assures Leiber that they’re now in private, so they can talk freely, mentioning the bug on his comconsole, which Leiber says he thought he’d gotten rid of.  Leiber is familiar with the thugs who tried to grab him, Hans and Oki, the “Gang of Four’s pet muscle”; Miles says that Roic stunned the thugs to get him away from them.

Leiber asks who they are, and if they stole Lisa; Miles hedges and tells him that her cryochamber is perfectly safe, and they’re holed up in an old cryofacility.  Miles says he’ll tell Leiber what he knows, and Leiber can fill in the gaps; he describes his mission as investigating how Kibou-daini has dealt with the legalities of cryonics, which is probably at least partly true, but he only found technical issues at the conference he was sent to.  Since then, he says he’s found out the problems with the proxy votes, and, to Leiber’s surprise, the flawed cryo-preservative that the cryocorps, especially NewEgypt, are trying to keep from getting discovered.  He then mentions how Leiber sent to Lisa Sato’s group, which led to the ill-fated rally; Leiber says he didn’t mean to draw NewEgypt down on them, and he insists that the “bribe” they paid him (which Miles hadn’t even found yet) was just to make it look an intentional betrayal.

Leiber says he’d been assigned the investigation of a series of bad revivals, which is how he found out about the flawed cryo-fluid; he told his boss, who told his bosses, but nobody seemed to be doing anything about it.

“Who were these bosses? Which men were told about this?”

“The Gang of Four? There was my R & D supervisor, Roger Napak. And Ran Choi, the chief operating officer, and Anish Akabane, he’s chief of finance, and Shirou Kim, the NewEgypt president. They clamped down and kept the information tight right away.

He soon realized that they were more interested in covering their own asses than doing anything about the actual problem; when he protested they threatened to fire him, but he said he’d go public if they did, so they promised to work something out.  By then he’d lost faith in them, and searched out Sato’s group, who seemed to be the only ones complaining about anything except money; he met them, they organized the rally, and then the next time he went into work he got dragged off and interrogated under fast-penta, which was quasi-legal for employees.  They held him for two days, by which time the rally was all over.

However, Lisa Sato had told him to place evidence in a secret place with instructions to make it public in case he died or disappeared, and Lisa and George also hid copies; they found Leiber’s, of course, but not the other two, which Leiber surmises is why they kept him alive and unfrozen.  Hans and Oki were behind the capture and involuntary freezing of Lisa and most of her friends, and probably the deaths of the others; nonetheless, the Gang keep the around, under threat of mutual blackmail, and hopes that they will be useful in future.

Leiber felt guilty about what he’d done to Lisa and her friends, and their cause, but he still accepted his employers’ bribe, in delayed stock options, to try to pacify them; he’s been working on a way to detect the people frozen with the bad solution, because he’s the only one who knows about it and can work on it.  But he says he mostly stayed at his job all this time to keep access to Lisa’s cryochamber; he’d planned to take her to Escobar to be unfrozen there, her two friends being beyond his budget, where he could support her, maybe get a job with the Durona group….  Lisa tears back the curtain and pounds on the glass, her protests inaudible, startling Leiber with her appearance; Raven gets her a filter-mask and she barges into their booth.

“Seiichiro Leiber, you moron!” cried Madame Sato, which was approximately what Miles had guessed she’d been trying to say, since he’d been hard-pressed not to say it himself. “What were you thinking? You were going to kidnap me, take me off-planet, and abandon my children? And trap me there, with no money to get home?”

“No, no!” said Leiber, rising hastily and turning his hands out in pleading. “It wasn’t like that! Wasn’t going to be like that!”

It had been going to be exactly like that, in Leiber’s mind, Miles guessed. A princely rescue, with Leiber in the starring role, and the happily-ever-after, if not planned, at least much wished upon. Had Snow White in her glass coffin ever had a vote? Or a voice?

Leiber protests his good intentions, but Lisa doesn’t buy it; Raven points out that getting upset is not good for her immune system, and Miles reassures her that his scheme is scuttled now, and invites her to join them.  She sits down, out of breath, and wonders what her planet is coming to, if the corps can get away with murder, but she refuses to leave her children, or anyone else’s in this situation.

Miles points out that NewEgypt is still vulnerable if this news gets out, and tells Roic to interrogate the goons downstairs and find out who hired them.  Roic points out the testimony may not be admissible, but Miles says he at least wants it for their own purposes; he agrees they should be tested for allergy first, but isn’t sure what to do with them after the questioning’s done.  He muses on whether they can get Kibou-daini out of this situation, and keep other planets, particularly Barrayar, from getting into the same pickle.

At that point Vorlynkin arrives with the kids, and there follows a happy family reunion; Lisa is surprised at how much Mina has grown, as it finally sinks in that she’s been gone for eighteen months.  Jin and Mina introduce her to Vorlynkin, the nice man who’s letting them stay in his house, with its big garden; Vorlynkin helps her to her feet, introduces himself formally, and compliments her on her children.  Raven takes her back to her room, the children following to try to bring her up to date.  Vorlynkin says that it’s a relief to have her awake, so he can legitimately help protect the children.

Leiber asks what they’re going to do with him, and Miles says he’s free to go; he’s not a Barrayaran, so they can’t arrest him.

“Uh, but what about Hans and Oki?”

“I didn’t arrest them, I kidnapped them. According to Roic. I see I shall have to explain to you the difference between permission and forgiveness, sometime.”

“And what is the difference?” inquired Vorlynkin, brows rising.

“Success, usually. In any case, Dr. Leiber, you are free to leave at any time. I just don’t recommend it, not unless you have a better plan for hiding out than your last one. Presuming Hans and Oki are not your bosses’ only resource for legwork.”

He tells Leiber he’s free to stay here, where he’s less likely to be found, and says he does not recommend trying to catch the orbital shuttle.  Vorlynkin asks Miles what he’s going to do next, and Miles says he’s going to look for allies.

Comments

The whole chapter is from Miles’s viewpoint; is this the first such chapter in the book?  Well, that’s fine, because this is sort of like the scene with Guppy in Diplomatic Immunity, or…well, maybe that’s the only one like that.  But we finally get a bunch more background, and everything pretty much fits into place.  More or less.  With some venal and venial corporate drones as our villains, instead of a homicidal deranged Cetagandan ba.  And the title even kind of makes sense, because these people who thought they were safely frozen have now gotten…(removes shades)…Cryo-burned.

But I am not feeling like our main characters are in any way threatened.  The fiendish corps have done nothing except send their goons after Leiber, and those goons were dealt with so easily that they scarcely seemed any danger at all.  They have no inkling that they have earned the enmity of Our Heroes, and so they are likely to be caught flat-footed.  Again, unlike the ba, or Ilsum Kety, or Cavilo, or even Baron Bharaputra.  They are being ineffectual because Our Heroes have been so extremely clever/fortunate as to not have been detected.  Ho hum.  The only serious threat so far was the N.H.L.L., and we haven’t seen them since the first few chapters.

Are they trying to set up a Lisa Sato-Vorlynkin romance here?  It would explain why we got that earlier scene establishing that Vorlynkin is divorced, and the kids may be trying to help things out, in their own clumsy way.  Makes me think of Vorob’yev and Mia Maz in Cetaganda, except that Miles can probably claim a little more credit for this one; those two might have gotten together on their own.  I don’t remember if they do, but now is when I would start beginning to expect something to develop.


 

 

Five chapters left now, not counting Aftermaths.  And then I’ll be done with the Reread…which has definitely seemed more of a burden over these last couple of books, less favourite of mine.  Though Ms. Bujold has recently announced a new book forthcoming, starting Cordelia (!), called Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.  So that’s exciting…assuming she can get back into her game, anyway.

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You can get anything you want at the Vorkosigan Saga Reread…as long as what you want is synopsizing, summarizing and rhapsodizing about the works of Lois McMaster Bujold.  She wrote a whole bunch of books about the Vorkosigans, mostly a guy named Miles, and this one is the one named CryoBurn, which is the last one that she wrote, except for the one that came before it.  So now sit back and relax, and we’ll cover Chapter Fourteen as soon it comes around again on the guitar…

Chapter Fourteen

After a day or so, Miles eventually concludes that he may have been wrong about Leiber coming to the consulate, so he sends Roic and Johannes out to look for him.  Leiber has apparently called in sick at work, and doesn’t answer at home, so they head back over to his house.  On the way, they pass a building that advertises itself as for people born in a particular couple of decades in the last century; Johannes explains that people who’ve been revived and miss their old time often gravitate together.

At the house, they find the garage unlocked and the float-bike gone; toiletries and a few clothes seem to have been taken, the house tidied, Miles’s note gone.  Johannes begins dumping the contents of Leiber’s comconsole, noticing after a while that it’s monitored; he assures Roic that this activity won’t be noticed, and they might be able to trace it back to its source.  They check the last two days’ worth of communications; apart from calling in sick, Leiber seems to have emptied his bank accounts and purchased passage to Escobar on a ship that will be arriving at the planet that afternoon.  Roic considers asking the neighbours if they know anything, but decides that after their last visit, they’re not likely to trust him.

Johannes suggests he might have gone to hide with a friend, but Roic thinks he wouldn’t want to endanger them, so they head out to the shuttleport to look at lodgings nearby.  Roic starts with the cheapest, a self-serve place with no employees to remember faces, but they find Leiber’s float-bike parked around back; Roic accepts Johannes’s admiration for finding him so quickly modestly, thinking that it’s partly luck and partly practice gained trailing around with the Lord Auditor.  They sit in the float-van for a while trying to puzzle out Leiber’s enemies’ next move; a cryocorp might be able to get Leiber arrested on trumped-up charges, but that would call attention to themselves, so they might prefer to sending some goons to pick him up, and they might not have any more trouble tracking him down than Roic did.

Roic’s attention is caught by an emergency vehicle, with flashing blue lights, pulling up in front of the building; two burly men in scrubs jump out with a float pallet and run inside.  Roic, suspicious, goes inside and asks the desk clerk what’s going on, and she says one of their guests just called for medical assistance, some kind of seizure or something; she says she needs to go back and make sure his property is taken care of, and Roic waits in the lobby.   The men come back out with a float pallet, Dr. Leiber strapped onto it with an oxygen mask over his face.  Roic follows them as they leave, asking with concern what happened to the man, if they need help, if this hotel is too dangerous to stay at…annoyed, they tell him it’s perfectly safe.

The pair swung the van doors wide and slid the pallet aboard, both climbing inside to secure it.

Roic stuck his head in after. “You sure?”

“Yes, it’s safe,” said the tall one, exasperated, from the windowless cargo area.

“Good,” said Roic, pulled his stunner, and shot them both.

Roic quickly checks the two goons to make sure they haven’t had bad stunner reactions, and secures them for a bit longer; Leiber has lost consciousness as well, but seems to otherwise be all right.  Roic tells Johannes to lead him back to Suze’s place, and drives the ambulance after him, calling m’lord to notify him, and wondering if working for the Lord Auditor is being a bad influence on his respect for due process.

Jin and Mina, feeling rich after Roic paid them their informant fees, talk about what they want to do with their newfound wealth.  Jin thinks first about food for his pets, or even new pets, maybe some fish, though Mina isn’t sure they’re going to stay here that long.  Mina asks if she has enough for a pony, but Jin says they don’t have room for one, and points out that Lady Murasaki has twice as many legs, so she’s twice as good; Mina, unconvinced, says you can’t ride a spider.

Miles and Vorlynkin pass through on their way out, saying they’re going down to Madame Suze’s again; Jin wonders why they’re spending so much time there, and why Raven hasn’t come back.  Miles says that Yuuichi Matson will still be there, but they should try to stay out of sight if any strangers come by on business.  Mina asks if they’ll find Mommy soon, and Miles says he hopes to have good news soon; Jin can’t tell if he’s telling the truth or not.

 “Lord Vorkosigan, if you had children you’d give them ponies, wouldn’t you? Not spiders?”

He looked a little taken aback. “I do and I have. Ponies, not spiders. Although I suppose they could have spiders if they wanted some. God knows we have butterbugs. Monogrammed. Didn’t I ever show you my pictures?”

Jin is dismayed when Miles shows him that he already has a wife and four children, and wonders again who exactly he is, to seem to have such power.

“And here’s Helen on her pony down at Vorkosigan Surleau-it’s a place we have in the country, on a lake-and here’s Sasha petting his. Xander. Alex, I mean.”

Jin wondered what kind of inattentive father Miles-san was, that he couldn’t seem to remember his own son’s name. There was only the one boy, after all. It wasn’t as if he needed to run down a list till he got to the one who was irritating him, the way Uncle Hikaru had with him and Tetsu and Ken sometimes.

He’s impressed with the ponies, though, and the big place in the country, and all the animals, tame and wild, that must be living around there.  All of it belonging to other children, with living parents, and none of it for them; he’s angry and envious, even though he knows it’s ridiculous.  Miles tells them about how his grandfather would have thought it vital for them all to learn how to ride, calling it a sort of tradition, though he doesn’t sound sure how he thinks about it.

Miles and Vorlynkin depart, leaving Jin and Mina feeling sad, disappointed, and less rich than before; they admit it was probably a stupid idea, him wanting to take them away, and Mina wonders if they shouldn’t just go back to their aunt and uncle’s.  Jin says he’s going to stay, and says she has to stay too, or else she’ll tell them where he is; Mina is not happy about this, and points out that two ponies would have eight legs.

Matson comes in, asking Jin if he’s cryo-activist Lisa Sato’s son; Jin says he is, not sure whether it’s supposed to be a secret, but since Matson already knows…  He asks Jin if he needs somebody to call the police to rescue him from the Barrayarans; Jin, horrified, says the police took his mother away in the first place, and his relatives are even worse.  He denies that they’re prisoners, and Matson apologizes, but says he’ll help them out if they change their mind.

At Suze’s place, Miles goes to talk to Lisa Sato.  She’s still in bed in her isolation booth, but looking healthy for a revive; Miles puts on a mask and joins her, introducing himself.  She asks about him and the doctor who revived her, seeming suspicious of everything at the moment; Miles tells her about Dr. Durona and the facility they’re staying it, confirming that it’s in Northbridge.  She asks if he really has her children, and he tries to assure her that they’re safe, being sure to mention the menagerie to help convince her of his good intentions; she is surprised at his mention of the Barrayaran consulate, asking who he is and why he’s there.

Miles asks about the last thing that she remembers, but she stays mum on that; he says he knows little between her arrest, witnessed by her children, and her discovery in Dr. Leiber’s basement.  He explains how he works for the Barrayaran Emperor, and he’s investigating WhiteChrys’s odd behaviour on Komarr; he describes what he’s found, and his bribery sting, and she seems to approve.  Then he mentions the conference and N.H.L.L., of whom she does not approve, and how he got lost until found by Jin.  She says she thought she’d only be held a day or two before her lawyer sprung her, and she wonders why her children aren’t still with her sister; she’d been sedated while at the police station, and hadn’t realized she was going to be frozen.  Miles says that Jin seemed to be in conflict with his aunt over his animals, which is why he ran away, and Mina joined him more recently; he says Jin can tell her the full story.

Miles changes the subject to ask about her relation with Dr. Leiber; she says he’d come across a secret at his work, and thought that her group–whose names had all come up in talking to Mina and Jin–should know about it.  They met with him a few times, then planned to go public at a big rally.  However, the N.H.L.L. were having a rally in the same park that night, a fight started, and the police showed up suspiciously swiftly and in force to deal with it.

Miles asks about Dr. Leiber’s secret, pointing out that he already knows that Leiber worked with cryo-preservation fluids, and Sato decides that if he’s a spy he already knows anyway; she says that he found that a previous commonly-used preservation solution only lasted a few decades before breaking down.  As a result, a lot of the frozen are not really revivable, which means that they’re legally dead, their possessions due to their heirs and their votes lost to the corps; there’s a lot of money at stake, including legal fees and the costs of determining who is dead.  Miles is glad to finally have this piece to his puzzle, and wishes he had an analyst to determine the effects this is likely to have on the planetary economy; this probably also explains Alice Chen’s failure to revive.

Sato said she was sure this would strike a major blow to the cryocorps, and is amazed they’ve kept a lid on it for a year and a half; Miles says that three of her group were frozen under suspicious circumstances, and two more of them died suspiciously.  What he wants to know is why Dr. Leiber has kept his mouth shut this long; he tells her how Leiber had tried to flee the planet and was narrowly rescued from cryocorp goons, and is now sedated at this same facility.  Taking a leap of faith, he asks her if she wants to sit in on his interrogation.

Comments

So Roic says first that this is a self-serve hotel, but there turns out to be a lady at the front desk anyway, so…is she like a modern circulation librarian, job mostly obviated by automated service, but still required in case of emergency or unusual situation?  Or perhaps required by law, if only to buzz security if somebody tries to cause trouble?

I seem to recall that Matson wasn’t cleared quite as thoroughly as the others, and in this chapter I was watching him to see if he was going to get up to no good.  He didn’t seem to be guilty of anything other than being suspicious of the Barrayarans’ intentions, but I’m still suspicious of his motives.  Could just be a red herring; it’s hard to tell the purpose of some of the scenes in the book, if they’re setting up plot points, or if it’s more character-building for Jin or something.

So now we know why their previous revive attempt died, and why Sato’s group was so forcefully disbanded.  And maybe even an explanation for the title of the book–“Cryoburn”, kind of like “freezer burn”, perhaps?  The cryocorps have started doing something, going after Dr. Leiber, but luckily Miles doesn’t seem to be on their radar yet, at least as a threat.  They probably still think of him as safely bought.  Or maybe there’s not much of a “they” yet–the corps are probably working independently, WhiteChrys bribing Miles to go after Komarr, while Dr. Leiber is at NewEgypt.  They’re probably all affected by the preservative issue, but I’m not sure if they’re organized enough to do much except try to keep it all hidden.  Maybe only NewEgypt even knows about the problem.

I know it’s SF technology, but the cryofreeze thing seems a little implausible, when I think about it.  I was under the impression that freezing a person was dangerous because of the formation of water ice in their tissues.  Maybe the cryopreservation technology doesn’t use actual subzero temperatures, more like a refrigerator, but it seems like freezing would be safer for the long term.  There is the whole thing where the blood is replaced with cryofluid, and one presumes other fluids as well, because frozen lymph would probably be just as bad for you.  Can you get rid of all the water in the brain and other tissues as well, though?  That seems a lot harder, but maybe that’s just part of the technology; replacing it seems like it would be even harder.  I suppose they’ve had a few hundred years to work out the kinks in the technology…


Lisa Sato’s awake and talking, so things are moving ahead.  Next week we’ll see what Leiber has to say for himself, and maybe Jin and Mina will finally be reunited with their mother…

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We gotcher Vorkosigan Saga Reread right here!  That’s contents: chapters, Thirteen, from Burn, Cryo-, Bujold, Lois McMaster.  Lessee, topics, topics…bringin’ the dead back to life, letters from the family at home.  Comments?  That’s extra.  You want ’em?  Sure thing.  Sign here, willya?  Thanks.  Have a nice day!

Chapter Thirteen

The next day they drive over to Dr. Seiichiro Leiber’s neighbourhood in the west of Northbridge.  Miles hadn’t found any links between Leiber and Sato in his research, which is probably he didn’t end up getting charged/killed/frozen with the rest of her group.  He’d acquired his Ph.D. at an unremarkable age, scholarship funded by cryocorps, which determined the direction of his research.

Miles tells Johannes to drop him and Raven off at the corner and Roic around the back; it’ll be too conspicuous for the lift van to hang around, so he sends Johannes off to park and get a coffee, listening on their comlinks.  Miles and Raven ring his doorbell, and when Dr. Leiber himself answers, Miles introduces himself and Raven; Leiber recognizes the Durona name, and Miles says they were there for the conference, and hoped to talk to him.  Leiber invites them in, saying that he didn’t make it to the conference; he asks about the N.H.L.L. fiasco, and Raven shares a slightly edited version of his story as a captive.  The two scientists then move into more technical discussions, until Leiber seems at ease.

Miles decided on a direct approach. “I’m actually here this morning on behalf of the next-of-kin of Lisa Sato. I believe you had some dealings with her eighteen months ago, just before her arrest?”

Shock and dismay bloomed unconcealed on Leiber’s face. Well, he was the scientist type, not a con artist, nor, probably, a very good liar. Fine by me.

“How do you know-what makes you think that?” Leiber fumbled, confirming Miles’s judgment.

“Eyewitness testimony.”

“But no one saw-there wasn’t-but Suwabi died.”

Leiber excuses himself to make them some tea, and Miles doesn’t intercept him in time; Raven congratulates Miles on his palpable hit.  Then they hear the back door open, and they check the kitchen to find him gone; Miles notifies Roic, and Roic goes after him, but is unable to catch him before he ducks into a neighbour’s house.  Miles tells Roic to go meet up with Johannes, while he and Raven search his house.  Miles finds little upstairs, and tells Raven they should leave before the police show up, but Raven says that given what he found on the bottom floor, he wouldn’t even have called them.

In the basement, Raven shows him, under an old bedspread, a portable cryochamber, plugged in, running, and occupied.  Miles wonders if this is what they’re looking for, or if it’s just a normal Kibou thing to have a frozen person in your basement.  Raven finds a garage door at one end of the room, explaining how they got it in; the cryochamber doesn’t come with a built-in float pallet, but Miles contacts Johannes and confirms that they stil have one in the back of the van, and tells him and Roic to come around to the back garage.

Raven raised his eyebrows. “Isn’t that theft? Breaking and entering?”

“No, the homeowner let us in. Breaking and exiting, maybe. If it’s theft, I’m guessing it’s the second time around for this item. And while it’s not true that you can’t cheat an honest man, crooked men are less likely to complain to the authorities, afterward. I don’t think Leiber will tell anyone.”

Roic and Johannes arrive and begin loading the cryochamber; Miles goes back upstairs and leaves an unsigned note asking to be contacted at his consulate.  He tells Roic that he’s confident that Leiber will contact them to finish their conversation, but there’s no point in waiting around for him to come back while they’re in his house.  Then they head back to Suze’s, Raven hoping they haven’t just stolen Leiber’s grandmother or something.

As Roic helps move Sato’s body into place for the cryorevival, he remembers back to his medic training back when he became an Armsman, and how he’d practiced emergency cryoprep on a realistic dummy, which is still nothing like the real thing; Lisa Sato doesn’t look like like a corpse, a living person, or a dummy.  Still, hopefully this experience will help him if he ever has to do a real cryoprep.  Miles is sure they have the right woman this time, though he didn’t use the children to identify her this time.

Vorlynkin stops by to tell Miles about a message that came for him; this time he’s left the children with Johannes, though Miles is hopeful that he’ll be able to bring them over soon.  Raven tells the Consul he can come in and watch, if he puts on a mask, and Vorlynkin complies, as Raven begins the revival, inserting oxygenated fluid; Roic thinks that she looks a little like Ekaterin, with carefully preserved long dark hair, and Vorlynkin comments that she looks better than he expected.  Raven says the cryoprep seems to have been first-rate, much better than Lord Vorkosigan was when he came in.

“She looks like something out of a fairy tale.”

“What,” said m’lord, swinging one heel to tap upon a stool leg, “Snow White with just one dwarf?”

Vorlynkin reddened, an I-didn’t-say-that look in his eyes.

M’lord snickered at him. “Now all we need is a prince.”

“So who’s t’ frog?” asked Roic, secretly glad not to be alone in his fanciful impressions.

“Different fairy tale,” m’lord told him kindly. “I hope.”

They begin putting real blood into her, and her skin tone becomes almost lifelike, and finally they finish with the fluids and begin resuscitation; they stimulate her brain with an electrified cap, and she actually begins to breathe, raggedly at first, then more strongly.  Raven checks her peripheral nerves and reflexes, which all seem to be in order, then calls her name; her eyes open briefly, and Miles tells her, reassuringly, that she’s been rescued, her children are safe, and she’ll get to see them soon.  She moans in response, reassuring Raven that both hearing and voice both seem to be working.  Then she slips back into sleep, which Raven says is highly desirable, and they begin moving her to a gurney; Raven says she’ll need some time to rebuild her white cells before she can be moved to the consulate.

Miles asks Vorlynkin why he’s here, and the Consul says he has a sealed message from Barrayar; Miles says they’re pretty much done, and they make ready to return to the consulate, Vorlynkin exclaiming over the extraordinary experience of watching someone brought back to life.  While Miles talks to Raven one last time, Vorlynkin comments to Roic that Lord Vorkosigan isn’t what he expected from an Imperial Auditor; Roic tells him that the Auditors are a varied lot, but the Emperor is good at matching them with the right cases.

Back at the consulate, Miles checks the message, which turns out to be a regular weekly message from Ekaterin and the children, important, to him at least, but not urgent; he eagerly activates it, taking a minute to drink in Ekaterin’s appearance before moving onward.  He wonders at the lack of grey in her hair, considering how much effort she puts in wrangling the four children they’ve had in the last six years, effort which he’d greatly underestimated at the time.

“Greetings, my love,” she said. “We’ve received your latest here with much relief and rejoicing, though fortunately I didn’t tell the children about that first alarming message before the second had overtaken it. I shudder to think what your parents went through during your old career. Though I suppose your father kept his high-Vor upper lip suitably stiff, and your mother, well, I can scarcely imagine. Said tart Betan things, I suppose.”

Actually, he’d dodged those issues during his covert ops days by almost never sending any messages, or updates. It wasn’t as if his father couldn’t have demanded a report on his missions from the head of ImpSec any time he wanted one. Or nerved himself to it, he imagined his mother’s voice remarking tartly.

She brings him up to date on District matters, which reassures him that there aren’t any pressing family matters; he feels guilty for neglecting his District, but there doesn’t seem to be anything too urgent this week.  Then she cuts to a video, filmed by Helen, one of his twins, of his youngest, Taura, ten months old, taking her first steps–or, at least, a strategically restaged set of wobbly almost-first steps–with Helen’s twin Sasha and three-year-old Lizzie looking on.  She returns to tell him that Sasha has decided he now wants to be called Alex, having gone through and discarded a number of other variations on his name; Miles recalls how late Sasha/Alex ended up talking, before they realized that it was just that his sister was doing all the talking for him.  Finally she bids farewell and wishes him home soon; he almost wishes he had left Kibou-daini when he had the chance.

He hopes Leiber shows up soon, and wonders why the man was so alarmed when they showed up, who he thought they represented; unfortunately, they don’t have the manpower to hunt him down right now.  He sends off a requisition to Escobar for an ImpSec team, with a potential need for forensic accountants and lawyers in the near future, though it’ll take at least five days for them to arrive.  He hopes that Lisa Sato regains her voice soon, too, so he can find out what he needs to know from her if not from Leiber.

Comments

So they’ve found this Dr. Leiber, brazen their way in, and then scare him off…but they find Lisa Sato’s body in the basement anyway, and just drag her away.  That’s good, I guess?  The revival goes smoothly this time, too.  So we’re two thirds of the way through, and maybe we’ll finally get to find out what’s _really_ going on.  I suppose it’s the right time for it, but it still feels like they’ve met too little opposition.  The activist guys at the beginning have faded away, the cryocorps themselves haven’t done anything actually threatening, nobody’s been shot or killed or turned up dead, apart from that frozen woman they tried reviving last chapter.  The tension just…isn’t there.

The best part of this chapter is, pretty much, the message from home, a glimpse, finally, at the growing Vorkosigan family–Helen and Aral Alexander/Sasha/Alex, Lizzie (named after Elizabeth Naismith, apparently), and now Taura.  Three girls and only one boy; not sure why they’re not trying to balance it out, keep a spare for their heir, but maybe they’re still not done yet?  A very small slice of life, which makes me want to spend more time back on Barrayar with them, perhaps a little older?  It might be time to advance the years again, put Count Miles on the back burner and see what Alex is like growing up.

I find Dr. Leiber’s highly Japanese first name somewhat incongruous, in an amusing way.  I suppose it’s no worse than having someone with a highly Ukrainian surname and a first name like Bob or Rick or something; still, I’d almost expect “Leiber” to have been assimilated a little into Japanese phonotactics, an extra vowel on the end or something.  I guess they all do seem to speak Galactic Standard, even Jin and Mina…so why the Japanese names at all, then?  Well, whatever.

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