Saturday, December 16, 2023

88. Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold (#6 in the Vorkosigan saga)

This is sort of the 6th book in the Vorkosigan saga.  I guess chronologically (by story, not publication date) it comes after Cetaganda and before Brothers in Arms.  However, it does not have Miles at all.  It is really a side adventure taking place in the Vorkosigan universe, with Eli Quinn, one of the characters Miles meets in his side job as Admiral Naismith of the Dendarii mercenary fleet.  Quinn is not even the main protagonist, but more of a catalyst who makes the connection with Miles but really could have been any intelligence agent.

The premise interesting and promising.  Dr. Ethan Urquhart is a geneticist on a remote, struggling world whose extreme religious dogma outlaws women altogether.  They aren't on the planet at all and aren't even allowed to visit.  They create new children (boys only) in the lab.  They are already struggling with limited resources and a dwindling population when Ethan discovers that the precious genetic materials of high end ovaries he had ordered was somehow swapped with discarded cow parts.  He is sent to Kline station to try and get a refund.  It's the naive fish out of water story that jettisons him quickly into adventure and intrigue as he finds himself pursued by scary Cetagandan agents, who seem to think the crappy shipment he got back on Athos had something precious in it.

It's a fun adventure and you get to see some of the workings of the backend of a space station.  It never really paid off as I had hoped, though, as the idea of the all-male society as well as Ethan's relative inexperience in greater space never really paid off story wise.  It was an enjoyable adventure and I hope that some of what we learn about Quinn as a character and her backstory (she is from Kline originally) will come up in later stories.

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