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Lois interviews Miles

 


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After a seven year hiatus, hear what Barrayaran Imperial Auditor Lord Miles Naismith Vorkosigan has to say about his return in an interview with his creator Lois McMaster Bujold:

(Miles dreams . . .)

LMB:   Miles?

Miles:    . . .

LMB:   Miles . . .?

Miles (rolling over and snorting):   Eh . . .?

LMB:   Miles!

Miles (sleepily):   Who's there?

LMB:   This is your creator, Miles.

Miles (coming alert):   Oh! Uh . . . hello, Goddess . . .?

LMB:   A proper attitude, at least.

Miles:   So, ah . . . what are you doing here?

LMB:   I'm here to interview you.

Miles (growing wary):   Why? I thought you didn't like breaking the literary frame. Remember how you bounced off that weird production of Goldini's The Venetian Twins at the Guthrie Theater?

LMB:   Yeah, well. Things move along. Speaking of which, how have you been since that adventure with the mad ba?

Miles (getting even more cautious):   Busy. Very busy. Much too busy for you. All boring stuff, y'know? Committee meetings at the Council of Counts, domestic scenes, developing the Vorkosigan's District -- well, I've mostly been dumping that on Ekaterin -- all that. Nothing to interest you, I'm sure. I'm not the droid you're looking for. Move along . . .

LMB:   Nice try. How're the kids?

Miles (springing to his feet, white about the lips):   You stay the hell away from my kids!

LMB:   Easy, there! They are still too young to get into much trouble on their own. Except in fanfiction I suppose. Nothing to support a commercial novel. And I did the kidnapping trope back when you were still a blob in your uterine replicator. You know how I dislike repeating a trope.

Miles (easing back, still suspicious):   Well . . . maybe. (Seized by sly inspiration.) So why don't you go bother my cousin Ivan? Such a slacker, that boy. He could use the exercise.

LMB:   You know, you're about the seven-thousandth person to ask that question. His turn may yet come. But he doesn't go with this year's theme.

Miles:   Theme? You pick characters to go with your theme? What is this, some kind of interior decorating scheme?

LMB:   No, I'm not smart enough for that. I set characters in motion and let them show me the theme. And then I say, Oh. And, My. And, Wait, how did we end up here, again? So, Miles . . . how's your health holding up these days?

Miles:   Adequately, no thanks to you. As well you know.

LMB:   Seizures still under control?

Miles:   In a kludgy sort of way. (Suddenly interested) You thinking of doing anything about that? New galactic medical technologies, something?

LMB:   No, actually. I prefer you the way you are. But regarding galactic medical technologies, I'm glad you brought up the subject. Although, from your point of view, they're hardly new. I was thinking about cryonics. And demographics.

Miles:   You've done cryonics, remember? That's how I ended up with the damned seizures. What was that about not repeating a trope? You're not going to kill and freeze me again, are you?

LMB:   No, no. Your second death will be your last, I promise.

Miles (muttering):   I'm not sure I like the sound of that . . .

LMB:   But I've been musing for a long time over the intersection of cryonics and demographics.

Miles:   Other writers have done that.

LMB:   Indeed. But this is my take. I've shown the impact of the freeze-the-dead technology as an occasional emergency medical treatment; what happens when it's taken up society-wide, when everyone wants in on the act? With realistic economics? There are people actually trying to start this in my world today; I've met some. The arguments that have promptly followed have been most instructive. Old human nature meets new technology, film at 11. My slice isn't actually when it's new tech, though. I'm looking at it a bit further down the line, at longer-term consequences.

Miles:   Doesn't sound like Barrayar. We're barely up to figuring out how to incorporate uterine replicators.

LMB:   Yes, that's why I'm sending you to Kibou-daini, a rather more technologically advanced colony planet than Barrayar. Although that isn't saying much. Most places are.

Miles:   Hey! Don't insult my homeworld! That's my job. (Thinks fast.) Anyway, I won't go. As I pointed out, I'm busy.

LMB:   Actually, Emperor Gregor's sending you.

Miles:   Oh. (Long pause) Barrayaran connection, is there?

LMB:   That's for me to know and you to find out.

Miles (grumpy):   Gee, thanks. I really appreciate that.

LMB:   You won't, actually. But it'll be pretty amusing for the onlookers.

Miles:   Are you sending me by myself?

LMB:   No, you get to take your favorite minion, Armsman Roic.

Miles:   Well, that's something, anyway. Good man, Roic. Despite that little incident back when with the bug butter.

LMB:   You are getting older and creakier, you know.

Miles:   Hey! I'm just turned 39, I'll have you know!

LMB:    It's a hard-used 39. You need reliable help, I acknowledge that. And Roic is practically a Boy Scout, or at least a Canadian Mountie. Quite a change from old Sergeant Bothari. Have you noticed how your minions are getting saner and saner as you age? Why is that, I wonder?

Miles:   Sampling artifact. If you're starting with Bothari, there's nowhere to go but saner.

LMB:   Point. But we digress. Society-wide cryonics, what happens next? That's the question.

Miles:   And what's the answer?

LMB:   You know I don't do answers. Didactics are so not my thing. Let a hundred flowers bloom -- and then study and classify them. Besides, I have to leave you some free will.

Miles:   It all sounds a trifle morbid.

LMB:   Oh, it's all of that. An extended meditation on people's relation to death must have a certain amount of darkness built-in. But it's all in the tone, y'know. There will also be comic relief.

Miles:   I'm not sure I like the sound of that any better. I'm still traumatized from that damned dinner party you put on.

LMB:   You put that party on yourself, Miles. I merely didn't stop you.

Miles:   (inarticulate growl)

LMB:   Actually, you are only just now of the age -- middle -- where you could tackle this theme properly. Miles in the middle, caught between the last generation and the next, and the only Barrayaran Imperial Auditor with such an intimate personal experience of what cryonics tech can do -- your whole life for the past decade has been its gift, as you will point out.

Miles:   I will, will I? To whom?

LMB:   No spoilers.

Miles (wheedling):   Ah, c'mon, you can spoil me . . .

LMB:   I already do.

Miles (tartly):   Not so's I've noticed.

LMB:   You should have seen the outtakes.

Miles (tempted pause):   No, this nightmare is weird enough already.

LMB:   Wise man.

Fin.

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