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Cordelia and her Motherland
forwarded from conference FidoNet Ru.Sf.News
Translated by Maxim Poddoubnyi (most quotes copyright by Lois McMaster Bujold)
When I read Barrayarian epoch of Miles' adventures and I meet face to face with Cordelia, I always recollect the character from film " Forward, France! " - the French singer girl who had married in a hurry the lord ("Even though he's an Englishman, he's still a quite good guy") who abuses England all the time and glorifies France. It is simply amazing, how Cordelia's the patriotic feelings remind of her.
Barrayar is a severe and militarized planet, with no respect for human life. But is it only Barrayar? Let's take even an episode " how to block a jump-point ". When Illyan says, that "We don't get the pilot out", Cordelia in a shock says - "Only a Barrayaran ...". Pardon me, but hadn't she just recently been out with suicide mission under the order of Betan government ? And another example: the native of the largest manufacturer and the exporter of weapons reproachfully asks Vaagen : " An expert on military poisons. Inventing them, or cleaning up after them. Captain?"
As for her glory on Beta, she seems to be mostly indignant at the fact that she had supposedly killed an unarmed person, the murder done , to top the 'unarmed' bit, not by her, but by Bothari... and to top it she feels bad that she" has broken a holiday ". And on Barrayar she runs into a hysterics (" whack off some idiot's head and you were really somebody, by Cod ! "). To tell the truth, without " idiot's head " mutiny has quickly ceased, and respect is more than deserved - but you see, it is Barrayar, not Beta - so it is allowable to be abusive towards government.
Come to think of it, in points of honor - and human decency - bethan behaviour is frequently beyound any criticism.
When at the reception in "Memory" [ImpSec] arrest Galeni, Cordelia it is indignant and, as always, has unflattering opinion about Barrayar. But you see that she - the heroine of war - had been arrested on much more unsteady evidence on Betha. And can you imagine, by the way, Aral or Miles (and others of officers-vors), being sure that the accusations are false, participate in arrest of a subordinate? ("'I find it hard to believe, myself,' Tailor said. Cordelia tried to hold his eyes; he looked away. You do believe it, she thought. ").
Or here is a situation when to officers of one state becomes known information, that is capable to create excitements and numerous victims in the other, even in the unfriendly state. Barrayarans react unequivocally:
Cordelia in a similar case is compelled to hide the dangerous information even from Betan counterintelligence, being afraid that " the truth will get in newspapers ".
And incredibly vile history with the replicators - two progressive societies (Beta and Escobar) give the unborn children (that were half their citizens) to "Butcher of Komarr" and demand only the signature " the cargo is accepted "?
Certainly, freedom from sexual prejudices or psychotherapy is a great thing. But is this Beta with its psychologists so good?
If Betans were shown the movie (or a book) 'Over the Cuckoo's nest' they would probably, just experience horror - why had the sister not been lobotomized at once? Compare:
And the story with escobaran Elen who had merciful amnesia from Barrayaran Chief Surgeon, but psychologists of both planets " gave the control over memories " and did it so well, that she could not calm down in twenty years?
And all that before mentioning Betan prostitution, put on a commercial basis and demanding diplomas. And, apparently, the community of hermaphrodites is a supplier of the goods for the given sphere of the industry. At least, in the Saga there are only two hermaphrodites who are not occupied in it. And betan entertainment is obviously more ...interesting then Barrayaran if it frightened even sergeant Bothari, born and evolved in a caravanserai.
Democratic Beta... Buying a swordstick, Cordelia notices: " But at least the Appeal to the Irrelevant Authorities at Headquarters works just as well here as at home.". The phrase is rather remarkable and induces on reflections...
And here is one more strangeness. The Betan Astronomical Survey was created even before birth of Cordelia. So, how many colonies does Beta have? There is no mention of one. At the same time Sergyar under control of Barrayar at the beginning started to be actively occupied within life of one generation. And though Cordelia, as always, keep saying, that under betans Sergyar " would cope better ", but, can the truth be that betans got too used to comfort to occupy it at all? On such life among them simply is not enough volunteers. You see dangers, deprivations... Even the field camp of scientists specially prepared for field work crushed by barrayarans, was more similar to sanatorium. It is possible, that betans simply put up for sale freshly discovered planets and jump-points.
Cordelia, damning all barrayarran and praising all betan, does not realize at all, how much Barrayar is more sutable for her and she for Barrayar. Yes, she in the beginning does not know vor names , is shocked with laws and customs, indignant at backwardness of barrayaran sciences and engineering. But she is a new type of Vor lady, that ideal to which the new generation female barrayarans - Lady Donna, Kareen, Martya will aspire...
And Beta? From the youth and before marriage Cordelia spent on a native planet little enough time - from one far expedition of Astronomical Survey to another, - and for the last thirty years had not visited there at all. Her attitude to Beta is rather the idealized nostalgia becoming a habit, more than an objective estimation. Well, " it is good there where we are not present "*.