Friday, January 13, 2006

Books (Science Fiction): Cetaganda

I finished the third Miles Vorkosigan book, Cetaganda, yesterday. Another fun read, and a bit of a change of pace -- no space battles this time around, just political intrigue in the Cetagandan Empire.

The Cetagandan Empire is an enemy of Miles's homeworld of Barrayar, though at the time of the novel they are at peace (mostly). Cetaganda's a genocracy -- a society ruled through control of genetics and reproduction -- with a power structure based loosely on shogunate Japan. The Emperor and the ruling class are called "the haut", and the military class are "the ghem". Unlike shogunate Japan, though, the haut has real power, something a little surprising to outlanders (in Japan, the shogun was the de facto ruler, and the Emperor and his court lived off stipends provided by the shogun and his vassals). The haut's control over the ghem comes through their control over the haut and ghem gene pools. To complicate matters, haut power is divided between the men (who have the political power) and the women (who control the gene pool). It makes for an interesting hypothetical society.

So now I've just started Ethan of Athos. Back in my first post on the series, teflonjedi mentioned that he had this one. It's also atypical: I don't remember if Miles even appears in this one. He's mostly represented in the story by Elli Quinn, a commander in the mercenary company Miles is associated with, on a secret mission for Miles. Quinn had a bit part in The Warrior's Apprentice when she was injured in one of the first combat missions Miles commanded, but she becomes much more prominent in later books.

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