There's a few things that have been swishing about in the back of my head, and about which I'd like to solicit opinions.
1. Marilac. I'm pretty sure this is just one of those chrono-pretzels, but ... the official timeline says that in Cetaganda "Miles is 22", and in 'The Borders of Infinity'"is 24". John W. Braue III's timeline makes this 2795 and 2797 AD. In ch. 2 of Cetaganda it is clear from Vorob'yev's remarks that while the Cetagandan attack on Marilac is brewing, it has not yet happened; but in 'The Borders of Infinity' the Marilacan prisoners have already been on Dagoola IV for some considerable while, enough to reduce them to the conditions Miles observes, and before they got there there have to have been the Cetagandan attack, the bloody, myth-generating events culminating at Fallow Core, and the transfer of prisoners to Dagoola. Am I missing something? or is there simply not enough time available hereabouts? Please don't get me wrong: I'm not complaining, or worriting for its own sake - as a reader of each tale I don't care at all - but if one is concerned to be accurate about the overall timeline (for whatever reason) and there's a kink that won't iron out ...
2. Slaveholding. Over in another forum, teluekh, while remonstrating with me, stated flatly that "The haut are slaveholders". S/he didn't say if s/he had in mind the Ba, the ghem, the (canonically unseen) populations of the eight conquered satrapies, or even the haut themselves, in the sense that their geneered children have predetermined destinies. I can see the point, especially where the Ba are concerned (and Miles's diagnosis of the renegade Ba 'Dubauer' wanting children in the only way it could get them points to desperation), but the whole Cetagandan set-up, however authoritarian and absolute, seems to me more complex than 'slaveholding' can cover. Plainly, chattel slavery of the plantation kind is not in question, and (moralities aside) there's no indication of any form of economy in which such an inefficient form of bulk labour might have been preserved; but there are of course subtler kinds of slavery. There's also, for example, the stringent Cetagandan (or just ghem?) observance in the Dagoola set-up of the letter of the "Interstellar Judiciary Commission rules" about the treatment of PoWs, which however cynical does seem to rule out straightforward enslavement of captives in the Graeco-Roman manner. So ... opinions?
3. Religion. Barrayar, plainly, is predominantly and officially secular. Ezar was an atheist, no celebrant is required in wedding-circles, it's Winterfair not Christmas, and personal observance seems restricted to the burning of funeral and graveside offerings. Words like 'gods', 'heaven', and 'hell' may be used, though more metaphorically than precisely, and 'The Borders of Infinity', plainly, draws on Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress - but as a text that has intense, idiosyncratic meaning for Suegar and purely practical value for Miles, though he later hangs in his bedroom a "cheap photonic reproduction" of the relevant page "in a wildly expensive silver frame" (Mirror Dance, ch. 17). All well and good. But, practically speaking, do we believe that there are no organised, doctrinal religions in the Barrayaran Imperium? And in writing for another forum what (if any) are the proper limits on using phrases that (like so many in English) carry an explicitly or implicitly religious (esp. Christian) freight? I have, for example, found myself avoiding (at least in dialogue) the terms 'christening', 'Christian name', 'dust to dust' (which could easily have been used in Memory of little Raina, but doesn't seem to be),'Good God!' &c.. Are other readers of the canon and writers for the other forum conscious of this issue?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts on these matters.
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