It might defy belief, but simple logic argues that the cosmos of the Vorkosigans lies somewhere out there in the myriad worlds of Shadow. And consider for a moment the nature of their world: a high-tech society dominated by a feudal military caste, with intelligence capabilities and diplomatic weight beyond what its actual size would seem to indicate.
It almost seems tailor-made to be used as a tool by one Amberite or another in their never-ending power struggles. Not that the the Amberite now using this tool is necessarily the creator of it. Of the Amberites we know well, only Benedict seems like one who might create such a world, as a means of observing warfare between two armies of wildly differing levels of technology. He may well have been as surprised as anyone by the eventual Barrayaran victory over the Cetagandans. It’s likely that his interest in Barrayar and its neighbours waned a generation or so ago in Barrayaran times, when all the great wars were over.
But another, slyer Barrayaran might well have taken up where he left off. Likely candidates for this role include Caine, Fiona and Brand, with Bleys, Eric and Corwin as less likely choices. For one reason or another, few of the other Amberites seem likely to have been that interested.
Consider, for a moment, the likely effect on Barrayar when it was finally employed by its Amberite patron. Not only will it completely upend their ideas of the laws of physics, but the court of Amber might well be surprised to learn that there are Barrayarans who play politics at least as well as they do. Emperor Gregor and House Vorkosigan are unlikely to take kindly to being manipulated in such a fashion – which might well lead to a three-front war throughout Shadow with the throne of Amber itself as the stakes. And that’s assuming that Chaos doesn’t get involved…
The basis for this crossover is a fairly straightforward one: Lois Bujold has been quite open about the fact that Simon Ilyan, head of Imperial Security for the Barrayaran Imperium, was greatly inspired by Ilya Kuriakin, agent of U.N.C.L.E.
There’s a few options for this one, most of which involve time travel to allow the two men to meet. What they would each make of the other’s culture and times is a brain bending thought. Both are cosmopolitan in their own ways, and no great believers in their own infallibility, but still there are as many differences between them as there are similarities. Kuriakin might well find Miles more to his taste than Simon, recognising a fellow irrepressible improviser, while no doubt Ilyan and Waverly could trade a few tales over some drinks. The question that needs answering is who goes to whose time period?
Of course, that assumes that it’s the good guys who have the time machine. If it were the bad guys, that would be a very different story. Because if ever there was a Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undersirables and the Subjugation of Humanity (with access to terrifyingly well-developed genetic engineering capabilities), its name was the Empire of Cetaganda.
There’s plenty of mundane horror in the world of Miles Vorkosigan – so much so that it might seem redundant to add to it – but that’s just what I’m going to do. It’s about time we saw what happens when humanity goes out among the stars to meet the beings of the Mythos on their home territories. Continue reading →
They’re products of different eras, but these two series have some important things in common. Chief among those are a human-only cosmos, and heroes who prefer to solve their problems with brains rather than brawn. Oh, and y’know, both being Hugo-winning modern classics. Continue reading →
Synergine is a legal drug throughout the Galactic Nexus, where it is used as a combination of stimulant and painkiller.
It is particularly useful for shaking off the after-effects of stun rays (it will not revive them, however), and also as a treatment for those recently revived from cryosleep. It operates largely by assisting the body’s natural healing processes, accelerating and increasing their effects.
Synergine is particularly effective against headache symptoms, shock and most forms of nausea; it is, however, completely ineffective against the nausea caused by spacesickness.
An almost completely reliable truth serum, Fast-penta is a commonly-used tool of ImpSec, the Barrayaran intelligence agency, and of numerous of its allies and enemies, too.
The drug itself relaxes physical tensions, as well as mental and emotional inhibitions. It is not so much that it compels honesty, as that it compels docility and helpfulness – which, in the hands of a skilled interrogator, amounts to about the same thing.
Artificial immunity to it is sometimes given to operatives by their agencies, and more rarely, some people have naturally idiosyncratic reactions to it, in which the effects are more similar to those of ecstasy or LSD – Miles Naismith Vorkosigan is one of these.