Questions for Lois McMaster Bujold

Multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winning author Lois McMaster Bujold is creator of the Miles Vorkosigan universe and the world of Chalion.

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Postby mycatis » Thu Dec 07, 2006 3:04 pm

(An obvious question sorry)
When will we get a new book about Miles?
I recently read Mirror Dance and tried to read it very slowly as it was the last time I would read a Vorgosigan book for the first time. (for a while anyway)
I have to know, will Ivan find love? what happened to Bel? How are the Koudelkas gonna to cope with their daughters 'interesting' choices of men?
ha ha sorry I'll stop now :D
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Postby mycatis » Thu Dec 07, 2006 3:06 pm

Oh and where on Earth can I get to read "Winterfair gifts"?? thank you
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Postby tollbaby » Fri Dec 08, 2006 9:14 am

mycatis wrote:Oh and where on Earth can I get to read "Winterfair gifts"?? thank you


Try here. :) Hope that helps!
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Postby mycatis » Fri Dec 08, 2006 4:40 pm

Ah thank you loads!! :D
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Postby LMB » Sat Dec 09, 2006 2:23 pm

mycatis wrote:(An obvious question sorry)
When will we get a new book about Miles?
I recently read Mirror Dance and tried to read it very slowly as it was the last time I would read a Vorgosigan book for the first time. (for a while anyway)
I have to know, will Ivan find love? what happened to Bel? How are the Koudelkas gonna to cope with their daughters 'interesting' choices of men?
ha ha sorry I'll stop now :D



The "new Miles" question was answered by implication upthread: short answer, sometime in late 2009, at a guess. No, I don't know what it will be about yet; first I have a whole 'nother book to write (2nd half of The Wide Green World, aka TSK 4). It's being slow to start.

I can't tell from your comment, above, if you've already read the books that follow Mirror Dance in the series timeline, and if that was just the book you found last, or if you're still missing a few. Bel, certainly, is addressed in Diplomatic Immunity. "Winterfair Gifts" query answered below, I see.

Ta, Lois.
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Postby mycatis » Sat Dec 09, 2006 4:31 pm

I have read them all, I just hoped Bel would appear again :lol: Thanks for the answers, wonder how many time I can reread the series to keep me going till 2009? :P
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Postby Reede Kullervo » Thu Dec 21, 2006 5:48 pm

mycatis wrote:... wonder how many time I can reread the series to keep me going till 2009? :P

Till you learn it by heart :D.
Ethan of Athos is finnally translated in Croatian and one my friend almost gave me a heart attack because she starts screaming :wink:.
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Postby voralfred » Thu Dec 21, 2006 6:16 pm

Reede Kullervo wrote: .....
Ethan of Athos is finnally translated in Croatian .... [/color]



How did they translate:
Newts, newts, who will buy my newts...
(almost at the end of Chapter 5)
They simply decided to drop that sentence altogether in the french translation.
And I found just the right joke (too late, alas, the book had been published already)
"Le Batracien, Le Batracien! Aaaaaaaachetez Le Batracien"
(for Le Parisien, a newspaper that used to be sold on the street by loud-voiced youngsters - batracien is "amphibia", in the restricted sense of the class of animals that include frogs ,toads, newts, etc.)
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Postby nng » Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:58 am

Dear Ms Bujold,
I wonder if you have any control over the publishing of your books in foreign languages?
I ask this because here in Russia your books (esp. Vorkosigan series) were awfully translated; for example, all initially Russian names in your books were replaced by deliberately non-Russian ones concocted by the translators, i.e. Piotr became Peter, Serg - Zerg (so that there would be no similarity to Serguei), Yuri - Uri (like the Hebrew name), Ivan - Aiven, Ludmila - Luimilla, Droushnakovi - Drushikko, and so on. Besides, in some books up to the quater of their volume were just thrown out so that the books could look more teenagers-friendly.
Unfortunately your books are not the only ones that suffered from this inconceivable policy of our publishing companies, but somehow I feel especially awful about them.
I think the publishers must be punished somehow for this, but I can't imagine how. Is that possible that you can do something about it?
(And sorry for my English :oops: )
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Postby voralfred » Mon Aug 06, 2007 4:07 pm

nng wrote:Dear Ms Bujold,
I wonder if you have any control over the publishing of your books in foreign languages?
I ask this because here in Russia your books (esp. Vorkosigan series) were awfully translated; for example, all initially Russian names in your books were replaced by deliberately non-Russian ones concocted by the translators, i.e. Piotr became Peter, Serg - Zerg (so that there would be no similarity to Serguei), Yuri - Uri (like the Hebrew name), Ivan - Aiven, Ludmila - Luimilla, Droushnakovi - Drushikko, and so on. Besides, in some books up to the quater of their volume were just thrown out so that the books could look more teenagers-friendly.
Unfortunately your books are not the only ones that suffered from this inconceivable policy of our publishing companies, but somehow I feel especially awful about them.
I think the publishers must be punished somehow for this, but I can't imagine how. Is that possible that you can do something about it?
(And sorry for my English :oops: )


Well, what I can tell you from personal experience with the french editors, is that unfortunatley the author has very little, or more precisely, no control at all on hte translations. Once the rights are sold, the publisher can essentially publish whatever he wants....
It is a long story, but my experience in trying to improve the french translations was far from being the success I would have hoped...
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Postby LMB » Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:55 pm

nng wrote:Dear Ms Bujold,
I wonder if you have any control over the publishing of your books in foreign languages?
I ask this because here in Russia your books (esp. Vorkosigan series) were awfully translated; for example, all initially Russian names in your books were replaced by deliberately non-Russian ones concocted by the translators, i.e. Piotr became Peter, Serg - Zerg (so that there would be no similarity to Serguei), Yuri - Uri (like the Hebrew name), Ivan - Aiven, Ludmila - Luimilla, Droushnakovi - Drushikko, and so on. Besides, in some books up to the quater of their volume were just thrown out so that the books could look more teenagers-friendly.
Unfortunately your books are not the only ones that suffered from this inconceivable policy of our publishing companies, but somehow I feel especially awful about them.
I think the publishers must be punished somehow for this, but I can't imagine how. Is that possible that you can do something about it?
(And sorry for my English :oops: )




Alas, I can't do a thing about foreign translations. I'm not sure if local fans can do anything either, though you're welcome to try. Write letters to the publishers, complain loudly on the internet, I dunno.

What do you mean by "a quarter of their volume were just thrown out"? Because it is in my contracts that translations are supposed to be correct and complete...

bests, Lois.
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Postby nng » Wed Aug 08, 2007 7:08 am

LMB wrote:What do you mean by "a quarter of their volume were just thrown out"? Because it is in my contracts that translations are supposed to be correct and complete...

Well, I cited a translator from that publishing company who wrote in a forum that there was an istruction from their chief to do so.
Mostly it's a sentence here and a half of a sentence there.
(For example, in Shards of Honor -- "I suppose you're wondering why you were chosen," she began as she wrote it out for him, without the faintest idea of where she was going, but only with the thought that he looked the sort of person who had never won a contest in his life. -- the red part is missing. Or "He had an old faded L-shaped scar, Cordelia noticed, on the left side of his chin."-- no scar in the Russian version).

But sometimes there are whole paragraphs missing. For example, in The Warrior's Apprentice:
Miles decided he definitely didn't like the new antigrav crutches, even though they were worn invisibly inside his clothing. They gave his walk a slithery uncertainty that made him feel spastic. He would have preferred a good old-fashioned stick, or better yet a swordstick like Captain Koudelka's that one could drive into the ground with a satisfying thunk at each step, as if spearing some suitable enemy—Kostolitz, for example. He paused to gather his balance before tackling the steps to Vorkosigan House.
Minute particles in their worn granite scintillated warmly in the autumn morning light, in spite of the industrial haze that hung over the capital city of Vorbarr Sultana. A racket from farther down the street marked where a similar mansion was being demolished to make way for a modern building. Miles glanced up to the high-rise directly across the street; a figure moved against the roofline. The battlements had changed, but the watchful soldiers still stalked along them.
Bothari, looming silently beside him, bent suddenly to retrieve a lost coin from the walkway. He placed it carefully in his left pocket. The dedicated pocket.
One corner of Miles's mouth lifted, and his eyes warmed with amusement. "Still the dowry?"
"Of course," said Bothari serenely. His voice was deep bass, monotonous in cadence. One had to know him a long time to interpret its expressionlessness. Miles knew every minute variation in its timbre as a man knows his own room in the dark.

So there's no hint why Miles starts this tricky subject.

There are Russian sites where your fans collect translation mistakes (and they are often just unbelievable, like when in Winterfair Gifts instead of the hijacking of a liner (Princess Olivia) we read about the hijacking of the princess herself :shock:), but the publishing company doesn't seem to care about any complains and protests.
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Postby Ragua » Mon May 05, 2008 5:17 pm

I have just turned several friends onto the Vorkosigan series, and so I started rereading them again myself. It led to a few questions, but I'll stick to one at a time.

In Shards of Honor, the Escobarans give the Barryarans 17 uterine replicators bearing children who were the result of rape. I remember one of the characters mentioning strong feelings about abortion, but would any Escobaran women choose to keep/bear such children? It seems unlikely, but seeing how Cordelia nearly died when Miles was transplanted into the uterine replicator, some of the victims may not have wanted to chance the procedure.

Just wondering if there were any counterparts to Elena who may have grown up on Escobar.
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Postby voralfred » Mon May 05, 2008 5:38 pm

Well, I hope LMB will agree with me, but it seems to me that on Beta and Escobar embryo transfer to a uterine replicator was a standard procedure, with a very small risk, when performed at the appropriate time. Remember Cordelia was on Barrayar where the technique was new, and transplant was an emergency, after soltoxin poisoning. Granted, in case of rape early in the war, transplant could happen later than in the normal procedure, and with women weakened by months of captivity, but still by escobaran surgeons in the best (one would hope) hospitals. The risks should have been less than to Cordelia. Soltoxin is nasty stuff.
Where I share your question, however, is on psychological aspects. Results of rapes or not, those children were, for half their genes, Escobarans. That the raped women would not want to keep them makes sense, but wouldn't the escobaran society, as a whole, want to keep them (adoptions, or government care) rather than send them to benighted Barrayar?
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Postby Ragua » Wed May 14, 2008 5:05 pm

voralfred wrote:Where I share your question, however, is on psychological aspects. Results of rapes or not, those children were, for half their genes, Escobarans. That the raped women would not want to keep them makes sense, but wouldn't the escobaran society, as a whole, want to keep them (adoptions, or government care) rather than send them to benighted Barrayar?


I wondered that, as well. I remember the tech who brought the uterine replicators to Aral was quite hostile. He seemed to view giving the children back as a sort of counting coup. The Escobarans seem to have identified the children as linked to their attackers, rather than to themselves. Still, you'd think at least one of the Escobarans might have been unwilling to give up her child, even though it was the product of rape.
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Postby Ragua » Sat May 31, 2008 7:27 pm

Just reread "Winterfair Gifts," and I was wondering if the Jacksonian house involved in the crimes will face some serious ImpSec wrath for attempting to mess with one of the Emperor's chosen Voices.

One would think loud, gory retribution would discourage other Jacksonian houses from attempting shenanigans on Barryar or messing with the Emperor's subjects.
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Postby SPetty » Sat May 31, 2008 9:35 pm

Ragua wrote: Still, you'd think at least one of the Escobarans might have been unwilling to give up her child, even though it was the product of rape.


Perhaps there were more pregnant Escobarans who did not choose to have the procedure.
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Postby voralfred » Tue Sep 09, 2008 6:21 pm

Well maybe the author would give us the answer about Mayhew and Mayhew.

Is the pilot who took Cordelia to Escobar at the end of Shards one and the same as Arde?

I think I remembered you once answered "yes". However, the debt of honor that Miles mention in _WA_ is purely imaginary, he did not recognize the name and had no notion that he was indeed indebted his very life to Arde, as his mother would not have been able to marrry his father without the latter.

But what surprises me a bit is that Arde does not try to reminisce with Cordelia in _WG_. Certainly, after all those years in Miles' employ he must have heard his mother's maiden name (well, of course he heard it, it was the Admiral's name!) and not being a total idiot he certainly has made the connection. So why is there no recognition between these two?
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Postby SPetty » Tue Sep 09, 2008 10:20 pm

In the dendarii.com FAQ list, it does mention that Arde Mayhew is the same person (poor Arde, being taken for a ride by Naismiths everywhere!).

Arde and Cordelia may well have spent some time talking, though we'd be less likely to see it through Roic's frame of view. I suspect, though have no actual idea, that a scene involving that could have been edited out in order to tighten up the novella (after all, it's about Roic and Taura, and Miles and Ekaterin's wedding, not Arde and Cordelia).

It reminds me of questions at the Denvention about the Imperial Heir. It's rumored that at least one exists, but there wasn't a good way to fit it into _DI_ (though since children come up so often in the book, if I'd written it, I probably would have squeezed in some casual mention of it, perhaps when Bel was showing off his photo cube).
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Postby Ragua » Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:45 pm

Okay, I've been rereading the Vorkosigan series yet again, and I have a really trivial question. What the heck is a flimsy? What's it made of? How does it work? Why is it used instead of paper?

In my mind, I've always pictured the transparency film you use with an overhead projector, but that just doesn't seem right.
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flimsies

Postby LMB » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:36 am

Ragua wrote:Okay, I've been rereading the Vorkosigan series yet again, and I have a really trivial question. What the heck is a flimsy? What's it made of? How does it work? Why is it used instead of paper?

In my mind, I've always pictured the transparency film you use with an overhead projector, but that just doesn't seem right.



*** It is a sort of plastic paper. It has the advantage of being instantly recyclable, as you just stuff your old flimsies into the hopper of your copy machine or printer, and it melts them down and re-forms them on the spot...

Sorry for the delayed reply. This site sort of fell off my e-radar for a while.

Ta, L.
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Postby aaronw409 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 8:38 pm

Hi Lois!

You've said before that you outline 1 or 2 chapters ahead before you start writing. I was wondering how detailed the outlines are. Are they step by step accounts of "what happens" or are they broad generalizations of the plot?
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Outlining techniques

Postby LMB » Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:07 pm

aaronw409 wrote:Hi Lois!

You've said before that you outline 1 or 2 chapters ahead before you start writing. I was wondering how detailed the outlines are. Are they step by step accounts of "what happens" or are they broad generalizations of the plot?



They go in layers, and are more-or-less memory aids. I start with a broad outline of a chapter or section, figure out the sequence of scenes/events for a chapter, pull out each scene, outline it again and maybe a third time till I have what I want to write pinned down. Lots of lines and arrows, things crossed out or added cramped in the margins, sometimes new pages stuck in or removed. (Which is why I work in a three-ring binder.) Some doodles. I usually choreograph (or script) dialogue bits. So, pretty step-by-step, yeah. Take it to the computer, turn it into real prose, turn to the next scene. (Or jump back up a level to the next chapter sequence, as may be.)

The scene outline I take to the computer is almost an illegible first draft, generally with a strong clear start, trailing off more vaguely toward the end. Sometimes I have to stop and re-outline when it goes too vague; sometimes I'll be on a roll and fly right through. Sometimes a scene stops sooner than I expect, if it hits an especially good line, or if I realize it's continuing in excess of need.

Prior to Chapter One, there will be fifty or more pages of scratchy penciled notes about all aspect of the upcoming effort -- on characters, good bits, world-building, names, maps, etc. -- to which I will refer less and less often as the book reveals itself in the writing. Things can change, mutate, or be dropped (or added) from the original sketchy outline with every pass.

Don't go picturing the sort of outline you get taught in school. I don't know what those are for, but they're not for writing fiction.

Ta, L.
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Re: Outlining techniques

Postby aaronw409 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:31 pm

LMB wrote:
aaronw409 wrote:Hi Lois!

You've said before that you outline 1 or 2 chapters ahead before you start writing. I was wondering how detailed the outlines are. Are they step by step accounts of "what happens" or are they broad generalizations of the plot?



They go in layers, and are more-or-less memory aids. I start with a broad outline of a chapter or section, figure out the sequence of scenes/events for a chapter, pull out each scene, outline it again and maybe a third time till I have what I want to write pinned down. Lots of lines and arrows, things crossed out or added cramped in the margins, sometimes new pages stuck in or removed. (Which is why I work in a three-ring binder.) Some doodles. I usually choreograph (or script) dialogue bits. So, pretty step-by-step, yeah. Take it to the computer, turn it into real prose, turn to the next scene. (Or jump back up a level to the next chapter sequence, as may be.)

The scene outline I take to the computer is almost an illegible first draft, generally with a strong clear start, trailing off more vaguely toward the end. Sometimes I have to stop and re-outline when it goes too vague; sometimes I'll be on a roll and fly right through. Sometimes a scene stops sooner than I expect, if it hits an especially good line, or if I realize it's continuing in excess of need.

Prior to Chapter One, there will be fifty or more pages of scratchy penciled notes about all aspect of the upcoming effort -- on characters, good bits, world-building, names, maps, etc. -- to which I will refer less and less often as the book reveals itself in the writing. Things can change, mutate, or be dropped (or added) from the original sketchy outline with every pass.

Don't go picturing the sort of outline you get taught in school. I don't know what those are for, but they're not for writing fiction.

Ta, L.


There is a method to the madness! Thanks for the info.

What are your thoughts on pacing? I've read Ken Follett say that you need a plot turn (or something interesting happen) about every 3 pages. I personally like to read a novel that keeps the pages turning, but still unveils its secrets layer by layer and gives me time get to know the characters.
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Postby Kurt Montandon » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:35 am

Two quick questions:

1. ... what happened to Galeni's mother? There's no mention of her after Brothers In Arms, where Galeni says she helped identify his brother's remains after the bombing that supposedly killed his father. And then ... nothing. Is she dead? On Komarr? Did I just miss a line somewhere? Because no mention in either ACC or in Miles' reading of Galeni's secret file in BIA. And you'd think the subject would come up in A Civil Campaign, at the least.

2. Is "Ser" a first name, or a title, in place of Signeur (or variants), or whatever. That's been bugging me forever, since Komarr has a vaguely Italian-ish feel, so I couldn't take it for granted that it was a name. We've seen a Ser Galen and a Ser Anafi (IIRC), and I have no idea.
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