Vorcon 2004 - chat

Lois Bujold answers Vorcon convention's questions

Session Start: Fri Apr 16 23:48:25 2004

[LMB] Good afternoon, folks! (Minneapolis time...)

[Vorcon] Hi Lois, we are glad to see you!

[LMB] It is a pleasant spring afternoon here, slightly gray of sky -- should be about the same there, I understand. Except darker, of course.

[Vorcon] It's a cold spring night here, but it's warm with our joy of seeing you:)

[LMB] Well, I trust you will all be able to keep each other warm.

[Vorcon] We'll try:}

[Gimli] Greetings

[LMB] Are you having the meeting in that same interesting yellow stone mansion as prior Vorcons, that I saw in the pictures on the net?

[Vorcon] We'd like to tell you a bit about what's going on here

[LMB] Please do.

[Vorcon] Yes, it's the same mansion

[Vorcon] We're here for the third time already - more than 100 people dressed as vors, cetagandans, etc.

[LMB] That's enough people to make things lively.

[Vorcon] Yesterday and today we've had several seminars, a board war game, and now it's time for several interesting questions

[LMB] Good, go ahead.

[Vorcon] Could you tell us what sf and other fiction have influenced your works recently?

[LMB] Recently? Hm. Mostly, I take my direct inspiration from non-fiction sources. The key book for my work in progress, which is the third in the world of Chalion, came from a book I found on the floor of Pat Wrede's office (I'll break up these replies, so the waits won't be so long -- con't in a moment...)

[LMB] Anyway, on the floor of her office I found a book with the irresistible title of _Mad Princes of Renaissance Germany_. I immediately borrowed and read it.

[LMB] After that, I did a lot of research reading -- _Kalevala_, _The Nebilungenleid_ (ark! can't spell that one without the book in front of me) and a bunch of stuff on early medieval Europe and the initial conversion to Christianity.

[LMB] So I can blame the current novel, _The Hallowed Hunt_ on Pat's messy housekeeping.

[LMB] Now, for pleasure reading, I'm very fond of the work of Terry Pratchett, which I buy on sight in hardcover, but I can't say he's a direct influence.

[Vorcon] Sounds fantastic! Btw, how many books are you planning to write in the world of Chalion?

[Vorcon] (Sorry, was it GA or not? :)

[LMB] One of the non-fiction writers most useful in the current binge was Richard Fletcher -- British historian. On to the next, here...

[LMB] Oh, yes, -- thanks for the reminder. I shall use GA when I'm done rambling hencheforth.

[LMB] I am thinking there might be 5 books in the world of Chalion, one for each of the 5 gods, but I'm not sure if the scheme will work out over time. For one thing, the B*astard seems to nose His way into every book so far. Trickster gods are like that.

[LMB] I may not write all the Chalion books in a row, either. GA.

[LMB] Another question...?

[Gimli] (as soon as the rejoin happens, I suppose. For many of us, this session was unexpected - so there are very few questions already formulated :)

[LMB] I'll ramble on while waiting, then... the Richard Fletcher book most recently useful was titled, IIRC, _The Barbarian Conversion_. It was just full of useful tidbits of the sort one would never imagine on one's own. The polar bear saga, for instance.

[LMB] In about 1100 AD, some mad Greenlander brought a polar bear -- alive -- in his boat from Greenland to Norway as a gift for the king. To which I can only say, "How big was the bear? How big was the *boat*?"

[LMB] There turns out to be a saga about it, which Harry Turtledove was kind enough to dig out and read to me when I visited his home last fall on my most recent book tour. It's a short saga.

[LMB] It was only a discursive paragraph in Fletcher's long ecclesiastical history, but writers live for footnotes like that. GA -- are you there yet?

[Valkyrie] :)

[Vorcon] Could you please repeat some your latest phrases?

[LMB] Do they not appear on your screen?

[Gimli] (Vorcon - I can paste them into your private channel, ok?)

[Vorcon] Gimli, OK, thanx

[LMB] I was rambling on about the research reading I did for _The Hallowed Hunt_. Oh, thanks, Gimli!

[LMB] Let me know if it worked, and I'll go on rather than back. GA.

[Vorcon] OK, it worked. Now we go on

[LMB] Good, GA.

[Vorcon] You have created many integral, live, detailed worlds. What do you think of their development in some fanfiction or fan music, etc.?

[LMB] I do not, officially, look at fanfiction (on my own work, anyway) due to copyright issues (which I think are stupid -- I mean, I used to *write* the stuff, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Fan poetry and music I figure I can enjoy without reservation.

[LMB] (I shall try to type more carefully, in consideration of my beleaguered translators.)

[Vorcon] Would you like to get a copy of our rock opera about Prince Serg?:)

[LMB] I think fan activity of any kind around a piece of art is a sign of life, and a good thing. Admittedly, it is not good for control-freak writers to look at fan fiction and the like.

[LMB] Rock Opera about Prince Serg? Ye gods. How can I resist? yes. GA.

[LMB] I presume this Rock Opera is in Russian, by the by, yes?

[Vorcon] We are happy!:) We'll try to send you a copy as soon as possible. Yes, it's in Russian, but we'll write a detailed libretto in English

[LMB] On a more pro note, I might mention that we have an offer from Japan Broadcasting to do a radio play of _The Spirit Ring_, in 15 or so parts. But that's not exactly fan activity (although I may hope it will result in more, indirectly.)

[LMB] Russia has more than its share of Mad Princes of History as well; you ought to have a lot of fun with that trope.


[LMB] Granted, Perfectly Sane Princes who lead uneventful lives don't get as many books written about them. I fear I have a low taste for the lurid, and I'm not alone in it.

[Vorcon] One of your Russian fans would like to write a script for a movie on "Barrayar", first in Russian, then translate it in English. Hope it'll be a lot better than the notorious ill-famous script on WA:)

[LMB] I will toss in the occasional stream-of-consciousness comments here while I'm waiting for the next question so as not to time-out and get dumped from the channel. As far as personal scripting goes...

[LMB] It's OK as a personal hobby, but that's one subject with some real copyright (ie.e, money) issues clustered about it; don't ask, don't tell, and I'm afraid it'll be something I really cannot look at. GA.

[Vorcon] Have your books ever had any reflection in real life? I once heard an interview with a detective story- writer she said that sometimes he sees traces of her books' conflicts and situations in reality that surrounds her. Have you felt any traces of what your write in reality around you? And what traces namely?

[LMB] That said, I'm sure most of the fans can write a better script than that one was. But it suffered, apparently, from excessive committee input, which explains a lot; it wasn't all the scripter's fault. On to the next question, which is most interesting but hard...

[LMB] Of course, uterine replicators are now being developed, and other biotech that I speculated about in the 80's seems on the verge, or past the verge, of development.

[LMB] Fans sometimes write me with tales of how the books helped inspire them in one way or another in real life, for which I take no credit -- or blame.

[LMB] But really, a lot of the biotech speculation is not original with me, but rather, part of the genre.

[LMB] In a way, even SF books are made up of the reality around the writer, transmuted and transformed, so there ought to be resonances. GA.

[Vorcon] In "SoH", some villains have Russian names: Grishnov and Radnov. Is it a hangover of cold war times or something else?

[LMB] Well, so do some of the heroes, I might point out. :-) But yes; when I started the series in 1982, the Cold War was still in full swing.

[LMB] I wanted a culture that sounded faintly alien and threatening to an American ear. This chat, by the way, is not something I could have imagined in 1982. But really, I blame it the most on "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." Let me explain...

[LMB] That was an Amercian television show during the early James Bond craze, something of a comedy-drama, but the hero's sidekick, played by David McCallum -- and far more intelligent and interesting than the putative hero, by the by -- was a Russian dude by the name of Illya Kuryakin. When I was in St. Petersbeurs a few years back, I belatedly realized that you all would never have seen this piece of popular culture, but just about all the writers of m

[LMB] The US has long has a rather confused relationship with Russia -- didn't like that Communism stuff, but heck, we had plenty of Russian immigrants and background ourselves.

[LMB] So we could carry on the Cold War and simultaneously have a Russian television character hero/heartthrob -- versatility is a virtue, they say. GA.

[LMB] Granted, David McCallum was actually Scottish, but what the hey.

[LMB] I see we've lost our moderators again. I'll keep typing till they return.

[Masha] Noches

[Faust] last mile problem on the run...

[Vorcon] We're back

[LMB] I might mention in passing, my niece is marrying a nice boy from Moscow at the end of this summer. Computer programmer. They have a mutual interest in ice hockey, but not much, alas, in science fiction.

[LMB] GA, Vorcon...

[Vorcon] Is Kosigan a Russian surname? If not, where do Kosigans come from?

[LMB] Yes, it was from Andrei Kosygan, who was the long-time ambassador to the UN back in my youth.

[LMB] I didn't have too many sources for Russian names at first, except for the headlines.

[LMB] I learned very quickly not to make up names "for the sound of them", however, when American fans for whom (whatever name) was ethnic background called me on them.


[LMB] I might mention, I wrote the first 3 novels in, pretty much, cultural isolation, when living in a small town in Ohio. My resources have improved a lot over the years.

[LMB] I am far more conscious now of having a world-wide audience.

[Masha] Did you sympathize the Soviet Union during the Cold War? If you chose the surname for your main character from Soviet oficcial...

[LMB] Next question, Vorcon?

[LMB] Ah ha. Spoke too soon.

[Vorcon] On Bujold Nexus site we have found some Chalion maps. We don't know if it is you own work or fan's creation, but your fans here enjoy them much. Wouldn't you like to draw or provide some geographical data about worlds of Vorkosigan Saga - especially about Barrayar?

[LMB] No, not with the Soviet government. With the people, certainly.

[Masha] Oh. Thanks.

[LMB] I'm not much for maps. I did have a start on a Barrayar map, but one of the fans so thumpingly critiqued my ideas (as they had appeared so far in print), I hardly dared. For another problem...

[LMB] I make up my settings as the story passes through them, so places literally don't exist, or just exist in potential, till they are written about. Which makes it hard to draw maps in advance.

[LMB] It also makes it hard to do world-sharing. GA.

[LMB] The Chalion maps, I did draw, I should add, although they were prettied up by an artist friend.

[Vorcon] Women in Chalion often make marriage proposals to men (Iselle, Betriz). Is it common or an exception?

[LMB] Chalion being a pre-industrial society, I imagine it's much as it was in our own middle ages; some proposals from men, some by arrangement between families, some in odder ways. Iselle, being a sovereign, was in a different position than most women viz marriage, which had to be political.


[Vorcon] Who gave the order to shoot the Komarran senators: the fool of a political officer only or (secretly, for political reasons) Ezar, Grishnov or...?

[LMB] No one really knows, so I don't have to either. The political officer is certainly my chief suspect, but one does not know what sort of under-the-table encouragement, hints, or half-orders he had from who beforehand. I don't thin Ezar would have been that stupid, though, so I think he's off the hook.

[LMB] The political officer doubtless came out of a culture of like-minded men who would have encouraged his particular sort of thuggish thick-headedness. Real villains (or heroes) seldom occur in a vacuum. GA.

[Vorcon] The situation is: Aral Vorkosigan never explained to his father the reason why he didn't have another child. We know that he was not able to beget a child - so why didn't they tell Piotr that Aral couldn't have another child who could became heir. Why did they prefer to continue their conflict?

[LMB] Real. Seldom. I shall try to type more carefully...

[LMB] There are lots of ways in that world to create a child in addition to old-fashioned begatting. Aral could have availed himself of one -- importing medical experts to help if needed. He had the resources. I don't think they *preferred* to continue the conflict, but there was not final way to end it.


[Vorcon] You've mentioned in some interviews that you write about Miles while you want to. Do you still want to?

[LMB] I want... no, need, to have a certain energy level to tackle Miles, thT I don't have at present. I also want the next thing, whatever it is, to be fresh, not a recycling or re-hashing of old ideas. So the quality bar, both external and internal, gets higher all the time.

[LMB] I have not ruled out further Miles stories, but I don't have a hot idea on tap at present -- all the current energy is going into the book under contract (now a month overdue, I might add.)

[LMB] Once I get Ingrey kin Wolfcliff and his friends out the door, I'm going to take a bit of a break, and after that -- I don't know. GA.

[Vorcon] We're back

[LMB] Good, go ahead.

[Vorcon] Have you answered our question about next Miles book?

[Vorcon] Have you seen it?

[LMB] Yes, although not in a way you'd like --

[LMB] What I said was, briefly, nothing's going on at present but nothing is ruled out permanently.

[LMB] I really don't want, right at the moment, to write about Miles and his kids; I've just gotten my own nest empty at last, and I am enjoying it. So I need to come up with something else. Everyone wants me to torture Ivan, though they cannot agree on how.

[LMB] What *is* it about poor Ivan...? :-)


[Vorcon] Last hope:) Vorkosigan books are more popular in Russia than Chalion series. We agree for a book about Ivan and By:)

[LMB] By is... very interesting. I would adore being able to write his dialogue -- he's such a sarcastic smart-ass. He needs a foil, and Ivan is gold for that.

[LMB] You can't do good dialogue with only one good character. You need at least two.

[LMB] Ivan and Byerly, neither one wanting to put their heads up to get hit, could compete for second place. It could be very amusing. They need a plot, though.

[LMB] After several hundred pages of Ingrey kin Wolfcliff, whose sense of humor occasionally makes it up to as bright as bitterly sardonic, I could use a humor-break. GA.

[Vorcon] Good news for you: two years ago we told you about cattery of bobtail Russian cats named "Barrayar". We are glad to inform you that it multiplies and wins many cups of cat-show. Some cats from this cattery live in Minneapolis now. "Do you want a kitten?" (c) :)

[LMB] I do not want a kitten at this time, thank you very much. :-)


[LMB] Let me see, you folks did get the novella "Winterfair Gifts", did you not? IIRC, you had it in translation before the delayed American publication.

[old_caster] Yes, this book is already published in Russia

[LMB] It was just finally published here in February.

[Vorcon] Yes, we read it earlier than American readers, but the translation was spoiled by "Princess Olivia"'s kidnapping?

[Vorcon] No question mark, sorry.

[LMB] _the Princess Olivia_ was a spaceship, a luxury passenger liner.

[LMB] It was hijacked by the bad guys, off-stage.

[LMB] I can understand the confusion, alas.


[Vorcon] Yes, exactly!:) The translator mixed up the verbs: to kidnap and to hijack

[Vorcon] And the ship turned into the woman consequently

[LMB] Well, that might have been an interesting case for Auditor Vorkosigan too...


[Vorcon] These are all questions for today. Many thanks for your most interesting answers! Would you like to tell us or ask us anything?

[LMB] I think you are probably all up to date on the news -- _Diplomatic Immunity_ is a Nebula nominee, and the final results will be announced in Seattle this weekend. _Paladin of Souls_ is a Hugo finalist, and also a finalist for a local literary award, the Minnesota Book Award. Writing on the next book is moving along rather better now...

[Vorcon] Yes, we know and we wish you win!!!

[LMB] I am looking forward to pictures form Vorcon 2004 -- drop me a URL when you get them up on the web, and I'll be sure to tell the Bujold chat list. For now, I think you need your beds and I need my dinner, so -- have a wonderful party this weekend! I'm so glad I could join you.

[old_caster] Thank you very much for your answers.

[Vorcon] Yes, we'll give you an URL asap. Thank you! Good bye!

[LMB] Ta for now, Lois.