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352 pages, ebook
First published February 1, 2016
"No, darling, you can’t pet the hexaped. It would bite your hand off, and then your Grandmama would execute it, which wouldn’t be fair to the poor beast, would it?” A surly hiss underscored this.But Miles, too, is somewhat diminished from the wild intensity of his younger days: he’s now older, a father, and suffering more than ever from physical ailments. His concerns in this novel are, like Cordelia’s, primarily about personal relationships and family.
“Everyone has it wrong way round. Parents don’t make children ― children make parents. They shape our behavior from the first wail. Mold us into what they need. It can be a pretty rough process, too.”It’s fitting to see Cordelia, in her later life, coming full circle, with her decision to settle permanently on Sergyar, where so many years ago the first Vorkosigan Saga novel, Shards of Honor, began with Cordelia as the head of a Betan Survey exploration team, and where she first met Aral. Now she and Oliver Jole explore the unique biology of Sergyar (floating vampire radials!) along with their own nontraditional relationship. In the end, that’s what Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is ultimately concerned with: love, and family, and people and their relationships, however unorthodox.
I’ve been doing this since I was thirteen. It shouldn’t be hard. Which, in fact, it wasn’t—he’d never been more limp in his life.
In his days as Aral’s handsome aide, the receptacles of his uniform had been a source of several interesting surprises after similar events, even when he’d sworn that no one had come close enough to touch him.
“It was only mystery lingerie the once,” he protested in amused indignation. But added after a moment’s reflection, “All right, twice, but it was in a bar on Tau Ceti and we were all drunk. Both a permanent puzzle—you’d think they’d at least have thought to write their comcode on the crotch or something. Did they expect me to search for them like Cinderella?” He mimed holding up a pair of slender undies, with a look of canine hope.
“(...) Babies are just a challenge. Teenagers are a nightmare. Look ahead, Oliver.”
“I…think I might do better taking it one step at a time.”
“Mm, that’s the way you do have to take it. Maybe fortunately.” Haines added after a moment, “I don’t deny I have mixed feelings about those replicator centers, but I have to admit, I’d prefer it for my daughter. Just think. She’d never have to date a boy at all.” He paused in apparent contemplation of this attractive state of theoretical affairs, or non-affairs.
“I’d think you were in an excellent position to intimidate suitors.”
“But everyone knows I’m not allowed to use the plasma cannons for personal purposes.”
Jole choked a laugh around his last mouthful of sandwich. “Besides, she’s only, what—fifteen?”
“A fact I have let be known, but I’m not sure it helps.” Haines sighed. “Horrible age, fifteen. Part of the time she’s still my little princess, Da’s Cadette, and then, with no warning—it’s like some hostile alien life-form takes over her brain. One minute it’s all puppies and ribbons, the next—the female werewolf!”
(...) it was quite late by the time six overexcited and overtired children had at last been tied to their beds, or at least kissed goodnight and threatened with dire retribution if they popped up one more time. It took teamwork by four adults—Cordelia, Miles, Ekaterin, and the armsman’s daughter they’d brought along to help wrangle the kids in exchange for a generous stipend and the chance for an exciting trip offworld.
“We could have stunned them,” Cordelia wheezed, as the last door closed. “We have stunners…”
Their fond Da, who had actually been less use in the calming-down part than Cordelia had hoped, said, “Tempting, but Ekaterin would object.”
“No, I wouldn’t,” said Ekaterin faintly.