Still new to her duties as Lady Vorkosigan, Ekaterin is working together with expatriate scientist Enrique Borgos on a radical scheme to recover the lands of the Vashnoi exclusion zone, lingering radioactive legacy of the Cetagandan invasion of the planet Barrayar. When Enrique’s experimental bioengineered creatures go missing, the pair discover that the zone still conceals deadly old secrets.
This novella falls after Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance in the Vorkosigan series timeline, but may be read entirely independently.
Lois McMaster Bujold was born in 1949, the daughter of an engineering professor at Ohio State University, from whom she picked up her early interest in science fiction. She now lives in Minneapolis, and has two grown children.
Her fantasy from HarperCollins includes the award-winning Chalion series and the Sharing Knife tetralogy; her science fiction from Baen Books features the perennially bestselling Vorkosigan Saga. Her work has been translated into over twenty languages.
A listing of her awards and nominations may be seen here:
This VORKOSIGAN SAGA novella is a blast from the past, accompanied by a large dose of radiation. After Lois McMaster Bujold apparently wrapped up this long-running series in 2016 with Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, she returned once again to her immensely popular series with this brief novella, backtracking in the series timeline to just a few years after Miles Vorkosigan’s marriage to Ekaterin, when their oldest children, twins Sasha and Helen, are toddlers.
In The Flowers of Vashnoi, told from Ekaterin’s point of view, she, Miles, and Enrique Borgos — a brilliant but odd scientist who we first met in A Civil Campaign — are beginning the process of trying to reclaim a large section of their land that was radiation-poisoned in the Cetagandan war eighty years ago. Enrique has bioengineered the infamous butterbugs from A Civil Campaign, creating a variant they call “radbugs” that eat irradiated soil, regurgitate concentrated heavy metals, and excrete clean, fertile soil. They’ve even engineered the 2½ inch long radbugs to have a flower-like yellow radiation symbol on their backs that glows more brightly as the bugs become increasingly radioactive through their diet, as a warning sign to those who handle the bugs. When the radbugs start disappearing, Ekaterin and Enrique investigate on their own and stumble into something wholly unexpected.
I wouldn’t recommend The Flowers of Vashnoi to anyone just beginning with the VORKOSIGAN SAGA series. As fantastic as the series is, this is definitely not the place to start with it. (I recommend starting with Shards of Honour.) For one thing, this novella relies on familiarity with characters and events from several prior books. For another, its main character is Ekaterin rather than the more vividly-drawn and compelling Miles or his mother Cordelia. Ekaterin is quieter but firm-minded, thoughtful and compassionate. It’s fitting that this story is told from her point of view, which we don’t often see in the series. (Miles puts in appearances at the beginning and end of this story.)
The Flowers of Vashnoi is both a somber and a hopeful tale. There’s the tragedy of the lost city of Vorkosigan Vashnoi, where hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in the Cetagandan bombing and its aftermath, and the still-blighted lands that slowly poison anyone who goes there. We also get a glimpse of the old-school hardline Barrayaran attitude toward anyone who has a physical disability or mutation. At the same time, there’s an encouraging vision of what the future might hold, and characters who have the power and will to work toward a better world.
It blends into an overall tone of cautious optimism, a dream of a world where flowers — both the vegetative and the human kinds of flowers — can, once again, blossom in Vashnoi.
Initial post: How did I miss that this Vorkosigan Saga novella was published last year? More Vorkosigan stories, cheers! I just coughed up my $3.99 and put this on my Read Immediately If Not Sooner list. :)
"Ekaterin bit her lip on promises she could not yet guarantee.”
Not sure where Lois McMaster Bujold's The Flowers of Vashnoi fits into the Vorkosigan Saga. I enjoyed learning about the characters and world Bujold created. Still, even though this was a standalone novella, I had the nagging feeling that I was meant to have read something else before this. I am intrigued and will read more of Bujold's work. 3.5 stars
I'd thought the author was done with this series and I'm delighted to be wrong.
This short novella picks up after the events of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance and features Lady Ekaterin and Enrique Borgos (mainly from A Civil Campaign) as they use Enriques bio-engineered bugs to try and cleanup the Vashnoi, a Vorkosigan holding that was radioactively contaminated during the war with the Cetagandans. Only there are some tragic complications.
Miles is present here, but it's Ekaterin who shines. As we have seen elsewhere in the series, Ekaterin is a wonderfully sensible character who's highly reminiscent of Cordelia, only with a much more Barrayaran perspective. Enrique Borgos also gets some welcome characterization and some appreciation for being more than "that bug guy".
This isn't a standalone in any way though, and a reading of Komarr and A Civil Campaign would be a minimum for understanding what is happening here.
Only a novella for fans of the series: one might be tempted to discard this story as light entertainment. But this is Lois McMaster Bujold, and she can be relied upon to tackle the heaviest of issues with the lightest touch through romance and humor. Think what we are currently doing to our planet! We know what's wrong, but what we really need is to decide on the path forward. For the author, science and human responsibility have always provided the solutions.
Incandescent, someone had once described Lord Miles Naismith Vorkosigan.
Miles was the main reason I've read through the whole space opera, but this latest novella is not about him. It's about his estate in the Barrayar countryside, particularly the Vashnoi region that was obliterated with nuclear missiles during the Cetagandan invasion. And it's about his dear wife Ekaterin, who is unable to sit idly and keep house for Miles and their children. She and her team of scientists are using genetic engineering to test special 'bugs' that can 'eat' radiation and can restore the Vashnoi wasteland to human habitation. (the same sort of bugs that were supposed to 'manufacture' butter in a previous episode)
Science has to deal though with ghosts from the past, and with the medieval social system that was prevalent on Barrayar before they were forced to take to the stars. But Ekaterin, her pet scientist and her children are fully capable of dealing with any emergency.
'Is this all going to work?' Her harassed gesture around encompassed everything: the zone, the radbug project, the district, far too many decades of inherited history. Miles vented a mask-muffled noise, not quite a laugh. 'It's not as though we can stop trying.'
I feel the same about global warming, deforestation, plastic pollution and the myriad of other modern ills that are destroying our planet. It's an uphill battle, but it's not as if we can stop trying...
When she slept at last, she dreamed of gardens of moving lights, molten with color, where children, their future-faces as elusive as butterflies, played and were not poisoned.
Great stuff! (can be read as a stand-alone, teaser for the whole series)
“Is it still a victory if you don’t get the credit?"
There's nothing to really rate here. This is far, far away from the space opera called Vorkosigan Saga. And I still stand by my opinion that everything worth saying was said by the end of The Civil Campaign. But it proves I will still read anything with the name Vorkosigan attached to it (even after the DISASTER called Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen. There is NO forgiving Bujold for that one! Never, ever, ever...). In some ways it did remaind me of Mountains of Mourning, this being Ekaterin's version. But, when, all those years ago, Miles cut his way through thorny Earth's roses and first stepped towards the Dendarii Mountains, his whole future life was hanging in the balance, everything was at stake. This time things are much more settled, although there's much work to be done yet. All in all, cute, charming, funny, but it lacked the strong emotional effect on me.
Lady Ekaterin Vorkosigan, expatriate scientist Enrique Borgos, and the bugs from A Civil Campaign (I think that was it...) on a trip to check the recover of the lands of the Vashnoi exclusion zone. Novella.
Ekaterine sighed. "Is this all going to work?" Her harassed gesture around encompassed everything: the zone, the radbug project, the district, far too many decades of inherited history. Miles vented a mask-muffled noise, not quite a laugh. "It's not as though we can stop trying."
I used to read stories about people who refused to leave their homes, even in the face of certain death, and wonder at how they could be so stupid. Didn't they know there was a whole life to be lived somewhere else? Now, having been away from my home for so long, seeing it there and not being able to have it, I think I'd know what I'd choose, if I'd had the choice back then. If I was going to make a last stand, I'd know where it'd be. Not just because of my own memories, but a whole history of memories born into my blood, an inheritance of connection and struggle and devotion and pain that sings in my veins and I can do nothing about.
I used to read the news and hear about all the terrible things in the world and think that things were at least still getting better. Things were still fixable. But now I see all those refugees, all those trying to stop a diaspora by creating another diaspora, trying to purify land with blood, and I know none of this is going away. There's a whole history of memories born into their blood on all sides, an inheritance of trauma and faith and fear and passion singing in their veins and nothing to be done about it.
Is this all going to work? It's not as though we can stop trying.
Where, I ask, echoing Ekaterine, among these children needing to be cared for, in this haunted place, this dreadful orphanage, where are the grown-ups who are...responsible
An alluring addition to Bujold’s spin-offs from her series about Miles Vorkiosigan, the handicapped kid who became an underground spy and problem solver for a worthy galactic empire. Written in the late 80s and early 90s, they were a great pleasure to me as space opera with humor and fulsome character development (a source of 13 4 or 5-star reads). With a long tour of fantasy novels in the 2000s, starting with the World of Five Gods series, the recent set of Penric & Desdemona novels, and the Shring Knife YA series, Bujold seems to have responded to fans’ hunger for more in the Vorkosigan Saga with some delightful novels that featured Miles’ mother, Cordelia (Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen) and his friend Ivan Vorpatril (Captain Vorpatril's Alliance. Here we have an exploration of the character of Miles’ wife, Ekaterin Vorsoisson, whom in 1999’s marvelous “A Civil Campaign, we came to love as worthy of Miles’ adoration due to her grounding of his wild impulses, scientific acumen combined with pragmatism, and empathy for the downtrodden.
The tale here has Ekaterin working in the field on a project to remediate the ecological devastation caused by a nuclear strike taken by one of Mile’s imperial ancestors. With a foreign colleague she is pilot testing the effectiveness of a bioengineered insect in concentrating radioactive wastes to help recover the blighted environment. As at Chernobyl, a lot of flora and fauna are sustained, and Bujold projects a suspense for the reader in what kind of dangerous mutants may have evolved over the decades since the nuclear attack. A mystery emerges over the disappearance of a large fraction of their expensive, experimental bugs. It turns out that some form of humans are resident in the restricted zone. How Ekaterin’s compassion, bravery, and level headedness is applied to resolve their unusual issues is satisfying to witness. Too bad I am left hungry form more. As with short stories I perhaps have to learn to be more satisfied with episodes in human lives to epitomize the bigger picture. I am in a similar state of accommodation to her ongoing fantasy series on Penric and Desdemona.
This book was provided for review by the publisher through the Netgalley program.
This novella is one of those stories where it's difficult to decide whether to round "Liked" up or not. Naturally, the writing is excellent, as expected from LMB: vivid, clear, and literate. The emotional and philosophical truths and insights are balanced with an interesting plot. The resolutions are a combination of hopefulness and lingering melancholy, intrinsic to a region still dealing generations later with radiation poisoning from a past devastating conflict and cultural backwardness from years of isolation, as previously seen from young Miles's PoV in "The Mountains of Mourning". Ekaterin makes an ideal semi-insider's perspective from which to see it all at this later stage, having been Lady Vorkosigan for a handful of years at this point. Enrique's brilliant, eccentric, scientific mind adds an objective angle to the mix. Miles's own reactions to the land are still shaped by old General Count Piotr's influence, years after his death and Miles's ambiguous inheritance. I don't want to give away all they unexpectedly find there, on a trip that was meant to be merely checking on the first, experimental stage of a biological reclamation project. The editing is flawless, and the cover is beautiful and appropriate, bearing the newest version of Enrique's butter bugs, customized with Ekaterin's design to indicate their radiation-eating genetics. I should note that the story ends at 93%, followed by the standard appendix giving variant reading orders for Ms. Bujold's several series, not only the Vorkosigan-verse. This is unlikely to work well as a starting point for readers new to the series, but it offers a valuable experience for those already familiar with the world and characters.
This is a nice little short story/novella, set just after Captain Vorpatril's Alliance in the series chronology. Ekaterin Vorkosigan is working with Enrique Borgos (of A Civil Campaign fame) to develop a way to clean up the still-radioactive site of Vorkosigan Vashnoi. Naturally, they find a... problem.
In some ways, this is a strange little story. I wouldn't recommend it for people who aren't already Vorkosigan fans, as - although technically it works as a standalone - you really need to be familiar with the characters and the history in order to appreciate it fully. Furthermore, when it comes to plot, there isn't actually all that much of it. What makes this story worth reading isn't so much what is on the page, but the implications. I don't know whether Bujold deliberately decided to write something that invites the reader to think about the implications of the situation Ekaterin deals with - both backwards and forwards - but that is how it worked for me.
My favourite quote, from Miles:
"'S funny. Piotr, toward the end of his life, looked at our district and only saw how much better it was. All the backbreaking, heartbreaking work he did cleaning up the messes after the war is taken for granted now, or mostly just forgotten. Instead, we look around and only see how much better it could be. And neither of us is wrong, exactly."
I love Ekaterin so, so much. 😭😭😭 This was a beautiful, nostalgic little gem that I’m so glad I discovered! The Vorkosigan Saga is one of my favorite comfort rereads. Until recently, I had no idea this novella existed, and I’m eternally grateful to the Subterranean Press email newsletter for informing me of its existence, even though I ended up reading it via borrowed audiobook from the library. Love love love. I need more Ekaterin (and Enrique, for amusement) in my life!
A Miles (or rather Ekaterin) Vorkosigan short-story. I feel like this is a book-end story to Mountains of Mourning and somewhat wish I had re-read that story before reading this one.
The theme here is clearly one of legacy. Toxic legacies of conflicts in the past (both military, community, and familial), and legacy systems that can be forgotten and abandoned - and yet never truly are because someone still sees value in what others see as garbage and waste. Ultimately, there is a techno-utopian view of a sustainable world where nothing is truly a waste, just an input stream to the next process. Life goes on and life finds a way. The true failure is in assuming you are at the end of anything.
Damn but these later Bujold books have the tendency to bring out the philosopher in me.
Bujold's Vorkosigan novellas have always been strong. This, for all its fancifulness, fits right in. I loved Ekaterin as the POV character, I've been wanting inside her head for a long time. I understand that I haven't a shred of objectivity about this series, it's one that I know so well and love so hard. I don't have much that's coherent to say yet, let me read it another 5 times.
“Miles opened a gloved hand, full of acknowledgement, empty of solutions. One couldn’t fix the past, only the present.”
If you are checking reviews on this small book, chances are you have already decided to read it. No fear - you will not be disappointed. I was in turns dismayed, surprised, delighted and relieved by the story. By all means read it, the world is a better place because of it.
Ekaterin and Enrique attempt to heal the radiated wasteland of Vorkosigan Vashnoi, and discover a legacy of problems.
I'm so happy to read another novella from Ekaterin's POV. She's so different from Miles and while she's kinda like Cordelia (huh), she's very much her own person, with her own goals and dreams and motivations. And her own methods for handling Miles (stepping aside to let him run himself out had my dying).
I was also excited to read more about Vorkosigan Vashnoi, which has been flown over and mentioned multiple times over the course of the series but has only been "featured" now. The vast scale of the tragedy—and the failure of the Cetagandans in "missing" Piotr and Yuri—and the long scar it's had on the people of Vorkosigan district and Barrayar are all there, even if the memories of the actual event have faded into history.
Like all Vorkosigan novels and novellas, this has layers and subplots and deeper implications for both the future of Barrayar and our own world (uncomfortable parallels to Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl lurk in this story). While there is a message that you can't fix the past, only the present, it has implications of how to deal with legacy and custom and assumptions, communication issues, deep-seated consensual lying, and moving forward and integrating into the present. There is also the message that you can't blame someone for trying to badly fix something that no one else will step up to fix—you can only move forward and make it better for the future.
Overall, there is no easy answer, and the story doesn't end with all of its loose ends tied up—rather, there is a general place to go with the hope that things will get better. Slowly, surely.
Hopefully there will one day be a park in Vorkosigan Vashnoi, something to grow from the tragedy lying trapped in the soil.
Maybe we'll see Helen and Sasha taking their own children to visit the flowers there.
Maybe they'll finally be able to burn an offering for those lost.
Miles Vorkosigan’s wife Ekaterine is one of my favorite characters in the Vorkosigan saga, second only to Cordelia. This novella is Ekaterine’s story, and I expected to love it much more than I actually did. It is a sad story, a story of forgotten people. Ekaterine is her true self: capable and compassionate, but the people she encountered in the radiation-contaminated zone of Vorkosigan Vashnoi are a sorry bunch, sick and pathetic. I don’t know if there is any future for any of them. Ekaterine did try to help them, she did her best, but I’m still not sure anything positive would come of it. Lost people don’t always fare well in the modern society. The story doesn’t follow Ekaterine’s foundlings beyond being brought out of hiding. What happens to them afterwards is unclear, so the book feels unfinished, a teaser instead of a full story, and it makes me frustrated. I really would like to know what happens next, especially to the albino boy. I hope he makes it: he is the only one with any hope for the future. Pity, the book stops where it does.
Novella que sigue a Captain Vorpatril's Alliance. No leas esta novella si no has leido libros de la serie Vorkosigan. No es el lugar para empezar.
Lady Ekaterin Vorkosigan no es precisamente alguien que me haya mpresionado mucho en el pasado, después de ver la fuerte presencia de las hermanas Kudelka y de Elena, pero bueno ..fue la elección de Miles ;P Ekaterin aparece acá en su labor de botanica trabajando junto a uno de los cientificos locos de Escobar (Enrique Borgos) que ha creado un bicho experimental que come plantas radiactivas en base a los tan famosos butterbugs (y aqui comparto plenamente con Miles wuacala). La zona donde llevan a cabo el experimento es la zona radiactiva en Vashoi, herencia de la guerra de Cetaganda en su bombardeo contra Barrayar.
Hablar de zonas radiactivas nos hace pensar inmediatamente en Chernobil y Fukushima , con todas sus consecuencias que aun no podemos lidiar y nos siguen envenenando, pero luego me llevó a pensar que esto se trata más aún de las consecuencias de la guerra y de un Hiroshima y Nagasaki. Y la Humanidad parece que siempre quedará pagando , aunque pretendamos echar cosas debajo de la alfombra.
En Vashnoi, seguir a unos bichos lleva a descubrir tragedias más antiguas. De politicas que siguen actuando porque nadie quiere pensar en ellas y que por eso siguen haciendo daño. La complicidad de una sociedad que se deja estar.
Novella set after Captain Vorpatril's Alliance.
Do not read this novella if you have not read books from the Vorkosigan series. It is not the place to start.
Lady Ekaterin Vorkosigan is not exactly someone who has impressed me a lot in the past, after seeing the strong presence of the Kudelka sisters and Elena , but ..after all it was Miles choice. Ekaterin appears here doing botanical work working alongside one of the crazy scientists of Escobar (Enrique Borgos) who has created an experimental bug that eats radioactive plants based on the famous butterbugs (and here I fully agree with Miles ewww). The area where the experiment is carried out is the radioactive zone in Vashoi, inheritance of the Cetaganda war against Barrayar.
Speaking of radioactive zones makes us think immediately of Chernobyl and Fukushima, with all its consequences that we still cannot deal with and the venom leaking, but then it led me to think that this is even more about the consequences of war and of a Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And Humanity seems to always be paying, although we intend to throw things under the carpet.
In Vashnoi, following some bugs leads to discovering older tragedies. Of policies that continue to act because nobody wants to think about them and that is why they continue to hurt. The complicity of a society that lets itself be.
I'm not quite sure what I was expecting when I found out about this Vorkosigan novella, but it wouldn't have been this. And I mean that in the best possible way.
This is, if anything, a sequel to A Civil Campaign, though as ever this is independent enough to not need to have read anything else. That said, it deals most directly with an outgrowth of the 'butter bug' project from there. It also stars and is from Ekaterin's point of view, which we've seen a couple of other times (Komar and Diplomatic Immunity), but is nice to see again. It is also the first good look at the backcountry of Vorkosigan lands since "The Mountains of Mourning", and the first real look at the irradiated wilderness that was once the city of Vorkosigan Vashnoi (mentioned several times, most notably when Miles pawned off a good chunk to raise cash from someone who didn't think to check the radiation graphs first in The Warrior's Apprentice).
Past the tie-ins, this is a usual compact, dense novella from Bujold. Also, the mood is fairly somber, as many of the latest Vorkosigan stories have been. This is not the high-energy adventure of younger Miles, but the quiet reflective pieces that have generally gone with Ekaterin. Things begin fairly simply with a visit to a field test of a way to decontaminate the area. This naturally is the opening thread of the main plot, when scientific mystery starts turning into a more regular mystery, and then leads into a knot of unexpected problems.
A pretty healthy chunk of this novella is the climatic scene, which keeps climbing to new heights of drama before starting towards a resolution. As usual where Vorkosigans are involved, solutions are a mix of the conventional and unconventional, and a bit of emotional catharsis and philosophizing.
Is there anything better than an unexpected Vorkosigan novella? No. There is NOT. This one is a delight though in the more serious vein of Mountains of Mourning, taking place deep inside the Vorkosigan district. Ekaterin is always a lovely character to ride along with, partly because she loves Miles as much as I do. I love the view we get of the not long married Vorkosigans managing their complicated, rather tragic district on Barrayar. I just want more, as usual.
The protagonist of the story is Mile’s wife Ekaterin and it is set a few years after they got their first couple of kids. As we know from the previous installments, on Vorkosigan property there is a large radioactive piece since the occupation by Cetagandans, called Vashnoi exclusion zone. Ekaterin, who has already showed herself as a good bio-designer, decides to use ‘butter bugs’ from A Civil Campaign to clean the lands. The bug’s designer Enrique Borgos helps her in this endeavor. However, when they visit the test site, they find out that some of the bugs are missing and more importantly, someone lives in these radioactive wastelands.
И отново имаме приятна, но невдъхновена новела, типична за късната Бюджолд. Лейди Екатерин Воркосиган отива заедно с ескобарския учен Енрике в радиоактивната зона на Вашной, за да провери как се справят новите генномодифицирани буболечки, създадени да поглъщат радиацията. Там двамата ще попаднат на отдавна крита тайна. Действието отново е оскъдно, има твърде много приказки, а явно напоследък Бюджолд предпочита да заплита интригата около стари тайни, отколкото около някакви значими конфликти (както беше и в "Сделката на капитан Ворпатрил"). От динамиката на първите й книги няма и помен. Като цяло не е лоша новелата, чете се леко, но подозирам, че бързо ще я забравя. Три звезди и половина - този път ще ги закръгля нагоре, защото, слава богу, поне няма недоклатена любовна история.
Pushing the envelope. Compassion. A snapshot of a character who isn't usually the focus of stories. All of these apply to *The Flowers of Vashnoi.*
It's a wonderful little story, makes me think about the story **Aftermaths**, which is often attached to *Shards of Honor*, but has also been published as part of a collection or two. The ending of *The Flowers of Vashnoi* doesn't give you the same whiplash that **Aftermaths** does; instead, it's a main plot point that causes the whiplash.
This story is a chance for Enrique Borgos and Ekaterina to really shine, particularly Enrique, who comes across in *A Civil Campaign* as a comically clueless scientist. Ekaterina showed her kick-ass qualities in *Komarr*, and she's just as strong and strong-minded in *Flowers*.
Orilium – Elemental studies: O – Element of Water – start a book with a drink Buddy Readathon sa Zdravkom – 6 Globalni ciljevi: nastavak serijala
Baš sam se iznenadila kad sam saznala da postoji još jedna knjiga u serijalu o Milesu koju nisam pročitala. Novela zapravo, jedva 100 stranica, ali nema veze. To me toliko usrećilo, nemate pojma. Priča doduše većinom prati Milesovu suprugu Ekaterinu, ali svejedno me strašna nostalgija uhvatila. Ima potencijala, mogao bi iz nje i cijeli roman nastati. Bujold ima već 70 godina. Jesam li nefer ako se počinjem pitati hoće li ikad napisati išta više o Milesu? Voljela bih da neki pisci mogu živjeti zauvijek. Morat ću se ponovo uhvatiti cijelog serijala, nema mi druge.
A tightly worded, short story continuing the lives of Ekaterin, Lady Vorkosigan and Lord Miles set in the Vashnoi exclusion zone, an area destroyed during the Cetagandan invasion of the planet Barrayar. That exclusion zone is part of Miles' inheritance. Underneath this delightful novella beats the complexity of Miles and his world, it's dark history, and recovery. Fans will identify immediately, knowing the stories behind simple statements. Scientist Enrique Borgos and Ekaterin have been experimenting with Brother Mark's bioengineered butterbugs with a view to revitalizing areas that are in restricted radiation zones. The rad bugs have been redesigned to consume vegetation in these areas, absorbing the radiation. Think radiation pooping dung beetles, sort of. Ekaterin had been part of the project helping with their design making them more colorful to represent danger. That color attracts some interesting guests. Later when Ekaterin ponders the colorful bugs she "dreamed of gardens of moving lights, molten with color, where children, their future-faces as elusive as butterflies, played and were not poisoned." A worthy dream. But for now a visit to the test site reveals some of the rad bugs have gone missing from the experimental plot. The finding of them opens up more of the past, and a quandary. We are treated to delightful snapshots of Miles as a father and a husband, via Ekaterin's amused reflections such as trying "not to let her mind sketch parallels with hyperactive toddlers" when thinking about Miles and his energy levels. And then there's breakfast time, "Miles was helping, sort of—both twins seemed more interested in using their food to bomb the Hassadar Count’s Residence cats, swirling under their high chairs, a more entertaining and quasi-military exercise to which Miles had allowed himself to be diverted." Hmm! I must say reading this novella made me quite nostalgic for Miles type adventures. I feel a joyous reread of much of the series coming on.