Write Lois Write!

by Paula S Sanch

This was originally posted to the lois-bujold mailing list on 9 July 2001

Sometimes Lois gives listmembers snippets of information about where she is in the book she's currently writing (whichever book that might be). More often than she'd like, she's stuck - and that's why she's posting to the list instead of writing more of the book. As fans who've read all the material on the website know, her style of writing is to ask, "What is the worst thing that can happen to X," where X is the character currently driving the plot forward. Since we know she uses this method, occasionally people on the list wonder just what kind of trouble Miles, or Mark, or Ivan could possibly be in. This time, I was the one struck by dubious inspiration.

So here are the most preposterous plots I could imagine:

Maybe Gregor has gone insane (a la Serg).

Maybe Gregor's been assasinated by a far-right cabal.

Maybe Gregor's been assasinated by a far-left cabal.

Maybe Gregor's discovered that Laisa's a Betan herm.

Maybe Gregor's discovered that Laisa is Cavilo on disguise (right height and hair color, at least).

Maybe Laisa is a covert Komarran freedom fighter, programmed to assasinate Gregor after the Heir is 'in the can'. She becomes Regent, and gives Komarr its freedom.

Maybe the Cetas have attacked Barrayar (yes, again). This time, its ghem women, looking for Ivan.

Maybe the Cetas have sent a company of haut women, pledged to show the Barrayarans their unspeakable beauty, driving the Vor lords to suicide for unrequited love, thus finally capturing Barrayar without any Ceta casualties.

Maybe Admiral Elli has gone insane (with jealousy of Ekaterin), and has attacked.

Maybe Sgt. Taura has gone insane (due to hormonal imbalance resulting from grief over Miles's coming marriage), and killed everybody in sight.

Maybe somebody else (Nuevo Brasilians?) has attacked Barrayar.

Maybe a five kilometer asteroid has hit Barrayar (smack on top of Vorbarr Sultana. Fortunately, Gregor was visiting South Continent, on the other side of the world. Unfortunately, the planet has become unliveable, and as many people as possible will have to be evacuated to Sergyar to start over.).

Maybe pirates have captured Aral and Cordelia on their way back to Sergyar (though this would likely cause them more trouble than they expect, even if she doesn't have Koudelka's sword).

Maybe one of the suns on the wormhole route between Komarr and Barrayar has novaed, making the route unusable due to heavy particle bombardment within a light year of the star (unsafe to subject ships to the radiation long enough to move from one wormhole to the other. Barrayarans get a mass psychosis as they face a new Time of Isolation, which is expected to last more than a hundred years.

Maybe Ekaterin goes insane and kills Miles (but wait, wanting to kill Miles isn't necessarily evidence of insanity, based on his past performance).

Maybe Killer escapes Mark's control after Kareen leaves him for Alexi Vormoncrief, and kills all the Armsmen. Afterwards he explains that he had felt sure they were inadequate, and he will henceforth do the jobs of all twenty.

Maybe Grunt escapes Mark's control after Kareen leaves him for Vassili Vorsoisson, and rapes all the womenservants. Afterwards he explains that he just couldn't bear not having children, after learning about Vormuir's regiment of daughters, and Kareen has driven him to it.

Maybe Howl escapes Mark's control after Kareen leaves him for Major Zamori, and goes down to the caravanserai, where he gets beaten to death (there is no afterwards, for Mark).

Maybe Gorge escapes Mark's control after Kareen leaves him for Byerly Vorrutyer, and eats all the butterbugs (after eating all the bug butter in storage), exploding as he swallows the Vorkosigan butterbug queen last (there is no afterwards, for Mark, or the butterbugs).

Maybe Ivan goes on a mission to the Hegen Hub, where he is captured by Cavilo, who entices him into marriage. When he returns with Lady Cavilo, she kills Gregor, Aral, Miles and Mark, so that she can become Empress Cavilo. Of course, Cordelia gives Ekaterin Koudelka's sword, and Ekaterin cuts Cavilo's head off. She puts it in a shopping bag and delivers it to Laisa. Fortunately, an Heir is almost ready to 'hatch', and more are in frozen storage, awaiting their turns to be incubated. Laisa makes an admirable regent, having every single one of the 19 fertilized ova brought to term so that Gregor will never be forgotten. She retires to the Vorbarra country house with her other children after her son takes the throne. Comparisons with ancient history's Queen Victoria and her fidelity to her dead husband are commonly made, as she never looks at another man again, and wears only black the rest of her life. She lives to be 150 years old.

Maybe Ivan goes on a mission to Kline Station, where he is captured by ghem, whom he drives insane with his mindless babble under penta. Afterwards he tries newt nuggets, decides that they are the perfect food, and invests all his savings to begin shipping them to Barrayar. Vorbarr Sultana is buried five feet deep in newt nuggets, and Ivan is told he must clean up the mess. He entices Gorge to emerge and do the job for him. Mark explodes as he swallows the last newt nugget. Ivan is sent to Kyril Island.

Maybe Ivan goes on a mission to Beta, where he is seduced by a herm and suicides afterward.

Maybe Ivan goes on a mission to Athos, where he meets Ethan's 'brother' Janos, and runs away with him to the wilds, where they live happily ever after (Lady Alys can't ever nag him about getting married again).

Maybe Ivan goes on a mission to Sergyar, where he contracts the worm plague, which ruins his handsome face. As a result, he becomes introspective, quits military life, returns to college, and becomes a professor of philosophy. Female students fall in love with him in droves for his brooding air and failure to notice them, but he doesn't care.

Maybe Ivan goes on a mission to Escobar, where he meets Rowan Durona, and they fall in love. She tells him she will not marry him unless he emigrates there. He is so madly in love that he does it, becomes a political consultant for the Escobaran government, and they live happily ever after.

Maybe Miles goes on a mission to Earth, taking Ekaterin along. They are tracked down by the reporter who interviewed him when he was there before. Miles is unable to warn Ekaterin in advance, and the reporter extracts information which she broadcasts, causing him grave difficulty in persuading his Earth contacts he is the 'right one'. Ekaterin and Miles break up, and she runs away with a ghem.

Maybe Alexi Vormoncrief escapes from Kyril Island, comes back to Vorbarr Sultana, and suicides in the Vorkosigan parlor, right in front of Miles and Ekaterin. The servants cannot get the blood out of the carpet, and Ekaterin is distraught that Vorkosigan House furnishings have been damaged because of her. She suicides, but tidily, in a bathtub.

Maybe Alexi Vormoncrief escapes from Kyril Island, and gets away into the Nexus, where he meets Cavilo. He tells her his heartrending story of unrequited love and how he was denied Ekaterin's love because of the evil Miles. They form an alliance. He brings her back to Barrayar with him, where she kidnaps Miles, helps Alexi kidnap Ekaterin, and they escape back into space, where Cavilo holds Miles as a love slave, and Alexi bores Ekaterin until she yawns herself to death.

© 2001 by Paula S Sanch (tygerbryght@cleartouch.com)

Current version by Michael Bernardi, mike@dendarii.co.uk

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Last updated: May 6th 2002