Isolated from the galactic community by distance and a lack of exploitable resources, the Athosians have peacefully lived their peculiar social experiment for two hundred years. But now, the ovarian cultures dating back to the original settlement of the planet are giving out.
With the future of Athos at stake, Ethan is chosen on behalf of his cloistered fellows for a unique mission: to brave the wider universe in quest of new ovarian tissue cultures to replenish Athos' dwindling stocks. Along the way, he must tangle with covert operatives, killers, telepathy, interplanetary politics, and - perhaps most disturbingly - an indomitable female mercenary named Elli Quinn.
©1986 Lois McMaster Bujold; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Actor/director/teacher. Live most of the time in Beijing now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
Ethan fits very nicely into the Vorkosigan series though not at the beginning, even though this was the first of the books to be published. If you delight in the wit, wisdom and tight plotting of Bujold's masterful Vorkosigan stories, you will be pleased with this piece despite the fact that Miles never appears directly in the narrative.
LMB is entirely original, consistently surprising the reader with her inventiveness while remaining unerringly consistent in her rendering of a very complex and fascinating world and a marvelous cast of characters. In addition, her stories are always deeply human, based on problems which rise naturally and honestly from the motivations, confusions, fears and aspirations which we all share. Happily she does this without wallowing in turgid inner monologues, maintaining instead a light and entertaining style which is never far from a smile or a chuckle. As a result, there is always a lot more wisdom present in her writing than we notice at first blush.
The absence of Miles Vorkosigan in this installment of the Vorkosigan series was not as ruinous as I had at first feared. On the contrary, the story was just as intriguing and witty as the others in the series.
In a previous review an audible listener seemed to take offense at the word "peculiar" being used to describe the lifestyle on the planet Athos, even going as far as to accuse the writer of being homophobic. Completely ridiculous - an entire planet of men that are scared to death of women (forcing them to have to procreate using 200 yr old uterine cultures) is a bit peculiar no matter what your view on homosexuality is. Being forced to be homosexual (like all the men of Athos) is quite peculiar indeed. Nevertheless, great concept and great writing. Bujold never fails to amaze me with her creativity and wit. The entire series is worth your next few month's worth of audible credits.
This is one of TWO books of Lois Bujold that I think are her very best work. The other being "Falling Free". (note that I really enjoy all of her books) I noted that one reviewer objected to the phrase "strange perversion" or something which pertained to the All Male Colony of Athos. this is like objecting to and wishing to eliminate the n-word from the works of Mark Twain in the theory that it is not politically correct. and like Twain, Ms. Bujold gives her characters life and meaning BEYOND the stereotypical. Making such stereotypes nonsensical. Ethan is a sympathetic character who is trying to help his home cope with serious problems. To do this, he travels into the unimaginable and terrifying Galaxy where not only is he a stranger in a strange land, but he has to deal with those difficult and dangerous FEMALES! Of whom he is terrified because of the militant evangelical fervor with which his home world denounces them as creatures with unimaginable powers and hidden abilities to destroy a man! they may be right! I would Be FASCINATED to hear the back story about Athos! Why are they so repulsed by Women? What happened to their founders to cause them to create a planet where women are forbidden? And how is this so very different from the world of Barrayar and it's nearly pathological anti Female military? And how much of our OWN prejudices does this reveal!
I want BACK STORY! I want MORE INFORMATION DAMMIT!
I really love this book. It is fascinating and fun. Bujold at her very best. Only Falling Free may be better!
I read, I write; I listen
I have read all of the Vorkosigan series and I almost let this one go becasue there was no Miles; that would have been a huge mistake. This story is great!
Set in Buold's universe, Ethan comes from the male only world of Athos where woman are stricly forbidden. Having no woman on the planet they must replensih the population by two methods: recruits and uterine replicators. Since not many males are willing to come to Athos they rely heavily on the former method. Ethan's job is to bring heathty new baby boys into the world and when the good supply of ovarian tissue becomes nearly depleted, it becomes his assignment to go out into the universe and procure more.
Once off world he comes face to face with the first woman he had ever seen; Elli Quinn.
Louis bujold writes with her usuall mastery and I can't imagine anyone reading her books other than Grover Garner.
I was a little put off when it was revealed that Athos was an all male planet with all that implies. But, that aspect is not explored in depth. This story follows the typical vorkosigan pattern of mystery, machinations, manipulations, all finally tied up in a neat bow. If you're into the series, you won't be disappointed.
Historical & SciFi Book Lover, especially Georgette Heyer, Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis (& New Who). Also books for the kids.
More comedy of errors adventurous fun from LMB. For years this was one of my favourite LMB books. (And this is one of her weaker novels, the woman is a genius).
No Miles in this book. However, If you are new to the series you could start here, and you ca get a flavour of the Little Admiral.
This may seem like a simple adventure/spy story. But LMB is never simple. This is also a clear exploration of how technology affects society and societal mores.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
The story stands alone from the "series", though there are recurring characters you'll recognize if you've read other books in the series.
The story is fast and interesting. I'm not a big fan of the "women as foreign and misunderstood" theme in it, but I suppose that's the premise of Athos. There isn't much explanation as to why Athos was made into a woman-less world (not sure how one could explain this in any sensible way) or much investigation of the issues that would arise in an all-male world but I suppose the point of the story was to see how Ethan did in the big bad world.
Ethan did alright. The story is enjoyable. There's some fighting and some mystery but no blood 'n gore or sex. I don't recall any foul language either.
The narrator is distinctive. He reads well, and doesn't over dramatize.
What a pleasant surprise this book was. I now wish I'd read it in order (before Brothers in Arms), but at the time I wasn't sure whether I'd enjoy it or not since it didn't have Miles or any of the 'usual' characters involved. I liked Ethan and all the rest and found myself wishing the book were longer.
This was the first Vorkosigan series book I read and I regretted it. Without the background of other books in the series, it is just a fun adventure. I read this one first and did not read another for about 5 years.
That said, it is a good read if you have already read The Warrior's Apprentice. It is especially good if you have also read some of the later Miles books.
How would that work? Ethan of Athos, follows naturally on Cetaganda because both stories are a meditation on the nature of reproduction without sex, and the role that men, women, and sex could have in the process; what might happen if the unscrupulous get hold of the process, and so on. Of course, all Bujold's books are also liberally drenched in nail biting action, wicked plot twists, great humor, and excellent characters. We meet Ellie Quinn (sic?) again, for example. I think Bujold is incapable of producing a bad book or character, and Grover Gardner is incapable of interpreting her work with anything less than perfect pitch.
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