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Andrea K Höst

Australian writer of science fiction and fantasy.

Ethan of Athos (Vorkosigan Saga)

Ethan of Athos - Lois McMaster Bujold Another book devoted to delving into a culture - or two cultures, since we have both Athos and station life. Athos is a planet where a group of men, with the help of uterine replicators and tissue cultures, have created an all-male society (ostensibly religious, but the religion seemed to come down to the occasional oath, and propaganda against women).Athos has run out of female tissue culture, the replacement shipment seems to have been sabotaged, and Ethan has been sent out into the dangerous, female-infested galaxy to try to source some more.The first woman he meets is Elli Quinn of the Dendarii mercenaries, and after that nothing is simple on this shopping trip.The plot itself is entertaining and Ethan likeable enough, though he sure gets over his horror of women quickly. You do get left with a lot of questions - like, can homosexuality really be 'enculturalated'? Are there no dissidants on Athos? Has the universe really not advanced in its attitude toward homosexuality since the 80s (outside the catch-all Beta Colony)?Ethan goes through a bit of a shock meeting real women for the first time but that shock doesn't reflect to his own culture. He doesn't appear to _care_ that he's been raised on lies, that it's this huge falsity. There's not even an iota of "we shouldn't lie to ourselves this way".The thing which bothered me most was Ethan's request of Elli at the end of the book. A request to donate an ovary is one thing. A request to donate to a culture where the children will be raised to hate and loathe women, where they are fed propaganda from birth, told that women are monsters? Children who won't have the freedom to leave that culture? There was rather a lot of factors left out of that choice. And the final recovery of the "fridged girlfriend's" genes allowing the creation of a telepath race entirely ignores the question of whether _she_ wanted a few thousand sons, and what a lovely idea it is to create a race of telepaths _who hate women_.Ah well - Bujold is careful to simply present the situation and never have any of the protagonists judging anyone. But this is not a very comfortable set-up.