Ethan of Athos

Lois McMaster Bujold
Ethan of Athos Cover

Ethan of Athos


This was an enjoyable romp! I'm a huge fan of the Vorkosigan/Naismith Universe and I love when Bujold explores the lives of less major characters than Miles.


About 200 years prior, the founders of Athos colonized a planet of males only. Through the process of religious conditioning, the concept of "woman" is alien and uncomfortable for the Athosians. All information about women from off planet is heavily censored and most live their entire lives without seeing an image of a woman, let alone meeting one.

Responsible individuals who've accumulated enough "social credit" are allowed to become fathers using the technology of uterine replicators and ovarian cultures. Ethan, the main character, works as a specialist at one of their reproductive centers. As their 200 year old ovarian cultures start to play out, Athos is on the verge of a crisis. Ethan is assigned to travel off world to purchase viable ovarian cultures to replace their aging supply.

While Ethan, is almost unbearably earnest, he encounters Dendarri Mercenary Commander Ellie Quinn herself as glib as Ethan is serious. Ethan desires to fulfill his mission and return to Athos with as little "cultural contamination" as possible. Quinn is on a mission of her own, her cheekiness a front for her desire to measure up to Admiral Naismith's image. Together they become caught up in a larger plot of espionage and danger. Initially, both seem to view each other as a handicap to their higher purposes. But as they have to work together to dodge ECO Police, Station Security, and Ghem Lords while also managing an emerging telepath caught up in the same chaos, they have to trust each other. And both gain a measure of respect for each other they wouldn't have thought possible at their original meeting.

Along the way, Bujold somewhat superficially explores the prejudices and misunderstandings a man from a same sex society encounters. From casual beatings by those who fear Ethan's differentness, to the assumption that any attempt to address a woman is out of sexual interest. Because of the fast pacing of the story, as well as the space opera nature of it, these topics are only glanced off of quickly, but certainly not glossed over completely.

And in the end, Ethan go home with the guy (and the girl...sort of ;-) )

A happy ending all around...