Ethan of Athos (Vorkosigan Saga)

Ethan of Athos (Vorkosigan Saga)

by Lois McMaster Bujold

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Overview

Leo Graf was an effective engineer...Safety Regs weren't just the rule book he swore by; he'd helped write them. All that changed on his assignment to the Cay Habitat. Leo was profoundly uneasy with the corporate exploitation of his bright new students—till that exploitation turned to something much worse. He hadn't anticipated a situation where the right thing to do was neither save, nor in the rules...

Leo Graf adopted 1000 quaddies—now all he had to do was teach them to be free.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780671656041
Publisher: Baen
Publication date: 12/28/1986
Series: Vorkosigan Saga
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 490,702
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the most honored writers in the fields of science fiction and fantasy and has won six Hugo Awards and two Nebula Awards, including a Nebula Award for Falling Free, included in Miles and Metallurgy. She immediately attracted attention with her first novel, Shards of Honor, which began her popular Vorkosigan series, and quickly followed it up with The Warrior’s Apprentice, which introduced young Miles Vorkosigan, one of the most popular characters ever in science fiction. Her recent fantasy series for Harper-Collins has been a top seller, and its second entry, Paladin of Souls, took home her latest Hugo Award. The mother of two, Ms. Bujold lives in Minneapolis, MN.

What People are Saying About This

Faren Locus Miller

Ethan of Athos is an entertaining, and out-of-the-ordinary, romp.

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Ethan of Athos 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Athos is one of the most isolated planets in the galactic community, which is exactly how the inhabitants like it. It's a planet entirely of men, where contact with off-planet sources is strictly limited, and each next generation is conceived in vitro and incubated in uterine replicators. This system has worked for hundreds of years, but now Athos is facing a serious problem: their carefully cultured lines of ovarian tissue, the same cell lines that have provided half of the genetic material of every Athosian for centuries, are failing.Dr. Ethan Urquhart is the head of one of Athos's District Reproduction Centers, and he is well aware of the grave prospects for his planet's future. When a very expensive order of ovarian tissue from off-world turns out to be useless, Ethan is chosen for a vital but unprecedented mission: to go off-world himself, find some replacement cell cultures, and personally safeguard them on their way back to Athos.Ethan only gets as far as the transfer hub of Kline Station before things start to go wrong. The enormous space station is overwhelming enough for someone who has never before seen, let alone been forced to interact with, women. But Ethan has bigger problems on his plate as he swiftly becomes tangled in a plot that involves spies, military operatives, subterfuge, murder, and a fugitive carrying something that could change the fate of the human race forever.Review: I'm afraid my reviews of Lois McMaster Bujold's books, and of the Vorkosigan Saga in particular, are in danger of becoming repetitive. My opinion of almost all of her books boils down to: Love her! Read them! And Ethan of Athos is no exception. Bujold's got an uncanny ability to create multidimensional, flawed, and loveable characters in a very short space. Even though Ethan is almost painfully naïve throughout the book, it's hard not to sympathize with him and cheer for him right from the beginning.Bujold's also got a deft hand with dialogue; the characters have just the right amount of snarky wit to keep things lively without losing the rhythms of how real people talk. The same sense of humor is present throughout the book -- I'm still giggling about one of the parts with the newts -- but it's well-blended with the action, the politics, and the emotional pathos that make up the rest of the story. The whole thing moves along quickly, telling a complete story in a lean seven hours of audiobook -- no unnecessary or wasted scenes here.Ethan of Athos also showcases how good Bujold can be at introducing more serious topics in her fiction, without having the story become entirely about The Issues. In this case, the story on the surface is essentially a spy thriller, but there are deeper layers dealing with sexism, the rights of the individual vs. the society, and homophobia. The sexism angle is the most obvious; after all, Athos is a society founded for the express purpose of protecting men from the evil, corrupting influence of women. Watching Ethan deal with the contrast between his indoctrinated beliefs and the reality of meeting actual women was fascinating, and I appreciated that Bujold left him not-quite-converted and still grappling with his prejudices at the end of the book, rather than taking the easier but less-realistic path of a complete epiphany.I also found it fascinating that while Ethan is dealing with his own sexism, he also has to deal with others' homophobia against Athosians (who are, after all, actually trying to recruit their children to bolster their planet's flagging genetic diversity). There's a very interesting interplay between various characters' perceptions, prejudices, upbringings, and experiences that hums away beneath the surface, raising questions and making the reader think without competing with the narrative flow of the story.As per usual, Grover Gardner does a wonderful job with the narration. His voice blends seamlessly into those of the characters, making it ea
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ethan of Athos is listed as the sixth novel in the Vorkosigan Saga, and within the context of the series is an oddity. All the other series have to do with events surrounding the Vorkosigans of the planet Barrayar and most of them center on Miles Vorkosigan, one of my literary heartthrobs. No Vorkogans appear in this book though--it's just set in the same universe--so this could possibly stand alone. One of the aspects of Bujold's Vorkosigan universe is that this is an interstellar society with quite advanced reproductive technology including artificial wombs. On Athos, this technology has been used to create an all male society that censors the very existence of females they see as demonic. Ethan is sent out of that world in order to obtain new ovarian material to sustain their society.That makes things tricky in several ways--all the more because this was written in the 1980s. Because first and foremost this is a society with a misogynist basis--and certainly a homosexual one and written in an age when gay marriage and raising of families was unheard of. Yet Bujold manages to make Ethan very sympathetic, and lets him interact with a strong woman character in ways that while it does change how he sees women, doesn't change his basic orientation or that of his society--and doesn't do this in any heavy-handed way. Instead, like the other Vorkosigan books I've read, this is fun, entertaining, fast-paced action adventure. I have to tip my hat to that, even if I did miss Miles.
richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First time I thought of sci-fi as queer-able. Of course, author makes the character have no choice about it...the whole planet's womanless (like that would suit queers, hah). Enjoyable, because the author's got talent.
Finxy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Don't start this one thinking Miles is in it. You'll only be disappointed. The little guy is mentioned quite a bit though and one of the major characters is Elli Quinn, some might remember her from The Warrior's Apprentice. The main protagonist is this chap Ethan. He lives on a male only planet inhabited by blokes who live in superstitious dread of women (otherwise known as uterine replicators with legs). The fun starts when he has to leave his home planet in search or a replacement supply of ovarian cultures to replace the failing existing cultures, without which his society can't reproduce. Due to massive culture shock (women everywhere) Ethan soon gets up to his neck in trouble. It's all quite light hearted but very amusing.
love2laf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not a Miles novel, but related. Extremely interesting take on a society without women (on purpose). Ethan made for a great character, and I highly enjoyed this book.
TW_Spencer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 1986, Gay Rights had been in existence for nearly twenty years ¿ The Stonewall Riots, The March on Washington for Civil Rights, and with activist such as Harvey Milk ¿ This book was very timely. It also gave voice to a segment of the population being decimated by Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (AIDS),and categorically forgotten by Ronald Reagan and his administration. Marriage and Adoption although at the time may have been considered by the mainstream something that could be nothing more then revolting it was non-the-less part of the Gay Rights agenda. Gay men and women became parents of ¿through biological means or single parent adoptions ¿ children and raised them to be well-adjusted adults ¿ I am a testament to that assertion. All through history gay men and gay women have found ways to live and love. Thus is reflected in fiction and especially in mythology, anybody remember Ganymeade.As utopia stories go, this is the best I¿ve read. This is a single sex planet where they use genetic material and artificial wombs to procreate. Although, the men on the planet Athos have jobs, relationships, and kids derived through this genetic process. Even though the prevailing religion that over 150 years has engrained into Athos populous to hate and fear women, this should not be seen as misogyny. Or gynophobic for that matter, the men of Athos are not really afraid of women, they¿ve never seen them. When read correctly it is clear that the fictional population is instead in a strong state of misanthropy, what they really are afraid is those who are not of they¿re would ¿ they are true isolationist.Athos¿ state as a utopia is made clear when Ethan ¿ the story¿s protagonist ¿ travels off world to acquire new genetic material because the current genetic material has degraded and needs replacement. The reader should not read this book with a modern day viewpoint. If it is read with such viewpoints it could be misunderstood.In my humble opinion this is the best, although an off shoot, of the Miles Vorkosigan series. It's a shame Lois McMaster Bujold hasn't seen fit to revisit this area of her fantasy world.
Archren on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 1986, Gay Rights was a fairly new thing. Some people still knew AIDS as GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency), not yet realizing the plague that it would become. Gay marriage? Gay adoption? Not on the radar. It must have been a lot harder to come out of the closet back then. In that context then, ¿Ethan of Athos¿ is an important book, stating flatly that gay men are folks just like the rest of us, who can get caught up in surprising space adventures just like anyone else in science fiction. As read today, twenty years later, the philosophical statement doesn¿t seem quite so radical, but the adventure is still enjoyable.Athos is a single-sex planet, and has been for 150 years or so. Due to the philosophy of the founders, the men are taught that women are treacherous and highly suspect, to be avoided at all cost. The guys there have jobs and relationships and kids just like anyone else. Ethan is a doctor specializing in making babies. It¿s a complex process, obviously, making liberal use of artificial wombs and cultures. Unfortunately, the cultures have a limited lifespan, and they¿re beginning to wear out. New genetic material (from women) will be needed. Ethan is a grade-A member of his society, without a rebellious thought in him. So he is chosen to go arrange for more material out in the wider world, where he hopefully will not be corrupted. It¿s difficult to arrange these things, since their world suffers under a severe stigma from the rest of the universe, both for their gay culture and for their phobic misogyny.When Ethan ventures away from home for the first time, it doesn¿t take long for things to go wrong. First there¿s the frighteningly casual literal gay-bashing scene. Then he is quickly drawn into games of skulking espionage, under suspicion due to something that went wrong with the last package of genetic material that Athos ordered. He is rescued by a woman twice, much to his alarm. He meets other people involved in a widening conspiracy, and generally bumbles through to the satisfying conclusion, learning along the way how to deal with the rapidly evolving situation and the radically different social norms. Importantly, he never ¿converts¿ to heterosexuality (although if you think about it, she¿s also arguing that being gay is cultural, not genetic, a stance that is possibly more controversial now than it would have been then).The book reads much like some later Heinlein. The characters aren¿t terribly deep, but they serve their purposes well. They¿re all very competent and witty. You¿ve got your strong female character (more of a leader here than in typical Heinlein), Ethan is our Stranger in a Strange Land, you¿ve got mercenary/government bad buys, etc. In setting up such an extreme example as an all-male planet, and then letting it and its representative be fairly normal ¿ not too macho, not bumblingly incompetent or wussy ¿ Bujold makes a powerful statement for gay equality. Also, she can pull off the side effect of extreme gynophobia in a way that isn¿t offensive to women and without undermining her argument about gays, a feat that a male author may not have been able to pull off.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In one word, this book was Cute. It wasn't very deep, no great overall ethical dilemma, just a guy trying to save his planet and way of life. A bit of intrigue, a mercenary space captain (Female of course), and a strange kid the result of mad scientists genetic tinkering.This book could have gone all deep and painful, but then it wouldn't have been a fun romp in a space station. For those a bit squeamish about the topic, theres little mention of romance and our hero Ethan is pure of heart with eyes only for his mission.
clong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Given its subject matter, I was a bit skeptical about this book coming in, but I'd have to say that Bujold did a very nice job with a potentially very tricky subject. Planet Athos is a planet inhabited only by men, but Ethan of Athos is not really about a homosexual world. It's more a funny and fun adventure story about a man who comes from a homosexual world. It was interesting to read this book about a month after having read A Bertram Chandler's Spartan Planet, which is similarly about what happens when a traditional heterosexual society collides with a male only society. While the Chandler is teen male escapist fantasy, Bujold treats the subject in a much more mature, intelligent, and honest way. The protagonist Urquhart and his foil Quinn (a female mercenary on a mission for Miles Vorkosigan's Admiral Naismith persona) are likable characters, while Cee and the Cetagandan bad guys are drawn in sufficiently fluctuating shades of gray that you are left wondering about their motivations. The plot is fairly thin and driven by lots of coincidences, but the denouement was surprising, intriguing, and even a little bit challenging. I'd recommend this book to all but the most fervent homophobes.
therhoda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ever been afraid of soemone because you have never seen one before? If so You'll adore poor Ethan.
sheherazahde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story takes place in the Vorkosigan universe but the only regular character involved is Elli Quinn, who claims to be on vacation but is actually on a mission. The main charter is Dr Ethan Urquhart, Chief of Biology at the Severin District Reproduction Center on Athos an all male planet. Because there are no women on Athos (for religious reasons) children are conceived in vitro using egg cultures brought by the original colonists and brought to term in artificial wombs. But after two hundred years the egg cultures are failing and the new eggs that were ordered from off world at considerable expense are all garbage. Ethan is sent out to oversee the purchase of new human egg cultures but he has never seen a woman in his life and galactic culture is a bit overwhelming. On top of that the problem with the original shipment was no accident and dangerous people think Ethan knows more than he's telling. This book raises some interesting questions. I bought it because of a conversation between Elli and Ethan about the cost of raising children. This book answers the question "What if men were the ones who raised the children" and the answer is that on Athos raising children is a respected and honored social duty. Ethan talks about the cost of raising children and compensating primary nurturers for their labor, but the economics of Athos are not well explained. Fatherhood on Athos is an honor one must build up social credit in order to acquire. That would seem to imply that fathers in a sense pay to receive children instead of being paid for their labor. It is never explained how (or if) primary (or secondary) nurturers are compensated for their labor. When men apply to receive children they cash in their "social duty credits" and pay cash for the production of the child. That seems to fit the traditional model of children as personal possessions of the parents and not something society as a whole pays for. The "Social Duty Credits" are more of a licencing system than a compensation system. In the end I don't think it explains how a society could fairly value the "women's work" of raising children. But it does explain why clone armies are impractical (I'm looking at you "Star Wars"). Children being a privilege that is licensed by the government is a recurring theme for Bujold. Beta Colony, generally presented as socially and technologically advanced, requires citizens to get a government licence to have children. A lot of people talk about this novel as a landmark in gay science fiction, but I'm not convinced. I was struck by the open homophobia of the galactic culture. Ethan gets beaten up in a bar because he is gay, and homophobia is generally accepted. Homosexuality is only acceptable on Athos because there are no other options and I'm glad Bujold admits that, because an all male culture with no homosexuality would unrealistic. Ethan mentions that there are monasteries on Athos where men practice celibacy in accord with the Founding Fathers principles. But most human men would rather have sex with another man than not have sex at all. A lot of single-sex female utopias have been written but I can't think of another single-sex male utopia. I wonder why.
kellan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Utopia novels have played a powerful, and popular role in shaping the discourse for the last 150 years. Ethan of Athos is solidly in the lineage of Bellamy's "Looking Backwards".However alone of all its ilk, Bujold's "Ethan of Athos" is the only utopia to seriously address the idea of an all male utopia. (by contrast all female utopia are pratically their own sub-genre)Under the cloak of military SF, Bujold is consistently doing some of the most interesting writing about identity, gender and reproduction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Colona More than 1 year ago
Think a young Gregory Peck: earnest young doc must undertake vital mission to bring material back to home planet so that life can continue. He will face beings that reflect his deepest fears and prejudices. Really an enjoyable book. Bujold turns expectations inside out to entertain both sci-fi fans and lovers of good characters.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Though I frequently came across her name as a highly recommended science fiction author, I missed out on Lois McMaster Bujold until recently, when I read Ethan of Athos. That scifi adventure involves a man from an all-male planet who uses technology to provide children for his world¿s population. Ethan happens to be gay many of the other Athosians simply practice celibacy. Unfortunately, something goes awry, and Ethan must leave Athos on a mission that will cause him to rely on a woman for help. Despite the strange plot and the comical tone, Bujold delivers an exciting story and characters that seem real. I like that she doesn¿t remind me of any other writer. As someone who enjoys reading (and writing) science fiction or fantasy novels with queer themes, I suggest this novel, as well as Wraeththu (by Storm Constantine), Cinátis (by Ronald L. Donaghe), The Left Hand of Darkness (by Ursula K. Le Guin), Stealing Some Time (by Mark Kendrick) and The Handmaid¿s Tale (by Margaret Atwood). Other readers could suggest more, but I loved those and plan to read many related titles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a fast read once you get past the begining. It isn't really anti gay male. The story begins describing a remote gay male planit. The culture is isolated and very naieve about the rest of the universe - untill something goes wrong . Then things start to get very interesting.