RogerBW's Blog

A Bit Too Much Good Work, A. T. Rain 31 March 2020

2016 science fiction novel, fanfic in the Vorkosigan universe (set around and among the events of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance). The narrative follows Byerly Vorrutyer, agent of Imperial Security, as he negotiates politics, bomb threats, and his personal life.

At the very least, one should be familiar with Captain Vorpatril's Alliance; the narrative rests firmly on that, and won't explain what's going on if it's already in that book. For that matter, characters from the book aren't really introduced as much as they're allowed to wander on stage with the assumption that the reader already knows who they are. One assumes this is a fanfic convention, and it's not a terrible idea, though it can be a little disconcerting.

What often puts me off book-based fanfic is the attempt to capture an author's voice, which usually fails. If you're writing about say Modesty Blaise, you're inviting me to compare your writing with that of Peter O'Donnell, who was really rather good at it. (This is probably easier with television as the source, especially a show that's already had multiple scriptwriters to put words in its characters' mouths.) Rain has the sense not to try to pastiche Bujold: they're technically competent and reasonably erudite, witty in the same sort of way, but one wouldn't mistake a Rain paragraph for a Bujold paragraph, or vice versa.

"Besides, getting a job in Analysis wouldn't help with theā€¦ conflict of interest thing."

"No, but it would keep you out of trouble and get you out of the way of women who are going to turn your head."

As By didn't have the slightest desire to stay out of trouble or get out of the way of women who were going to turn his head, Lev's advice seemed distinctly unhelpful.

I felt that the major obstacle thrown in the path of the romance didn't quite hold together: the subject was something that had come up in conversation already, so it shouldn't have been the surprise that it was. Still, the thing works, and makes interesting people out of minor characters who didn't have enough room for their stories to be told elsewhere.

He settled into the passenger seat of Ivan's two-seater with some relief. He actually found Ivan's driving relaxing; it made him think about all the problems that would instantly disappear if he got killed.

This can be found at ao3. It's Rain's only novel-length work in the Vorkosigan setting, though there are quite a few shorter pieces at the same site.


  1. Posted by Gus at 12:42pm on 03 April 2020

    I have a great fondness for Rain's Byerly. Before embarking on ABTMGW, the prospective reader might do well to try Protective Colouration, which is not only great - and short - fun in itself but which introduces three of the non-canon characters who have significant parts to play in the longer work. Yes, I am counting Contraband. Obviously.

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