A couple of days ago, I reported on a study that found dogs demonstrated empathy by yawning in response to a human yawn. Intrigued, I conducted my own study (titled 0% of dogs sensitive to human yawns – http://josephmallozzi.com/2008/08/09/august-9-2008-are-human-yawns-contagious-to-dogs-lets-find-out-and-the-weird-food-purchase-of-the-day/ ) which concluded that either a) dogs are not empathetic or b) my dogs knew they were being tested and purposely sabotaged the study. So today, I conducted a second study, this one with human subjects. Success! You can check out the video, titled 50% of humans sensitive to other human yawns) at the bottom of this entry.
In a little over a month from now, we’ll be wrapping our sets for yet another season, preparing for next year, and scattering to the four winds for some much-needed R&R. Before that happens, of course, we have some episodes that need finishing. I am anxiously awaiting a director’s cut of Remnants, Marty G. is directing his last day on Brain Storm (at the airport shooting the Learjet sequences), Infection has started shooting (infirmary scenes in Stage 6 to start the day, then a move over to the hive ship set in the FX stage), Carl is casting Identity, and Paul has reached the fourth act of the still untitled Episode #20.
Cordelia’s Honor Discussion:
Thornyrose writes: “My favorite part of Shards was Cordelia’s struggle back home to simply go about her life.”
Answer: I loved the fact that the government wanted to use her to further their ends, publicly recognizing her as a great hero, only to view her with suspicion and distrust when she refuses to play ball. I found it interesting that, in the minds of the Betan authorities, the more tolerant attitude Corelia had adopted toward the Barrayans, and Vorkosigan in particular, could only be ascribed to enemy brainwashing. Clearly, the foreboding legends surrounding Barrayar, and again Vorkosigan in particular, convinced them Cordelia had been compromised because nobody in their right mind would sympathize with the likes of them. This seemed to indicate that Betan antipathy toward the Barrayaran people pre-dated the war. Do ensuing books in the series touch on the development of the hostilities that touched off the seemingly inevitable conflict?
Thornyrose also writes: “I think in Barrayar Cordelia’s true strengths came out. In a hostile, alien envirement, where all the normal rules of conduct seem turned around, she successfully manages to adapt.”
Answer: Interesting point because someone else I spoke to felt that the Cordelia of Barrayar was a different character from the Cordelia of Shards of Honor. While I would agree that she had changed, I saw it as a more of an evolution of her characters as (as you pointed out) she adapts to marriage, motherhood, and cultural differences. Did anyone else bump on the change?
Thornyrose also writes: “She may not be as strong physically as a Barrayarn man, but she proved conclusively she could be as ruthless.”
Answer: Holy Smokes, yes. I was surprised when she gave Bothari the decisive order at book’s end and yet I totally understood her reasoning after the fact. She had a child to protect after all.
Thornyrose also writes: “ My only regret in having re-read these is that I’m now going to have to find the time to go through the rest of the Vorkosigan novels.”
Answer: That’s the great thing about this book club. It’s not only introduced me to terrific writers like Bujold, Baker, and Ford, but ensured that I’ll be busy for months to come as I work my way through their other books.
Thornyrose also writes: “ I noticed Mr. M. says Aral reminds him of a young Robert Davi. Myself, I picture more of a Gregory Peck.”
Answer: Given Aral’s history, I imagined someone physically imposing. And given Cordelia’s ability to see beyond mere surface impressions, I imagined her falling in love with Aral for who he was rather than what he looked like.
Sel writes: “And, yes, I love that while Aral is the man of honour, and Cordelia is careful and respectful of his honour, in return, he also recognises her honour and her worth and is careful and respectful of that.”
Answer: And that’s exactly what I responded to – the fact that their relationship was one between equals built on mutual respect.
Fsmn36 writes: “Obviously I haven’t read all possible, but in general, I love the genre because it does focus typically on the people, character realtionships, and sociopolitical aspects–simply mixing in sci-fi aspects. I find such stories seem more realistic and flow better.”
Answer: When I studied literature back in the day, I always felt that a historical and sociopolitical approach to the text added immeasurably to my understanding of the work. By placing it in a proper context, you come to recognize the human element that went into its creation. In a similar way, the focus on the sociopolitical aspects of Barrayar really grounded the story for me.
Fsmn36 also writes: “There was a brilliant juxtaposition of swords and daggers and plasma beams.”
Answer: Love swords in space!
Antisocialbutterflie writes: “Betans were progressive socially and technologically. When you see it through Cordelia’s eyes it seems almost idyllic. However when we are confronted with the reality of her world she found that it was in fact deluded and manipulative. The converse is Barrayan culture was seen as savage, stuffy, and antiquated, but in reality was more honest and the people were more connected to one another. It is little wonder that Cordelia eventually made a home there.”
Answer: Now that you mention it, that was very interesting. The two sides in the conflict seem fairly black and white at the beginning of Shards of Honor and then, as Cordelia’s story progresses, things become decidedly greyer all around.
Antisocialbutterflie writes: “It may be a commentary on my inner psyche; Bothari was my favorite character. His struggle with himself was both sad and touching. In the end it is apparent that he is never going to be a whole person, but he finds a place anyway.”
Answer: Hmmm. Seems that we’re not the only one with inner psyche issues. Bothari seems to be the consensus favorite.
Iamza writes: “The other great thing about LMB’s books is the humour displayed.”
Anwer: Wholeheartedly agree. That’s the common variable in anything I enjoy, be it a book, movie, or television series.
AV Eddy writes: “ The characters were interesting and realistic, except maybe for the exceptionally crazy Bothari and exceptionally sadistic Vorrutyer.”
Answer: I found Bothari a very interesting character – damaged yet principled. But now that you mention it, yes, the villains were a little too straightforward, both Vourrutyer and Vordarian.
Okay, you have one more day to get your questions in for Lois McMaster Bujold. Start posting!
Well, I’m off to Fuel tonight. The corn soup is back!
Tune in tomorrow when special guest blogger and Stargate Director of Photography Jim Menard drops in and answers your questions.
Today’s pics: Brain Storm!
Today’s videos: A follow-up yawn study and Today’s Weird Food Purchase of the Day (Spicy Peanut Butter!) in which I am joined by my eager young assistant.
Sel writes: “And while I’m at it – for those who like the ‘Space Opera’ genre – I rather enjoyed Elizabeth Moon’s “Serrano Legacy””
Answer: Haven’t read her Serrano Legacy but Moon’s The Speed of Dark ranks as one of my favorite novels.
Whovian writes: “Allie’s horror selections FINALLY came! I was getting nervous since one book is like 700 pages.”
Answer: 700 pages?! What the heck is she reading?!
ChelledeBoer writes: “By the way, what breed is Lulu??”
Answer: Lulu is a French bulldog.
Itjustme writes: “If Atlantis were to run through without the long hiatus that it normal takes, does this mean that the season 5 DVD set might come out sooner as well?”
Terry writes: “I rarely feel like Bujold stops a story cold to have to ‘explain’ her world to the reader.”
Answer: Exactly. The information and revelations are conveyed as part of the ongoing action rather than presented as “edifying interruptions” in the narrative.
DasNdanger writes: “do you have a preferred brand of chocolate, or do you just go with whatever entices you at the moment?”
Answer: Amedei chuao is my favorite although I’ve recently discovered the joys of Pralus Papouasie and Coppeneur Ocumare.