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Ethan Of Athos (1986)

Ethan of Athos (1986)

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3.7 of 5 Votes: 4
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067165604X (ISBN13: 9780671656041)

About book Ethan Of Athos (1986)

Rating: 4* of fiveThe Publisher Says: The familiar old SF "planet of women" chestnut is reversed in the planet of Athos — an all-male planet made possible by the invention of the uterine replicator. Ethan, drawn out of his beloved Athos by a quest, finds himself an alien in more mainstream human society, and cannot help but find women disturbing aliens as well, especially the ultra-competent, ultra-beautiful Elli. Ethan of Athos is Lois McMaster Bujold's third novel. It departs from the concerns of the Vorkosigan family to explore the ramifications of advanced biotechnology, turning many a cliché on its head along the way.My Review: Athos is a terraformed planet settled about 200 years before this book takes place by a rigidly religious sect of men who refused to have any females on their planet, as they'd only cause trouble and lead men astray. To replace and grow the population, they do the job of birth the hard way, using uterine replicators to grow and birth their sons. Only sons, of course, and all bred from the ovarian cultures brought by the Founders to Athos. Which are, unsurprisingly, wearing out after 200 years. After some bad experiences with Galactic mail order brides/cultures, the Population Council decides to send an Ambassador out among Them, the scary galactics, to get new ovarian cultures.Ethan CJB-8 Urquhart, Ambassador-at-Large of Athos, is in a pickle. He's never been off his home world before, and here he is on Kline Station (a space station within a reasonable sub-light boost of several lucrative trading routes) trying to navigate a Universe where The Sink of Sin (that's girls to thee and me), in the person of Commander Elli Quinn, Kline Station native and Free Dendarii mercenary, appears to be trying to get him killed by Cetagandan crazies (Colonel Luyst Millisor and company) so the Cetagandans can retrieve something they want and Ethan has.But he doesn't know what it is.It's the process of finding out what it is that the Cetagandans want, the Dendarii need, and the Athosians have that powers this retelling of North by Northwest in space. Ethan must, for the first time in his thirty-plus years, cope with the presence of women in his personal alien species to him...while learning about how the rough-and-tumble of the Galaxy's business is accomplished, deal with the end of his partnership with Janos back on Athos, find himself falling in love with the most alien possible alien man, and return to Athos with what sent him out into the Galaxy in the first place: More ovarian cultures for the Athosian Reproduction Centers. Then he can go home and return to his first love. Populating his beloved home world with new life and new possibilities.How he accomplishes these things is, well, it's fraught with danger, it's quite surprisingly open-minded of Ethan, and it's just not what this famous mil-SF series is famous for.I first read this in 1986. I was married, I had stepsons in the house, I was sure that my relationship with their mother was solid (oh boy was *I* ever wrong!), and yet the premise of a planet made up of men and only men had a lot of appeal.I was led from here to the rest of the Vorkosigan Saga, including: Barrayar, Cetaganda, Komarr, Sergyar, Beta Colony, Jackson's Whole, Lois Mcmaster Bujold, Ethan Of Athos, Miles Vorkosigan, Ivan Vorpatril, Falling Free, Aral Vorkosigan, Simon Illyan, Vorbarra, Barrayaran Imperial Auditor, and was equally pleased with the next few books I read, all listed here.I have never been more amused at a line than at "Ethan would cheerfully have decked any Athosian fundamentalist who insisted that {his new love}'s love for his 'wife' could have no honor in it." Bujold clearly wanted to say something stern about the prevailing attitude towards gay men and their relationships. Keep in mind it was 1986...mid-AIDS crisis...and there was a lot, a very great deal, an enormous amount of hatred and fear floating around. Even more so than there is today. It was even braver of Bujold to set this story in the SFnal community's playground, since there was an almost complete silence from that fandom on any subject remotely gay male in nature. So this book, over the past 25 years, has symbolized the generosity of straight allies of the gay male community. I admire Bujold as much today as I did then for telling this story. I loved the images of Athosian society, as brief as they were, and fell to contemplating what it would take to make such a culture work, what would be the pitfalls of it, and so on. Nowadays, with the manipulation of the human genome that's headed our unprepared society's way, I think the book is even more relevant and should have an even wider audience.But's in print and selling 25 years later! Not that many books can make that claim. And for me, that's a really nice thing. A book about a subject that makes a lot of people squirm has that kind of staying power.There just might be hope for humankind after all. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Ethan of Athos is another Vorkosigan Saga novel. This one is a little strange as it doesn’t feature Barrayar or Miles Vorkosigan. It starts on the planet of Athos, a colony inhabited solely by men. They view women as sinful and evil and no women are allowed on the colony. Instead they produce their sons in a medical laboratory using ovaries that have been kept in storage since the colony was founded. Ethan is a doctor in one of these reproduction centres and they are facing a crisis because their ovarian stocks are finally running out. They have ordered new supplies but when the shipment arrives they find out that the ovarian samples they expect have been replaced with dead tissue samples. Ethan is volunteered for a mission to go off world and figure out what has happened to their shipment and find a replacement source for their ovarian supplies. When he arrives on Kline Station, a space station, he runs into the first woman he has ever seen, who happens to be Commander Ellie Quinn of the Dendarii Mercenaries. She was a minor character in previous books The Warrior’s Apprentice and The Vor Game, as one of Miles Vorkosigan’s mercenaries. It turns out that Miles has sent her on an intelligence mission to investigate some suspicious behaviour by the Cetegandans. Ellie and Ethan soon find out that the Cetegandans are involved in the mystery of the missing medical shipment.I liked the book but I also thought it was disappointing compared to the other Vorkosigan Saga novels. It’s a relatively short book, and it was a very quick read, the plot was certainly entertaining enough with a few really fun moments, such as when Ethan and Ellie are trying to dispose of a body in amongst boxes of frozen newts. The premise of the male-only planet was interesting, but I felt it was a little heavy handed and over the top at times, Lois McMaster Bujold has certainly tackled issues of gender and sexuality far better in other books. The main problem with this book for me was the characters. Ethan is likeable enough but he seems to lack any agency, instead getting dragged along by other people and caught up in their schemes without doing much himself. He’s definitely not a compelling character like Miles Vorkosigan, and the book suffered for that. So overall it was an enjoyable enough book, but I rated it poorly compared to the other Vorkosigan Saga books that I’ve read because it just wasn’t up to the usual standard.

Do You like book Ethan Of Athos (1986)?

For fans of the Vorkosigan Saga, this represents an interesting break from the norm. There are a couple of books in the series focused on Miles' mother, Cordelia (Shards of Honour & Barrayar), the bulk (10+?) are focused on Miles Vorkosigan himself, (although they often feature many other POVs) - and there's one set way earlier in the universe's timeline that doesn't feature any members of the Vorkosigan family at all.And then there's this one... Ethan of Athos is set during Miles' Admiral Naismith era, but does not feature him. It features Elli Quin, one of Naismith's top sidekicks, but even she is only a supporting character - this story is about the eponymous Ethan, a character who does not crop up in any other story in the series, as far as I can recall - so it definitely breaks the mould.EoA has the lowest average Goodreads ratings for any book in the series, which is why it has remained unread by me for so long... looks like I'll have to read some other reviews now, to see what issues other readers took with it, because I really enjoyed it - a very solid 4 star! Miles and Cordelia are both incredibly competent, 'natural' heroes. They square up to challenges and overcome them. Ethan on the other hand is a reluctant hero, an innocent sent out into the big bad universe on a medical mission of mercy to save his planet. He gets sucked into the tangled world of espionage and lurches from one disaster to another. Sure, Quin is there to save his ass and drag him over the line - but for a Doc from the sticks, Ethan does his best to fight back!I'm guessing a lot of readers took exception to Ethan's home planet - Athos - the all male world, where fathers grow their sons in tanks. Personally, I thought it was well done - the idea that the planet will always be an economic backwater because it's fighting the uphill cost of 100% artificial reproduction is a nice spin, and as always Bujold handles them personal relationships with a gentle and deft touch (for a sci-fi writer, she's exceptionally good at 'likeable' characters).As it stands outside of the main Saga, this is very much a 'bonus' book - but I thought it was a cracking read and the pages flew by. Without Miles it lacks that element of insane/gleeful forward momentum that makes the best Vorkosigan books go whooosh! but Ethan of Athos comfortably stands it's own.I originally finished this book and began the review on Christmas Eve, and had to cut it off unfinished because I had Santa business to attend to! I've only just circled back to finish it...After this I read: Behemoth

I know I've been rating these books kind of low because the first two were so amazing and I jeep going, "It was great, but not as good as Cordelia's Honour and that was five stars so this gets 4" and here I am giving Ethan five stars, and that's because this was amazing. It was as good as the Cordelia books just in a different way. Everyone I know who has read these assured me I would love this book.Dude, they were not wrong.I love this book.I fucking love this book.The other day Andre was coming up the stairs to our apartment and could hear me yelling to Jasmine about something and he thought, "oh man, what are they upset about now?" He walked in to hear me shriek the words "NERVE DISRUPTER"and quickly came down the hall to join the conversation.I just...I love this book.I would give anything to have Ethan and Ellie come back in later books, but I think only Ellie does. And I trust this means that [spoiler?] Ethan is happily living on Athos and I do want him to be happy, but I want to read more of him so much. And I desperately want Ellie to meet one of her 100 sons because it would be hilarious. And beautiful. I want Ethan to introduce them because that would be amazing. I want mooooooooooooooore.

3.5 starsMiles is completely absent from this Vorkosigan series installment. Elli Quinn returns, with a new face and a new mission. The story is told mostly from the point-of-view of Ethan. Again, the theme swirls around genetics and reproduction, but definitely with a twist. The flip side of the female controlled genetic finesse of Cetaganda proves to be Athos, an all male planet rapidly running out of viable ovary cultures at their Rep Centers. When the batch of new ovaries is sabatoged, Athos sends Ethos to personally select, purchase and escort the replacements. Even though I missed Miles, Elli and Ethan managed to keep me hopping and flipping pages. Nearly all the action takes place on the Kline space station. Mystery, torture, murder, galactic genetic experiments, political intrigue bordering on genocide - just about everything you've come to expect from Bujold's imagination. A fun, fast read and a nice addition to the Vorkosigan series.

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