Top Ten Tuesday: Memorable Things Characters Have Said – #SciFiMonth

ARTWORK by Liu Zishan from

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point, ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here. 

This week’s topic asks us to list quotes from book characters that have stuck with us, and the first book – or rather series of books – I immediately thought of is Lois McMaster’s Bujold Vorkosigan Saga, which I revisited in the past for SciFi Month: since it’s one of the series I most cherish, it goes without saying that there is a good number of quotes I enjoy recalling.

One of my favorites is this:

Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself. Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards.

(Count Aral Vorkosigan in “A Civil Campaign”)

It’s one of the best father/son moments in the saga, together with this one:

When I couldn’t serve Barrayar, I wanted—I wanted to serve something. To […] to make my life an offering fit to lay at his feet.” He shrugged. “Screwed up again.”

“Clay, boy.” Count Vorkosigan’s voice was hoarse but clear. “Only clay. Not fit to receive so golden a sacrifice.” His voice cracked.

(Miles and Aral Vorkosigan in “The Vor Game”)

Speaking of parental influence, here is Miles’ mother, Cordelia, as she addresses her newborn child, knowing that his disabilities will make his life hard in a world where physical prowess is everything:

Welcome to Barrayar, son. Here you go: have a world of wealth and poverty, wrenching change and rooted history.  […] Have a twisted form in a society that loathes and fears the mutations that have been its deepest agony. […] Have your body ripped apart and re-arranged. Inherit an array of friends and enemies you never made. Have a grandfather from hell. Endure pain, find joy, and make your own meaning, because the universe certainly isn’t going to supply it. Always be a moving target. Live. Live. Live.

(Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan in “Barrayar”)

And some more Cordelia Wisdom:

The one thing you can’t trade for your heart’s desire is your heart.

(Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan in “Memory”)

Miles is often shown as impulsive, proverbially rushing in where angels fear to tread, but he’s also capable of sincere introspection. Here are a couple of examples:

I was a smart-ass little bastard who could think rings around the opposition, and prove it time after time. Without the brains . . . Without the brains I’m nothing.

(Miles Vorkosigan in “Mirror Dance”)

I’ve made a lot of grievous mistakes in my life, getting here, but . . . I wouldn’t trade my journey now. I’d be afraid of making myself smaller.

(Miles Vorkosigan in “Komarr”)

And he also cares a great deal about fairness and justice:

But if all the decent folks quit and only the idiots are left to run the show, it won’t be good for the future of Barrayar. About which I do care.

(Miles Vorkosigan in “Diplomatic Immunity”)

Of all the people whose life crosses Miles’ in the course of the saga, a few leave a strong mark, sometimes a painful one, like his lover Elli when she refuses his marriage proposal (which, given Barrayar’s social background is understandable…):

And so you want to maroon me for the rest of my life on a, sorry, backwater dirtball that’s just barely climbed out of feudalism, that treats women like chattel—or cattle—that would deny me the use of every military skill I’ve learned in the past twelve years from shuttle docking to interrogation chemistry . . . I’m sorry. I’m not an anthropologist, I’m not a saint, and I’m not crazy.

(Elli Quinn in “Brothers in Arms”)

Poor Miles… Thankfully meeting Ekaterin later on will lead him to a better future, even though she must first overcome the consequences of a difficult past and a dreadful first marriage, starkly described here:

When the straps of her vows had been released at last by [her husband’s] death, it was as if her whole soul had come awake, tingling painfully, like a limb when circulation was restored. I did not know what a prison I was in, till I was freed.

(Ekaterin Vorsoisson in “A Civil Campaign”)

And to close with a dash of humor, here is a sarcastic description of Miles’ devil-may-care attitude from the point of view of one of the people who shared his journey for a while:

Your forward momentum is going to lead all your followers over a cliff someday […] On the way down, you’ll convince ’em all they can fly.” He stuck his fists in his armpits, and waggled his elbows. “Lead on, my lord. I’m flapping as hard as I can.

(Arde Mayhew in “The Vor Game”)

Well, this was a nice journey down Memory Lane, indeed… 🙂

23 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Memorable Things Characters Have Said – #SciFiMonth

  1. Oh what a tremendous treat!!! I LOVE the Miles Vorkosigan series and coming across these reminded me of the huge amount of humanity and wisdom that is included in Bujold’s packed adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

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