Ethan of Athos

Ethan of Athos - Lois McMaster Bujold [These notes were made in 1989:]. Remind me to try to hunt down some more sci-fi by this lady. Not that this tale is spectacularly well-written - the tone is rather self-consciously flip at times - but the incident-filled plot is fairly well-handled, and the characters are attractive enough, with occasional flashes of real being. Ethan of Athos [Athens? Greek love?:] is a baby-grower from a homosexual male planet. Commander Elli Quinn is a female mercenary soldier with a quick tongue. She does not try to convert him (thank goodness - I was holding my breath there for a bit). But his trip away from Athos - onto a space station where he & Quinn join forces to unravel mysteries of missing ovarian cultures and strange genetic engineering - does manage to cure, or at least mitigate, his culturally-induced misogyny. Ethan, to his own surprise as much as anyone else's, turns out to be a humanist, and his uncompromising acceptance of Terrence Cee - the missing link in the mystery, and the telepathic product of genetic engineering - leads to the satisfactory resolution of the plot. Quinn goes on with her adventures; she's an attractive character & doubtless turns up in other books. And Cee comes to live on Athos, where (it is hinted) his shared-parenting relationship with Ethan may eventually be consummated. What I like about this novel was that it neither patronized nor advocated. It acknowledged cultural differences, homophobia - and then got on with the plot. If Bujold is a member of the great sorority of f-h writers, she's a very balanced one. And if she's a he - it's possible, from the style - then that observation of balance still applies. But since the not-too-indigestible moral of the story is respect for women as the progenitors of humanity, I'd be willing to bet Bujold's a woman - and I'd like to read more.