On Friday, February 16, 2018 at 7:34:40 PM UTC, David Johnston wrote:
> On 2018-02-16 8:01 AM, James Nicoll wrote:
> > Barrayar (Cordelia Vorkosigan, book 2) by Lois McMaster Bujold
> > http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/something-money-cant-buy
> It's worth bearing in mind that Beta is the Federation and Barrayar is
> the Klingons. Also it's not so much that Cordelia was unaware of Betan
> therapeutic practices as that they were bending the hell out of the
> relevant laws in a spasm of wartime mentality.
I think we should start by dealing with any fictional universe on its own terms as a self-consistent world, at least until it is clear that it can only be understood as a pale copy of e.g. Star Trek. I think the Vorkosiverse passes this test with flying colours. To the extent that Beta colony is inspired by anything, from my admittedly far away point of view I have always viewed it as an extrapolation of west coast American liberalism/progressivism. I think Star Trek is too much of a moving target - the clearest view of civilian Star Trek life is the TNG "communism works!" line, which I can't believe is what Roddenberry originally had in mind.
Most of what comes to mind about any Beta Colony underclass comes from books other than "Barrayar" - as the title would suggest. In "The Warrior's Apprentice" when Jesek is living off goldfish he is told
"all you have to do is report to a Shelter and get Carded, and you can have all the protein slices you want - any flavor, clean and fresh from the vats. Nobody has to eat a dead animal on this planet, really"
I'm pretty sure that somewhere they say that the equivalent of internet access is a human right on Beta Colony - so I guess if I could move to Beta Colony I could sustain myself indefinitely living on the free food, reading their equivalent of Project Gutenberg, and posting to rec.arts.sf.written. Of course, if I became a public nuisance I might also be in Beta Colony therapy indefinitely - as referred to in Shards of Honor, I think, where Cordelia says if she was a public defender all of her clients would be in therapy indefinitely.