Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for April 19th, 2014

An Easter Week Disaster: South Korean Ferry Sinks; 49 Dead, 253 Missing

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Earlier this week, a ferry in South Korea capsized, then sunk. 49 people have been confirmed dead thus far, and 253 are still missing according to this report from CNN.

While there had initially been hopes that some of the missing might be rescued due to air pockets and the like, hopes are now fading. Worse yet, the South Korean government has not been forthcoming — shades of what’s happened in Malaysia due to the air disaster with MH 370 — and family members are extremely frustrated, to put it mildly.

This report from the Huffington Post shows the frustration of the families in full measure:

But the seeds of distrust were planted Wednesday, the day the ferry sank with 476 people aboard, 323 of them from a single high school in Ansan. . .

The high school initially sent parents text messages saying all of the students had been rescued.

Lee Byung-soo, whose son was aboard the ferry, was relieved by the text. . .

It was only when he arrived at the gymnasium that he realized his son, 15-year-old Lee Seok-joon, had not been saved. “I had to check every picture of the face of the rescued students before I realized that my son was not there,” he said.

People also were quoted in the Huffington Post article as yelling at the divers, who haven’t been able to do as much as they’d like due to poor visibility and other concerns, “Would you have done the same if your own children were in the water?” and “Why did you refuse to take the rescue gear and supplies that foreign countries offered?”

And then, there are these heartbreaking text messages that the high school students sent as the disaster was ongoing, as reported by CBC. Here’s a brief taste of that:

In another set of messages, a father tries to help his child.

“I know the rescue is going on, but try coming out if possible,” he writes.

“No, dad, can’t walk. The hallway is packed with kids, and it’s too tilted,” the student writes.

The passenger’s fate is unknown.

Note that if the ship’s crew had been on the ball, the halls wouldn’t have been filled with people. So perhaps more people could’ve been rescued — or, at minimum, the rescue would’ve been handled efficiently and well, rather than so poorly that people actually felt the need to send their families “goodbye texts.”

But the ship’s crew was not on the ball. Worse, their actions made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

So what have the South Koreans done thus far that does make sense? Well, they’ve arrested the ferry boat’s captain, Lee Joon Seok,  and third mate, a woman identified only as Park (along with one other ship member, a technician of some sort); the third mate was the one who actually was at the helm when the ship made what’s being called an “excessive” turn, while the captain is being charged with a number of violations according to the CNN report, most having to do with leaving his boat before all the passengers were either rescued or accounted for.

The oddest thing in all of this was that the Captain was among the very first people to be evacuated from the ferry by nearly every published report. When clearly, his duty was to get those passengers safely off the ferry — and he absolutely, positively, should not have left the ferry until every single last one of them was off, or every single last one of them was confirmed as deceased.

That’s what’s supposed to happen.

But it didn’t happen here. The families of the victims are furious — and rightfully so.

How in the world could something this awful happen?

So far, there are no good answers to that. But there is one very small ray of sunlight in that Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu has donated $100,000 to help those affected by the ferry disaster according to TMZ.

You see, Ryu is Korean. He has said publicly that he has a “heavy heart,” and he wanted to do something tangible that would help his fellow countrymen.

And he did so right away.

But that’s the only good thing that’s come out of this particular ferry disaster thus far . . . and while there’s always hope that a few more people may be rescued alive due to perhaps finding air pockets (as this has been known to happen in other sea rescues, why not hope for it here as well?), right now this seems to be adding up to yet another disaster.

During Easter week.

And that’s just wrong . . . especially as this didn’t have to happen.

Comparing Joey Maverick to Miles Naismith Vorkosigan, and Vice Versa

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Folks, a good friend recently asked me this question: “How would Joey Maverick compare to Lois McMaster Bujold’s hero Miles Naismith Vorkosigan?”

And it got me thinking.

You see, my late husband Michael wrote about space Navy Lieutenant Joey Maverick — something I’m doing my best to carry on — and my friend felt there were a number of similarities between Joey and Miles. And since the two stories haven’t found a wide audience as of yet (stories are available here and here), perhaps a comparison might prove useful . . . and at least it’s something new and different to write about, always a plus.

So here are some of the similarities and differences I saw with regards to Joey and Miles, with a side order of my own hero Bruno the Elfy from AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE thrown in for good measure:


Miles is a very smart young man who out-thinks others and has any number of adventures, most of which he can’t talk about on Barrayar itself due to security concerns. He’s steadfast, resolute, has morals and ethics and principles, and will stand by them to the death, if need be — though thank goodness for cryosuspension. He has an unusual sense of humor.

Joey is a very smart young man who thinks faster than others and has several adventures, most of which he can’t talk about on the planet of his birth due to security concerns. He, too, is steadfast, resolute, has morals and ethics and principles, and like Miles, has an unusual sense of humor.

And just for kicks, Bruno the Elfy is a very smart young being who is used to out-thinking others, but gives himself no credit for doing so because he’s been told he’s stupid his entire life. He figures talking about any adventures he has is pointless, because at the start of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, he has no friends worth mentioning . . . and afterward, well, his new friend Sarah has been with him the whole way through, so why bother talking about anything? (She already knows it.)

Bruno’s sense of humor is so odd, it’s downright bizarre . . . and while he has morals, ethics and principles, he comes at things from a sideways angle that may or may not always be fully understood by those around him.


Miles is handicapped with brittle bones. He’s actually died and been revived, which left him with a seizure disorder. He’s retired from his main career as a commander of a mercenary unit (that did a great deal of spying for Barrayar on the side) due to his injuries, suffered in the line of duty. He’s a man who’s maximized the totality of his existence, and knows it, and is satisfied by it.

Joey, as yet, is still a healthy young man, though eventually he’s going to lose an eye (Michael’s story “A Dark and Stormy Night” references Joey’s cybernetic eye in the prequel section, where Joey’s an old man). Only one life for Joey . . . his military career is ongoing. He’s still in the process of coming to his full adult capabilities, and many adventures await as he comes to terms with the totality of himself. Eventually Joey will bond with an empathic, sentient creature . . . but that, too, is in his future.

Bruno the Elfy is a very young being — an adolescent, in our parlance. While Bruno has enormous magical gifts, he’s not fully aware of what to do with them, and because he was intentionally mistrained at the behest of the Elfy High Council, he’s having to throw off a whole lot of nonsense in addition to becoming the Elfy he was meant to be.

Mind, it’s not that easy to compare a fantasy world — even if it’s an urban fantasy like my own AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE — with either Bujold’s own Vorkoverse or my husband’s Joey Maverick universe. But it is fun, talking about three of my favorite heroes . . .  especially as I never once thought Joey Maverick had anything whatsoever in common with Miles Naismith Vorkosigan before my friend pointed it out as a possibility.

At any rate, what do you think of this comparison? Does it make any sense? Or is it just odd? Please let me know in the comments.