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Jackson's Whole was a planet in the Nexus with five wormhole exits. One connected to the Hegen Hub, one to somewhere in the Cetagandan Empire, and one to Escobar. The other two are not clearly identified, but one could be used as a route to Earth.


About 100 years before Miles Vorkosigan's time, Jackson's Whole was a hijacker base. Over time, it evolved into an anarchic aristocracy ruled by a series of interlocking crime syndicates known as Houses Major and Houses Minor.[3] The heads of the Houses are afforded the title of 'Baron' (female 'Baronne').


While the planet was habitable with a breathable atmosphere, it was barren, cold, and mountainous; it was temperate near the equator, and frozen elsewhere. Snow was commonplace at the latitudes where Baron Bharaputra and Baron Fell had their facilities.[3] There appear to have been native plants, or at least there was a kind of slimy lichen that grew on the south sides of buildings.[4] The length of a day on Jackson's Whole was 26 hours and some minutes.[5]


Jackson's Whole people would sell anything and everything if the price was right. Nothing was illegal, provided sufficient money. Furthermore, the judicial system was based on a system of "bids" where anyone could purchase justice for the right price. Any party could purchase an arrest. The accused party was then forced to outbid the prosecutor to go free.[6]

"I predict," said Mark, waving the card around, “that I will be seriously short-changed, but not quite enough so that I would risk going back to Fell and arguing about it.” He inserted the card into the read-slot, and smiled. "Spot-on."
―Mark commenting on his Deal with Baron Fell[src]

The only semi-sacred institution of the planet was "The Deal", an oral or verbal contract. Skipping out on Deals was very much frowned upon, but sometimes happened nonetheless. Cheating in a Deal to the exact extent that one could get away with, however, was standard business practice.

People who had no associated House, such as Russo Gupta, lived precarious lives.[3][7][8] On the other hand life for House employees was most likely little different from that of the working and middle classes of any world - with good opportunities for advancement if one was intelligent and ruthless enough.

The Houses[]

There were approximately 116 Great Houses (the number fluctuated, but is correct for the time of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance)[9] and countless Houses Minor. Some were:

  • House Fell, with the motto "No questions asked", specialized in weapons deals. The Baron was Georish Stauber. The Durona Group worked for a time for House Fell, providing biomedical services and research into biological weapons and antidotes. Fell Station also controlled the wormhole jump to the Hegen Hub (and thus the shortest route between Jackson's Whole and Barrayar).[3]
  • House Bharaputra, which claimed to be in the immortality business, specialized in illegal genetics, particularly clone-brain transplants. The Baron was Vasa Luigi. They were the dominant part of the consortium of Houses that controlled the wormhole jump to Escobar.[3][1]
  • House Ryoval, with the motto "Dreams Made Flesh", specialized in the sex slave trade.[3] The Baron was Ry Ryoval until Mark Vorkosigan killed him. The House was subsequently subsumed by Fell. It was considered to be really a House Minor in terms of the size of its business, but was accorded the status of a House Major in light of its age.[5]
  • House Dyne, which provided detergent banking (i.e. money laundering) for the Nexus.[3]
  • House Hargraves was the galactic fence; they supplied middlemen for ransom negotiations.[3]
  • House Cordonah, which controlled the jumpstation near a wormhole route to Earth, provided useful intelligence to nearby governments and worked in the ransom negotiation business.[11][2]
  • House Prestene, which controlled the jumpstation near the wormhole route to the Cetagandan Empire[2]
  • House Dyan was extinct, having been swallowed up by Ryoval a few years before it got subsumed in turn. It had probably been a House Minor at the time.[7]

Jacksonians in the Vorkosigan Saga[]

  • Vasa Luigi Bharaputra, Baron Bharaputra - Co-leader of House Bharaputra, which specialized in illegal genetics.
  • Lotus Bharaputra, Baronne Bharaputra - A former member of the Durona Group.
  • Ry Ryoval, Baron Ryoval, son of the founder of House Ryoval.
  • Georish Stauber, Baron Fell
  • Hugh Canaba - Canaba was a genetic engineer who helped create Taura, and who was extracted from House Bharaputra by the Dendarii Mercenaries. He moved to Barrayar and changed his name to Vaughn Weddell.
  • Lilly Durona and the Durona Group - A collective of clones whose progenitor, Lilly Durona, set up to provide biomedical services to House Fell, both as family doctors and as researchers into military toxins and antidotes. When the Deal between the Duronas and House Fell collapsed, the Duronas emigrated to Escobar to begin a new life.
  • Russo Gupta - A genetically-engineered amphibian who found himself Houseless when House Dyan was taken over by House Ryoval.
  • Gras-Grace Nevatta - Leader of the smuggling operation that Russo Gupta worked with
  • Hewlet - Jump pilot for Gras-Grace's operation
  • Firka - Mechanic for Gras-Grace's operation
  • Taura - A Bharaputra-created, eight-foot tall prototype for a super-soldier who left Jackson's Whole at age 16 to become a Dendarii Mercenary soldier.
  • Mark Pierre Vorkosigan - A clone of Miles Vorkosigan created by House Bharaputra.
  • Tej and Rish - Two major characters in Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, they were members of House Cordonah who fled that House's conquest by House Prestene.
  • Luca Tarpan - Criminal with dealings on Barrayar
  • Manager Deem - Employee of House Ryoval
  • Moglia - Security chief for House Ryoval

Behind the scenes[]

The name Jackson's Whole is a reference to Jackson Hole, WY.

Notes and references[]

External links[]