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Jackson's Whole is a planet in the science fiction series "The Vorkosigan Saga" by Lois McMaster Bujold; its name comes from Jackson Hole, a valley in Wyoming originally called Jackson's Hole. Originally a hijacker base, Jackson's Whole evolved into a government by a series of interlocking crime syndicates known as Houses Major and Houses Minor, the distinction being based on wealth and influence. The heads of the Houses Major, at least, are afforded the title of 'Baron,' although it is unclear which person or what institution bestows that upon them. The wife of a Jacksonian Baron is styled a 'Baronne,' in the French usage, not a Baroness. Presumably, the female leader of a House Major would also be a Baronne.
Conventional morality does not appear to matter to the planet's power brokers. Anything and everything is for sale, if the price is right. Nothing is illegal, provided you can pay for it. Furthermore, the judicial system in Jackson's Whole is based on a system of "bids" where anyone can purchase justice for the right price. Any party can purchase an arrest form for any individual. The accused party is then forced to outbid the prosecutor in order to get either bail or an acquittal.
Jackson's Whole is ultra-capitalism at work. Ordinary people are valued by their usefulness. There are no rights except those one can purchase. An individual who does not live under the protection of one of the Houses has the survival prospects of a hunk of dead meat. No doubt there are those who survive in the cracks of society, but for anyone who needs a place to live and money to live on, the only choice is to be useful to some House. The society's closest thing to a sacred institution is "The Deal": agreements, even handshake deals and verbal agreements are honored as written contracts.
The planet seems to be colder than most inhabited planets in the Nexus. Although there is an Earth-like atmosphere and thus plenty of photosynthetic life, the typical weather involves snow and ice. This is another reason individuals do not do well on the planet, as they need a sturdy, heated structure in which to live.
Jacksonians in the Vorkosigan Saga
Miles Vorkosigan's clone brother, created by House Bharaputra and raised by foster parents on the planet for part of his life.
Another Bharaputra creation, an 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) prototype for a super-soldier with tremendous strength and deadly claws and teeth. The project was cancelled because all the prototypes (except Taura) died of premature aging when they were very young. Taura died of premature aging when she was around 30.
A collective of clones whose progenitor, Dr. Lilly Durona, was created by the father of Baron Ryoval and Baron Fell, to be a brilliant, and completely controlled and faithful, scientist to work in his House's labs as a body modification expert. Upon the death of the Baron, Lilly teamed up with Baron Fell and together the two escaped and set up the Durona Research Group to provide biomedical services and biological weapons research to House Fell. To fill the ranks of the group, she created about 30-40 clones of herself, all named after flowers, plus a number of male near-clones, all named after birds. However, the Duronas became dissatisfied with the control Fell exerted over them, and plotted their escape. During Mirror Dance, when Mark Vorkosigan destroys the empire of Baron Ryoval, they, along with Mark, make a Deal with Baron Fell to get off the planet. They begin a new life on Escobar with their own lab, the Durona Group, which is owned equally by Lilly Durona and Mark Vorkosigan, with Lilly in charge of the lab and Mark running the business side of the enterprise. One of their chief goals is to create an alternative to the common Jackson's Whole enterprise of cloning elderly clients, then transplanting the brain of the elderly client into the cloned body, discarding and killing the clone's brain. Lilly Durona becomes the first human trial for an experimental rejuvenation technique when her extreme age causes her death to approach. Mark Vorkosigan later orders Raven Durona to head up a new branch of the Durona Group on New Hope II/Kibou-daini, to start a new cryo-revival business and use the planet's store of millions of frozen patients for a larger test sample of the youth-rejuvenation drug used on Lilly Durona.
Also known as Dr. Vaughn Weddell, he is a genetic engineer who helped to create Taura, and who was extracted from House Bharaputra by the Dendarii Mercenaries. He sought escape because he could not live with the unethical activities demanded of him, and he also chafed under a lack of autonomy. In exchange for the Dendarii help, he set up a lab on Barrayar and also provided them with information about a secret Cetagandan project. Weddell is the cover identity provided to him on Barrayar. Miles contacts him to get his help in proving proof that Simon Illyan was deliberately and maliciously infected with a memory-chip–eating virus.
Product (originally labelled as L-X-10-Terran-C) of a Cetagandan genetic project to create telepaths; the project was contracted to House Bharaputra. His story is told in Ethan of Athos.
Tej and Rish
These major characters in Captain Vorpatril's Alliance are originally from Jackson's Whole.
A genetically engineered amphibian person, originally created as part of the crew of an aquatic ballet, he's freed when the House that created him is acquired by House Ryoval. He plays a large role in Diplomatic Immunity, where his actions create a diplomatic crisis between the Quadrispace and Barrayar.
Barons of Jackson's Whole
A notorious arms dealer, whose given name is Georish Stauber. He prefers to live on a space station near a jumppoint. Despite being a dealer in many horrifying weapons, he is considered to be one of the most reliable and least problematic Barons. He is the half-brother of Baron Ryoval. He narrowly escaped Ryoval's purge of his family, in which Ryoval killed his other brothers and turned his sisters into sex slaves in his own brothels. Fell then went to work for another house, eventually working his way to the top position. He refuses to undertake the brain transplant procedure, fearing he will die due to sabotage by a rival.
Genetics and Medical Specialist. Notorious for performing the "Brain Transplant Procedure" involving the raising of a clone to young adulthood, followed by the transplant of the progenitor's brain into the clone, killing the young individual, and 50 percent of the time, the progenitor as well. The procedure is banned on all other planets in the Nexus. The Baron's wife, Baronne Lotus, is a renegade Durona who was scheduled to have her brain transplanted into a clone when circumstance, in the form of Miles and Mark Vorkosigan, intervened, taking her clone away with the rest of the Duronas.
Sick and twisted, this minor House Baron develops custom made slaves for the sex trade. In attempting to carry out revenge on Miles Naismith for something done by the Dendarii Mercenaries, he abducts Mark Vorkosigan by mistake. Mark, a trained assassin, is eventually able to kill Ryoval, literally with both hands tied behind his back and stark naked to boot, but not before Ryoval has inflicted terrible psychological damage that causes Mark's psyche to split into multiple personalities.
Ryoval's assets were taken over by House Fell, with Mark holding Ryoval's personal code ring as hostage in the Deal that allows him to negotiate freedom for the Duronas.
Baron and Baronne Cordonah
House Cordonah controls one of Jackson's Whole's jumppoints. The Baronne is half-Cetagandan and the Baron is Komarran. They have 10 children. The House was traditionally regarded as an unoffical Cetagandan ally until the Cordonahs were ousted from power by another House. They receive Barrayaran support in retaking control and become a covert Barrayaran ally. One of their children marries Lord Ivan Vorpatril (Captain Vorpatril's Alliance).