The Topic of Slavery in a Novel
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Guest Post by Robert “Doc” Gowdy
I created a science fiction novel with a futuristic, highly technologically advanced galaxy in which slavery has remained an accepted and highly profitable institution for millennia. Royalty, Monarchies, and an evil Imperial Empire were also widespread forms of government and rule within the galaxy. Given that slavery was such an accepted institution in the galaxy, I felt that I had to find a way to explore both sides of the issue, both pro and con, in order to demonstrate that there were indeed galactic citizens that were not entirely comfortable with the galaxy’s existing institutions of slavery.
In the story, I had Princess Lysette’s sister, the Princess Cossete, kidnapped in order to set the story in motion. Princess Lysette sets out to find her sister before her evil stepfather, the Emperor Tulla, can find her, in order to keep her away from him. As Princess Lysette leaves on her journey, she takes along her royal—and favorite—slavegirl, Tink. Tink asks Princess Lysette if they might make a stop on the planet Miin along the way, a planet that boasts one of the finest Slave Markets in the galaxy. Once there they meet Lady Brit, a young noble who offers to show them around the Slave Market. In the Slave Market the three of them stop at Lady Brit’s favorite café where they meet the café owner, Jon Black, a father figure and mentor to Lady Brit.
After their meal, Jon Black is sitting at the table with Lady Brit, and at that moment I had Jon Black, Lady Brit’s mentor, express his dissatisfaction with the institution of slavery while Princess Lysette (now posing as a slave) and Tink are both kneeling before them. A rather interesting thing to do for a man who owns and runs a café in one of the galaxy’s finest Slave Markets. Nevertheless, he begins expressing his opinions and philosophy concerning slavery. Lady Brit, of course, is entirely comfortable with slavery, as she both owns slaves and her legal guardians are the administrators of the Slave Market on Miin. As you might expect, then, Lady Brit and Jon Black are on opposing sides of the issue. Jon tries, rather jovially, to make his point about slavery, even to the point of asking Tink if she would take her freedom if it was offered to her right there and then. Tink, of course, was born into slavery (or so her history suggests) and tells Jon outright that “No,” she would not accept her freedom because slavery is the only life she knows and, therefore, a slave she will always be. In fact, she tells Jon she loves serving an owner and would gladly continue to do so the rest of her life.
Frustrated, in a rather jovial sort of way (for that’s the kind of man Jon Black is) Jon offers to escort Lady Brit, Princess Lysette (now posing as slave Lyssie), and Tink through the Slave Market in order to make his point more effectively. While in the Slave Market proper—on the actual trading floor itself—Jon looks all around himself an laments the trillions and trillions of slaves throughout the galaxy who continue to live under the yoke of the collar and chain. Lady Brit counters that even if all the slaves in the galaxy are given their freedom, they would still be slaves because they would be living under the totalitarian rule of the Imperial government. She also advises Jon that the great majority of slaves have been slaves since birth, and that if they were given their freedom in a galaxy ruled by a totalitarian government they would not only continue to be slaves under totalitarianism, but that their woes would be compounded by the fact that they would be unable to take care of themselves due to their lack of the necessary skills to live on their own in the galaxy.
While the above outline is only a brief sketch of the narrative involving the philosophical “argument” between Lady Brit and Jon Black concerning the merits of slavery, I felt in necessary within the narrative to demonstrate that such philosophical differences indeed existed in the galaxy concerning the issue of slavery. And, of course, the “argument” itself—in the narrative—is much more complex and nuanced, demonstrating, I think, a level of fictional truth necessary to help make a novel believable. Or, in other words, achieve a greater level of verisimilitude.
Robert “Doc” Gowdy is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a Ph.D. in Literary Criticism and Theory and an emphasis on Nineteenth-Century British literature. His specialization in literary theory is psychoanalytic criticism and theory, particularly Lacanian psychoanalysis, with further emphases on Milton and Eighteenth-Century British literature. Doc Gowdy is currently an adjunct assistant professor at Texas Woman’s University where he teaches various literature classes. His interest in writing is long standing, but aside from academic writing, his first novel, Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy is his first foray into fiction. Captain Bonny Morgan is based on archetypal themes and patterns from mythology, such as fairies, goddesses, and the Hero’s Journey, and based loosely on Doc Gowdy’s active duty service in the United States Marine Corps with special emphasis on the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean at the turn of the Eighteenth-Century.
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