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A Slave is a Slave

H. Beam Piper

Book Overview: 

The Galactic Empire is slowly 'welcoming' into the family of civilized worlds those systems so far off in the backwater of the galaxy that they have been overlooked and ignored for the past 500 years or so. This is purely routine work because every planet offered the chance has eagerly accepted the invitation. Mainly because the enlightened Empire lets the planetary government continue to rule and do whatever it wants...with a few minor restrictions of course; and because the they are shown what happens to planets who decide not to accept the invitation.

Aditya is the system in question here. Forgotten for almost a millennium but surviving, thank you very much, with an economy based entirely on slavery. Everyone is a slave except for the few thousand Lords Master. What happens when the this type of society meets the Constitution of the Galactic Empire which forbids any type of slavery? What happens when the poor, oppressed slaves are given their freedom? Funny you should ask ....

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ies of politics.

There was a stir among the guards; helmet-visors were being snapped down; feet scuffed. They stiffened to attention, the great doors at the other end of the grand salon slid open, and the guards presented arms as the Adityan delegation was ushered in.

There were fourteen of them. They all wore ankle-length gowns, and they all had shaven heads. The one in the lead carried a staff and wore a pale green gown; he was apparently a herald. Behind him came two in white gowns, their empty hands folded on their breasts; one was a huge bulk of obesity with a bulging brow, protuberant eyes and a pursey little mouth, and the other was thin and cadaverous, with a skull-like, almost fleshless face. The ones behind, in dark green and pale blue, carried portfolios and slung sound-recorder cases. There was a metallic twinkle at each throat; as they approached, he could see that they all wore large silver gorgets. They came to a halt twen. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Excerpt: ... postponed until the word could be passed out to the upper servile levels. A meeting with the chief-slaves in office of the various Managements was scheduled for the next afternoon. Count Erskyll chatted with forced affability while the departing committeemen were being seen to the launc

It does suffer from the age it was written in, with female characters rare, and when they appear are some man's wife or love interest and hardly do more than smile. Bit what really gets me, in other of Piper's bins but especially in this one, is the casual acceptance of slavery, murder, assassinatio

Not one of Piper's best stories by far, but still entertaining. Does make a few interesting points about the semantics of 'slavery'.

A reasonably good story, but not well written. In this story, the author frequently muddied up the dialogs, where multiple people are speaking, but without indicating who is saying what. At first it appears that a character is being completely contradictory to what he previously said, then you reali

2020 grade C+/B-

A rather tedious and over long short story. It examines at what might happen when a slavery phobic Galactic Empire annexes a planet where the entire economy and social structure is based on slaves and masters and forces them to change within themselves. I did speed read and took long

This short book is packed with insight beyond its time. So much more than a Sci-Fi story. A slave society instantly taken over by a larger power that outlaws slavery. But slavery is not a political reality, it is a reality of the mind. What a man thinks is very important.


H Beam Piper always deals with interesting theories in his writing, definitely making you think.

Would give 3.5 stars if I could. Skirts slavery apologism, doesn't quite go there, heads for "people are basically shit" instead, which I can't argue with.

What happens when a force from The Galactic Empire arrives on a planet where Slaves outnumber Masters and proceeds to change the rules of society so the planet will be a proper subject of the Empire? We find out in this story from the pages of Analog Science Fact-Science Fiction.

Although the topic w

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