Sunday, 14 October 2012
One Past And Two Futures
Anderson's first future history begins with a short story called "Marius" that refers to the Roman general Marius' victory over the Cimbrians which is the subject matter of The Golden Slave, Chapter II.
Eodan, a captured Cimbrian, describes enslavement:
" 'Not clean death, but marching in triumph, shown like an animal, while the street-bred rabble pelted us with filth! Chained in a pen, day upon day upon day, lashed and kicked, till we finally went on a block to be auctioned! And afterward shoveling muck, hoeing clods, sleeping in a hogpen barracks with chains on every night!' " (p. 50)
Anderson's second future history describes enslavement in the Terran Empire. In A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows (London, 1987), the law requires slaves to wear a bracelet audiovisually linked to a global monitor net through which direct nerve stimulation to the brain can be administered. Not an auction block but a recording room where an enslaved woman is filmed to a running commentary:
" '...human female, age twenty-five, virgin, athletic, health and intelligence excellent, education good though provincial. Spirited but ought to learn subordination in short order without radical measures...' " (p. 24)
Anderson shows us that even slavery can be modernised and technologised. Eodan's plight does not seem remote.