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A Slave is a Slave by H. Beam Piper

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"A Slave is a Slave" is a 1963 science fiction novella by H. Beam Piper. It is about a planet conquered by an Empire which quickly outlaws their ancient way of life.

I Felt Like Rodin’s Sculpture

This story is a thinker, that’s for sure. Not that it is particularly deep or complex, but the societal issues it discusses really caused me to stop and think about how people’s perceptions really color their outlook on life. It was also a fun story that very much reminded me of Asimov’s Foundation series – and that’s always a good thing!

Non-Spoiler Summary

Scheming slaves?

Aditya is a planet that hasn’t had off-world visitors in several hundred years. Now a fleet representing his Imperial Majesty has arrived to bring the planet into the empire – peaceably if they can, and forcibly if they must. The Adityan military forces are quickly overrun, but it is their stratified (and illegal, according to the Emperor) society that will bring all kinds of problems to the advisors sent to help this world join the empire. And as one rookie diplomat is about to find out, things are not always as they seem because representatives don’t always tell the truth – or have the best interest of others at heart!

Some Interesting Tidbits

  • Word count: 20,893 (36 pages)
  • Did you know that this story is just one of many in H. Beam Piper’s “Terro-Human Future History” series? Yep. You can learn more about this exciting era at Wikipedia.

Where To Find A Slave is a Slave

  • This story was first published in the April 1963 issue of Analog Science Fact – Science Fiction.
  • You can download "A Slave is a Slave" for free from Project Gutenberg.
  • It has also been collected in H. Beam Piper’s anthology Empire.

Craving More SF Stories Like This One?

If you liked "A Slave is a Slave" then you may also enjoy “Monument” by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. – about destructive tourism on an idyllic world.