Sunday, April 27, 2008


A space traveller is briefed by his ship's sentient 'Mind' about the barbarous social conditions on the planet he is to visit:

"The thing to remember, Gurgeh," the ship interrupted quickly, "is that their society is based on ownership. Everything that you see and touch, everything you come into contact with, will belong to somebody or to an institution; it will be theirs, they will own it. In the same way, everyone you meet will be conscious of both their position in society and their relationship to others around them.

"It is especially important to remember that the ownership of humans is possible too; not in terms of actual slavery, which they are proud to have abolished, but in the sense that, according to which sex and class one belongs to, one may be partially owned by another or others by having to sell one's labour or talents to somebody with the means to buy them. In the case of males, they give themselves most totally when they become soldiers; the personnel in their armed forces are like slaves, with little personal freedom.... Females sell their bodies, usually, entering into the legal contract of 'marriage'...."

Iain M. Banks, The Player of Games

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