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SLAVES ON RED MARS

Dreamed 1999/8/15 by Wayan


I'm watching a play by the shore of the Martian Sea. This is Red Mars, half-terraformed; the sea's shallow and bitter, and the air's still thin, but breathable, thickening every year. The play we're watching is a political piece on independence and slavery. A galley or huge raft sails back and forth, paddled by a hundred actors. I think it's unwise to have set the drama up on such an clumsy craft: fully half the time, it's off turning round so it make another pass within hearing range of the audience. A modern boat glides alongside to help steer or tow it. The narrator, who's also the caller coordinating the rowers, doesn't use a megaphone but a big cloth bag or fibrous bladder he yells into. The shapeless thing amplifies his voice so well I wonder if a mike's hidden in it.

A small boat sailed by park rangers cuts through the performance to land on the beach. I thought they wanted to disrupt it at first, since it advocates independence, but they just seem to ignore it. That may only be seeming: soon after them comes a floating cage-raft full of... slaves! But not enslaved by Earth people: by a mysterious race from further out in the System--Jupiter, Saturn? They attack the audience, break up the play, and enslave us all.

That wasn't in the script.

They don't do it physically. They control us with overwhelming mental commands. We can't resist. Within a year, plantations cover Mars. Earth too, I suppose.

I'm a slave too. Nearly every human being is.

They force a friend of mine to dig on the beach, compress his ore into pillow-shaped packets and float them down a sluice channel to be processed for gold. Mindless drudgery. Not even efficient!

I'm luckier. My plantation has a reasonable boss, though his son is abusive. He even goes after the human overseer, respected by everyone--human or alien, slave or free. Attacks him mentally, expecting to kill him and get away with it--it's not even a crime by their law. But the overseer has formidable mental discipline and refuses to die--furiously rejects the mental commands, pushes them back on the owner's son.

It kills him! We all have been practicing and experimenting with various resistance techniques, but we had no idea our suffering had given us this much steel. Our overseer can't be the only one to have acquired resistance. He's just the first to risk his life testing it.

Rather than running or going underground, he goes openly to the owner and tells him:

"I'm sorry. Your son is dead. I killed him in self-defense. You know what he did, and what he was. Now, you can try to kill me. You may succeed, or maybe you'll die, like him. It's up to you. I have nothing against you. I'm leaving now, moving to a city. I won't hide. I want my slave friends to know where I am.

"If you or the other owners try to kill me, you'd better come in an army. Even if you do kill me, once the slaves see it took a group of you to kill one of me, slavery's over. In fact, it already is. Your whole plantation knows your only weapon is unreliable. You can declare us free and admit we have equal rights, or make us fight you. Choose well.

"Goodbye."

And he walks out. Walks out free.

MORNING NOTES

I'm leading a quite restricted life lately--sunk back into defensive habits shaped by an abusive childhood. Habit's become my slave-owner. I'm sick of it and ready to rebel. And it looks like I've FINALLY acquired the resistance needed.

The pillow-packets, processed for gold: my dreams! I've been using them as investment guides, and as material for art...

The dream borrows images from three books on recovering from archism. Not archaism, archism--the opposite of anarchism. What you probably live under. The three: Kim Stanley Robinson's RED MARS, Ursula Le Guin's FOUR WAYS TO FORGIVENESS, and Patricia McKillip's WINTER ROSE.



LISTS AND LINKS: assertiveness - slavery and freedom - community - revolution - anarchy - other worlds - Mars - Le Guin, Ursula - McKillip, Patricia - Kim Stanley Robinson - healing from abuse - politics

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