Space Relations: A Slightly Gothic Interplanetary Tale is a space opera novel by Donald Barr, the father of two-time US Attorney General William Barr (Bush & Trump), originally published on 17 September 1973 by Charterhouse and distributed by McKay, and reprinted by Fawcett Crest Books in February 1975. It is one of only two novels Barr is known to have written, the other being A Planet in Arms.
In the future, humans have formed an intergalactic empire ruled by aristocrats. During a time of war with the Plith, an empire of ant-like alien bug people, ambassador John Craig, a formerly Liberal Earth man in his 30s, is dispatched to the strategically important planet Kossar, a human colony that was settled by the Carlyle Society as a place of exile for political extremists and now is ruled by an oligarchical high council of seven nobles, each of whom is in charge of a different domain with its own traditions. Their boredom and absolute power have driven them to madness, to the point that Kossar’s entry into the empire has been stymied by the Man-Inhabited Planets Treaty’s clause (written by Craig) against alliances with slave owning societies, due to its practice of kidnapping humans to become illegal playthings of the galaxy’s super-rich.
Craig, who now is campaigning to bring Kossar into the empire, had previously been to the planet when the passenger ship on which he was travelling on a return trip from the Betelgeuse Conference was captured by space pirates. While en route to Kassar, one of the pirates awakened Craig and the other prisoners to rape a 15-year-old virginal redheaded female captive in front of them; the rapist’s fellow pirates later hear of this and dock his pay as punishment for spoiling her market value. Craig then spent two years as a slave of the beautiful, sensual, and sadistic Lady Morgan Sidney, the only female member of the oligarchy, with whom he became romantically involved. Together, they lived in her castle, ruling over and engaging in sexual relations with those under their dominion, including an enslaved teenager at a clinic used to breed enslaved people. When Craig stumbles on hints of an alien invasion, he realizes he must escape to save humanity.
The novel was criticized by Pornokitsch for devoting too much attention to character development rather than world-building. The novel was described in a Vice article as “both comically amoral and insufferably pretentious. To be fair, these traits were common in 1970s sci-fi.” In 1973, Kirkus Reviews described the novel as “a coruscatingly literate tale for grown-ups.”
Space Relations saw increased public attention after Barr’s former employee Jeffrey Epstein died in a jail cell. Some have drawn connections between the violent sexual depictions in Space Relations and Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking activities and obsessions.
It is a really badly written book whose only excuse seems to be to refer to human trafficking and sex slavery either as an appeal to prurient interests – in which case it fails, or to relate reminiscences in fiction, or possibly as a payoff, because the dialogue and connecting thoughts are lacking, as well as any real plot even after half the book is read.
The writer seems to like putting everything in terms of girls, and boys, and children, even when the scenes do not necessarily (but often do) involve kids. So while for instance the 14 year old girl getting raped in the first few chapters is really supposed to be 14, the hero of the book in danger of being sodomized – ‘bend down kid and make it good’ (sic) is not supposed to be a kid. It is that way throughout the book. They are either labeled like they are children (the queen was a ‘child’), or actually boys or girls. So it pretty much starts with the word “naked” and goes down from there.
It is pretty shocking a headmaster of a school would write this junk. It’s not the only low grade sf story out there with this non-writing in it – but they are always bad reads. exploitation novel at best, says something about the writer regardless.
TruNews discusses the bizarre book HERE