Not sure when it was published or the author's name. The only parts I remember are two prisoners trying to escape because they don't want to be breeders/sex slaves and that there are no names, just job titles for the characters. The twist at the end is the fact that the crew are female and it's men that are being used as breeders/sex slaves. I remember this being a High School reading assignment between 1983-1989 in Canada, but I'm not sure if it was a Canadian or US story.

  • hmmm, did the book appear old or new at the time you read it?
    – Mikasa
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 17:44
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    I think it was a few printed papers handed out by the teacher, not an actual book. sorry really can't remember much more.
    – Sherilee
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 17:57
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    That's ok; it's proving difficult to look for and so far I have only one potential match, an obscure short story- "The Matter of Seggri" by Ursula Le Guin. I doubt it's the one, but check out en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matter_of_Seggri and see if it rings any bells...
    – Mikasa
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 18:01
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    wasn't that one, that was published in 1994. I read it sometime between 1983 -1989. In Canada but not sure if it was Canadian literature or US.
    – Sherilee
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 23:05
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    Huh. Obviously, they don't have the Puritanical freak-out from school parents over reading material in Canada to the degree they do down here. Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 15:49

2 Answers 2


This might be The Human Operators by Harlan Ellison & A. E. Van Vogt (F&SF, January 1971).

I open my eyes and it is the female.

She smiles worriedly and removes the tube of awakener, “Hello,” she says. Ship says nothing.

“Ever since I discovered how to take control of my Starfighter, I’ve been using the ship as a decoy for other ships of the series. I dummied a way of making it seem my ship was talking, so I could communicate with other slave ships. I’ve run across ten others since I went on my own. You’re the eleventh. It hasn’t been easy, but several of the men I’ve freed—like you—started using their ships as decoys for Starfighters with female human operators.”

In 1999 the story was turned into an episode of The Outer Limits.

  • 2
    While close, I don't think its the right story. "The Human Operators" had 1 male on one ship and 1 female on another ship. BOTH ships run and operated by A.I.s. (And it was implied there were many ships all individually A.I. controlled with 1 human on each, to preform maintenance/repairs.) The OPs description implied multiple people on the ship. Crewed by females running the ship, with Male prisoners.
    – NJohnny
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 5:28

You say it was only a few printed pages of mainly dialogue...so I'm wondering if your teacher had a piece of the script from the TV series Star Maidens (1976)

Extract from Wikipedia:-

The series presents a "battle of the sexes" and role reversal scenario in which male protagonists must escape servitude to women of an advanced civilization. The planet Medusa, home to a highly evolved and technologically advanced humanoid race, was already ruled by its women when a rogue comet knocked it out of its orbit of Proxima Centauri.

Drifting through space, the orphan planet's surface became uninhabitable, and the inhabitants survived by building underground cities. The series begins with Medusa's entry into Earth's solar system. At first heartened to discover Earth, the Medusans are disappointed to learn that the human men are dominant there. Two Medusan men escape by stealing a ship and flying to Earth. Despite a successful escape, the two are pursued by the Medusan security forces.

Note:- From my teenage memory of viewing this series, the underground city scenes shown did indeed resemble the inside of a vast futuristic starship (as imagined in the 1970s)

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