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I am trying to remember the name of a 1980's science fiction book where the protagonist is a guy who is enslaved on a large plantation-like region of a planet. He escapes via a spaceport/airport for Jetsons-reminiscent aircraft either to another planetary region, or even off-planet.

Eventually, after becoming a galactic citizen, he returns and either fights to free his former peers, or maybe goes through political machinations to effect change on a global scale (memory's a little foggy on this). I'm not thinking of Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy, although it is not entirely dissimilar. The storyline is similar to but more family friendly than Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant.

Another point of memory is a cover with the guy and a flying vehicle with a glass/plastic dome, sort of like the Jetson's, but more realistic looking.

  • Is it possible you're confusing several different stories? Your description reminds me of Heinlein's Between Planets and his novella Logic of Empire as well as Asimov's The Currents of Space. – Harry Johnston Jul 5 '17 at 1:35
  • Possible, but I've read these stories back when, I don't remember the protagonist being enslaved. – decuser Jul 5 '17 at 3:10
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You may be thinking of Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant (Wikipedia; Internet Speculative Fiction Database), a series of six novels:

  1. Refugee (1983)
  2. Mercenary (1984)
  3. Politician (1985)
  4. Executive (1985)
  5. Statesman (1986)
  6. The Iron Maiden (2002)

Humans have thoroughly colonized the solar system, which has a political structure strongly resembling Earth's of the late Twentieth Century. The first five novels are from the point of view of Hope Hubris as he experiences youth as a refugee, young adulthood as an agricultural laborer and soldier, and middle age and beyond as a politician with varying degrees of interplanetary influence. The sixth novel is a retelling of the first five, from the perspective of Hope's sister Spirit, a similarly influential person.

Vehicles using "gravity lens" levitation technology are common, and these feature in the Hubris family's bid to escape from Callisto in Refugee. Enormous spheres, floating in the outer planets' atmospheres, house entire cities.

  • The Piers Anthony series has a similar structure and plotline to the story I'm thinking of, but goes a bit further towards the Caligula. I remember something a bit less decadent and more noble about the lead character throughout. I'll edit my question to reflect. – decuser Jul 4 '17 at 15:54
3

Browsing at Half Price Books, I found it: Space Relations by Donald Barr, 1973. Apparently, it's not as family friendly as In remembered, but still a long way from Caligula.

Donald Barr - Space Relations - Front Side

Donald Barr - Space Relations - Back Side

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This plot (except for the family-friendly descriptor) seems similar to that of Piers Anthony's short duology, Chthon and Phthor. In the first book, the protagonist escapes from captivity, aided by another slave/prisoner (who, as I recall, dies along the way); in the second, he returns to tear down the system that enslaved him.

These were some of Anthony's earlier works, contemporary with Ox, Orn, and Omnivore, Battle Circle, or Macroscope, long before the Xanth books or Tarot series, and as such are (IMO) better written/edited than the later material -- but also a very different prose style than his work in and after A Spell for Chameleon.

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Your recollection sounds much like the Heinlein story Logic of Empire(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic_of_Empire). The protagonist is shanghaied from Earth to be enslaved on a Venus plantation, and ultimately (as I recall) escapes his situation to effect societal change there. Is this it?

  • 2
    Why is is that everyone misunderstands "Logic of Empire?" He and his friend weren't shanghaied, they did it voluntarily. If he'd stayed put on the first plantation, he'd have been rescued by his (massively rich) family. Hump's point of view was that the situation way massively unfair (true) and he was already trying to change it from Earth before he went himself. In the end, he made no difference to the practice of indentured servants on Venus. His biggest impact was in helping other escapees improve their (radio) communications. – JRE Jul 7 '17 at 19:30
  • And, no. The description in the question does not fir "Logic of Empire." – JRE Jul 7 '17 at 19:30

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