These are the relevant references from the Books where Stabilization Serums are mentioned.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
"Of course," said Misk, "but we have allowed them to develop in many areas - in medicine, for example, where something approximating the Stabilization Serums has been independently developed."
"What is that?" I asked.
"You have surely not failed to notice," said Misk, "that though you came to the Counter-Earth more than seven years ago you have undergone no significant physical alteration in that time."
"I have noticed," I said, "and I wondered on this."
"Of course," said Misk, "their serums are not as effective as ours and sometimes do not function, and sometimes the effect wears off after only a few hundred years."
"You spoke of knowing the Cabots for four hundred years," I said.
"Yes," said Misk, "and your father, who is a brave and noble man, has served us upon occasion, though he dealt only, unknowingly, with Implanted Ones. He first came to Gor more than six hundred years ago."
"Impossible!" I cried.
"Not with the stabilization serums," remarked Misk.
"Why is this one egg so important?" I asked. "You have the stabilization serums. Surely there will be many eggs, and others will be female."
"It is the last egg," said Misk.
"Why is that?" I demanded.
"The Mother was hatched and flew her Nuptial Flight long before the discovery of the stabilization serums," said Misk. "We have managed to retard her aging considerably but eon by eon it has been apparent that our efforts have been less and less successful, and now there are no more eggs."
"You were English," I said.
"Yes," he said, smiling.
"Brought here on one of the Voyages of Acquisition?"
"Of course," he said.
Parp regarded his pipe with annoyance. It had gone out. He began to pinch some tobacco from the pouch he wore at his belt.
"How long ago?" I asked.
He began to try to stuff the tobacco into the bowl of the pipe. Given the gravitational alteration this was no easy task. "Do you know of these things?" asked Parp, without looking up.
"I know of the Stabilization Serums," I said.
Parp glanced up from the pipe, holding his thumb over the bowl to prevent the tobacco from floating out of it, and smiled. "Three centuries," he said, and then returned his attention to the pipe.
The Player was a rather old man, extremely unusual on Gor, where the stabilization serums were developed centuries ago by the Caste of Physicians in Ko-ro-ba and Ar, and transmitted to the Physicians of other cities at several of the Sardar Fairs. Age, on Gor, interestingly, was regarded, and still is, by the Castes of Physicians as a disease, not an inevitable natural phenomenon. The fact that it seemed to be a universal disease did not dissuade the caste from considering how it might be combated. Accordingly the research of centuries was turned to this end.
The Stabilization Serums, which are regarded as the right of all human beings, be they civilized or barbarian, friend or enemy, are administered in a series of injections, and the effect is, incredibly, an eventual, gradual transformation of certain genetic structures, resulting in indefinite cell replacement without pattern deterioration. These genetic alterations, moreover, are commonly capable of being transmitted. For example, though I received the series of injections when first I came to Gor many years ago I had been told by Physicians that they might, in my case, have been unnecessary, for I was the child of parents who, though of Earth, had been of Gor, and had received the serums. But different human beings respond differently to the Stabilization Serums, and the Serums are more effective with some than with others. With some the effect lasts indefinitely, with others it wears off after but a few hundred years, with some the effect does not occur at all, with others, tragically, the effect is not to stabilize the pattern but to hasten its degeneration. The odds, however, are in the favor of the recipient, and there are few Goreans who, if it seems they need the Serum's, do not avail themselves of them.
"At one time," said he, "centuries ago, men of my caste claimed age was incurable. Others did not accept this and continued to work. The result was the Stabilization Serums."
"She requires the Stabilization Serums," said the physician.
The guard nodded.
"They are administered in four shots," said the physician.
He nodded to a heavy, beamed, diagonal platform in a corner of the room. The guard took me and threw me, belly down, on the platform, fastening my wrists over my head and widely apart, in leather wrist straps. He similarly secured my ankles. The physician was busying himself with fluids and a syringe before a shelf in another part of the room, laden with vials.
I screamed. The shot was painful. It was entered in the small of my back, over the left hip.
They left me secured to the table for several minutes and then the physician returned to check the shot. There had been, apparently, no unusual reaction.
I was then freed.
"Dress," the physician told me.
I gratefully donned the camisk, fastening it tightly about my waist with the double-loop of binding fiber.
I wanted to speak to the physician, desperately. In his house, in this room, I had seen instrumentation which spoke to me of an advanced technology, so different from what I had hitherto encountered in what seemed to me a primitive, beautiful, harsh world. The guard, with the side of the butt of his spear, pressed against my back, and I was thrust from the room. I looked over my shoulder at the physician. He regarded me, puzzled.
Outside the other four girls and their guard were waiting. I was leashed, given a burden, and, together, we all returned to Targo's compound.
I thought I saw a small man, garbed in black, watching us, but I was not sure.
We returned, similarly, to the physician's house on the next four days. On the first day I had been examined, given some minor medicines of little consequence, and the first shot in the Stabilization Series. On the second, third and fourth day I received the concluding shots of the series. On the fifth day the physician took more samples.
"The serums are effective," he told the guard.
On the fourth day I received the last shot in the Stabilization Series. On the fifth day the physician had taken his tests and pronounced the serums effective.
He had looked at me, and smiled. It was strange what he said. "My name," he said, "is Torvald." Then he had turned away, I watched him return to the mountain. I thought of the stabilization serums, "My name is Torvald," he had said. Then he had turned away.
I had spent eight days in the slave pens, waiting the night of the sale. I had been examined medically, in detail, and had had administered to me, while I lay bound, helplessly, a series of painful shots, the purpose of which I did not understand. They were called the stabilization serums. We were also kept under harsh discipline, close confinement and given slave training.
I well recalled the lesson which was constantly enforced upon us; "The master is all. Please him fully."
"What is the meaning of the stabilization serums?" I had asked Sucha.
She had kissed me. "They will keep you much as you are," she said, "young and beautiful."
I had looked at her, startled.
"The masters, and the free, of course, if there is need of it, you must understand, are also afforded the serums of stabilization," she said, adding, smiling, "though they are administered to them, I suppose, with somewhat more respect than they are to a slave."
"If there is need of it?" I asked.
"Yes," she said.
"Do some not require the serums?" I asked.
"Some," said Sucha, "but these individuals are rare, and are the offspring of individuals who have had the serums."
"Why is this?" I asked.
"I do not know," said Sucha. "Men differ."
The matter, I supposed, was a function of genetic subtleties, and the nature of differing gametes. The serums of stabilization effected, it seemed, the genetic codes, perhaps altering or neutralizing certain messages of deterioration, providing, I supposed, processes in which an exchange of materials could take place while tissue and cell patterns remained relatively constant. Aging was a physical process and, as such, was susceptible to alteration by physical means. All physical processes are theoretically reversible. Entropy itself is presumably a moment in a cosmic rhythm. The physicians of Gor, it seemed, had addressed themselves to the conquest of what had hitherto been a universal disease, called on Gor the drying and withering disease, called on Earth, aging. Generations of intensive research and experimentation had taken place. At last a few physicians, drawing upon the accumulated data of hundreds of investigators, had achieved the breakthrough, devising the first primitive stabilization serums, later to be developed and exquisitely refined.
I had stood in the cage, startled, trembling. "Why are serums of such value given to slaves?" I asked.
"Are they of such value?" she asked. "Yes," she said, "I suppose so." She took them for granted, much as the humans of Earth might take for granted routine inoculations. She was unfamiliar with aging. The alternative to the serums was not truly clear to her. "Why should slaves not be given the serums?" she asked. "Do the masters not want their slaves healthy and better able to serve them?"
"It is true," I said, "Sucha." On Earth animals were given inoculations by farmers to protect them from diseases; on Gor it would be a matter of course, provided the serums were readily available, to administer them to slaves.
I stood with Sucha, trembling. I had received a gift which on Earth could not be purchased by the riches of the wealthiest men, a gift which was beyond the reach of Earth's mightiest millionaires, which even the billionaires of my planet could not buy, for it did not exist there.
Centius of Cos, on the other hand, was an older man; no one knew how old; it was said the stabilization serums had not taken their full effect with him until he had seen fifty winters; he was slight and gray-haired;
"In the first house of my slavery," I said, "I was given a series of injections. I am curious about them. Were they inoculations against diseases?"
"I know those you mean," he said. "No, they were the stabilization serums. We give them even to slaves."
"What are they?" I asked.
"You do not know?" he asked.
"No," I said.
"They are a discovery of the caste of physicians," he said. "They work their effects on the body."
"What is their purpose?" I asked.
"Is there anything in particular which strikes you generally, statistically, about the population of Gor?" he asked.
"Their vitality, their health, their youth," I said.
"Those are consequences of the stabilization serums," he said.
"I do not understand," I said.
"You will retain your youth and beauty, curvaceous slave," he said. "That is the will of masters."
"I do not understand," I said, frightened.
"Ageing," he said, "is a physical process, like any other. It is, accordingly, accessible to physical influences. To be sure, it is a subtle and complex process. It took a thousand years to develop the stabilization serums. Our physicians regarded ageing as a disease, the drying, withering disease, and so attacked it as a disease. They did not regard it as, say, a curse, or a punishment, or something inalterable or inexplicable, say, as some sort of destined, implacable fatality. No. They regarded it as a physical problem, susceptible to physical approaches. Some five hundred years ago, they developed the first stabilization serums."
"How could I ever pay for such a thing!" I gasped.
"There is no question of payment," he said. "They are given to you as an animal, a slave."
"Master," I whispered, awed.
"Do not fret," he said. "In the case of a woman from Earth, like yourself, they are not free."
"Master?" I asked.
He took my collar in both hands, and moved it in such a way that I could feel how sturdily, and obdurately, it was locked on my neck.
"For a woman such as you," he said, "their price is the collar."
"Yes, Master," I said. The serums, in that sense, did indeed have their price. We paid for them with the collar. It was with a strange feeling that I realized that even if I did not wish it so, even if I vehemently desired otherwise, my youth and beauty would continue to remain fresh and lovely for Gorean masters. Not even for it was there an escape! It, too, was "collared."
I shuddered, considering the effects of the stabilization serums.
"What is wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing, Master," I said. I scarcely dared to cope with even the thought of the serums. I had not understood their effects. Perhaps my master was mistaken! I must think of other things!
"Do not grow arrogant at the thought of the stabilization serums," he said.
"Arrogant?" r asked.
"Yes," he said. "Keep clearly in mind that regardless of their value or benefits from your point of view, they have other consequences as well. For example, you will continue to be of interest to masters, you will continue to excite them, you will continue to be the sort of woman they want for their collars and chains. As you remain as you are, so soft, so lovely, so attractive and desirable, you must expect to continue to face the risks and perils attendant on your beauty, on a world such as this, where it is a common mode of currency, a familiar means of exchange, where it may be used to bribe traitors, and be given to heroes as a reward, where it is a prize for courage and audacity, where it may count as tribute to conquerors, where it can be used to bargain for cities and states, and where it is bought and sold in markets."
"You are not the young man I knew," said the older woman.
"I am," he said. "Let us return briefly to those medical advances I mentioned earlier, those developed on Gor, or, as it is sometimes spoken of, the Antichthon, the Counter-Earth. Among these advances, or capabilities, if you prefer, are the Stabilization Serums. These ensure pattern stability, the stability of organic patterns, without degradation, despite the constant transformation of cells in the body. As you probably know, every seven years or so, every cell in your body, with the exception of the neural cells, is replaced. The continuity of neural cells guarantees the viability of memory, extending back, beyond various seven-year periods. The Stabilization Serums, in effect, arrest aging, and, thus, preserve youth. Further, the Stabilization Serums also freshen and rejuvenate neural tissue. In this way, one avoids the embarrassment of a declining brain incongruously ensconced in a youthful body. That feature represents an improvement over the original serums and dates from something like five hundred years ago."
"There has been a new development in the Stabilization Serums, or, better, I suppose, serums rather analogous to the Stabilization Serums, a development which has occurred in my own lifetime, indeed, within the last few years," he said. "In this development, though there are dangers associated with it, and it is not always effective, it is often possible to reverse the typical aging process, to an earlier point, and then stabilize it at that point."
"What was the purport of the inoculations?"
"You do not know?"
"No," she said.
"You are familiar with the utility of inoculations in the prevention of certain diseases, surely," he said.
"Certainly," she said.
"Goreans, of the caste of physicians," he said, "long regarded ageing not as a fatality to which they must be naively resigned, but merely as another malady to which their craft might be addressed, one to be remedied."
"I have heard of such research on Earth," she whispered.
"It has come to a successful conclusion on Gor," he said.
"Forgive me, Master," she said. "I cannot believe that."
"It does not matter whether you believe it or not," he said.
"Oh!" she said.
"Your body is very sensitive," he said, "as is fitting for a female slave."
"You are going to make me cry out, and beg again?"
"If it pleases me," he said.
"I am immortal?" she said.
"Not at all," he said. "You are human, very human. You are extremely mortal. It is only that you are now, assuming the serums hold, immune to the ravages of age."
"'If'?" she said.
"They do not always hold," he said, "but, commonly, they do."
"I can understand," she said, "why free persons might avail themselves of such achievements, but why would they be bestowed on slaves?"
"Clearly," he said, "to keep up their value, in the case of a male slave, his strength, in the case of a female slave, her beauty."
"Your touch!" she said.
"Do you like that?" he asked.
"Yes," she said. "Yes!"
"You are an extremely beautiful young woman," he said. "And in bondage you will inevitably increase in beauty, and, as you increase in beauty, your desirability to men will increase as well, and you will become more and more valuable on the auction block."
"I do not want to be sold," she said.
"It will be done with you as masters please," he said.
"Yes, Master," she said.
"Surely you can understand," he said, "how men would not want your beauty to fade, for in such a way they would lose on their investment. Your value must be kept up, if only for the auction block."
"I am frightened," she said.
"And so your youth and beauty will be retained," he said.
"To be kept in a collar," she said.
"Of course," he said.
One might mention, at this point, a word or two about the stabilization serums, which were developed centuries ago by the green caste, that of the Physicians. By means of these serums a given phase of maturation, say, beauty in a woman, strength in a man, and so on, may be retained indefinitely. The caste of Physicians, long ago, construed ageing as a disease, the "drying and withering disease," and not as an inevitability or fatality, and so set to work to effect, so to speak, its cure. Scientists of Earth, as I understand it, are only now beginning to sniff about the edges of this problem. A radical shift in perspective, of course, is necessary. And such conceptual reformulations, as is well known, are difficult, rare, and, oddly, often unwelcome. Major truths, no matter what the evidence in their favor, are often, in the beginning, denied, then ridiculed, then battled, and then, if the cultural situation permits, and insufficient numbers of the heretics, or proponents, of the new views are imprisoned or executed, grudgingly accepted, and then, later, hailed as obvious, and those originally most adamant in their opposition, perhaps having run out of penitentiaries and firewood, will claim credit for the discoveries to which they have so reluctantly succumbed. Indeed, can they not find passages in their texts which hint of those very secrets, and other passages which allude to them in now-transparent metaphors?
Claims to the effect, say, that ageing is, or is not, a disease are at least cognitive. One can be right or wrong about them. They should be distinguished from claims, or seeming claims, which are noncognitive, namely, which lack either truth or falsity. For example, it is impossible to confute nonsense for it is neither true nor false, and that which is neither true nor false cannot be shown to be either. The truth or falsity of such things is not hiding. It just does not exist. It must not be lost sight of in these matters, of course, that nonsense is often well armed. Consider poison. It, too, is neither truth nor false, but it is dangerous, and it can kill.
There is a technique, incidentally, based on a variation of the stabilization serums, for hastening physical maturation, but this is little used because one has then to show for one's pains only an unusual child. Much can be done with the body, it seems, but little with the mind, saving, perhaps, by Priest-Kings in the recesses of the Sardar. Gorean men are not interested in children, even if they have the bodies of women. They find them uninteresting. Nor will they be of interest until several years have passed. Then they may be interesting, perhaps quite interesting. Humanity, one notes, exceeds physiology. Unfortunately, too, several of these children will suffer confusing stress, as they lack the emotional maturation to relate comprehensibly to the needs and demands of their grown bodies, bodies hastened beyond the horizons of a child's understanding. Accordingly, this application of the stabilization serums is frowned upon in Gorean society, and in many cities is illegal. A much more benign, or, at least, more acceptable, application of the stabilization serums is founded on a related, and accepted, but opposing principle, the reversibility of all physical processes. In this application, within limits, adjustments to the serums may effect the restoration of youth. The usual application of this technique, as would be expected, is to return a middle-aged, or older, female, to her youth, health, energy, and beauty. As I understand it, this is normally done only with particularly selected women, ones whose once remarkable beauty, this usually determined from old drawings, paintings, and photographs, has faded. Brought to Gor, restored to their earlier vitality and beauty, and collared, they will find themselves, not surprisingly, of great interest on the block. All beauty, of course, is not confined to a particular generation. Would it not be nice to see Thais, Phyrne, Cleopatra, and such on the block?
The usual thing, of course, at least where girls from Earth are concerned, as free Goreans have access to these serums as a matter of course, is to pick out young, superb, slave fruit, and then bring it to the chains of Gor, and here, in the pens, or, at any rate, early in its bondage, subject it to the stabilization serums, that it may be protected from the ravages of alteration and deterioration. Gorean masters, predictably, tend to favor young, luscious, female slaves. Slavers, too, who wish to buy and sell them, wish them to stay this way, as their value is maintained and, in many cases, improved. Cecily, whom we have met in the preceding Pages, was subjected to the serums not on Gor but in the Pleasure Cylinder associated with the Steel World ruled at that time by Agamemnon, Eleventh Face of the Nameless One. Though she was far from immortal, and might even be fed to sleen, she would retain her youth and beauty. To be sure, it would wear a collar.
I had been administered the stabilization serums which on Gor, of course, are administered even to slaves. It is desired by the masters that we retain our energy and vitality, our needs and passion, our attractiveness and desirability, our helplessness and responsiveness, our youth and beauty, doubtless not for our sake, as we are only slaves, but for their sake, that we may be more pleasing to them. On my world I supposed this might count as a gift beyond price, concerning which murders might be done, and wars fought. Here, as we were not free, it was little more in our case than a procedure or device to improve slave stock. I wondered what would be the case if a woman, say one of my world, had a choice in such matters. Certainly I knew what the political and ideological prescriptions would be on my old world. She would be expected to prefer decrepitude, withering, aging, and death to a collar on her neck, and a master in whose arms she would be no more than a begging, enraptured chattel.
You will also, in your house of training, receive a set of injections. These constitute what we refer to as the 'stabilization serums'. Some centuries ago the caste of Physicians addressed itself to what is sometimes known as the drying and withering disease, what one might call in English, "ageing." This was regarded on Gor not as an inevitability, as commonly on Earth, but as a medical issue, susceptible to treatment and, later, to prevention. The stabilization serums are complex and have, I am told, a number of special applications and variations. You need not, however, concern yourselves with these, You will receive the basic series, which, in effect, in most cases, assures pattern stability. I see you do not understand. To simplify matters, your body will remain much as it is as long as you live. You will, thus, retain, indefinitely, your youth and beauty, your beauty such as it is, of course. I see you are surprised. Do not be confused. You remain vulnerable and mortal. You are spared merely the miseries and degradations of age, only those. Yes, such things would doubtless be highly prized on your former world, doubtless to the extent of billions in various currencies, but here they are inexpensive and widely available. They are commonly administered to slaves, as well as free persons. Do not think this shows any special consideration to such as you, a despised slave. It is done on behalf of the free, that their slaves will retain their vitality passion, youth, beauty, and health, this serving to keep them more attractive and appealing, which, of course, aside from a number of obvious advantages to the master, personal and aesthetic, has a number of economic consequences as well, as his goods will then, on the whole, keep their market value, their resale value, and such."
Could it be true, what he said, I wondered. If so, what an inordinate gift I might receive, and yet it would not be a gift, truly, but merely something done in the interests of the free, that their properties, such as I, might remain more valuable!
"Here, noble masters, at my feet," said the auctioneer, standing to my left, his whip in his right hand, "we have, as noted, a medium-heighted barbarian, imported recently from the slave world, for there is such a world, as many of you know, picked like fruit for your delectation. You can see that she is fresh and luscious. She has also been administered, as is done routinely, the stabilization serums, which preclude the onslaught of the drying, withering disease, age, so prevalent on her barbarous world. Accordingly she will remain indefinitely as you see her now, vital and soft, shapely and lovely, vulnerable and helpless, a dream of pleasure in her collar! Would you not like to have her at your feet?"
I had heard of the stabilization serums, but did not fully understand them. Supposedly they prevented ageing. I found this hard to believe, but I had never seen a Gorean who seemed to me old. If what I had heard was true, age, understood as a disease, had been conquered on Gor. These stabilization serums were not limited to free persons, but were administered to slaves, as well, that they might retain their value. I supposed there must be Earth women who would prefer to be free and gradually grow weak, decrepit, haggard, miserable, and die, but I supposed that there might be some who would not mind retaining their youth and beauty indefinitely, even at the cost of a collar on their neck. I did not personally have to deal with this decision, as I had had no choice in the matter. I had been simply, without my consent, acquired, branded, and collared, and then given the serums, that I might not cease to be pleasing to masters. Had I been given the choice, however, I would have chosen the retention of youth and beauty. I would have been vain enough to make that decision. Too, as I knew myself to be a natural slave, it being what I wanted to be, the decision would have been appropriate. Would I not then be more pleasing to a master? Let each person decide as they wish. The stabilization serums, of course, do not guarantee invulnerability or confer immortality. In a thousand ways one may bleed and die. Such serums provide no protection from the thrust of a knife or spear, from a strangling bowstring, from the subtleties of poison, from the claws and fangs of beasts.