Donald Barr – Space Relations (1973)

Review by Justin Tate

This dusty book has a connection to Jeffrey Epstein conspiracies!?!

I found out quite by accident. While browsing eBay for old paperbacks I stumbled upon a few listings for Space Relations at unbelievable prices. Like $300+. The cover seemed familiar–like something I might have picked up at a library sale–so I hunted through my boxes until, sure enough, there it was.

At first I thought Space Relations might be an exceptionally good out-of-print title since people were selling it for such extreme prices, but then I learned the juicy gossip behind it.

The facts are this: From 1964 to 1974, Donald Barr was headmaster for Dalton School in Manhattan. Near the end of his tenure at the prestigious institution, he published Space Relations. It was his first book and, though it hardly rocked the literary world, it did have a fair run that capitalized on the fad for slim, pulpy sci-fi novels.

It seemed novel-writing became Barr’s new passion, because within a year of being published he resigned from his post at Dalton. Curiously enough, Jeffrey Epstein also began teaching math and science at Dalton around this same time. Technically Epstein didn’t officially begin his position until the semester after Barr’s resignation, but the possibility that the two overlapped at some point isn’t too far fetched. Also, it’s worth noting that Epstein was completely unqualified for the job. He was still in his early 20s and a college drop out.

Another interesting fact: Donald Barr is the father of William Barr, Trump’s appointed Attorney General.

Now here’s where the conspiracy comes in: We all know that Epstein was involved in a horrific sex slave operation, right? Well, guess what Space Relations is about. Bingo, sex slavery!

Based on this information, the Internet is abuzz with many bizarre theories. Some read Space Relations like it’s the Da Vinci Code, with hidden clues that might even reveal who killed Epstein. Others marvel over loose connections between Barr’s plot and Epstein’s crimes.

Knowing all this in advance, I decided to read the book like that. Hoping to solve something sinister by analyzing the sentences of this old paperback. Unfortunately, try as I might, the only discovery I made was that Barr was a very poor writer and there’s a good reason why Space Relations fell out-of-print.

There is slavery in the novel, that’s true. And the slaves are taken advantage of for sexual purposes, so I get the conspiracy. But the problem with that logic is the story is about a slave’s quest for freedom. It’s abundantly clear, I think, that rape isn’t a good thing in this world. For example, soon after Craig is sold to slavery a man tries to rape him and our protagonist heroically cuts off his dick.

That said, many will point to an uncomfortable scene where the evil overlords demand the enslaved Craig copulate with a teenaged slave girl so she will bear a child and produce more slaves.

The problem that people have with the scene is that neither character is traumatized by the act. The teenage girl doesn’t seem to mind hooking up with the muscular hunk, and he follows orders perhaps a little too agreeably. However, the scene isn’t particularly descriptive and it doesn’t relish the circumstances. Considering what other horrific things the slaves went through, I don’t know that the characters’ non-reaction to this particular task is so unbelievable.

While I don’t think there’s much to unpack in that infamous scene, I suppose the sexual nature of the book at large could be evaluated for Epstein connections. But, again, it seems to contradict. A powerful woman is the main sexual predator. She forces Craig to be her concubine, but again, it doesn’t come across as the worst job he’s ever had. Perhaps that’s the problem. Even though they’re two beautiful adults, the sex should be horrific and terrible given the circumstances.

I somewhat agree with that argument, but I’m sure there are plenty who don’t. Personally I think Anne Rice’s erotica series about sex slavery is disgusting. In Rice’s books, the protagonist is an under-18 aged girl who is shackled and subject to non-stop sexual situations. Sounds horrific to me. But the character thinks that’s hot and apparently so do many readers.

I’ll be honest I really struggled to understand all the space politics in this book, so I could have misunderstood key facts, but there is something generally pervy about the whole thing. For example, it seems every guy wants to bang Craig. There’s several random homo-erotic sentences and a really obscure trans-erotic moment. Actually, now that I think about it, the female characters are almost never described in sensual terms. I wonder – was William Barr’s dad gay?

Maybe I uncovered something after all!

Oh, there is one other thing. The book references a strange mineral called “Weinsteinite” a couple of times to no purpose. It seems like a thinly veiled excuse to refer to someone named “Weinstein.” Perhaps a friend of Barr? Could the real conspiracy behind this book be a connection to Harvey Weinstein?? Wouldn’t that be a twist!

Unlike the Barr-Epstein connection, where there actually is a reasonable trace to their crossing paths, I can’t find anything on Barr-Weinstein. But will that stop me from pushing this conspiracy theory? Certainly not!

All in all, generally a waste of time. Still, an interesting experience trying to treasure hunt for conspiracy clues within a poorly written space tale.

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