The Marketplace Universe Edit
Yes, there exists a large network of sellers of human flesh. It is called in English, The Marketplace.
There, we engage in the trading of men and women for vast amounts of money, and for uses which
are not limited by our societies and our cultures. This is not for fun. Do you understand that? It is to
provide servants for those whose drives require such absolute obedience. It is not to provide boyfriends.
Or girlfriends....If you are allowed to enter this world, you cannot choose your masters. Nor may you
deny them use of you once they purchase you. If you leave them, or rebel, you will be rejected from
the Marketplace and never allowed to return. from The Slave
The Marketplace universe is a world in which consensual, erotic slavery exists through a secretive worldwide organization known as THE MARKETPLACE. The Marketplace relies very little on a traditional fantasy-based erotic world to tell its stories. This fictional universe looks very much like the one in which we live, allowing for the story to be told in a way that feels as if a Marketplace person could be living down the street. The novels take place from roughly 1993 to 2005.
In the world of the Marketplace, there are Marketplace slaves, individuals drawn to an idealized concept of slavery, who consent to be sold to the highest bidders after undergoing rigorous training periods. The slaves in the Marketplace do not get a choice in who Owns them - they consent to completing a contract as a slave to whoever purchases them. The contracts are generally of limited duration (the books mention contracts ranging in time between 2 and 10 years), and renewable if both parties agree. The slave can also return to auction, retire, or gain more training to increase their value. Marketplace slaves must be at least 18 years of age and can remain in service for decades.
Marketplace Owners are recruited by other Owners (or other Marketplace personnel), and carefully vetted by the organization for suitability. Owners are generally dominant, self-assured individuals (although there are Marketplace corporations that purchase slaves) who find erotic fulfillment through the management of others. The Marketplace economy requires that the Owner be able to underwrite the costs of room, board, and medical expenses above and beyond the purchase price of a slave. Some Owners are part of a Marketplace family, where members of the family have participated in the Marketplace for generations.
Spotters and Trainers are key members of the Marketplace universe. The Spotters walk the line of the Marketplace and the soft world to find potential clients who can become slaves. After a period of evaluation, Spotters make the clients aware of the Marketplace, and turn them over to slave Trainers, who put them through intensified programs designed to determine whether they really have what it takes to become Marketplace slaves.
While the Marketplace universe is a romantic universe, it does not follow the expected paths of contemporary romance - that is, the Owners are not expected to fall in love with their slaves and live happily after after. This is not to say that the characters don't fall in love. But the romance in the Marketplace is the erotic and fulfilling expression of dominance and submission, of sadomasochism, and of power dynamics through relationships with others who have agreed to participate in the experience.
This allows for larger issues of romance to be addressed through the series. The characters struggle with sexual desires, with levels of intimacy and emotional distance, with authority and obedience, with jealousy and shame, and other very human traits common to most romances. Because of the overlay of a structured Owner/owned dynamic, other common themes include loyalty, trust, service, and honor. The nature of the Marketplace encourages the manipulation of erotic power, and the sexuality in the novels always includes elements of dominance, submission and pain and pleasure.
THE SERIES Edit
The Marketplace series is designed to be read in order, although the first three books can be read in any order. By the fourth novel, however, there are recurring characters, and their histories are helpful in following the plots for the later books. Currently, the Marketplace series includes five books, with several more planned. They are:
Book One: The Marketplace
Book Two: The Slave
Book Three: The Trainer
Book Four: The Academy
Book Five: The Reunion
The sixth book, planned for release in Spring 2012 is entitled:
Author Laura Antoniou plans several more books in the series, including a book focusing on Owners, a collection of short stories about the lesser-known Marketplace slaves, a historical novel that addresses the creation of the American Marketplace, and a biography of the main character, Chris Parker
Over the last decade, Laura Antoniou has created several short stories based in the Marketplace universe. Many of these are "value-added" additions to the novels when they have moved publishers. Others appear in anthologies that are not otherwise part of the Marketplace universe. A full listing of these short stories appear in The Series section of the wiki.
MOST POPULAR CHARACTERS Edit
Over the course of the series, there are several characters who appear in multiple books. The one character who appears in all of the novels is Chris Parker, who is first seen as a major-domo working in a Training House on Long Island. His life story is slowly revealed over time in the novels, although the POV of the novels is rarely his.
Other popular characters:
Robin Cassidy, whose entrance into the Marketplace is told in Book Two, The Slave, appears briefly in Book Three The Trainer, and returns in Book Five, The Reunion, which takes place seven years later.
Imala Anderson is referred to in earlier novels as North America's most important slave trainer, and is featured in Book Three, The Trainer and Book Four, The Academy.
Ken Mandarin is a Spotter who appears briefly but memorably in several of the novels, particularly The Slave, in which she spots Robin; and two years later in The Academy, as a raucous participant in the day-long meetings, and a lively storyteller in the evenings.
CHARACTER TYPES Edit
In order for the Marketplace to exist, there are certain roles that must be performed. The roles and descriptions are included below.
As with any fictional universe, there are certain terms that are part of the world culture. Some of the more common terms in the novels are found below.
Auction - the events where Marketplace slaves are purchased.
Soft World - non-Marketplace environments, most often used to describe BDSM clubs and conferences.
Training House - the facilities where more successful Trainers conduct their business. Book Three, The Trainer, gives glimpses into three different types of Training Houses - a relaxed, casual private beach-front property in Santa Monica, a manor house in Great Britain, and a Brooklyn Brownstone.