14.45: Economics

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

Economists tend to see everything as economics, which is kind of how proponents of ANY discipline see their discipline, but it’s not a bad way to look at worldbuilding through the lens of economics. In this episode we talk about how this works for us, and how it lets us roll our worldbuilding into our storytelling.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Liner Notes: Mahtab mentioned The Economics of Science Fiction on Medium.com




Write a truly moneyless society or setting. You can still have transactions… just no money.

Making Money, by Terry Pratchett

11 thoughts on “14.45: Economics”

  1. In Jim Butcher’s “The Aeronaut Windlass” he had an economic aspect that bugged me to no end. Supposedly it was explained better in book 3 or 4, but I never got that far.

    In book 1, wood was rare and precious. As in you had to be very wealthy to have wooden doors in your house. On the top level.
    Yet the second level down – was made almost entirely of wood.

    The ships that travelled between the levels were mostly wood.
    It was not said where the trees grew to provide the long timbers. It became a distraction for me. I bought magically flying wooden ships, but not the economics of creating the ships.

    So this episode really helps me define why that book and a few others bug me.

  2. For those interested in an epic fantasy with a bit of economic trickery, check out traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson (2015). The protagonist is tasked with bringing down a well-armed land using… economics.

  3. While watching “Star Trek : Next Generation” early on it occurred to me that the economy required infinite wealth.

    1. Well, it is considered post scarcity, mainly because energy production is almost infinite and cheap. And because you have replication technology, you have no basic lacks. You don’t need infinite wealth because you don’t have wealth as the driver for your economy. Development is, social and personal.

  4. My thoughts immediately went to Dune–where the economic monopoly of what powers interplanetary society is pretty much the whole story.

  5. The frolicsome foursome, Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab, balanced the books with a look at economics. The hammer of scarce resources with alternate uses? Wood for houses, but also for weapons, fires, even just forests that we enjoy? $1200 hammers? Wizards in power stations, Superman on a treadmill, dwarven gears? How do we make stories work, when the economics all break? The foursome have a lot of useful discussion, and you can read about it in the transcript in the archives now!

  6. The Dagger and the Coin saga is exactly that: banks against war. The conflict of one of the books is centered around an audit. And it really works. All books that i read by Daniel Abrahams contain economy concepts.

  7. There was a book that I enjoyed, but an economic aspect about it kept bugging me. I’ve heard it has been explained in later books, but I’ve not cared enough to read the rest to find out.
    Don’t state in chapter 1 that something is super rare and expensive, then build a ton of flying ships and whole buildings out of it four chapters later. It breaks reader belief.

    But it is nice to see when the economics of caring for large and complicated magical beasts is actually accounted for in the story. Sure you can have flying monsters, but tell us what they eat and how that food is collected. If it is just handwaved – you will lose your adult readers.

  8. At first, I didn’t realize that I had world built in this area, until I realized I’ve been making a big deal over the increase of quality that has been spreading through materials.

  9. A bit late, but there’s a real life example of a moneyless barter based economy.

    USSR Communism :D

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