14.46: Unusual Resources

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard

Among science fiction and fantasy plot devices, the “uncommon resource” trope is common enough to almost seem cliché. Fortunately (?), the economic principle of scarcity is ubiquitous enough in real life that most of us don’t even blink when presented with the idea in fiction.

So how do we keep it fresh? How do we roll scarcities into the economies we create, and the worlds we build?

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


Take something common and make it super-valuable.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance 

9 thoughts on “14.46: Unusual Resources”

  1. Hello to the writing excuses team! I just wanted to let you know that I have found your podcast tremendously helpful, not to mention entertaining. I discovered it just over a year ago and, contrary to advice, have listened my way through all the seasons until I finally caught up with you. I know I have grown as a writer and feel grateful for a free and easily available resource of high quality that I can keep referring to. It has also helped me through mountains of dishes and laundry and always makes me laugh.

  2. This is very interesting. For example, during the spanish conquest of Latin America, the spain crown found Potosi, a fantastic silver mine. They mined it dry, with slave work, and extracted so much silver in such a short time that they devalued the price of silver worldwide. They found a treasure and turned it into a liability, just by exploiting it.

  3. I played a D&D game once where we discovered that one continent had a significantly more advanced magitech system than the continent we came from. Including, as flavor text, a mattress-extruding machine. Our home continent was still using straw ticks. We did save the world and all, but after saving the world, we gave up adventuring and became mattress salesmen, making a small fortune in arbitrage between the relative magic levels between continents.

  4. The gold pressed latinum quartet, Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and that unusual, peculiar resource, Howard, talked about Unusual Resources this week! The spice from Dune, rare metals for magic, salt, and many more rare and fantastic resources all get discussed. Supply and demand, scarcity, refining and bootstrapping… and above and beyond all that, tell the story first! Read all about it in the transcript, available now in the archives.

  5. Dear Howard
    Please stop interrupting people
    I want to hear the others talk too, especially the ladies

  6. I would like to hear less of Howard.

    Lately, I have the feeling that he is to only one who talks. I would like to hear different points of view instead of one. And it’s not only about how often he speaks but also, how long.
    Please, get back to the time when each of the hosts and the guests were given an equal amount of air time.


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