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Monday, November 02, 2015

Economics and science fiction

But I repeat myself. Speaking first of the latter, all three QUANTUM MORTIS novels are now available for free for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime subscribers. If you were vaguely curious about them, but not enough to actually go out and buy them, here is your chance to test drive them. I'd particularly recommend checking out QUANTUM MORTIS: A MIND PROGRAMMED, which is the literary update and remix of my all-time favorite SF novel, THE PROGRAMMED MAN.

From an Amazon review: "Space Noir. That's what this is. It's a classic spy vs spy tale, but this time the stakes are much higher and there are enough twists and turns to make a Finnish rally driver happy."

QUANTUM MORTIS: A MAN DISRUPTED and QUANTUM MORTIS: GRAVITY KILLS are also available via KU.

And for those who are more interested in economics than in science fiction (to the extent that one accepts the idea that the former is not a subset of the latter), here are the first week's readings in my draft econ curriculum. Don't ask me where you can find the texts, if you can't figure out how to do that, you needn't bother with the readings.

1. What is Economics    
  • RGD Introduction
  • MURPHY Part 1 Lesson 1
  • HAZLITT Part 1-1
RGD: The Return of the Great Depression, Vox Day
MURPHY:  Lessons for the Young Economist, Robert Murphy
HAZLITT: Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt

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25 Comments:

Blogger Steve, the Dark Ninja of Mockery November 02, 2015 8:28 AM  

I paid for A MAN DISRUPTED and enjoyed it. I'm a KU customer so looking forward to reading the other books. But Vox, have you ever, in your nefarious and infamous career as the Moriarty of science fiction, said "yowzers"?

I just can't imagine you doing that, unless you said it ironically as one of your foes was painstakingly lowered into a pit of wargs for your amusement.

Economics in science fiction is topic that interests me. Generally scifi ignores economics, to the detriment of plausible world-building.

Star Trek is a sort of socialist post-scarcity utopia. Fine. But why do people still do work?

OK, being a starship captain might be pretty cool despite the absence of financial incentives, but what about the redshirts? Why risk your life doing boring and unpleasant grunt work and being ordered about when you could just fanny about in a holodeck or shag triple-tittied bitches on Risa?

Even assuming Starfleet recruits aren't typical humans, the economy of the UFP makes no sense. Ben Sisko's dad is a restaurateur. Eh... why?

Why would anybody get up early and work late to make food for strangers when a) they're not getting paid for it and b) everybody can just get instant gourmet meals from a replicator?

The Ferengi are the most identifiably human of all races in Star Trek, because they at least understand and respond to material risk and reward. Naturally, they are portrayed as the buttock-headed bad guys / comic relief.

Blogger S1AL November 02, 2015 8:42 AM  

You just summed up the collective frustration expressed by every Trek author. It's actually become a bit of a running joke at this point.

Blogger Hammerli280 November 02, 2015 8:44 AM  

I liked the Quantum Mortis stories a lot. Very reminiscent of something James H. Schmitz would have written - and I always considered him a vastly undervalued author.

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau November 02, 2015 8:45 AM  

If Replicators actually existed, Everyone on Earth would weigh 600 pounds from replicating banana splits all day as they watched reality TV. Panem et Kardashians.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan November 02, 2015 8:49 AM  

Enjoyed the QM books money well spent

Off topic Jim Kuntsler got his SJW moment, kind of interesting entry at his blog about being Red Guarded by some profs at some useless uni.

Blogger Nate November 02, 2015 8:59 AM  

Vox is better at Sci if than fantasy. And I really enjoy the fantasy stuff.... but QM is fantastic

Anonymous BGS November 02, 2015 9:03 AM  

If JCW's Virginia didn't count as sci fi because it was fantasy, shouldn't the govt econ numbers be treated the same?

Even assuming Starfleet recruits aren't typical humans, the economy of the UFP makes no sense

There are a few people that do jobs that actually enjoy them enough to keep doing them. I would put it at <10% of the population. On top of that some of the people only enjoy it because they got raised doing it, so if you can have 5 star meals every day do you really want to go out and pick pears off trees in your yard even if they are free? I have no idea how they keep medical knowledge for species that evolved on other planets straight.

If Replicators actually existed, Everyone on Earth would weigh 600 pounds from replicating banana splits all day as they watched reality TV

Maybe they will work around that like making sythohol, the fake booze that doesn't get you drunk. I don't think most people would order drinks if they couldn't get a buzz off it. Perhaps the only people growing food are doing it to make booze

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 November 02, 2015 9:34 AM  

Read the Hazlitt book a few years ago. Hazlitt is pretty good. As I recall, wasn't he the one who did a near-line-for-line rebuttal of Keynes's book? I read that too, but I don't remember who wrote it.

How good is the Murphy book?

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 November 02, 2015 9:35 AM  

@7

There's a guy who runs a "Star Wars v Star Trek" website who wrote a long essay trying to prove that the Federation is communist. I think he makes a good argument for it. I'll link it if you want.

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau November 02, 2015 9:40 AM  

"There's a guy who runs a "Star Wars v Star Trek" website who wrote a long essay trying to prove that the Federation is communist. "

There is that 'reeducation' camp in Auckland, New Zealand where they sent Tom Paris.

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 November 02, 2015 9:45 AM  

@10

Most of his arguments are cultural and economic. Political repression isn't really a factor in the Federation, or so he said (which is one thing he highlighted as an inconsistency with actual communism), and he considered the fact that it was missing to be proof of the incoherency of the political model we're shown in Star Trek. After all, how likely is it that *everyone* would go along with a model like that?

Blogger Stilicho #0066 November 02, 2015 9:50 AM  

Love the Quantum Mortis/Graven Tower stories. If you liked Niven's Gil "the ARM" Hamilton stories, you'll like these too.

Blogger Student in Blue (now with blog) November 02, 2015 9:53 AM  

Han Solo from Star Trek is my favorite Jedi.

Blogger Student in Blue (now with blog) November 02, 2015 10:00 AM  

Speaking of economics... I've been trying to make heads and tails of how exactly "Chicago school of economics" is different from Keynes.

At first, I thought it just involved liberal amounts of lying (but I repeat myself), but Wikipedia has word salad instead involving neoclassical and "New Keynesian". Can anyone express the difference?

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 November 02, 2015 10:02 AM  

I really enjoyed the interactions between Graven and Baby. A self-published author named Joseph Anderson writes an e-book series called "The Bounty Hunter's Revenge" that features a similar relationship between a man and the AI that inhabits his power armor suit. There's something about the Man/Machine interface that I like. It lacks the religious discussion of QM (Cassie, the AI, is not religious), but I enjoy it anyway.

And while I'm an atheist, I *really* enjoyed the... I suppose I would call it 'The Soldier's Prayer' in 'A Man Disrupted'. That was pretty cool. And Graven's reaction meshed with Baby's commentary pretty nicely.

Blogger Josh November 02, 2015 10:29 AM  

Han Solo from Star Trek is my favorite Jedi.

Hogwarts alum Han Salo from Star Trek is my favorite Time Lord

Blogger The Other Robot November 02, 2015 10:30 AM  

For those who cannot figure out that InterWebs thing: Lessons for the young economist

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 November 02, 2015 11:02 AM  

Copyright 2010, but the PDF is free? Interesting. Downloading it to my Kindle.

Blogger Josh November 02, 2015 11:09 AM  

Copyright 2010, but the PDF is free? Interesting. Downloading it to my Kindle.

Mises Institute is absolutely fantastic about providing free ebooks

Anonymous Donn #0114 November 02, 2015 1:01 PM  

All three are great books. Well worth buying and reading. Get 'em while they're hot.

Blogger Assis Chateaubriand November 02, 2015 1:02 PM  

I'm reading The Return of the Great Depression for the second time. Amazing how much economic knowledge condensed in a single work. Some concepts mentioned here spill onto QM.

Blogger James Dixon November 02, 2015 2:25 PM  

> Speaking of economics... I've been trying to make heads and tails of how exactly "Chicago school of economics" is different from Keynes.

Isn't the Chicago school the home of the Monetarists?

Blogger Josh November 02, 2015 4:06 PM  

Speaking of economics... I've been trying to make heads and tails of how exactly "Chicago school of economics" is different from Keynes.

At first, I thought it just involved liberal amounts of lying (but I repeat myself), but Wikipedia has word salad instead involving neoclassical and "New Keynesian". Can anyone express the difference?


Vox devotes an entire chapter to this in RGD.

Basically Chicago School is home to the Monetarists, who are heretical Keynesians in that they prefer stimulus through cutting interest rates rather than increasing spending.

Blogger Steve, the Dark Ninja of Mockery November 02, 2015 4:55 PM  

S1AL - Yar. They handwave it away in the TNG episode "The Neutral Zone:


PICARD: This is the twenty fourth century. Material needs no longer exist.
RALPH: Then what's the challenge?
PICARD: The challenge, Mister Offenhouse, is to improve yourself. To enrich yourself. Enjoy it.


Which is all very well and good. But 80% of people, on finding that they no longer have any material needs, wouldn't choose to waste the years allotted to them crawling through Jeffries tubes with a tricorder banging into their nuts or standing long, lonely hours at a transporter console like Miles Potatohead O'Brien.

They'd do what normal people do when they win the lottery, and be drunk on a yacht instead.

Skylark - If Replicators actually existed, Everyone on Earth would weigh 600 pounds from replicating banana splits all day as they watched reality TV. Panem et Kardashians.

To be honest, I'd use the replicator to build an army of murderbots. Which I'd then beam directly into the bathrooms of anyone who displeased me, to strangle them while they were having a shit.

Big Gay Steve - Maybe they will work around that like making sythohol, the fake booze that doesn't get you drunk.

In a TV series that included skirt uniforms for men, Tasha Yar using Data as a talking dildo, a guidance counsellor on the bridge, a French captain, Guinan's hat and Wil Wheaton, synthahol takes the prize for being the stupidest fucking thing ever shat out by Trek screenwriters.

RANDOM CREWMAN #1: Hey buddy, it's been a long shift, what with the Borg murderising a whole bunch of our shipmates right in front of us. Wanna blow off some steam by getting shit-faced and grabbing a couple of holodeck hookers?

RANDOM CREWMAN # 2: Nah, let's just put on our skirts, go to Ten Forward and drink alcohol-flavoured water! And maybe play that stupid-looking 3D chess game or watch that autistic robot Tasha Yar fucked do one of his tedious violin performances! You only live once, amiright?

RANDOM CREWMAN #1: Yeeeaaahh boyeee!

Blogger Groot November 03, 2015 2:15 PM  

@24. Stevil:

I know, what are the chances that a bunch of people with time on their hands would align themselves with some cranky guy barking out orders and just become minions... Oh, wait...

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