Working on my book Destiny’s Hand I struggled with the concept of currency. I wondered if money was even necessary with only a thousand people isolated for fifty generations.
My son gets a dollar a week and five dollars a tooth. He doesn’t need money. We provide his basic necessities and many amenities.
He wants money. It gives him choices. He collects it and counts it. He brushes his teeth extra to improve their value for when it’s time to trade with the tooth fairy.
I’ve heard some surprise at five dollars, but I want Yuri to have enough money to purchase a birthday/Christmas tier gift. I’ve searched with him on Amazon for reasonably priced transformers, and I trust his frugality.
What kind of economy can exist on a spaceship?
The ship is self-sufficient. The passengers mostly just need to focus on taking care of themselves. Although they do need to grow and prepare their own food, they have support that would spoil any farmer or cook on our current Earth.
The result is that with so little work that needs to get done, having a job is optional. Every passenger gets whatever medical care they need, a place to sleep, and as much nutritious food as the biomonitor on their wristaid will allow.
Eve Online has a great economy.
I think it is the most important virtual economy in the world.
Playing the market within the game has given me applicable experience I draw on for my fiction. This first book focuses on inreal, but the next will have a strong invirtu component, complete with its own virtual economy.
Destiny’s Hand tells a story with a relatively bland economy in the background. My characters desire and spend tokens only for the extras. For them, currency is not about life and death, but rather interesting versus tedium.
I spoke with a coworker who recently returned from a year in Ireland. She described some of the good and bad of the Emerald Isle. Something that stood out for me in the context of my fiction writing was social welfare there.
Being “on the dole” has a special meaning across the Atlantic. My coworker described Irish on welfare being perfectly content to get their government check. They got enough for basic bills and drinking at the pub. It’s a simple life and she said they were mostly content enough to not try and change it.
Work often sucks, and for many Irish it doesn’t make sense. When my wife went back to work full time we faced a degree of it not making financial sense when accounting mainly for change in taxes and childcare costs. Not as extreme as it would be for us in Ireland, but there are definitely times when we wonder just how much of a benefit is it for us both to be working full time. For me, this is especially poignant in the context of reduced family time and free time.
A token economy.
My fiction has characters whose whole long lives will pass by on the journey without coming close to the destination. They have plenty of free time and are lacking purpose.
I’ve had to give a lot of thought as to how things would be engineered to keep the passengers useful. As I don’t believe that altruism exists, I knew it had to be reward based.
Passengers receive tokens as currency. Those without any duties get a base two a week. Students get five and managers get seventy five (not including perks and bonuses).
A hour in a private (artificial) hot spring costs a token. The special at the Restaurant costs seven. A ten year contract with a retired service dog as a pet costs a hundred. These are examples of official purchases with the prices decided by committee. There is also second inreal economy that has a maker fair at its core, which follows supply and demand to decide pricing.
With the pay scaling managers can basically afford everything available, and everyone else has to pick and choose. A break from our reality is that in my story wealth is much more dependent on actively working. A former manager looses not just the currency of employment, but also the currency of managerial favors. In my fiction all passengers receive the same retirement allowance. The intention of the social engineers was in part to prevent resource hogging by those who don’t contribute. This mostly worked, but also had the effect of making it very difficult to advance.
A space village
I believe my efforts to simulate an economy in Ship Of Destiny have created something vibrant. I want there to be a sense that the characters aren’t wandering around in a vacuum.
The goal within the fiction for the Destiny Exodus is to carry a microcosm of the world they wanted to build to the planet they intend to colonize. With this in mind I write more as if the characters are moving around an isolated village than inside a large spaceship.
I hope readers more easily slip down into the depths of my fiction with the lube of familiar. I want to ease into the mind fuck that gyme will be.