Humanity enters the galaxy and makes First Contact, only to begin to realize that not everything is at it seems. It appears that the galactic alien community has forgotten to invent some rather important economic concepts that human civilization has taken for granted.
This is a look at a hypothetical galactic scale barter economy, how that would work, or how as one of our main characters Sarah realizes... it doesn't.
And as the galaxy falls apart at the seams, it's up to the best and brightest in humanity to put things back together.
Story contains a lot about markets, logistics, development, and the best and worst of human history. Not so much Space Marines nuking aliens.
If you enjoyed the trade negotiations and Senate politics in the Star Wars prequels, and wished that there was an entire standalone story consisting solely of those parts, this might be for you!
Galactic Economics is also posted on reddit here.
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Overall, I enjoyed the core story from start to finish (I did not read the Wealth of Planets chapters). With how short it is, I can recommend it easily to anyone interested in the less bombastic side of science fiction - xenoeconomy and logistics presented with simple English and a cast of lovable and sympathetic aliens. Alas, as the headline says, it's not without major issues that make the fiction miss the mark it set for itself.
To sum it up briefly: a couple of bored students who lucked into a trade of their lifetime, a part-time driver and a retired economics expert somehow kickstart the decrepit and stagnant galactic economy with Fortune 100 corporations, governments and UN being somehow late to the punch. The story handwaves all of the Earth-borne cloak-and-dagger scheming that would prevent the budding enterpreneurs from ever taking off the ground, not to mention taking the galaxy by the storm in order to put the hypothetical scenario of the author and analysis of it's consequences in the forefront. While the scenario is indeed interesting, the way author just magics the GC policies into existence is making the story feel very shallow, more like a fable for children rather than a philosophical essay or a space opera.
And that is the reason for my low opinion of the style in which Galactic Economics is written. It tries to be an anthropological analysis of societies adjusting from barter economy to currency economy but the vast majority of narration is personal perspectives of aliens, showing the consequences of our "protagonist" policies in a very micro scale. Any macro scale analysis is, again, mostly shallow and vague, going only as far as to explain the concepts and mechanisms in use but not how exactly they would be implemented or how they overcame various roadblocks that would have normally appear in protagonists' way. To me, this makes for a jarring dissonance between the analytical and dramatic parts of the story. Dramatic stories of galactic criseses are not sufficiently supported by world-building and the academic analysis is not sufficiently challenged by real-world considerations.
Aside from those issues, the cast of characters is diverse and there is a variety of character arcs that will let everybody find something to their liking. Interestingly, however the human characters get very little screentime, with alien characters and their struggles making the bulk of the story. When the original main characters appear, they do so in what appears to be intermissions rather than actual exploration of their characters.
Lastly, for grammar I have zero issues. Fiction was edited well and I saw barely any typo errors or awkward sentences.
It's okay but it has issues. Suspension of disbelief would probably be the biggest one, there are numerous times throughout the first couple of chapters where circumstances are presented in ways that would never happen, and not in a magic or fantasy kind of way. Other than that it's an okay kind of read, in a way that makes you go "huh, that's neat" then move on and forget you ever read it. The plot is rather weak, it seems to be 'thing A happens, extrapolate to the rest of the galaxy'. It doesn't really seem to have a set thing that it follows or wants to get out of the story, more of a sandbox of a story if you were in this specific what if scenario. I wouldn't call it bad writing, just not terribly entertaining. Go ahead and give it a shot if you find simple economics interesting. Advice to the author, maybe spend more time developing setting and cast. Feels like the aliens and worlds are glossed over when they could be used as a hook to keep a reader interested
The story is about economics being introduced into a galaxy that is rather poor and operates on bartering logic.
It is an interesting idea, and while there are some economics ideas in this (and it is more than your usual story), it still isn't much.
The characters are rather flat. They have perhaps a single defining character trait, and can feel like I'm not reading about a different person (it does perspective switches all the time, but that isn't bad in of itself).
The aliens are all your usual humanoids with essentially human thought processes. There are some lines about differences, but they aren't really used much. They behave much the same as humans.
The writing is fine, no grammar issues or poor style, but it could benefit from being more descriptive. I have trouble visualizing what they're describing, and probably couldn't give a good estimate about ship size, and only vague ideas about what a species looks like.
The story isn't bad, but I've found myself not really enjoying it. It doesn't delve into the topics to be really that interesting (whether economics or alien species). As well, there are some holes (how are these aliens that are for the most part medieval farmers getting FTL? Not a single one even has even a basic money economy?), but that didn't affect me much. It is just somewhat boring to read. There are challenges but they are resolved in a short amount of time.
north-south economic problems make for interesting reading, but its uncommon to see a scifi story with earth as the economic north.
good pacing, some relatable characters, and what is clearly an in-depth knowledge of economics with some research done as well. a good read! it even has a couple bits of military action, in the form of piracy and blockades, but surprisingly no gunboat diplomacy.
I'm not going to say something cliche like "you'd think a story about economics would be boring", because I feel vauguely insulted whenever someone insinuates that anything intellectual is inherently non-entertaining.
And entertaining is the best way to describe this story. I'd compare it to a lighthearted action flick, if the violance was replaced by macroeconomics. It has a simple but interesting setup and the action is a spectacle, even if some hardcore economists are probably rolling their eyes at the implausibility of it all. There are ups and downs, but it's a feel-good story in the end (unless you're a die-hard communist).
It is well-written with impeccable grammar and very much worth your time. The first story in this anthology is not too short, not too long: you should finish it in an afternoon. I've given lower-quality works a 4/5 before, so I can't justify giving this one anything less than full marks.
Some of my favorite stories are "What If" stories. This one asks an interesting question: "What would the galaxy look like if aliens managed to reach the stars... without inventing money?" It then does its best to describe it, and does so very well in every sense. Let me break it down:
Lots of fun. Overall gives a well-considered and mostly realistic look at what might happen were bartering aliens to be exposed to Earth's free-wheeling economic expertise. It gets a bit dark at times, not shying away from addressing the sometimes-negative consequences of economic development, but also describes the benefits and possibilities well. It's an idea that I don't think I've seen anywhere else, and I'm looking forward to seeing where things end up.
The characters are both believeable and interesting, for the most part; on occasion they act more like vehicles for moving the story along, but the author does a pretty good job of making sure that even the bit characters have enough character to be memorable. One thing the author does really well is in describing the aliens' mental incomprehension of the idea of "money" as "not a debt-scam".
The story effectively weaves together the main characters' narrative with side-character vignettes and short background infodumps to create a narrative that almost never feels boring. It does the very rare task of expressing economic concepts in ways that are not only thought-provoking, but actually interesting. One of my favorite parts of this story.
Very good grammar, too. Nothing that interrupts reading flow; there are a few punctuation errors, and very rarely you see a typo, but that's just a matter of course and can be fixed in a later edit.
Overall, a very good story, and one that I highly endorse.
The story surrounds itself around the pretty basci concept of What if money didnt appear on the rest of the Galaxy - which serves as a perfect way to introduce economic theory, and Micro/Macroeconomics in a fantasy setting.
The storyflow is more like a diary, as we see rapid paced innovations and changes - its serves the goal of seeing the long term results of economic decisions, as it has a semi-realistic portrayal of a normal economic timeline.
There are no weird powerups or crazy romances, no harem shit. just a great mini stories about humans.
I would hesitate to call this a story with a single protagonist - instead we have several ones who come and go - it thus allows us a lot of small fast paced stories and an interesting world view of the universe.
Honestly its a really great read; it reminded me of my Macro-classes from Uni - and its obvious the writer knows what he/she is talking about - way better read than Krugmans Macro. with a touch of Sanderson's "come up with an Idea and build the world surounding it, how does it influence every aspect of life"
It could also be called Macroeconomics for dummies :)
Really, i think the author should look into this - transfer Economic books into a storyline as such - it would make uni so much more fun and interesting <3
Finally- i am guessing that it has still ways to go; after intro to Banking 101 - there is the MacDonalds case study - so i suppose there will be different aspects and case studies covnerted to stories.
A tiny bit idealistic tho, i would expect humans to be way more oportunistic and exploit the hell out of Aliens... also how come there isnt any infighting between Earth countries?
Overall loved it !
maybe its not for everyone, but if you love worldbuilding, have an interest of how capitalism works, and liek base building, this is better than any novel with a standard axe/sword-swinging idiot, who gets lucky to have a great base with lots of recourses. (let alone dungeon)
I finished reading the first arc. Its enjoyable. I like the dry descriptions and economic back story, which I suppose is the point. The characters are real and I can feel for them. It reminds me of the bobbyverse books kind of, in the way things are nerdy and academic which I enjoy. Yup
TLDR: GREAT TIL CH 10, then just fair.
This is a piece of fiction, which despite a cracky/wacky premise, ie, that a civilation can achieve faster-than-light interstellar travel, without developing modern economics or economies or scale, and also that aliens are so bound by their biology in a way that makes them spacefaring savages, manages to build both a compelling narrative and worldview.
The first 10 chapters (the first contact arc) are fantastic, with great pacing, character development, the works, written in a way that readily enables the necessary suspension of disbelief to read a novel in this genre. You can tell that the author knows the Bay Area/ Tri Valley area, cause who decides that the Livermore Costco is a noteworthy place? ( A native, that's who)
Starting with the so titled "McDonald's fanfiction arc" in Ch 11, the focus seems to shift away from character development into what reads like Ronald McDonald's very own self indulgent plan to bring hamburgers to Betelgeuse (to be fair, the author does mention this pretty explicitly). But honestly, it's kind of depressing imagining how all the human companies are on a path to transform the universe into so many copies of a suburban strip mall on the power of Big Finance.
If you derive pleasure from watching the US Congress try to pass spending bills, watching the checkout lines at your grocery store, or studying Micro/Macro economics, this fiction is the gift that keeps on giving. But if you have qualms about the ethical dangers of late stage capitalism, or the issues with the colonial nation state, or dislike it when people treat minimum wage workers like (expletive), I suggest you stop after ch 10.
In summary: Overall score 4/5
Story Score: 3.5 - 5/5 for the first arc, and then just so-so
Grammar Score: No issues here!
Character Score: I can't say that any of the character are particularly compelling, as their primary defining trait tends to be 1. whatever economic niche they find and 2. how much they enjoy making money from exploiting said niche. But they're not bad either.
The story introduces characters which although aren't always present still manage to stick with you. Especially the characters during the food crisis arc.
The story does progress rather quickly and although still excellent i think it would be nice to slow down and absorb the story a bit more but that's just me.
Economic theory is well presented and the Author makes interesting and thoughtful use of complex and sometimes controvercial economics