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September 24 2014

10 Space Empires that actually make economic sense. The Econ 101 of SF empires, according to io9 -- the Alliance checks in at #5.

It never occurred to me that imperfect terraforming could be a deliberate political act to ensure weakened Outer Worlds.
I believe Star Trek TNG works well with its internal economy (some kind of Communism) and Federation external trade with otrhe groups. The main problem should be to regular citzens dealing outside Federation, since there isn't a usual payment system to people.

The Japanese anime Moretsu Pirates (Bodacious Space Pirates) has a lot of similarities with Firefly that could had deserved a place in the list: The central government, called Alliance who won the War of Independence, the universe has a mix of technology with retro style, the main characters are a group of good space pirates and there is a Serenity Royal Family.
Yeah, I never interpreted the series that way, Simon, but we know full well that the Alliance is capable of massive and evil conspiracies to control people... and having perpetually dependent colonies would be good business for Blue Sun.
I never assumed that the terraforming was deliberately imperfect in the Firefly 'verse, and I'm not sure that this article is saying so; it may simply be a useful side-effect (politically and economically). The article isn't unambiguous on this point. It seems reasonable that, in the aftermath of a war of rebellion against a stronger central government, the losing side would be deprived economically. Since Firefly was inspired at least in part by the actual history of the US following our Civil War (or, from the graycoats' perspective, the War of Northern Aggression), it is no great surprise that the economics of the 'verse would be more realistic than a franchise that came from a more imaginary inspiration.

I was glad to see Dune on this list, as Frank Herbert's construction of a complete and complex society (religion, economics, myth/history, politics, and class structures) has always stood out from the rest of the SF that I've consumed.
I never assumed that the terraforming was deliberately imperfect in the Firefly 'verse, and I'm not sure that this article is saying so; it may simply be a useful side-effect (politically and economically).

True the article isn't saying that, but it occurred to me while I read it. But if you're going to recreate a civilisation in another solar system, it would make sense for the governing powers to make sure some planets are incapable of being self-sufficient.It's good for business and makes sure that the citizens are dependent on the government. Ironically this may have helped sown the seeds for the Unification War.
It's an interesting idea; I'd always interpreted the economics of the 'verse as a metaphor for the pioneers of the Old West, pursuing individual liberty. Perhaps there's a part of it that is deliberate importation and exploitation of cheap labor, akin to the hiring of Asian immigrants to build the railroads in the western US. It seems more cost-effective simply to have abandoned the lower classes on "Earth that was" unless the costs of interstellar travel had been dramatically lowered. But if the society depended in some way upon cheap human labor (even if only temporarily in the years following terraforming), then either the lower classes would have to be brought along, or a new lower class would have to have been created in the new solar system.
The article is right that Dune's economy relies on scarcity, but it's really risky because everything depends on spice. Not just the cost of trading it but the actual spice supply itself, which is confined to Arakkis. It's why the empire considered Paul such a risk; he threatened to destroy the spice. The Alliance is a much more stable system, that is, if you're in the Alliance.

tomg, I think you're on track with the idea of the verse as the Old West..but the Old West and Manifest Destiny was not, to me, specifically about individual liberty (as in someone was restricting it, so they went West to get it back). Manifest Destiny was primarily about people believing it was their duty to go West in order to promote a more agricultural or "of the land" way of life. But people put down stakes, formed towns, regulated themselves and each other.
The Foundation Trilogy "makes sense"? Hoo boy. I mean, forget tRantor starving, how about suffocating from lack of oxygen? The first novels I read about an interstellar empire , a nd it almost turned me off to them. In fact, I never bother with starting any new ones; Anderson, Dickson, Foster, a nd Niven gave me enough to suit me for life.

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