1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.

Zebulon Kyle. Most folks call me Ol' Zeb.

2.Tell us where and when were you born.

I was born in South Carolina, on an Indigo plantation near Charleston. I couldn' tell ya what year but I 'member people talking about Old Hick'ry Jackson when I was a young-un.

3. How would you describe yourself?

In pretty good shape for someone of my years! It could have somethin' ta do with the elves teaching me neecro..aw hell - healing!

4. Tell us about where you grew up.

I's a slave on a plantation. Massa worked us all day.

5. How old are you?

Not sure eggsakly. What year is it? Really? I don't reckin I'm two hunnert yet, then!

6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?

My mammy did the best she could after Massa sold Daddy away down south, but there were four of us young-uns and she didn't get much from Massa. Thin's got a little easier when my sisters left, but we still had to work hard.

7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?

The women they love me!

8. What do you value above all else in life?

Bein' my own man.

9. What are you obsessed with?

Obsessed? What's that? Right now I want the elven mages to teach me a little more life magic. I think there's a way to make m'self young again! They promised if'n I help this young feller Mark Jackson, they'll help me.

10.How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?

Since Mammy died, haven't really cared about no one. I believe in Jesus and life everlastin' for humans, but the elves have their own deal goin' with the Mother in the Summerlands.

11. Biggest fear?

I ain't afeered o' much. Maybe drawing the eye o' one o' the big powers... Nah, pissing off the elves so they don't help me learn no more!

12. What line will you never cross?

Never thought about that one. Don't want to tangle with ennythin' I cain't handle.

13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?

Bein' born a slave was the worst. Escaping was the best - until I went back and bought Mammy's freedom from Massa with fairy gold!

14. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?

There was this woman one time, I thought she liked me! And she not only threw me out, she took two dollers ta go off with someone else!

15. Biggest secret?

Wouldn't do you no good to hear it - you're not a mage!

16. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?

Slick. Ah'm slick!

17. What is your current goal?

Ah want to learn to make m'self young agin!


Zebulon Kyle is a supporting character in The Gates of Faerie available through Amazon and also all of the Books2Read retailers such as Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and their library services as well. He's looking forward to a bigger role in the second book, tentatively titled "Gifts Of The Mother".


Rediscovery Medium.jpg

Releasing the four novel Rediscovery series as a set today.

The e-book is available from Amazon or the Books2Read retailers (Apple, B&N, Kobo, etcetera) for $9.99 US. Essentially buy the first two, get the third for a buck and the final novel is free.

For paperback fans, Amazon couldn't handle the file as it was. The only way we could get the paperback through Amazon was to make it 8.5 x 11, and in 10 point type. The paper size is fine, but 10 point type is less readable than I'd like. The advantage is the set is $22.99 on Amazon, less than half the price of the four paperbacks individually.

The Books2Read retailers are selling a more readable 12 point type. It's more expensive at $32.99 - still $15 less than the price of the four individual novels - but much more readable.

If you're a fan of library checkouts, Books2Read includes several library services such as Overdrive and Biblioteca. Find out which your favorite library uses and ask them to order a copy!

Amazon here

Your favorite Books2Read retailer here

Rediscovery 4 Book Omnibus

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Got the file uploaded for the Rediscovery omnibus edition both to Amazon and Draft2Digital. E-books are fine and will launch November 4, but Amazon is not liking the file length for print as it's above their Print page ceiling.

In order to get the paperback within Amazon requirements, I had to move the type size down to 10 point, which is less readable than I would like. It's also 8.5x11, as opposed to most paperbacks being 6x9. The good news is that it's only $22.99, which is basically four books for the price of two. The pre-order link for the actual paperback on Amazon only is: Rediscovery

Draft2Digital could also only do the print edition in 8.5x11 trim, but they could do it in more readable 12 point, so I recommend that edition. $32.99, which is still better than ten bucks off the price of the four novels in print individually, available from Kobo, B&N, Apple and all of the other Books2Read Retailers (and library services!) but not Amazon: Rediscovery

The e-book will be a heck of a good deal, either on Amazon or through all the Books2Read retailers: All four books for $9.99, which is essentially buy two, get the third for a buck and the fourth one free. They are basically the same with only slight differences to tailor them for specific reader hardware, as with e-books you get to control the print size on your reader.

The Books2Read retailers' link for Rediscovery (also useful if you want your local library to acquire a copy) is here: Rediscovery

The e-book link for Amazon is here: Rediscovery

Ten seconds later, we grounded with a thump-KLANG. Harder than I liked to put my ships down, but with a full hull charge, I had no reason to believe Ugatu had endangered the ship or anyone in it. Weight returned as the impellers went dormant. I stayed buckled and so did Asto; nobody had told us we were getting off here.

A few seconds later, Ugatu came back into the cargo bay and did just that, "Unstrap yourselves and grab your bags. Follow me out in reverse order to how you came in. Welcome to Sharanna Military Reservation Twentythree, the Empire's newest initial military training facility for Guardians. You'll be here until you pass or they allow you to quit."

The lone man who'd been on the opposite side of the ship followed him out first, followed by the left side from front to back, reversing the order we'd loaded in. We debarked on a much larger landing field, with many ships of varying sizes from Starbird all the way up to convoy craft at least, and it was just that I didn't see anything bigger, not that I was certain it wasn't there. First, we trotted at the same speed away from the ship as we had in approaching. This area of Sharanna was a lot cooler and less humid than Fulda or even Sumabad; maybe the equivalent of five degrees Celsius outside. Cold enough for natural state humans to be uncomfortable, and you could feel a hint of rain in the air. Classic towering cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds occupied a good slice of the horizon, approaching rapidly, and you could see the rain approaching. Overhead, the clear sky was rapidly turning to grey. Once the weather got up steam here, it could really move fast and grow powerful enough to make a joke of any Earthly storm. Imperial construction was tough; people just didn't go out when storms were bad. Sharanna was a completely artificial environment, so unless there was an intentionally created barrier, storms could travel millions of kilometers, alternately waxing and waning the whole way until they did run into something that stopped them for good. Kind of like the Great Plains states, or the oceans of Earth, times a thousand or so. My dog farm was in the prevailing wind-shadow of Band City with its massive ten and twenty mile high arcologies spreading across a swath a million kilometers or more in any direction, and no major sources of storms between the city and the farm. I gathered that this place was not so sheltered.

Another operant was waiting for us, a woman in a uniform like none I had seen before. It was Imperial forces field uniform, but with a large white tabard over each shoulder, like enlarged epaulets, as if she were staff, only more so. On each, an insignia of rank the size of my hand was emblazoned, about four times the normal size. It was a private's circle of rank, split by a horizontal white line. Below the line was purple, as in a Senior Private, above was green, as if for a Team Private. "This is Instructor Jereya," Ugatu told us, "She will take you to your barracks and your training units." Then without further ado, he headed back for the cutter.

"This way," the woman said, moving us quickly behind a safety line. As soon as we were all over the line, the cutter was off in a trailing vortex of wind, no sign of its presence remaining. "We're going to start with military discipline now. You jondats will keep step and interval as you follow me. You're all operant, so there's no excuse for violating a ninety isixths interval or getting out of step." The distance was just shy of one Earth meter, a little over three feet. "Each pace is seventy-five isixths, always step off with your left foot. First Step is four paces per second, Third Step is six." Eighty-two Earth centimeters, roughly thirty-two inches per step. Imperial seconds were 1.7 Earth, so first step was about 140 paces per Earth minute - a brisk walk - while third step would be 210 or so, a moderate trot about equal to what we'd done with Ugatu. "Third Step, march! Left-right-left!" she called the pace for three steps, by which time everyone was with it and she ignored it thereafter.

She yelled over her shoulder as she moved. "I am Instructor Jereya! Instructors are specialists, utilized at need to help instruct you pathetic losers in hopes of achieving a marginal competence. We are technically civilians, but unlike Staff, Instructors and Leaders are in your chain of command until you are promoted to Trained Private! All recruits are to treat Instructors as superior to Senior Privates, subordinate to Team Privates! Similarly, Leaders are superior to Team Privates, subordinate to Squad Privates! You will have one Leader to a squad, learn your current Section Leader and otherwise let the Leaders sort out who's a Section Leader! There is one active duty Section Private assigned to command each platoon; they will have final say in all matters having to do with your training. You must have your squad Leader's permission before initiating contact above that squad Leader."

Jereya took absolutely no notice of the impending storm. I didn't believe for a moment she hadn't noticed, but she didn't show that she had. We trotted past several boomerang-shaped assault cruisers and empty, recessed berths in the white pavement intended to hold others as large raindrops started splattering on the pavement and on us. Within minutes, it had become solid rain with occasional sheets, and we were all soaked. She trotted on, apparently oblivious, as the wind began driving the rain into our right side. After perhaps fifteen minutes, we came to a portal, which she programmed and led us through.

We emerged into the middle of a multistory building, kind of an atrium without glass. The light was artificial. Around us, snowflake-like, six wings of barracks in six levels. "This is Operant Training Barracks Two, your new home! Each bay holds one section in three squad rooms! The squads I am now assigning you to will be your place here until you are otherwise notified! The assignments have been made at company level and are not subject to appeal! Your squad leader has been apprised of your joining their squad and has your records! Your first assignment will be to stow your gear, change your wet disgusting clothes and report to your squad Leader! Move"

Available at Amazon and through the Books2Read retailers

If you're one of those who gets attacks of the vapors, look away now.

I'm serious. Last chance. Abort now or be prepared to deal with it.

The dirtiest word in science fiction and fantasy is 'retcon'.

Short for 'retroactive continuity', it means going back and altering previously published events.

Let's be clear on what retconning is and is not. It's not a different point of view or different opinion from a different character. It's not fixing typos or spelling errors or genuinely ambiguous conflicts between events or character viewpoint. It's not even new information that changes how the reader views the event (aka 'gutpunch'). It's an unambiguous change to a major event or consequence of a previous point in the story line. Comics are notorious for 'retconning', which is one reason I rarely read comics.

Let's consider one of the best known retcons to a major media property. It's decades old, so if I'm spoiling it for you, you have only yourself to blame. In Star Wars (The original movie) after Luke and Obi-Wan leave the cantina, Han Solo is accosted by a bounty hunter who's got the drop on him, pointing a blaster at Han from a such a distance even a toddler who's never seen a pistol before would have difficulty missing at. Han sits down, distracts the bounty hunter with a line of patter, draws his weapon under the table, and calmly shoots the bounty hunter.

When Lucas was gussy-ing up the original trilogy, he added a completely unbelievable prelude of the bounty hunter shooting first - and missing across the small table before Han shoots. Which is completely unbelievable, unless Han is a member of some weird mystical order with the power to bend light ("Beware! I'm one of the authorprotectedcharacters"). The bounty hunter is a professional, and guns are a tool he has to have some ability with in order to survive in the profession more than a day or two. But for some reason a bounty hunter with a gun pointed at you, wanting to force you to go to a mob boss who's going to kill you isn't enough 'self-defense' for the later George Lucas. It also short-circuits our understanding of the character of Han Solo. It was a perfect Han moment - until it was retconned.

I've never seen retconning be justified. Frankly, I don't think it can be. It's a tool for a lazy writer who can't handle the corner they've written themselves into. You got the benefit of whatever reader or viewer emotion was when you wrote that scene. Now suck it up and deal with the consequences. If you can't make it make sense, go write something new instead.


P.S. In comics, it is to be admitted the writers are doing everything by direction, so it can be laid of the feet of greedy and often lazy executives with the comic company. In their defense, however, comics fans keep letting them get away with it. When the fans stop letting them get away with it, retconning will stop.

How I Respond to Reviews

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(1) As a reader what prompts you to leave a review for a book you have read?

As a reader, nothing really, just experience. As an author, though, I understand how important they are. But since I'm not being paid, I generally ask 'would I want this review?' before I post it. Occasionally, though, something just leaps out and has to be posted even though the answer is no.

(2) As an author, what do you do to encourage readers to leave a review for your book?

Ask for them. (Won't you please read and review my books?)

(3) To what degree do you think reviews and ratings are important in helping book sales?

Amazon is where the largest number of sales happen. And on Amazon, the number of reviews often controls whether they see your book - particularly if you're not paying for it to be seen right now. 25 reviews seems to be the first 'magic number' - when Amazon starts showing your book as an 'also bought'. The second is around 75 reviews when they start including it in newsletters.


(4) What advice would you give to a novice author regarding reviews for their book?

A: Good or bad, don't take it personally.

B: Seriously, don't take it personally

C: It's just their opinion. I recently had a review that was evidently offended by something. They flat out ignored things that were stated plainly more than once, instead attacking the book for everything they could dredge up and going so far as to accuse me of having nothing but 'friend reviews' thus far but they were going to Set Me Straight (in fact, precisely one of my friends has reviewed the book in question, out of a double digit number of reviews). This applies to good reviews as well: It's just their opinion.

When reviewing, I try to differentiate between story telling choices I disagree with (which I'm as charitable about as I can be) and things that do not make any kind of sense or which flat out do not work that way and ten seconds of research should have told them better. I'm also charitable about things that are boring in real life - boredom is a mortal sin in entertainment (I'd put you to sleep writing about the detail work that's really what's important in real estate - real life is not HGTV). But not everyone does this.

E: Good or bad, Don't take it personally

F: If someone makes a valid complaint about your work, pretending it's not valid doesn't help. The only time I have engaged a review is to thank the reviewer for valid criticism. Uncomfortable as it may be, they're actually helping you.

G: Did I mention not to take them personally?

Jeppesen Charts Entry: (Earth measurements option)


Epsilon Indi A II (Calmena

WARNING: There is a war zone flight prohibition within 1 Imperial hour (1.836 billion kilometers) of planetary surface.

Mass .96 Earth, mean radius 6108 kilometers, density 6020 kilograms per cubic meter
Imperial: Mass (43).(53)(51) B13, radius (43).(06)(55) s-1 density (36).(15)(00) B2/s-5

Mean Distance to primary 74 million kilometers (Imperial 2m 25.(05)(53)s) Annual orbit: 145 Earth Days (136 Imperial)

Rotational period 25 hours and 38 minutes (1d 0h 5m Imperial)

Surface gravity 10.27 m/s*s (45.(15)(05) ififths/s*s) 1.047 Earth

2 significant moons: Epsilon Indi A II a mean orbital radius 204,000 km (0.(24) s Imperial) mass 6.0 x10^22 kg ((27).(33)(49) B12 Imperial)
Epsilon Indi A II b mean orbital radius 618,000 km (1.(12)(42) s Imperial) mass 5.7x10^21kg ((02).(37)(07) B12 Imperial)

Mean surface temperature 20 Celsius, (appx E+5 degrees).

Four continent sized land masses, three of them mostly north of the equator, one south, noteworthy Island chain between Continent One (Wimarglr) and Continent Two (Taalmisch), north and west of Continent One. Continent Three (Grawlshar) is south of planetary equator, west of Continent Two. Continent Four (Hashiboor) is northwest of Continent Three, slightly north of west from Continent Two.

Sea level pressure 1060 millibars, nitrogen eighty percent, oxygen eighteen, argon, helium, water vapor, and carbon dioxide making up the rest.

Calmena is under Imperial Interdict, and held by fractal demons. Humans are enslaved under primitive conditions. Do not approach closer than 1 Imperial hour without sanction from the Office of the Merlon

The planet is first described in Preparing The Ground, which takes place partly on the southern coast of Continent Four, but mostly in the central part of Continent One (Wimarglr to the natives). Building The People mostly takes place on the northern coast of Continent One. Setting The Board takes place mostly on the southern coast of Continent Four (Hashiboor to the natives)

1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.

I am Graciela Juarez di Scimtar.

2.Tell us where and when were you born.

I was born on Earth, in Riverside, California, United States. It was at the time a Lost Colony, with no knowledge of the Empire

3. How would you describe yourself?

I'm a Second Order Guardian. Usually I keep myself around 5 feet 6 inches tall, often called the 'bear' body type, the most common among Guardians. Thicker waist than some, broad shoulders and hips, built for strength and endurance. Like all Guardians, I can alter my physical form given time, but we tend to keep basically the same form. I usually keep the coloration I was born with - medium olive skin, chocolate eyes, and shoulder length hair just a shade or two away from black.

4. Tell us about where you grew up.

Suburban Southern California. For all the nonsense in the media at the time, ethnic boundaries didn't really divide us. We had friends and socialized with everyone. My family was of Mexican descent, but we were proud Americans.

5. How old are you?

Thirty-three Earth years personal duration. By Imperial standards, that's barely adult.

6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?

I had such a happy childhood I turned into a teen rebel mostly for drama. I was the baby, and not only my parents but my older siblings doted on me.

7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?

Too many to mention. I'm done with casual sex; I've been for a couple years now and I'm so much happier.

8. What do you value above all else in life?

My husband, Asto Scimtar. Yes, his grandfather is THE Scimtar.

9. What are you obsessed with?

My in-laws and the Empire in general have done so much for me; I want to pay them back as best as I am able.

10.How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?

I'm Catholic. Some people may think that's outdated, especially given Imperial science, but it's what inspired me to keep going when it seemed like there was nothing one person could do, and you know how much better off Earth is now that the Empire has stepped in.

11. Biggest fear?

For so long I was afraid that everything I could do wouldn't be enough to save Earth from itself. When Russia and China had their nuclear exchange, I was afraid the entire planet was about to go up in flames. Now that that's past, all my other fears seem so minor.

12. What line will you never cross?

I'm an Imperial citizen now; the Empire has earned my loyalty. Too many people have asked me to betray the Empire, "After all, you're an American." I was. But not any longer.

13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?

My husband and his family are the best. The worst was finding out my parents had been killed while I was gone.

14. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?

When I first got to the Empire. Since I wasn't a legal adult, my legal guardians required me to get a contraceptive implant. I'd been a legal adult on Earth for years, which counted for nothing.

15. Biggest secret?

Asto knows about the worst detail of my wild past, but if I told you it wouldn't be a secret, would it?

16. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?

'Adult'. Here in the Empire, that means a lot more than it did on Earth.

17. What is your current goal?

To take my turn in the military serving the Empire. That I'll be checking a box that's essentially required to become any kind of Imperial official later is a nice bonus, but not the primary motivation. I feel both grateful and indebted to the Empire.

Excerpt from Empire and Earth

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I'd have to look at the system when I grounded, to see if it was something I could fix. There was an Interstitial node right where the weapon had hit. My best guess was that the enemy weapon had done something weird to it. This was confirmed by careful review of the data from the attack. But there were other systems' components in that area of the hull, too. Net result: I was not leaving my command console until I could shut the ship down. Vector equalizers were fine, as were inertial integrators or there would have been a major irregularity in internal gravity, but what about the impellers themselves? There was an impeller not five feet from the failed Interstitial anchor. It was on minimal power right now as Interstitials were moving the ship, but what about when it was time for the impellers to take over? I was kind of regretting not giving that damnable pirate an in-kind response, but I knew I had made the right choice in ducking out. Technologically inferior or not, the other ship had been designed for battle, and probably had the crew to repair damage while the fighting was going on. My ship was designed for cargo, and I could hardly fight the ship effectively while unbolting hull plates to fix damage. I was a merchant, not a military vessel. For me, victory meant survival, and I had survived un-captured.

It turned out the impeller I was concerned about was fine. I grounded at the sanctuary outside Mentone without further incident, but then Adela met me and asked, "Tia Grace, aren't you going to turn on the camouflage?"

Oh, no. I had turned on the holographic camouflage before I entered atmosphere. The holographic system said it was working just fine. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case when you actually looked. The cruiser was a whale roughly twenty meters tall from belly to back and over eighty meters from front to back; it didn't shine like most Earth people expected metal to shine, but its dark grey towered over the citrus trees surrounding it, and anyone looking down the mountainside would see it plain as day. I could hear the dogs we kept for Earthside adoptions setting up a ruckus near the front of the property; stretching my perceptions I "saw" that a San Bernardino County Sheriff had turned up the drive, lights flashing. "Delay him thirty seconds if you can," I told her, "I'm getting out of Dodge. I'll call you later on the tachyonic communicator."

Available on Amazon and all the Books2Read retailers.

I just got done reading a bad science fiction novel. Part of the reason it was bad was because the author did not understand economics, being so eager to mock capitalism that he got caught up in things that capitalism is not, so let's back up a moment here and look at.

Resources are things we want or need in order to go about our lives. Most are wants; a few are actual needs. We need food and water. Most folks would also agree that shelter and clothing are needs. You don't need filet mignon and Perrier with a twist of lemon, but you do need enough calories to keep you going and enough water to replace what you lose. We also need air to breathe, a temperature at which life can be sustained, etcetera. If we're on Earth, those may be obtained simply by being here where they are freely available, but if we leave Earth, we have to figure out a way to get those resources. Imagine what the space missions of the United States and the Soviet Union would have been like if we hadn't realized humans needed air until those men were out of the atmosphere for the first time.

Some folks persist in believing that eventually the coming singularity will mean that resources will be so plentiful that machines will magically provide them for everyone. This belief is nonsense on stilts. Even if the machines provide them without further input from humans, someone's going to have to maintain the machines. Someone's going to have to find or recycle the raw materials. Someone is going to have to monitor the output so that it's wholesome and not poisonous. This stuff isn't going to do itself. Even - especially even - if the machines themselves become sentient. If they ever do, they're going to have needs and wants of their own - not to mention that the ethical and economic issue of slavery then becomes an automatic concern.

(FYI: No slave society in history has ever competed successfully with a free society. It won't happen with sentient machines, either)

David Friedman - an economist worth paying attention to, if not as high profile as his father - in his classic essay "Love is Not Enough" lays it out with brutal simplicity:

Under any institutions, there are essentially only three ways that I can get another person to help me achieve my ends: love, trade, and force. By love I mean making my end your end. Those who love me wish me to get what I want (except for those who think I am very stupid about what is good for me). So they voluntarily, 'unselfishly', help me. Love is too narrow a word. You might also share my end not because it is my end but because in a particular respect we perceive the good in the same way. You might volunteer to work on my political campaign, not because you love me, but because you think that it would be good if I were elected. Of course, we might share the common ends for entirely different reasons. I might think I was just what the country needed, and you, that I was just what the country deserved.

The second method of cooperation is trade. I agree to help you achieve your end if you help me achieve mine.

The third method is force. You do what I want or I shoot you.

So unless you're going to produce your own food, your own clothing, your own shelter, and everything else you need (and that begs the question of where you're getting the tools - there is no single person alive capable of making a tool as simple as a pencil all by themselves), you have to figure out one of these three methods to get others to help you.

Mr. Friedman in his essay makes clear that even in the most rapacious society ever, Love does fulfill a surprising number of needs. I'm pretty certain the vast majority of those reading this volunteer time, money, or both to charity on a regular basis. Some people volunteer ungodly amounts of both, either in absolute or relative terms, and my hat would be off to them, if I had a hat.

But love has its limits, limits of proximity, limits of number, limits of exhaustion, limits of willingness. And those are where we get into the other two ways of getting someone to help with what you want: trade and force.

Force has been common throughout history, and I'm not pleased it does not seem to be going away. When you try to replace trade with love beyond its limits, what you have is force. People aren't doing it because they want to. They're doing it because they're being forced to. At some level, in some wise, there is a gun to the back of their head. As much as those controlling the levers of force try to pretend otherwise, it's a real gun, and it will be used if those it's pointed at don't fulfill the basic commands of those in charge of the levers of force.

Capitalism, for those unclear on the concept, isn't rich old white men in a boardroom debating the fate of the economic world. That's force in action - government - whether those in the meeting are rich old white men or young women of color there because they won a poularity contest, or anything else. The people in such meetings are holding such debates because they have the means to force compliance with their decrees.

Capitalism is people looking for you to choose to make a willing trade. They do not have the means to force you. If they're not providing a good or a service you want at a price you're willing to pay, they can't force you to make their trade. And every time I write something like this essay, I get loads of idiots asking about government monopolies like utility companies, which use government force to preclude anyone from being legally able to offer a better deal. Once again, we have force rearing its ugly head, and when force is involved, it's not capitalism.

Capitalism is people willing to do what you want from them in exchange for what you're willing to offer. You can't force them, they can't force you. Both of you must be made better off by the exchange in your own opinion, or one of you isn't going to agree to it.

Just because resources get cheaper doesn't mean they're going to be free. The law of supply and demand takes no vacations - even from the land of Totalitaria, where everyone has a gun to the back of their heads. Even in the most optimistic future, all the crap you want isn't going to be free, and if someone is forced to provide it to you as if it were, they are your slave. Even the basics you need are going to have some cost. You can negotiate trades via intermediary markers (money) in exchange for something you're providing, but the resources you want or need are not going to be free. Money isn't evil, it's simply a marker we use because the person who needs the services of an air traffic controller at the moment might not be the people with the house that controller wanted to live in, the food she wanted to eat, or the car she wanted to drive. Without money, you'd have to have a good or service valued at the point of sale by everyone you wanted to trade with.

Capitalism is decentralized. There is nobody making all the planning decisions for everyone else. It's a network of people who supply something they make or do in exchange for something they need or want - and the intermediary of money means that the exchange doesn't have to wait until the air traffic controller can find someone who needs her services and can supply food to be able to buy the food she needs to eat today. Whomever offers the food she wants for the lowest price (including the price of finding it and the price of fetching it) will likely be her choice. If someone else offers her a better deal, she's free to take it - and everyone with food is free to offer whatever deal they think she might take. Or she's free to decide she'd rather snack on the last saltines in her cupboard and save her money. Capitalism works because people want you to take their deal, so they figure out a way to get you to think their deal is the best one available - and the classic example of that is offering something that is in fact a better deal. This is why the standard of living improves best and fastest. Lots of people are eager to teach about the Gilded Age of Robber Barons here in the United States. What very few people teach about it is during that period, the standard of living of the common person (not the rich robber baron!) improved more and faster than any other time and place on Earth.

There are always going to be things in demand that are scarce - where the available supply does not extend to providing everyone with the amount of them they would like to consume in an idea world. As our capabilities expand, things might get cheaper, but new goods and services come along all the time, and there are the old classics of room (land or space), location, and timeliness. There's only so much linear space for beachfront property. There are only so many pieces of property next door to Disneyland. The hotel can only put one party up in the Presidential Suite on New Year's Eve. To determine who the lucky recipient is, the holders of those rights are going to want to find out who is willing and able to pay the most in terms of things those holders want. In the general case, it's not going to be because they love the recipients. It's more commonly settled by force - none of the top totalitarians has difficulty getting the vacation spot or anything else they want, however deprived it leaves the proles - but it's most commonly and best settled by trade, and trade means the people most willing and able to pay in terms of resources that the sellers want. This is not going to change for humans. Even the vast majority of hive insects do the absolute minimum they can get away with.

When you're talking about replacing capitalism, you're talking about restricting the number of choices someone has to find a better bargain - or none at all. You're usually talking about guns to the back of someone's head - that's the default solution in history, and the default assumption I'm going to have while reading your story, and I can count on the thumbs of one hand with digits to spare the number of believable exceptions I've seen in literature or anywhere else. Whether you realize it or not, you're talking about a restricted and declining standard of living, not a rich and plentiful one with increasing wealth - at least not for the masses. In the last forty years, the real cost of college in the United States has increased 297 percent - it's essentially four times as expensive in terms of how long the mean person has to work to pay for it. Why? Because it's subsidized by government and protected from competition by government and it's a gateway through which you must pass to be considered by many employers - even if the job requires no skills taught in college. By comparison, the real cost of a Happy Meal at McDonalds has fallen forty percent in the same time frame. Nobody's protecting McDonalds. Nobody is subsidizing McDonalds. Nobody is saying you have to go to McDonalds to get or keep your job, your home, or your spouse. They have to convince you their deal is the one you want. Otherwise, they end up with unsold Happy Meals that they spent resources to acquire and more resources to prepare. And everyone else wanting to sell you food is on the same treadmill - they have to convince you their deal is the one you want, and when somebody figures out a way to offer a better deal and still come out better in their own opinion, they are going to be rewarded by the market. That's capitalism - where everyone is incentivized to make the best and most efficient use of resources, because that's how they offer their customers a better deal, which gets people to want to take their deal, because they end up better off when people take their deal.

So writers, when you want to write about a place where everyone is better off and resources are plentiful and the standard of living is high and increasing, do you think you want to write about a place where everyone is competing to figure out the best deal to offer all their potential customers, all of whom have a plentiful number of alternative choices, or a place where everyone has a gun to the back of their head, however well hidden, and just does the minimum not to get shot?

 



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