links for 2008-05-05

DeLong Smackdown Watch: Paul Krugman Is "Startled at My Ignorance"

Paul writes:

Economic science fiction: I’m startled at Brad DeLong’s ignorance: he thinks there’s something new about science fiction novels where the science in question is economics.

This theme actually goes back a long way. I once stumbled across Robert Heinlein’s Beyond This Horizon, a very early novel that’s actually inspired by the then-popular doctrine of secular stagnation, which argued that rising savings and declining investment opportunities would lead to persistent problems in getting people to spend enough.

Oh, by the way — it’s a terrible novel, though not as bad a novel as The Internecine Project is a movie. Charles Stross’s Merchant Princes novels, on the other hand, are economic science fiction worth reading.

Admittedly my memory of Beyond This Horizon is hazy. But I recall it as being much more about scientific research into life after death, ennui, dueling customs, eugenics--I don't recall secular stagnation and the consequent danger that too much savings would produce chronic high unemployment as playing much of a role, although I do recall a powerful government able and eager to finance all kinds of expensive blue-sky research. I also recall a "social credit" government that finances itself and pays citizens a basic income, all out of seigniorage...

I agree that Charles Stross's Miriam Beckstein "Merchant Princes" novels are much better than Beyond This Horizon.

And I still maintain that Daniel Abraham's "Lord Iron and the Cambist" is worth a Hugo...