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Thursday, September 29, 2011

War and Money a guest post by Alberta Ross

Thank you Liana for letting me guest here today, very kind when you have so much coming up. You have, I know, written before about the necessity of some kind of money/trade in any culture. I had a similar dilemma when inventing the future world for the Sefuty Chronicles.

Money was always going to be a problem in my series. The world’s economy crashed along with ‘civilisation’. Monetary currency ceased to have any value. For decades the population was split, between those within the comparative safety of the City and those outside. Those within the City have, though, traded their independence of self, thought and action for the protection the City promises. The settlements outside have traded-in their freedom of movement for the false security of the landmines encircling their land. Any survivors left with no help at all live the best they can and the strongest, more determined/violent win all.

This was all before my novels begin. War has almost ceased although disputes and battles continue. Now is the time to try to build from the remains and is the time for some kind of currency that has value. I thought a long time about whether money could have any relevance in this new world but decided against it. Trade was the way my world would have to go, trading and bartering.

I have long been intrigued with how early in mankind’s history trade between communities evolved, not just locally but overseas as well. How the real dangers of travel – land, river or sea – were considered worth the risk to bring back some desired, needed commodity. For, in those far off days of early trade, the risks were without doubt great. The history of trade is a fascinating one of daring and courage.

One of the earliest verified was obsidian, black volcanic rock which was so useful for tools and weapons. Flakes of obsidian dating to 12,000 years ago have been found, a hundred sea miles away from the original source and may be among the first traded objects. Many objects have it seems been offered as ‘payment’ in different societies, armbands, tools, shell and woven artefacts. Something with a value, real or imposed, could be/has been used by some society somewhere throughout time. Then there was reciprocal trading of food between societies – the system in my series.

What did my trashed world have to trade? Life outside the City’s walls had plunged back to the middle ages in its basics. I had made life really horrific for them by encircling their settlements with mines. Mobility between communities had completely vanished and they struggled to exist on whatever resources were at hand when imprisoned! Many had perished.

The most valuable commodities they possessed, therefore, were knowledge (contained in books), the ability to read, write and, most importantly, one which the City did not have – the ability to adapt and innovate. Also, each individual settlement had particular foodstuffs, i.e. apples or wool, which other settlements did not.

The City, still able to produce some power, had many skills and a compliant workforce. They had vast libraries, advanced scientific and medical knowledge and the army. They had though inbreeding and, by manipulating their gene pool into peaceful compliance, had begun to lose impetus and innovative behaviours. They were dying out as swiftly as the imprisoned settlements.

Despite initial suspicion from both sides trade began and the Child Exchange Programme was the first organised trade to be set up. Children from the settlements were brought to the City to study either skills such as medicine to take back to their communities or those which could be useful for the City. Children from the City went outside to learn about innovation and adaptability.

Food trade routes were the next to be set up and, as the series continues, these become a more complex network of routes with strategically placed storehouses set up in abandoned settlements against the ‘bad times’. Records are kept to ensure any favours asked are returned in kind.

Retired soldiers have come out to help establish the trade routes and escort the children in safety between settlements and City and offer their services as mine clearers, escorts and law enforcers in return for land to settle on. The settlers agree to this trade-off because of the vital mobility and security offered in exchange.

Sometime in the future more than these simple if essential trade-offs will be needed in my future world and then, well who knows, does the world go back to that love of money which is a root of all kinds of evil? Is it possible to produce a monetary system that will only produce good? Doubtful really given mankind’s propensity to forget the lessons of history!

What do you reckon could we produce a world with ‘money’ without the downsides ?

I am running a give away during the tour.

2 winners of draw will win an e-book edition of
The first two books of the Sefuty Chronicles
Ellen's Tale and The Storyteller's Tale

3 runners up will win an e-book edition of
Ellen's Tale
(unless already read in which case The Storyteller's Tale)

How to win

A comment on each visited host site gives you one chance to win, also on my sites on those days I am posting there during the tour

an extra entry will be given if you mention the post on Twitter or Facebook
an extra entry will be given for a mention of the post/tour on your own blog

Let me know where you have spread the word

Alberta’s Bio
I spent the first part of my adult life travelling the world, the middle years studying and now have settled down to write. From the first part I have endless photographs, memories and friends. From the second I have a BSc Hons, an MA and friends. Now in this part everything comes together.

Over the years my interests have expanded, as has my book and music collection. A short list would include reading (almost anything) science, opera, folk, gardening, philosophy, crazy patchwork, freeform crochet, ethics, social history, cooking (and eating of course) gardening, anthropology, climate change and sustainability.

My parents gave me, apart from a love of reading and music, an interest and curiosity in everything which in itself has become a total inability to be bored and for this I am always grateful.

Alberta’s official website where detail of her books, extracts, readers comments and contact details can be found

Alberta's blogs about writing and self publishing

Blogging about anything she fancies

Alberta can be followed on Twitter @AlbertaRoss