I recently had the opportunity to attend a Space Economy Camp for writers in Phoenix.
Space provides all of humanity with an opportunity. It is not owned, it is not populated—we get to try something radically new. And to do that, we need to think creatively.
The goal of the camp was to empower storytellers to imagine worlds and futures with new economic models. Narratives give us space to trial new ideas and consider what space exploration may look like. Stories are an integral part of the process.
The camp was held at Arizona State University and rotated between lectures from economists and worldbuilding sessions in small groups. I was assigned to the Space Station group where we discussed how to secure and share resources in a closed environment. How would we decide who used what resources? Who would decide? What government or economic system could sustain us 300 years in the future?
The workshop was an amazing resource that I can already see impacting my next book and, as an author who works from home making stories up in her head, this was a wonderful way to connect with other writers and scientists interested in the same ideas. I’m very grateful to hosts Joffa Applegate, Mary Robinette Kowal, Kim Macharia, and James Schalkwyk.
So, What Did I Learn?
Here’s some quotes from my journal:
- Our traveling to space fulfills a narrative that we’ve been telling ourselves for generations
- We can become better by exploring the harshness of space
- Physical conditions don’t account for everything—we live based on how people think we should
- Cool case study: monasteries price their goods less then those of secular vendors, but end up financially successful because work and dedication to craft is seen as an act of worship
- Stories give people ownership of new issues
- Issues with managing commons in space: space debris, mining, disappearance of dark skies which impact nocturnal organisms and humans
- Utopias have a classic free-rider problem
- People read dystopian fiction because there’s an issue to solve
Above all, I took to heart something the economists repeatedly said: stories change the world.