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Somewhere around the late 1980s I read a paperback novel which fell into what I would call "the unusual category of economic science fiction." I think I found the book in my grandfather's home, but he is now long dead and I have no idea where his book ended up.

Here are some points that stay with me, mainly regarding the setting and plot. (I don't remember much about any of the actual characters, good or bad, which suggests they weren't very well developed.)

  1. I think it was set in a human culture existing "on" (probably beneath the surface of) the Moon -- definitely not down on the surface of the Earth, at any rate -- but the details of space travel and other futuristic technology did not seem all that important to the plot. Instead, it felt as if the author had some points he wanted to make about "good economics" versus "bad economics," and had decided to fictionalize them and set them in the future, in an imaginary culture, in order to make things a bit more colorful.

  2. In this scenario, a small clique on the Moon were running things their way, making extremely bad economic decisions for all the wrong reasons, while maintaining the illusion of "democratic elections at regular intervals." It was stated at one point (in a bit of propaganda anonymously disseminated by a member of the "rebel movement," or whatever it was called) that things had long since reached the point where anyone who "competed to replace" the current Chief Executive (the main villain) would just be a carbon copy of him as far as economic policies were concerned, because the only people allowed onto the ballot as nominees would be stooges for the old Chief Executive and his cronies. Therefore it really wasn't worth the trouble of trying to stage a "recall" or anything like that; not as long as the nominating process for getting onto the final ballot was so thoroughly rigged.

  3. Eventually the rebels (the "good guys," of course) were able to oust the clique and reverse all its "bad" economic policies, replacing them with what the author obviously believed were "good" policies. The problem is that it's been so long since I read the book that I can't remember exactly what the old ruling clique supposedly had been doing wrong for the last several years -- I only remember that one symptom of their ineptitude was that inflation of the local currency was spiraling way out of control and the clique didn't seem to have a clue about how to deal with that problem. (Anything they tried in the course of the novel proved to be a dismal failure.)

  4. As one example of how bad it got: I distinctly remember that toward the end (i.e. shortly before the successful revolution), it was stated that even the government thugs who were "soldiers" or "security guards" (or whatever the official job title was) were demanding they had to be paid, in cash, every day, with built-in wage increases every day, because prices were skyrocketing so fast that you'd risk going hungry if you waited to collect your paycheck at the end of the week and then tried to buy groceries and other necessities with it. I think the guards/soldiers had threatened to go on strike if they didn't get daily cash payments so their wives could run out and buy the groceries before prices doubled again . . . and since these uniformed thugs were the only thing protecting the ruling clique from the growing wrath of the suddenly-impoverished masses, their demands were met. There was even a rumor going around to the effect that soon the guards might demand payment twice-daily in the frantic attempt to stay one small step ahead of inflation.

  5. I know that when I first read this book, I did not recognize the author's name from anything else I had ever read. I've never run across the book again, as I probably would have done if he'd ever become a "big name" in SF. He may have been a trained economist in real life, but I'm not sure if the book said so in the "About the Author" stuff at the back. I suspect this was his first (and perhaps only) published work of science fiction, and as I said, it was already in print by the late 1980s.

Note: This novel definitely was not Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which also dealt with a Lunar revolution which was organized in reaction to the potentially disastrous consequences of short-sighted and unfair economic policies being imposed. (Heinlein's version was much more entertaining, and probably preceded this other book by many years.)

  • Some parts of the description strike me as a bit Russian or East European (such as the bureaucracy being the "bad guy" rather than any individual). Did you read it in English? – Joe L. Sep 30 '16 at 7:08
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    I read it in English, and I believe it was originally written in English. I wouldn't say "the bureaucracy" was the bad guy, so much as "the Chief Executive and a handful of his cronies, analogous to a Cabinet, were repeatedly seen onstage, holding policy discussions in which they made 'bad' decisions for short-sighted and selfish reasons." That's not the same thing as the author condemning bureaucrats in general. (Looking back, I have a feeling that the author was thinking: "Good leaders understand economics, and bad leaders don't." That may be oversimplified, however.) – Lorendiac Sep 30 '16 at 8:31
  • Good note at the bottom, because that's what I was thinking from reading the title to getting to the note. – DCShannon Oct 3 '16 at 20:02
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Though not set on the moon I believe the book you are seeking is actually the LaNague Confederation series by F. Paul Wilson. In particular book 1 from 1980 Enemy of the State

The points that match are that it involves economic science fiction and the scene with the guards/thugs demanding that they be paid in cash every day because of the inflation issue. That scene occurs towards the latter 1/2 or so of the book after one of the characters has returned from a deep space mission seeking a specific item critical to the plot. As he was away during the start of the economic crisis he has no idea what is going on and what the guards are talking about.

he was sent to find an alien species which is hostile and which can be used by the current corrupt Metep government to initiate a war which will distract citizens from the economic crisis and unite to support the government actions. I.e. as the writer Randolph Bourne said, in the midst of the First World War.: "War is the health of the State."

  • Thank you! That appears to be correct. I'd completely forgotten "aliens" were even mentioned within the story, and I thought the key action took place on another world within our own Solar System. But I looked the book up on Amazon just now, and reread some of the "free sample" stuff, and I think this was it. (Ironic thing is that several years ago I became interested in Wilson's "Repairman Jack" novels, but I never realized I'd read another of his books almost 30 years ago! I did look at "Dydeetown World," but it failed to enthrall me, so I never hunted for his other old SF works.) – Lorendiac Sep 30 '16 at 23:30
  • Glad to be of assistance. – beichst Oct 1 '16 at 1:28

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