I seem to remember something a Puppeteer (Nessus?) said about paying them with "Stars".

I couldn't find any mention of this in Wikipedia, so maybe I'm not remembering correctly.

4 Answers 4


I've found two answers:

  1. There are "crowns" that are used as currency, teleporting from one place on Earth to another is 1/10 of a crown (very little money). http://www.docstoc.com/docs/6475419/Fictional_currency

  2. The one you're likely interested in: "star" is a currency that replaced the previous UN "mark". 1/2 star can buy a book tape, and 1/10 of a star can mail a wallet. http://www.freewebs.com/knownspace/s.htm/

  • 2
    Ha! A book tape. I love how no one -really- predicted what the internet would do, and how fast.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Feb 27, 2011 at 18:01
  • I suppose you could compare it to an eBook. It really does boggle the mind. Commented Feb 28, 2011 at 1:03
  • 2
    Feel free to tell yourself that book tapes are called what they are because of a retro-love fad. They actually work by [insert <nanotech/solid state/air computing/whatever tech> here]. After all, I still hear people refer to MP3 albums as "discs", even though they are nothing of the sort. Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 3:52
  • In Juggler of Worlds, Nessus pays the Outsider #14 "five million Earth stars" for the location of the antimatter system, and 14 million stars for some artifact.
    – sbi
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 14:30
  • Computers no longer come with floppy drives. Maybe I should find a youngster and ask them what they think a "save icon" represents.
    – Tangurena
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 17:14

As a plot device, the Outsiders usually are paid in information.

  • Actually, I remember that Beowulf Schaeffer tried to sell them information once and the Outsiders were quite taken aback by the attempt. However, that may have simply been that particular ship, or a bargaining ploy on the Outsiders' part. ("Flatlander", 1968.) Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 3:56
  • That brings up another question, though: How do the Outsiders obtain information? Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 3:56
  • 1
    The Outsiders weren't taken aback. They simply were hesitant because they didn't want to commit to a price without first having determined the value of the information.
    – Broklynite
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 2:04

The testimony of the many stories that involve Outsiders and the logical structure of their existence suggests what kinds of payment they would be interested in.

If you read enough of the many Known Space stories you'll find that the Outsiders do quite a lot of business with warm species for as little contact as they have with them, so we have several chances to see how that work.

  • They lease space on Triton (first seen in At the Core, and it comes up several times after that)
  • They sell Elephant the coordinates of "The most unusual planet in known space"
  • They deal with the Puppeteers and the colonists repeatedly in the Fleet of Worlds series and its prehistory (the primordial deal for the planet drive is also discussed in Ringworld).
  • They sell the humans of We Made It the hyperdrive early in the first Man-Kzin war

They seem to accept payment in

  1. Information (as suggested by zephyr) or technology (though in the Fleet|Juggler|Destroyer|Betrayer of Worlds books it is made clear that the races of Known Space have little to offer in this respect with an exception related to reason (3)). Because those are things that they can take with them, and re-sell again and again.

  2. Credit expressed in a local currency that they can expect to use (as geoffc notes), which means offered by races that are politically stable and sufficiently well established to have a expectation of lasting a long time.

    That said, their willingness to sell the hyperdrive to We Made It suggests that they are willing to take a chance on up-and-coming races. After all their marginal costs are low, and the potential for profit is fairly high.

  3. Spoiler reason (read the Fleet of Worlds series first)

    Protection of their juvenile stage: the star seeds.


The Outsiders like cold outer planets at the edge of solar systems, and lease Neried a moon of Neptune from ARM. Thus they do 'spend' some of the money.

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