There is a story of a planet with no one in charge. Everyone just does favors or obligations for each other. What is it called?

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    Bruce Sterling's short story Maneki Neko features a global computer-mediated not-quite-kinda-sorta-commercial network of gifts (goods), favors (services) and obligations (payment) that's gradually replacing traditional capitalism. But it takes place in a near-future Japan, not some other planet.
    – Joe L.
    Mar 21, 2015 at 15:34
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    You may want to take a look at this for some hints on improving your question. As it is, it may be a little vague.
    – Politank-Z
    Oct 12, 2017 at 21:38
  • The "favours as currency" concept is used in Night Watch and the other books in that series, but I'm unsure what you mean by "planet with no one in charge". Could you please clarify with some more details, such as genre, setting etc?
    – Psycrow
    Oct 13, 2017 at 7:12
  • Possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/211514/… (which is newer but not closed)
    – Otis
    May 2, 2019 at 20:40

3 Answers 3


You may be thinking of Eric Frank Russell's "And Then There Were None." This describes a spaceship visit to a anarchic planet where there is no monetary system, just a semi-formalized system of obligations (called "obs") between the inhabitants.

This story was included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame and in Russell's fix-up novel "The Great Explosion". It was first published in the June 1951 Astounding and made the cover.

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It's not really a "different planet" but rather the underworld of London, but the economy in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere seems to operate largely based on promises of future favors. At least the Marquis seemed to use them a lot, and I vaguely remember other characters also trading promises of future favors for services right now.

(whether the underworld in Neverwhere counts as 'no one in charge' is maybe up to interpretation; strictly speaking, there is an established order, it just seems to be more like a continual gang war than a well-functioning state)


You might almost be thinking of Ken MacLeod's The Stone Canal. Certainly a story about human and post-humans on another planet where much commerce is enacted through computer mediated interpersonal negotiation.


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