The money of science fiction.

In science fiction it is often interesting to see how money is
treated. Most movies and television series barely touch on it. Usually
money is refered to as ‘credits’ or some other form of computer
accounting. Rarely is there any sort of currency paper or otherwise.It is almost always some sort of central bank system where money is completely abstract and controlled by some beveloent government, at least in those stories of a better future.

Despite such systems much
of the trade shown is by barter. This makes a great deal of sense given
the exploration nature of most stories. Much of the rest is about
worlds that aren’t exactly utopias, more like the opposite and people
were forced back into barter to get by.

Thanks to I
have been watching the orignal Battlestar Galactica, many of these
episodes I haven’t seen since I was kid when they originally aired
about 30 years ago.  I have just watched Season
1 : Ep. 10, “The Magnificent Warriors” and from this episode it is
established that the currency of the 12 colonies and beyond is gold.
Starbuck carries with him a small pouch of oddly shaped gold colored
coins as is seen in most of series but not really defined as to what they are. In this episode Starbuck goes to buy some seeds and the seller looks at his coins describing a few them with different names indicating they are from many different worlds and says ‘you have a bit of everything here’. He then places all the coins on a scale to find out how much gold he has.
Apparently all the various planets minted their own coins but all of gold.

The original BSG isn’t that great on factual information. They keep getting basic aspects of astronomy wrong let alone the actual distances between stars and other bodies yet for money it appears well thought out unlike the better written stories.  Gold is shown to be portable and universal. It  also survives the great destruction caused by the war with the Cylons retaining value despite the Colonial government no longer existing in any form where it could back a currency.

Gold of course makes perfect sense. The money of central bankers wouldn’t be accepted on other worlds, but gold or at least some other commodity money would be.

Now I wonder who was behind the original BSG’s monetary system? :)


2 thoughts on “The money of science fiction.

  1. Interesting. Given the highly advanced state of the 12 Colonies however, does Gold really make sense? In order for separate planets to transact business this would imply that gold would have to be moved from one planet to another at great expense. Did they ever mention credits on BSG or was it implied that they always used hard currency?

  2. I’ve never seen a mention of a ‘credits’ type system in original BSG. As to transport, gold is fungible so transport may not have been needed to any large extent. Also it is supposed to be a people that have been traveling in space for thousands of years so costs should have been low.

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