Trope-a-Day: Worthless Yellow Rocks

Worthless Yellow Rocks: Oh, yeah. Starting with gold itself, whose rarity went the way of the dodo shortly after asteroid mining was developed, and whose price is of a similar order to Earth’s prices for iron, if not actually less. (Which is to say, if it didn’t wear down so fast, you could pave streets with the stuff.) Iron, meanwhile, is so ridiculously cheap that most mining companies will let you have it for the cost of hauling the damn stuff away – it’s basically an overly plentiful byproduct of refining metals that are actually worth something.

In any case, this makes the gAu, along with other precious metal currencies like the gAg and the gPt, float very low indeed on the Empire’s currency exchanges and those of the other Core Markets. If you want them to be worth much, it’s time to find some Emerging Market deep in the Periphery, preferably worldbound.

Diamonds, if anything, have suffered even more. They’re trivial to assemble for even the most primitive carbon organizer, to the point where diamondoids are common industrial materials. Worse, enough planets have used carbon-organizers for industrial-scale carbon sequestration that there are entire bloody mountains of bar diamond lying around in places.

In general, advanced materials technologies are really hard on simple valuable stuff. Stuff with complexity included, now, that’s a different matter…


Birthday Present

Peréä System, far orbit, 4016


“Okay, go ahead and open your eyes.”

“You got me a giant laser! Wait, where did you get me a giant laser? … And, um, why did you get me a giant laser?”

“In order: yes, the Laserider Network’s fire sale, and –”

“Fire sale?”

“Yeah. It hasn’t hit the public ‘weave yet, but word from the Deep Space Relay is that someone back Home has cracked the fittling problem and they’re sending us the necessary, so the interstellar light-sail network concept is dead in space. Helén Inuriannon is taking the news about as well as possible for someone whose reason for being here just took a long walk out a short airlock, but they’re in full close-it-out, sell-it-off mode already. I picked the main laser array up for a short song and a handful of considerations.”

“We have FTL now –  no, never mind, in a minute. So why do we – I – whichever want a giant laser?”

“Think of it less as a laser and more the prospect of being independently wealthy.”

“Right now I’m thinking of it less as an explanation and more the prospect of being annoyingly smug.”

“If they have FTL, we’ll be getting more colonists, more quickly. That means the ecotects are going to be even hungrier for metal than they are now. And that laser…”

“…is going to be a thousand sideritic asteroids smelted down and put on the market first.”

“So, you like it?”

“Be as smug as you want today, love.”