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Just finished reading the book. Still thinking about it. One odd thing about the residents of your billion worlds is that they seem a bit ... poor, given the tens of millenia of civilization between now and then.

A gigajoule (if I'm calculating right) is about 8 gallons of gas (50MJ/kg when you burn it), or maybe $50 in modern money.

It takes about 3 GJ, assuming perfect efficiency (which are rockets are nowhere close to being, maybe a railgun of some sort) to make an 8 km/sec delta-V maneuver with a 100kg guy.

Your interplanetary civilization seems to have a very low "economic temperature", everyone's pretty close to the ground state of possibility if they spend their days concerned with such tiny amounts of matter and energy, when living in an energy landscape where routine maneuvers are far more significant. Perhaps they've hit another Maltusian wall somewhere along the line?


I suppose the protagonists, being interstellar scrappers, aren't at the top of the wealth-scale. Also, your future civilization can do more with less in terms of matter and energy. They're depicted as being computer rich.

But are people economizing on matter to the point where food carts and building walls are carbon fiber soapsuds because they *can* (prevalent composite fabricators, etc), or because they *have to* (not enough atoms to go around among a trillion people)?

Are the hab residents (when they're not being whacked by interstellar assassins) spending their days on poetry and handicrafts because a 1000 ton block of cast iron (or whatever material) is beneath their consideration, or beyond their reach?


A couple of answers to your question:

1. While Solar System civilization is energy-rich, a lot of that is hoovered up by the digital intelligences of the Inner Ring, or various transhuman super-intellects. Legacy humans and other Baseline intelligences are more marginal.

2. The system has a lot of energy, but mass is still a limited resource, especially if you have to move it around. Safdaghar is mostly made of carbon because that's easier to get than metals. Note that some habs, such as asteroid colonies, are mass-rich.

So for Safdaghar, they do poetry and handcrafts because matter is expensive to ship but information isn't. I really expect this to be a model for future civilization.

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