Virtual Economies

So, turns out Neal Stephenson’s next novel is going to be about gold farming. Have any of you read Cory Doctorow’s For the Win? I feel like I ought to give that a shot before Stephenson’s Remade comes out.

But in any case, I’m optimistic. One of the things I thought Stephenson did very well in Cryptonomicon was to capture the absurdities of emerging economies. Obviously, the data haven business Randy and Avi were standing up in that book was just an enormous red herring. But Stephenson’s sketches of the various characters involved in the enterprise are deft and funny (even if the book doesn’t necessarily need them). Similarly, his description of the parking-lot standoff is tense, funny, and evocative. It’s vastly less important for the outcome than for the description of a whole society mobilized on a tiny scale.

I’ll be curious if he takes on gold mining for the purposes of social critique, as Doctorow did, or if he’s going to dive into it as a big, freewheeling, consequential international story. This might be a good basis for it. Or knowing Stephenson, he’ll come up with something entirely new.