Monday, 23 April 2018

Diomedean Technology And Trade

This post links to others about Diomedes.

On Diomedes:

polar species hibernate;
at 45 degrees latitude, Diomedeans are palaeolithic;
at 30 degrees, the Lannachska are quite cultivated;
the Drak'honai, from even further south, have neolithic technology -

molded synthetic resins
a sort of astrolabe
navigational tables based on sun, stars and moons
almost no iron so no compasses or chronometers
no copper or silver, so no electrolytic technology, therefore no use for their abundant magnesium, beryllium or aluminum

The Tyrlanians exchange furs, gems and juices for metal tools and weapons. The Drak'honai should want and be able to afford clocks, slide rules and Diesel engines.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And the way they think about the world would make the Drak'honai esp. receptive to Technic influences. As would be noted centuries later in A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS.


S.M. Stirling said...

Humans have always traded, because we have an instinct not to waste effort in our subsistence efforts.

This promotes division of labor and use of comparative advantage -- you don't have to understand those concepts for them to shape your behavior. In fact, they operate even in economies deliberately structured to prevent them; the actual Soviet economy worked largely because of "fixers" making deals under the table, outside the formal requirements of Gosplan.

This is why, incidentally, subsistence hunter-gatherers "only take what they need". You're talking about their -work-, and in a subsistence economy there's no purpose in trying to create a surplus.

As an illustration, in the 1720's a French trader opened a trading post in what's now southern Ohio, offering the usual goods ; steel tools, muskets, powder, booze, cloth.

Within the first three months of operation, the local Indians brought in 12,000 raw deerskins -- and I doubt they ate that much venison. (It was too far south for good-quality furs, but deerskin always had a market).

Before there had been no reason to hunt energetically; now there was, and they went out and slaughtered with berserk abandon.

Becoming full-time commercial farmers would require a much, much greater cultural readjustment than just doing more of the same things.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

I recall how Alexander Solzhenitsyn discussed in THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO how MUCH this kind of "fixing" was necessary in the gulags as well. Zek labor team bosses would cook the records, falsifying what had actually been done, because that was the only way to handle the impossible demands and quotas imposed on the prisoners.

Very interesting, what you said about the French trader and the Indians. Merely opening that trading and offering the goods you listed brought home to the Indians how poor and impoverished their lives were.