Here are some of my notes from Chapters 2 & 3. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, but please don’t post any spoilers for someone who might be reading along. I’ll make another post for spoilers.
Food. Skye needed to look like she was a little malnourished if she was going to fit in in the city, so I took a few moments to explain why she looked the part. I also took the opportunity to call out more excesses on the part of the Society.
The economist John Maynard Keynes predicted a long time ago that humans by now would only be working 15 hours a week. As I understand it, he figured that given a baseline standard of living, that as people became more and more productive because of machines and technology, that it would take less and less time for people to work enough hours to pay for their cost of living, and then they would have the rest of their time for leisure activities.
He turned out to be way off. I personally suspect that the acceptance of inflation that so many Keynesian economists champion has had some to do with that, but there is also no avoiding the fact that the standard of living in most developed nations has gone way up. Most of us live in air conditioned houses, a lot of children have their own rooms, it’s common to have 2 or more cars, and even a lot of teenagers carry around a computer in their pockets.
The Society was meant to be an example of what might happen hundreds of years in the future if technology continues to increase the productivity of the individual at the same time that standards of living cap out. If you spend most of your life living in a virtual reality, then that might serve to cap your cost of living, so it’s an interesting thought experiment.
Do you think that as we transition to spending more and more of our time into a virtual existence that it will reduce the cost for us to feel like we have a ‘good’ standard of living?
Something else that I really like about these two chapters is that they are sort of Skye’s origin story. At least that is what the reader comes away thinking. It’s not until much later that all of the other wrinkles regarding her true origin story surface.