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I built a castle to save the economy

You're welcome.

By Elle GriffinPublished about a month ago 4 min read

This piece of short fiction was originally published for The Elysian. Follow my work there.

Back in the 2020s, everyone was in a tizzy about population collapse. The thinking back then was that if we didn't have enough children, they wouldn't grow up and generate enough money, and the economy wouldn't be big enough to do expensive things like cure diseases and build space colonies and come up with teleportation.

They tried everything to get us to procreate, but we just didn't want to. Anyway, it was never more people we needed, but more money to fuel the economy and the innovations that economy might achieve. So when our population finally started declining in the 2100s, the government came up with a much better solution: they passed the "Spend Excessively Act" (SEA) forcing us to spend most of our incomes every year.

By this point, the whole world was rich - we all made a ton of money working very little on very important jobs - so we did what any society would do when faced with the prospect of spending excessively: we all built castles - like excessive Marie Antoinette-style castles all over the world. Mine was a 3D-printed fairytale palace crowning the French Alps where I worked as an archivist, loading all of the knowledge into Alexandria, my globally accessed AI library of every book ever written.

Because of teleportation, we didn't really need city centers. So everyone built their extravagant castles all around the world and we could get there in a blink of an eye. One of my friends, for example, is a conservationist. I love teleporting to her canvas castle in Africa where we go on electric hovercraft safaris over the tundra. By now, the content was completely rewilded - not even a road wended through most of the world, and we were mesmerized as elephants and lions freely roamed the Earth.

Another friend was a botanist and she built a very advanced "hanging gardens of Babylon" which was officially the most beautiful place in the world, and the only one of the modern seven wonders to also be part of the ancient seven wonders. Her medicinal gardens would hover in the clouds for a light misting in the afternoon, scattering rainbows on the ground when the light caught it just right. At night, the trees glowed in the dark, lighting our way through the canopy.

One of my friends, a scientist, even built her palace underwater - it was basically Atlantis. We loved to visit, taking the elevator down to the bottom of the ocean and wandering the underwater halls. All of the walls and ceilings were transparent, and she had taken advantage of bioluminescent technology to glow the sea around us in riveting shades of blue. We watched as incredible fish and sea monsters swam around us, and took her fleet of electric submarines into the seaweed forests for a picnic.

Because we spent so much money on so many advanced technologies - like teleportation and hovercrafts and airships - the economy really flourished. And because all of us worked in jobs that were beneficial to humanity, that money was used for the greater good. Some people's jobs were getting AIs to print livers and build scuba diving drones and grow more water from the air and build a shield to protect us from the sun in case it started dying.

In a way, it was like we recreated the 18th century, but where everyone was royal and nobody died of it being the 1700s and we didn't need to subject anyone or anything to any harm to do it. Sure, there were fewer people on the earth, but we made much more money and we spent much more of it than we did in the past, and that allowed us and our AIs to create everything we could possibly need.

And because there was so much abundance, it actually inspired more of us to have children. Many people built their castles to be childlike wonderlands - imagine a real world Narnia or Neverland, or even an elaborate Swiss Family Robinson-style village. These places became magical playgrounds where children are free to roam and, because of the geotracking bracelets on their wrists, safe to explore the world without fear of harm.

When one reporter started working on a story about the Spend Excessively Act and whether all that money had the same effect on the economy as having more children might have had, she came to my castle to ask whether, with all my archival knowledge, I'd recommend we do it all again.

Absolutely, I said.

Let them eat cake!

Author's Commentary

This idea was inspired by a conversation with Kevin Kelly, who once told me the biggest problem facing the progress movement was population collapse. This sparked a debate between us and several others who all agreed that we needed to figure out a way to grow the population.

But I didn't like that route. I told them I wasn't about to have kids for the sake of the economy and jokingly asked Kelly if I could live in a castle and drink expensive wine instead, growing the economy about the same size as a family of four by myself.

This led the conversation into absurdity, which turned into this piece of absurdity. I hope you enjoyed it.

Short StorySatire

About the Creator

Elle Griffin

Studying utopia.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  • Flamance @ lit.24 days ago

    Awesome story I like it congratulations 🎉🎉

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