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Time and Money in “Neptune’s Brood” by Charles Stross Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jun 27th, 2020

Since the day when the concept of money became an integral part of people’s lives, the connection between time and money was evident. From both the economic and the philosophical perspective, the synapse of time and money value is evident, as the former has a tangible influence on the latter. Charles Stross, in his novel Neptune’s Brood managed to explore the link between the two on a whole new level, therefore, establishing a cognation between the value of time and the phenomenon of time.

However, when it comes to defining the most original aspect of the novel, one must admit that it is not the lead character, the plot or the settings – instead, it is the elaborate financial system created by Stross that seems to be the feature that defines the originality of the novel. By linking the two concepts, the author has managed to expand on the idea of money being a complex entity performing three key functions by Bohannan’s theory, i.e., the means of exchange, the mode of payment, and the standard of value (Bohannan 491).

One might argue that the point made by Stross is rather inconclusive in that the author does not expatiate enough on the so-called “social organization of money” (Mauer “Money Nutters” 6). Indeed, while the author makes it very clear how the system established in his novel works, he provides very little comment on how it shapes the relationships between the people. One could argue, though, that, by detailing the specifics of the financial mechanism within his imaginary society, Stross, instead, offers the readers to view a very complex and unique concept of a social hierarchy. In that sense, the concept of a financial system that Stross suggests in his novel seems rather legitimate and a very witty comment on the link between the society and the financial relationships within it. The uncertainty around the evolution of the society, therefore, is transferred into the financial system as well: “There is nothing inherently non-speculative about Islamic finance: business always involves risks, and entrepreneurs always take chances against an uncertain future” (Mauer “Engineering an Islamic Future…” 10). On a more abstract level of analysis, it will be reasonable to assume that Stross considers the development of society parallel to the evolution of the concept of money (Tang 809); herein, the link as mentioned above between time and money can be located.

Regardless of the specified observation, a more down-to-earth idea of time and money relationships is addressed in a very clear manner in the novel. Specifically, the fact that money can be used in three dimensions, i.e., the money for daily needs, the money for home investment, and the money for the “interstellar,” or, in the realm of the present-day reality, the global investment procedures, deserves to be mentioned. Though this is not exactly what Bohannan was trying to convey in his article, this idea of classifying money into large groups based on their use taps on several ideas expressed by the former. This system is not perfect, though, and Stross makes it quite obvious in his novel. The people controlling the financial system in question are given far too much power; with the excess of the latter, they are capable of disrupting the operation of the system entirely, to “to hack his quiescent neural trunks” (Stross 24), as the author metaphorically explains in the novel. One of the most powerful and, at the same time, depressing novels that exploring the synapse of time, money, and society, Neptune’s Brood offers a range of peculiar economic concepts to consider.

Works Cited

Bohannan, Paul. “The Impact of Money on African Subsistence Economy.” The Journal of Economic History 19.4 (1959), 491–503. Print.

Mauer, Bill. “Engineering an Islamic Future: Speculations on Islamic Financial Alternatives.” Anthropology Today 17.1 (2001), 8–11. Print.

Mauer, Bill. “Money Nutters.” Economic Sociology: The European Economic Newsletter 12.3 (2011), 5–12. Print.

Stross, Charles. Neptune’s Brood. New York, NY: Ace Books, 2013. Print.

Tang, Thomas Li-Ping. “The Development of a Short Money Ethic Scale: Attitudes toward Money and Pay Satisfaction Revisited.” Personality and Individual Differences 19.6 (1995), 809–816. Print.

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"Time and Money in "Neptune’s Brood" by Charles Stross." IvyPanda, 27 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/time-and-money-in-neptunes-brood-by-charles-stross/.

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