Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Bank Run" by Tom Purden

So, completely by accident, I apparently decided to start things out with a pretty lengthy fifty pager of a story. Apparently, I'm not one to do things in halves.

All, in all, I'd have to say that this is an okay story, which is actually a little disappointing, since I found it in an anthology titled Science Fiction: The best of the year 2006 Edition. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, but it's also certainly not a classic.

The plot of the story follows a man named Sabor Haveri, a well-off banker on a small colony world in a indeterminate future. Sabor is on the run with his concubine slash personal assistant, Purvali, and his sercurity officer, Choytang, from a ruthless landowner named Kenzan Khan. Khan wanted Sabor to lend him money. Sabor refused because Khan is all kinds of crazy, so Khan decided that the best course of action it to take Sabor by force, wipe his mind, and take over all of his assests, basically turning one of the colony's four major banks into his own personal coffer. As they make a "daring" (re: actually a little tedious due to all the time Purden takes to give his complex descriptions of the technology of the future) escape across land, Sabor, with the help of Purvali and Choy, makes a series of contacts and pulls several economic strings, orchestrating Khan's downfall. Ultimately, brains and heaps of money prevail over assholes with giant egos and low impulse control. Hooray!

As the story progresses, we find out that the future of Purden's story features, among other technological advances, extensive genetic manipulation, along with cybernetic brain implants that allow people to essentially carry their computers in their heads. At least if you're rich. It's impossible to tell what it's like to be poor in Purden's world, as the only people that feature into the story that arn't fairly well off property owners or businessmen/women all appear to be, for a lack of a better word, artificially grown slaves for the rich.

To me, this was a particularly bothersome part of Purden's world that just isn't addressed in the story, other than by showing that Sabor is as much in love with his concubine (whom we are told was designed to be Sabor's perfect woman) as his concubine was programmed to be in love with him. They may love each other, but she is still his property, and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

The other thing that bothered me was the idea that the free market economy was the best way to run a society. We learn in the story that the colony has no central banking system. Instead, all four of the biggest bankers on the planet maintain prudent surpluses and help each other out by lending to one another when capital gets low. Except for Krazy Khan, everyone seems to basically get along and everything works well, because, as is argued by Sabor in the story, financiers have something solid to lose from a chaotic and poorly run society: their money. Yes, because people with money have never made that bad decisions lead to general chaos and social unrest. . . well, you know, except for that Great Depression thing, but that was a one-in-a-million sort of thing, right? Right?

Setting aside the fact that I would hate to live in the Purden's world of uber-capitalism where you can buy whatever you want as long as you have the money, including people, the story itself wasn't that bad. It was interesting to see Sabor pull all his strings and screw Khan over, if only because Sabor was likable and Khan was portrayed as an insane would-be despot. All in all, I don't think I'd recommend to story to others, but I also don't wish I had the time it took to read back. Again, not a bad story, just not a really good one.

No comments:

Post a Comment