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The closest you get to this are the systems in any given constellation which house the long-range gates to other constellations, and thus are about as close as anything gets to being bottlenecks. International Television Sarah elizabeth ayache. Gemelli Careri, an Italian adventurer, circled the world in the late 17th century. Starch is so much tastier and so much better adapted to our body chemistry that sugar is used only as a chemical. To service the starship fleet's thirst for fuel, tankers will need to be huge or there will have to be a lot of them. Bingo Bytes We started off as a small business but after collaborating with them, we have seen a big increase in traffic and business.

Introduction

Economics of Starships

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Well I hope you found this monstrous post helpful. If you enjoyed this post, you might also like: Looks like I forgot a big one… http: In the reach of the middle class. This price schedule makes interstellar colonization viable.

Our colonization-viable starships will also increase interstellar trade. As with all freight the rates will vary. Higher value merchandise will support higher shipping charges. A long-term fixed contract allowing ship owner to have dependable regular cargoes will get a lower rate. Standby cargo will get a better rate, if the ship is making a run anyway, it is better to have full cargo holds.

The shipping capacity will only have to increase three-fold since starships now deliver three times as much cargo per year. Since shipping costs ten times lower so a wider range of goods are worth importing then the import-export sector can expand in total value of goods shipped as well. High, but not out of reach for a mature trading zone. So a colony of 10 million will have an annual export and import of 3 million tons per year.

Each trade starship can pick up and deliver 10 cargoes per year, so they need a net cargo capacity of , tons. For a trade network of 12 colonies, the combined merchant marine needs a capacity of some 3.

Most ships will still be small but bigger than jumbo jets to facilitate filling their cargo holds, but the heaviest-traffic routes will support some bigger ships. If there is no FTL radio, then some of the small freighters will sacrifice cargo capacity for speed i.

The idea is to reduce the normal space transit time. Actually this might be a better job for an unmanned drone, they can take higher acceleration than human beings. Passenger traffic is only a fraction of total cargo volume unless there is a colonization effort underway.

Freight makes a profit for somebody, passengers are pure expense to whoever pays their ticket. A few routes may support scheduled passenger service probably in small ships. But most will ride in cargo bays like railroad sleeping cards , in freighters, or in spare crew quarters. Full load mass and physical size depends upon assumptions about fuel mass ration, fuel bulk, etc.

Note that total mass is three times the cargo capacity. As you can see, deadweight is the ship proper, structure, engines, anything that is not cargo or propellant. With this assumption, the big freighters will have a fully loaded mass of 60, tons. The largest ships might be twice as big: The starship hulls are not cheaper, but they can carry more cargo in proportion to their structural mass.

With a 30 year service life, the combined shipbuilding yards of the 12 planet trade network will turn out about 25 ships per year. Hulls will last longer than 30 years but the equipment wears out and has to be replaced. Ships go back to the yards for an overhaul every decade or so, but eventually the cost of stripping everything and replacing it will exceed the value of the ship.

Depending upon overhaul costs the shipyards may make more money on rebuilding than on constructing brand new ships. Some ships will stay in service for many decades. Others will be retained as the futuristic equivalent of naval hulks or the old passenger equipment that railroads use as work trains. Every big commercial space station will have a bunch of these old ships in the outskirts.

If modular design is taken to its limit, "ships" will have no permanent existence. Instead they will be assembled out of modules and pods specifically for each run, much like a railroad train.

In that case, a ship's identity is attached to a service , not a physical structure. The analysis up until now focused on money and economics. Businessmen only care about how long it takes to deliver the cargo and how much transport costs, they could care less about the scientific details of the ship engines.

As with everything else, it all depends upon the assumptions. Your assumptions will be different, so feel free to fiddle with these and see what the results are. For the FTL segment of the transit you can use whatever you want, as long as the details do not affect the analysis.

The main thing is that the required time spent in FTL transit will add to the total trip time, and thus the number of cargoes a starship can transport per year. We know that the mass ratio is 2. So the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation tells us that the starship's total delta V will be the propulsion system's exhaust velocity times 0. Since starships accelerate to half their delta V, coast, then decelerate to a halt, their maximum speed is half their delta V, or exhaust velocity times 0. In practice you would accelerate up to a bit less than half their delta V in order to allow a fuel reserve in case of emergency.

It will be even less if the FTL drive happens to use the same type of fuel that the reaction drive does. Basically part of the fuel mass will have to be considered as cargo, not propellant, which will alter the ship's mass ratio.

We have assumed that the ship spends 27 days in route with an instantaneous FTL jump , so the outbound and inbound legs are In reality at the same thrust setting the acceleration will increase as the ship's mass goes down due to propellant being expended. The thrust will probably be constantly throttled to maintain a constant acceleration. Makes it easier on the crew and easier on our analysis. The implication is that obviously the average speed will be half the maximum speed which is half the delta V.

Propulsion system's thrust power is thrust times exhaust velocity, then divide by 2. To get the thrust, we know that thrust is ship mass times acceleration. The ship mass goes down as fuel is burnt. That is, multiply the total ship mass by 0. Where does fuel come from and who does it get into the ship's fuel tanks? Easiest if it is obtained locally at the destination's solar system. The economics of interplanetary transport is same as interstellar since we did a lot of work making interstellar a cheap as interplanetary.

So tankers will be almost as expensive as starships. If tankers use low speed to make them cheaper , the round trip balloons to a year or more. To service the starship fleet's thirst for fuel, tankers will need to be huge or there will have to be a lot of them. Either way, fuel shipped from gas giants ain't gonna be cheap.

If we forgo interplanetary tankers and instead have starships make extra leg to the local gas giant to refuel, it will cost you more than you will save. The alternative is shipping fuel up from destination planet. Yes, we know about how surface to orbit is "halfway to anywhere" in terms of delta V cost. But in order to colonize space at all, surface-to-orbit shipping cost will have to be cheap anyway. The industrialization of space will start with using space based resources, but eventually surface-to-orbit will have to be cheap or there is no rocketpunk future.

Laser launch , Lofstrom loop , space elevator , something like that. Fuel is not round trip, it only goes from surface to orbit, but shuttles have to go orbit to surface in order to get the next load.

You will have to streamline the process. So if starships carry 1. This is an ouch but not a show-stopper. Therefore, if the absolutely hugest cargo starship in service has a cargo capacity of 40, tons twice that of a large cargo starship , then:.

The center body is a cylinder 1 unit in diameter 0. The two end caps are cones of 0. If the monstrous cargo starship is spherical, it would have a diameter of 88 meters. A ton cargo capacity tramp freighter would have a wet mass of tons and a volume of 13, m 3. Modular ships dimension would be similar but a bit larger due to being assembled out of component parts.

Therefore crew will be kept as small as practical. Small ships might squeeze this to four or five. Big ships might double up with assistants and trainees for 20 to Maintenance technicians will be needed.

Ships are en route for a month or so at a time. Unlike aircraft, maintenance can't all be done during layovers. Time is money, you do not want to hold off departure because station tech has not finished some routine servicing.

So techs will be carried to do maintenance during the flight. So small ships will have a maintenance crew of seven or eight total crew of ten or twelve.

Largest ships in service might have total crews up to Scut work swabbing decks and peeling potatoes will be done by junior crew. As has been the case since time began. Coach class could make do with one for every 10 passengers. First class would have one for every 2 or 3 passengers and the ticket price would reflect this. If a typical ship has 1 percent of cargo given over to passengers, the required hotel staff could increase the crew by about a third. Naturally the hotel staff will be looked down upon by the operating and tech crew members.

On a passenger ship the hotel staff will vastly outnumber the rest of the crew by some 30 to 1. These are primarily starship ports and service bases, though they may have other functions.

So at the stations of the dozen colony worlds there will be docked about 15 cargo ships. One or two would be large cargo ships. A cargo ship will arrive and depart about three times a day. Orbit-to-surface traffic is heavy. If each shuttle can carry the load of a jet, about arrive and depart each day. If starship fuel is shuttled up from surface, some daily tankers arrivals are needed as well if 4 daily flights per shuttle, about 65 physical shuttles are needed. This is for a typical station.

The busiest station in the trade network might have twice the traffic volume. At any one time we might expect to find to off-duty starship crew at a typical station probably all in bars. Unlike airports, passenger traffic is small. Passenger shuttles will also carry station crew, ship's crew going sightseeing, so there will be a few daily passenger flights. A typical station would then have a mass of 15, tons, not counting cargo awaiting loading, fuel in storage tanks, etc.

But stations are likely to grow by accretions over the years and become sprawling structures extending hundreds of meters in all directions. Using same estimates for cargo ships, the maintenance crew of an average station would be about However, stations provide the major ship maintenance, so they probably have about as many technicians altogether as the ships themselves do.

They alone will multiply the station population by tenfold; support staff and miscellaneous services might double it again, so a typical station could have some workers. The largest stations might have two or three times as many. Living quarters will be nearly as expensive ship quarters, but frequent shuttle fare also add up. The income from shuttle fare can be used to subsidize living quarters rent, so many people could live on board, even with families.

Station could be a cosmopolitan orbiting town. The entire space-faring population of the trade network, ship crews and stationers, come to well over 50,, maybe as many as , out of a total population on 12 colonies of some million. The space economy as a whole however employs many times more. We will call it a federation anyway. Instead of cargo, warships carry weapons, sensors, armor, more powerful engines, and greater fuel capacity. Ton for full-loaded ton they are more expensive than trade ships maybe x2 but cost per deadweight ton is about the same since technology going into it is similar.

This is due partially to "gold-plating" of weapon systems and partial due to false economies such as small orders that reduce production efficiencies. We will assume that a navy funded by merchants will not allow such expensive stupidities Assumption: For first approximation, scale down merchant marine by factor of 5 to get war fleet. Space navy combat starships will require auxiliary starships to support them: So some of the cruisers and corvettes in the order of battle will have to be traded for auxiliaries of various kinds.

Some civilian cargo ships can be requisitioned in wartime for auxiliary missions such as tankers. Depending upon technology and threat level, it might be feasible to fit cargo ships with weapon pods instead of cargo and use them as armed merchant cruisers. And warships might be fitted with cargo pods to become very well-armed transports. You could call the deadweight mass the Washington Treaty Mass. We have also assumed that each ton of loaded mass equals 3 m 3 of volume. Corvette are the length of a or C-5 Galaxy but larger diameter.

Very close to space shuttle in launch configuration. Since corvettes will have a surface landing module for gunboat diplomacy they may even look like space shuttle stack with a big winged thing stuck on the side. Merchant express mail couriers might be a civilian version of courvette. During peace time war fleet has lower operating tempo than merchant marine. May spend half their their time docked instead of the one-quarter that merchants do. This saves operating expenses.

The savings allows greater procurement, so they are replaced and retired from active duty after 20 years instead of Then they go into a mothballed reserve force for another 20 years, so reserve is the same size as active fleet. As with cargo ships, warships might undergo top-to-bottom overhauls and remain in service longer. Crews are larger in proportion than for cargo ships.

The maintenance technicians will be larger per unit cost because they have to repair battle damage , during or after the battle. Some warships will carry a landing force of marines or espatiers. Due to berthing cost and limited space mass ratio of 2. Warship type Crew Battlecruiser Cruiser 75 Corvette 20 Crew numbers will be higher if they have a landing strike team embarked.

This is not a huge crew force. Add in the marines and the total wearing uniforms is still no more than 25, to 30, Perhaps with a similar number of civilian employees.

In a prolonged major war this would expand greatly. But this is supported by trade. If the cost of trade protection the insurance premium approaches or even exceeds the value of trade itself, there will be a collapse of political support. Operations in a trade war will be primarily in space. If large scale planetary landings are required, cargo ships can be pressed into service as troop transports.

Light infantry is roughly equivalent to civil passengers: So for an invasion force, 3 ton equivalent cargo capacity per soldier, not counting the naval escort. But , troops is a pretty big force to invade a planet of 10 million people. Suppose instead of 12 worlds, the empire had a thousand worlds, each with a population of million. Then all the above can be multiplied by a factor of over Improved technology will increase size and number of ships.

If typical ships is x3 in linear dimensions they will be x27 greater in mass, and fleet can have x30 as many of them. Cargo capacity 1 million tons. Full-load mass of 5 million tons each. Empire will have about ships of that size and some larger.

It will have 50, medium cargo ships with cargo capacity of 20, tons, and hundreds of thousands of smaller vessels. Navy battlecruisers will be 1 km long, full-load mass of 3 million tons. Empire will have battlecruisers in the fleet. It will have thousands of cruisers with a full-load mass of , tons. The scale factor is another x You can do the math yourself. Cyrano Jones , tribble trader. Star Trek "The Trouble with Tribbles" Naturally, to make interstellar trade work, you need the cost of interstellar transport to be incredibly low, or the value of the trade item to be incredibly high.

Raw minerals probably are not valuable enough, it will probably be cheaper to synthesize rare elements instead of shipping them in. As for manufactured goods, why not just send the blueprints by radio or by your Dirac Powered tm FTL Ansible communicator? In a future where everybody has 3D printers and rapid prototyping machines , the economy would be based upon trading intellectual property. Robert Forward proposed prospecting for Hawking black holes. In the old SPI game StarForce , the only valuable commodity is "telesthetic" women, who are the sine qua non of FTL travel, and who cannot be mass produced by genetic engineering.

Sometimes humans and aliens discover that one man's trash is another man's treasure. They are shipped by Starwisp.

I will note that historically one of the most valuable trade goods was spices. Which cannot be 3D printed unless their resolution is atom-by-atom. Freaking black pepper was so valuable that it was used as collateral for loans, or even currency. In the s the Italian monopoly on black peppercorns was the incentive behind the Portuguese effort to find an alternate route to India.

Vasco da Gama managed to reach India by sailing around Africa, which would be a very uneconomical route except for the sky-high value of black pepper. The ruins were full of treasure, he said. The party got to keep whatever they found as long as they killed the monsters and returned with the ruins secrets. Black pepper makes the traditionally bland food of the region interesting and flavorful. When peppercorns appear in the market — rarely — people pay more gold for small bags than for major magic items.

The poor crave them. The rich kill for them. Sure, this small bag of peppercorns is not a Cap of Underwater Breathing or a Potion of Heroism, but it can buy them. This bag is better than gold. Can we indulge in Halfling curiosity? The ruins have been ruins for thousands of years. When the Wizard and the Bard sided with the Thief, the Fighter caved. We will follow you on your so-called mystery.

And then we will head to the ruins and discover some real secrets. One bandit carried small, empty sacks smelling strongly of pepper and a letter of free passage on this road between the Lord of this land and the True and Free City Republic. From the look of the site, the goblins jumped the bandits while they were camping and cooking. Of course, the goblins ate the well-seasoned and peppered steaks. They took the letter. Further along the road by another two days and the Fighter made noise about ruins and secrets the party discovered the overturned carts, dead horses, and bodies of the traders.

The sacks were empty. But the Halfling Thief found a manifest of good and prices. Prices higher than the party could command for spelunking and murder expeditions. We, adventurers, root through ancient cellars and dig through old ruins, risking our lives and very souls, to haul out chest after chest of easy gold.

We cheerfully hand that gold to rich merchant and wizard guilds in return for armor and baubles and magic. Lords wrest that gold from guilds by taxation. Then, those Lords send that gold down this road east in return for this. The Free-City Republic stank. For all its glamour architecture and glorious history, humans demi-humans pressed together in the streets with little sanitation and less space.

They climbed over each other for space on this tiny island nation. The temple entrances reeked of urine where supplicants voided themselves before climbing the steps. Merchants dumped their garbage into the streets. They were rarely seen but always felt. A Republic in name only, the immensely rich ruled this plutocracy with an iron fist in a velvet glove.

They were more interested in their constant wars with the other Free City Republics ruled by other Transmuter Bankers than the daily government rhythms and wrapped themselves in bureaucracy. Down on the streets, enormous customs houses squatted among the warehouses while armies of armed customs agents took their due.

Long ships with short triangular sails bobbed in filthy waters while moored at a mile long dock. Thousands of merchants and porters unloaded their wares into a market of uncertain prices and taxation. Purchasing agents bartered loudly with street merchants for their Lord.

Bails of cotton and linen. Cases upon cases of rare and precious magic reagents. The Halfling Thief thrust her arms into a barrel of peppercorns, worth more than the land she was hired to serve, and drew in a deep breath. She asked how much. It might be a bad day. Pirates, horrible and wealthy, plied the profitable waters offshore. They preyed on lightly armed merchant ships and took their cut by force. Smugglers and a far flung powerful Thieves Guild made good use of sewers to avoid the customs house and the hated head tax.

This is the terminus. I want to find the source of the peppercorns. We should press onward. But when she turned around, the Fighter was gone.

He found his source of endless money, booty, magic items and glory far beyond mere run down ruins in a backwater country. He left to fight the pirates of this sea until he conquered them all and they acknowledged him as their King. He took the Ranger with him as backup. The Fighter wanted to make it a buddy movie. Once, it made its wealth by shipping grain north into great open markets of hungry cities. Now, by conquest, it shipped its grain south to less discerning and wealthy consumers.

Its sand stone walls told stories of ancient battles and grand Kingdoms and the magnificent adventures of Murder Hobos long dead. Centuries ago, this city ruled Empires. Centuries hence, its power forgotten, it would be shriveled, an open air theme park for tourists pretending to experience its grandeur and power. This city was fated fade, remembered for its art and music but not for its heroes and power.

Its sewers infested with monsters and converted to adventuring dungeons. Its marvelous temples turned into adventuring ruins with dark secrets for rich rulers to plumb. Thus was the power of trade. Far more powerful than any army, religion or ruler, trade builds empires binding together humans and demi-humans under one banner.

And trade lays them to waste. The old city was still a vibrant trading force. Its power had not completely leaked out its walls.

The great camel caravans came in through the east gate. The merchants unloaded and made transactions with rapacious middle men. Dockworkers loaded precious cargo by the ton on the long ships and sent them west to the Free Cities to feed their endless wars.

The tax men with their thugs roamed among the merchants taking their due for an Emperor thousands of miles away. The open air markets were full of peppercorns. Comprehend Languages and Tongues helps with travel negotiations between cultures.

Without the Fighter and Ranger, we were vulnerable to bandits but if we traveled down the river instead of overland and with other caravans we could make it east to the peppercorn source. Overland trade, we learned, was phenomenally dangerous. Outside, in the desert, banditry was tribal. If we flew the wrong colors, we would be forced to give bribes at best and attacked at worst.

The Thief turned to the Cleric but the Cleric was gone. Taken by the mash of cultures and nations passing through this trade city, she was determined to proselytize. What better place to create converts than a trade nexus between Empires? Her God would grow. What is better than a big, fat, well-loved God? The great oceanic trading city was made of magically bound sand.

Enormous limestone and coral fortresses towered over a sprawling dock reaching across the horizon. Houses five stories high stood over packed market-filled streets. Impossibly thin golden minarets topped bright white temples of a strange God. Uncut rhinoceros and elephant horn of pure ivory. Gold stacked in bars. Huge towers of wax for candles and supplies. Enormous bushels of grains. Plates and bowls of purest white. Cloth so smooth it barely caressed the skin.

Ambergris, pulled from the bellies of murdered whales, and fragrant incense. Magic items with strange and new properties. Elaborately crafted magical weaponry and armor dyed bright colors and adorned with ostrich feathers. Endless shelves of rare magical reagents and jewels. Slaves, driven to open air slave markets, by the thousands. Fragrant spices, including the peppercorn, heaped in enormous baskets in huge open air stalls. An unimaginable bounty from the nexus of trade.

The Halfling Thief, with extensive help from Tongues and a bit of prodding with Detect Thoughts, asked about the origins of peppercorns.

Did they come from this land? Is this the terminus of all our gold, our sweat, our tears, our hard work? We bring great bushels of grain and these strange animals to the market. We supply incense and skins. We send wax and wood. The peppercorns come from the far east across the ocean on the other side of the monsoon winds.

They come here on the bottoms of boats. See, the Westerner Agents will give us all their gold for the peppercorns we import at great cost. Farther than the horizon, the merchants said. Farther than the sun and moon. But you can follow them, if you wish, on our boats held together with coconut twine and adorned with great lanteen sails.

Board one of our great trading dhows and follow the rising sun. There, you will find the peppercorns where they grow wild and abundant on enormous vines.

That is where your golden money flows, Halfling. Your source of infatuation, madness, and black gold lies over the sea. A sailor on the open ocean has only one true companion: Wizards help to keep the skies clear. Clerics of the storm and sea provide grace to the voyages. Past the shore pirates are not a threat but the sea itself kills.

But even with prayers and spells, many voyages are lost with all hands. A trip across the sea was much more dangerous than a dungeon crawl through ancient ruins looking for lost secrets. But on the other side of the ocean, what secrets we will find! The Halfling Thief turned to consult the Wizard about the voyage but the Wizard was gone.

Dazzled, the Wizard no longer had to crawl through filthy dungeons and dangerous ruins to learn new secrets. He had a lifetime of research here where spells came to him from all points of the world. He simply waited for it to be unloaded off ships from distant lands. I asked the Halfling Thief if she was prepared for this journey. Our Fighter, Ranger, Cleric and Wizard were gone. We were all that was left. The voyage was long and dangerous.

Who knew what we would find on the other side? This one follows peppercorns over sea instead of over land simply because the sea route has fewer major stops.

The influential Ajuran Sultanate of Eastern Africa is a huge, often unmined source for adventure and exploration. An easy way to get players out of their Western European adventures and into somewhere like that is to simply… follow the peppercorn.

And they are deadly—to anyone who tries to invade their territory. Use poison darts and mantraps. Anyway, we have no choice but to advance. Food— Almost all aliens had an innate curiosity about off-world food, especially if they lived in a rugged country on a near-starvation diet. And of all Terran foods there was one in particular which the Combatants always carried with them, one grown only on their native world, which most extraterrestrial life relished.

Intersystem Traders had been trying to export it for years. But the Terrans had ruled it a military supply and so controlled its production—keeping it for the troops and a few of their favored alien friends.

As a bargaining point it had been too precious to destroy back at the last camp. Their ration of it must be lashed on one of the carts he had helped to drag. He should ask the Medico for a supply. Ornaments—the veterans had stripped their wealth from the dress uniforms. Each man would carry his own in a waist treasure belt.

Kana must beg for the showiest pieces. Well, no time to lose. Neither Mic nor Rey owned anything worthwhile. But there was the whole camp to canvass.

Kana dropped his blanket wearily and started off on his task, his first quarry being the Medico. Crawfur heard his plea and then detached one of the small boxes from the nearest cart. When Kana left the group he had the packet of sugar , the sunstone, a chain of Terran gold about a foot long, a ring made in the form of a Zacathan water snake, and a tiny orb of crystal in which swam a weird replica of a Poltorian lobster fish.

Therefore Kinnison donned his light armor and was soon busily harvesting broad-leaf, which, he had been informed, was the richest source of thionite. He had been working for only a few minutes when a flat came crawling up to him, and, after ascertaining that his armor was not good to eat, drew off and observed him intently.

Here was another opportunity for practice and in a flash the Lensman availed himself of it. Having practiced for hours upon the minds of various Earthly animals, he entered this mind easily enough, finding that the trenco was considerably more intelligent than a dog.

So much so, in fact, that the race had already developed a fairly comprehensive language. And since he was ideally adapted to his idly raging Trenconian environment, he actually accomplished more than all the rest of the force combined.

Since food was the only logical tender, Kinnison brought out from his speedster a small can of salmon, a package of cheese, a bar of chocolate, a few lumps of sugar, and a potato, offering them to the Trenconian in order. The salmon and cheese were both highly acceptable fare. The morsel of chocolate was a delightfully surprising delicacy.

He also ate the potato, of course—any Trenconian animal will, at any time, eat practically anything—but it was merely food, nothing to rave about. Knowing now what to do, Kinnison led his assistant out into the howling, shrieking gale and released him from control, throwing a lump of sugar up-wind as he did so.

The trenco seized it in the air, ate it, and went into a very hysteria of joy. This was an entirely new idea to the native, but after Kinnison had taken hold of his mind and had shown him how to do consciously that which he had been doing unconsciously for an hour, he worked willingly enough.

In fact, before it started to rain, thereby putting an end to the labor of the day, there were a dozen of them toiling at the harvest and the crop was coming in as fast as the entire crew of Rigellians could process it. And even after the spaceport was sealed they crowded up, paying no attention to the rain, bringing in their small loads of leaves and plaintively asking admittance.

Finally, however, he succeeded in getting the idea across; and the last disconsolate turtle-man swam reluctantly away. But sure enough, next morning, even before the mud had dried, the same twelve were back on the job, and the two Lensmen wondered simultaneously—how could those trencos have found the space-port? They have a sense of perception a psionic ESP sense that is not fooled by the fabric of space being warped like an amusement park mirror , Tregonsee, about the same thing, I judge, as yours—perhaps even more so.

I can converse with them a little, of course, but they have never before shown any willingness to cooperate with us. I was forgetting that many races do not use it at all. Starch is so much tastier and so much better adapted to our body chemistry that sugar is used only as a chemical. We can, however, obtain it easily enough. But there is something else—you can tell these trencos what to do and make them really understand you. Also, I can let you have enough sugar to carry on with until you can get in a supply of your own.

In the few minutes during which the Lensman had been discussing their potential allies, the mud had dried and the amazing coverage of vegetation was springing visibly into being. So incredibly rapid was its growth that in less than an hour some species were large enough to be gathered. The leaves were lush and rank in color or a vivid crimsonish purple. Kinnison did so, and the trencos worked for Tregonsee as industriously as they had for Kinnison—and ate his sugar as rapturously.

He then paid off his now enthusiastic helpers, with instructions to return when the sun was directly overhead, for more work and more sugar. And this time they did not complain, nor did they loiter around or bring in unwanted vegetation.

They were learning fast. Averted, in its strict form. Played straight in a loose form, in which certain worlds are known for certain of their mostly unique products, for example:.

For the Worlds as a whole, that would be Conclave Imperial Core , where the Conclave of Galactic Polities sits and attempts to bring some order to the chaos, with all the associated politicking, corruption, intrigue, and scandal you might expect. Qechra Imperial Core , a corporate conlegial colony world completely overtaken by autoindustrialism, with a manufacturing capacity of holy crap how much!? Yes, in the sense that there are more than a few worlds that take pride in exporting their local specialist products, from specialist flowers to unique local booze.

No, in the sense that just about every world, or at least system, can manage to feed itself locally, and there are no worlds absolutely dependent on their imports of agricultural products, or mighty grain-ships ploughing the spacelanes.

The closest you get to this are the systems in any given constellation which house the long-range gates to other constellations, and thus are about as close as anything gets to being bottlenecks.

Also, to a lesser extent, the six systems out in the fringes where the IN keeps the mobile naval bases for its sextant fleets. Most notably, Seranth Imperial Core is the largest and most prosperous tradeworld the Empire, or even the Worlds, have to offer. Nepscia Galith Waste is infamous throughout the Worlds for its red market.

Litash Dark Sea was even more infamous for both that and acting as a major pirate center, before it got strangelet-bombed out of existence. Alice looked over the waist-high safety wall, then backed away from the edge. But a bird — hmmmm. Think I've got a sampler head left. If it can eject the card. Willing to stake half your bandwidth with me if I can liberate it?

He hated to think how much it must have cost to haul those milligrams of entangled quantum dots across the endless light years between here and Turku by slower-than-light starwisp. Once used they were gone for good, coherence destroyed by the process that allowed them to teleport the state of a single bit between points in causally connected space-time.

STL shipping prices started at a million dollars per kilogram-parsec; it was many orders of magnitude more expensive than FTL, and literally took decades or centuries of advanced planning to set up.

But if it could get them a secure, instantaneous link out into the interstellar backbone nets The reason trade exists is that different groups are efficient at doing different things.

For example, let us say there are two countries, A and B. A takes 15 man-hours to make a widget, but only 5 to make a thingummy. B takes 5 to make a widget and 15 to make a thingummy. Suppose each country produces as many thingummies as widgets, and each has man-hours to allocate. If A and B now open trade, each may concentrate on producing the item which it produces more efficiently; A will produce thingummies and B widgets.

Since a thingummy costs A 5 man-hours, it can produce 20; similarly, B produces 20 widgets. They trade 10 thingummies for 10 widgets, since each wants as many thingummies as widgets. The final result is that each country has 10 thingummies and 10 widgets and each is twice as well off as before.

Indeed, trade is even in the best interest of both when one party has an efficiency advantage in both products, because trade will allow him to shift production into areas where his efficiency is greater. One problem not taken into account in the above analysis is the cost of transportation and other barrier costs, such as import and export duties which raise the cost of doing business with another group.

But all we collected in years of fringe-running was a reputation. The cargoes we carried never made a fortune, but they created rumours. The stories we could tell about ourselves were impressive, and contained enough truth for later voyagers to confirm that we might actually have done what we said. Lapthorn liked people to talk about us. After the fringe, I tried to come back into the really big markets, in search of a killing. Guns, cosmetics, jewellery, and drugs were all hot markets, with constant demand and irregular supply.

Anything in which fashion rules instead of utility is a good market for the trader — and that includes weaponry as well as decoration and edification. I reckoned that we had the initiative to dig out the best, and I was right, but times had moved on while we were out on the rim with the dropouts, and we failed at the other end — the outlets. We couldn't get a fair price, with the middle-men moving into the star-worlds in droves, quoting the Laws of New Rome, and the ordinances of wherever they happened be, and never moving their hands from their gun butts.

It was enough to sour anyone against life in the inner circle. I began to sympathise with Lapthorn's dislike of the human way of life. But it was useless.

The little people seemed to take an excessive delight in cheating us and leaning on us because we were known. The other free traders talked about us. We were the best, by their lights. But we weren't system-beaters. We weren't equipped for dealing with that kind of problem, we had no alternative but to return to small trading, alien to alien. Lapthorn wasn't sorry, of course, and my sorrow was more for the evil ways of the world in general than for our own small part in the human condition.

My associates have noticed—how shall I put it? Place of origin, dates, labels, ability to travel in free fall, what wines go with what foods. I find it annoying and expensive that some of my ships must move under constant acceleration merely to protect a wine bottle from its own sediments.

Why can they not simply be centrifuged on arrival? We preempt her for you, they lose thrustdown. They lose thrustdown, they lose the batch. They lose the batch, all the belters out of Ipsy Station want your heads to decorate their candles.

How badly do you want to harsh the local color? The main mechanism for trade is what is called "Arbitrage" , the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets.

In this context it boils down to "buy cheap and sell dear" , that is, purchase goods that are cheap at Planet A, then transport and sell them at Planet B where the goods are expensive. The money you make selling at Planet B, minus how much you spent purchasing at Planet A yields your gross profit. Subtract from that your transport expenses and other expenses and you'll find your net profit if any. There is also the problem of price convergence. The profit is from the price difference between the two markets.

The difference tends to shrink over time, which eliminates the profit. Sometimes the market at your destination becomes saturated as the manufacturers of Beanie Babies found out , sometimes the supply at the origin dries up like petroleum.

A trader would like a nice simple two-planet set up: But all too often one of the planets does not cooperate, such as when planet Bravo desired Alfan Aphrodisiac Apples, but the vegetarian Alfans look upon Bravo's major export with horror. The key to solving the problem is Triangular trade. The trader has to find a third planet, one that wants to import Bravo's export, and which exports something that Alfa wants.

The main historical example often cited is despicable, since one of the "trade items" is slaves. This vile period in history is euphemistically called the " African Diaspora ". Triangular trade or triangle trade is a historical term indicating trade among three ports or regions. Triangular trade usually evolves when a region has export commodities that are not required in the region from which its major imports come. Triangular trade thus provides a method for rectifying trade imbalances between the above regions.

The particular routes were historically also shaped by the powerful influence of winds and currents during the age of sail. For example, from the main trading nations of Western Europe it was much easier to sail westwards after first going south of 30 N latitude and reaching the so-called " trade winds "; thus arriving in the Caribbean rather than going straight west to the North American mainland. Returning from North America, it is easiest to follow the Gulf Stream in a northeasterly direction using the westerlies.

A similar triangle to this, called the volta do mar was already being used by the Portuguese, before Columbus' voyage, to sail to the Canary Islands and the Azores. Columbus simply expanded the triangle outwards, and his route became the main way for Europeans to reach, and return from, the Americas. This gives the sky merchant a grasp of economics rarely achieved by bankers or professors. He is engaged in barter and no nonsense. He pays taxes he can't evade and doesn't care whether they are called "excise" or "king's pence" or "squeeze" or straight-out bribes.

It is the other kid's bat and ball and backyard, so you play by his rules — nothing to get in a sweat about By the Law of Supply and Demand a thing has value from where it is as much as from what it is — and that's what a merchant does; he moves things from where they are cheap to where they are worth more.

A smelly nuisance in a stable is valuable fertilizer if you move it to the south forty. Pebbles on one planet can be precious gems on another.

The art in selecting cargo lies in knowing where things will be worth more, and the merchant who can guess right can reap the wealth of Midas in one trip. Or guess wrong and go broke The trade routes for a two-way swap show minimum profit; they fill up too quickly.

But a triangular trade — or higher numbers — can show high profits. Landfall had something — call it cheese — which was a luxury on Blessed — while Blessed produced — call it chalk — much in demand on Valhalla Work this in the right direction and get rich; work it backwards and lose your shirt. I walked on the other side of Uncle Q. He looked down at me curiously from time to time, a kind of bemused half-smile stamped on his face.

Bulk fertilizer to Barsi, frozen food from Barsi to here. The Dwarves, who have strained relations to the High Elves but not with the people flying castles, exchange the holds of Elven textiles for Dwarven magical weapons and armor. The Murder Hobos at home pay premium price in silver for Dwarven magical weapons and armor which they use to murder various indigenous demi-humans for more silver.

Around and around the Flying Castle goes, taking a markup at each step, and selling to those who want things and buying oversupply. This is not limited to Elven textiles and Dwarven magical weapons — Flying Castles trade in rare and precious magic items and spells, spices, other textiles, rare food stuffs, inventions, technology, finished goods, and beings from far away continents.

Problems crop up in the otherwise tame and civilized triangle trade when two nations both want a monopoly in one rare and valuable good. For example, both Flying Castles wish to sell a high performing rare Elven mithril armor crafted only by one tribe of Elves living on a distant and nicely tropical island. Controlling that good — and the island — and monopolizing it allows one nation to reap the profits while the other nation to pay sky high and price-controlled prices.

The potential profits are huge. In go the swords and mercenaries. One might think the Elves on the island making armor would have something to say about all this. But to have a say, they need to get a Flying Castle. Right now what they have are coconuts and really nice hammocks.

The Elves are out of luck. Here the nations do what nations do. They do enter into far off hostilities. They ship fireball-throwing cannons instead of cotton thread. And they get into a hot shooting war over islands and Elves. The document serves essentially as a guarantee to the seller that it will be paid by the issuer of the letter of credit regardless of whether the buyer ultimately fails to pay. In this way, the risk that the buyer will fail to pay is transferred from the seller to the letter of credit's issuer.

The letter of credit also insures that all the agreed upon standards and quality of goods are met by the supplier. Letters of credit are used primarily in international trade for large transactions between a supplier in one country and a customer in another. The parties to a letter of credit are the supplier, usually called the beneficiary, the issuing bank, of whom the buyer is a client, and sometimes an advising bank, of whom the beneficiary is a client.

Almost all letters of credit are irrevocable, i. In executing a transaction, letters of credit incorporate functions common to giros and traveler's cheques. It serves several purposes in international trade, both as transit information and title to the goods. A legal document between the shipper of a particular good and the carrier detailing the type, quantity and destination of the good being carried.

The bill of lading also serves as a receipt of shipment when the good is delivered to the predetermined destination. This document must accompany the shipped goods, no matter the form of transportation, and must be signed by an authorized representative from the carrier, shipper and receiver.

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