Economic analysts on the right and left continue to openly suggest that we may not have hit bottom yet. If you want hope, don't talk to an economist, ask a novelist. Fiction writers tend to have a more optimistic view: once they've thrust characters into a financial abyss, they are forced to script a path out of it. What have our finest authors found to redeem us from this depression?Speculative fiction often refrains from defining the terms of an economic collapse, but it's always forced to either solve the problem or make things considerably worse in the end.
The Book: Paul Erdman's The Crash of '79. Released this month 32 years ago, the book has recently been the subject of renewed interest. What Caused The Depression?: Erdman's version of the financial decline is a prescient one, focusing on real estate markets that turn sour. The brilliant economist was even briefly jailed for his part in a speculation scandal. Do We Recover?: The book is told as a memoir of the crisis that ended America by a major player in the economy. The former Swiss bank executive's uncanny economic predictions defined the genre of depressing economic speculative fiction, and realistically refused to offer easy way outs. Leave that to the imaginations that follow.
The Book: The Probability Broach by libertarian author L. Neil Smith What Caused The Depression?: This 1980 novel, Smith's first, saw economic collapse followed by the rise of an anti-business Federal Security Police. Filled with every archetype and cliche you can imagine, the story becomes a murder mystery in which the freedom put in jeopardy by reactionaries is allowed to unfurl itself again. Do We Recover?: In this vision of a Friedrich Hayek nightmare, a dolphin physicist and his attractive human girlfriend is mankind's only hope. I mean, I have heard Stephen Hawking is a very good swimmer. In Smith's frankly terrible book that you should by no means read, revolution is the only way to restore free markets.
The Book: James Wesley Rawles' Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse What Caused the Depression?: Let's put it this way: it wasn't Christianity or guns. Originally freely distributed as an e-novel, Patriots rose to some popularity and became a real book. We're not quite sure why, but we are certain the former U.S. Army intelligence officer is now batshit crazy. On the other hand, his emphasis on preparedness and accurate predictions about the housing market might make this worth picking up if he wasn't such a terrible writer. Do We Recover?: Unlike the other books here, Patriots comes replete with many survival tips! Yes, you'll want to know exactly how to skin a bear and use its entrails as a delicious pillow. If you're in need of practical solution to problems such as, "How do I feed my family?" Patriots should be a big help.
The Book: Paul Auster's 1987 novel In The Country of Last Things What Caused The Depression?: This epistolary novel concerns another version of New York in that the only real industry is collecting corpses for processing. Needless to say, the post-collapse situation is bleak, and the protagonists spend most of their time wandering around a dreary landscape. Do We Recover?: No reason to spoil the conclusion — the movie starring Eva Green is already in production. It's not one of Auster's better books, and he's about as far away from an economist as there is, but his greatest achievement may be in chronicling the emotional depth of a depression, which he calls "the grim."
The Book: Richard K. Morgan's 2004 novel Market Forces What Caused The Depression?: Morgan foresaw our current situation, naming it "The Domino Recessions." Our narrator is a rising businessman managing an economy that has largely regrouped around the weapons industry. Morgan's received plenty of credit (as well as a movie rights deal from Warner Bros.) for seeing what was about to happen in advance, but he doesn't think it took very much foresight at all. Do We Recover?: Violence emerges as the solution here instead of the problem. If you're going to have anarchic society, you might as well use natural selection to improve it as you go.