Top positive review
inspiring account of a gift culture
on September 20, 1999
September, 1999. Madison, WI. Voyage From Yesteryear is one of my favorite books. I've read at least 4 times and will read it again. Several things struck me after my last reading.
The culture described is similar to the culture of open-source software programmers. This culture has been described by Eric Raymond (an open-source software guru) as a 'gift culture' as opposed to an 'exchange culture'. A gift culture is one where a person's worth is judged by how much he or she gives away. An exchange culture (the conventional Amerison/western economy) values a person by how much power and money he or she possesses. In a money economy it is easy to do bad things: just give them more money or power. Pimping, murder, politics, spying, down-sizing, advertising, etc. (All these professions would still exist, but much less.)
After this last reading I recognized that Hogan is speculating on 2 cultural developments: 1. A society that didn't inherit all our hang-ups and conditioning. 2. A society with limitless energy and material resources.
I share the doubt of another reader that the Chironian culture could function beyond some natural limit (200,000...2M ?) While goods may be be freely available to people, land will become a limited resource. What happens when all the Centauri planets are terraformed and filled up? They will need to invent a method to move huge numbers of people to other star systems.
Each time I read Voyage from Yesteryear I speculate on how the Congreve and crew will manage when it returns to a shattered and hate-filled Earth. I try to 'think like a Chironian' and see the path. As yet, I'm still tripping over my American conditioning before I get very far. I shall keep on thinking, though.