Every day, new revelations about financial wrongdoing come out, and the Bernard Madoff scandal seems to be the tip of the crapheap. But fear not — science fiction is here to make sense of it.

Lately, I've come across a couple of recommendations of science fiction novels/novellas about financial hustling and evildoing. (Plus, of course, we had our own post a while back about economic depressions in SF.)

Marooned: Science Fiction Books On Mars recommends a novella called "Tenbrook On Mars" by Dean McLaughin, which originally appeared in Analog a few months back.

McLaughlin’s story incorporates Mars Petro, a publicly held space energy company whose stock price collapses when it declares bankruptcy in the wake of a catastrophic accident. The consequences of the financial meltdown: engineer Don Tenbrook and several thousand other company employees are stranded on Mars. The governmental bailout: Space Administration purchases distressed assets from the ailing Mars Petro, including the spaceships Edgar Burroughs, Giovanni Schiaparelli, Percival Lowell, and Raymond Bradbury, in an attempt to rescue Tenbrook and his colleagues.

Meanwhile, I came across a recommendation (not sure where) for Hostile Takeover by Susan Shwartz, about financial analyst CC Williams who's visiting the far-flung Vesta colony to audit it. Apparently, she discovers insider trading and fraud, which lead to murder — and which might bring down the whole human monetary system, and wipe out the entire human race.

Advertisement

I found it on Google books, and read some of it just now. It includes a section on "financial Darwinism," where the evil future corporations (are there any other kind?) force the "rock rats" in the outer system to sell their businesses, by jacking up their rates. The Vespa colony is the most profitable, because it contains all the ores needed to create computer chips, and the futures indices back on Earth are all tied up in its success.

And finally, another great series about financial wrangling and wrongdoing is the Jump 225 trilogy by David Louis Edelman, which we've recommended before. (I was sad to realize the third book won't be out until spring 2010.) The trilogy's main character, Natch, is a shady operator who isn't afraid to resort to fraud and double-dealing to get his way. But he's a babe in the woods compared to some of the other fiefcorps, which are prepared to inject "black code" into their enemies just to boost their rankings on the exchange.