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Fictional currency is currency in works of fiction. The names of such units of currency are sometimes based on extant or historic currencies (e.g. "Altairian dollars" or "Earth yen") while others such as "Kalganids" are more novel. A particularly common type, especially in science fiction, is electronically managed "credits".[1][2] In some works of fiction, exchange media other than money are used.

Authors have to take care when naming fictional currencies because of the associations between currency names and countries; recognizable names for currencies of the future (e.g. Dollar or Yen) may be used to imply how the history has progressed but would appear out of place in an entirely alien civilization. Historical fiction may need research. Writers need not explain the exact value of their fictional currencies or provide an exchange rate to modern money; they may rely on the intuitive grasp of their readers, for instance that one currency unit is probably of little value, but that millions of units will be worth a lot.[3]

Currencies in science fiction face particular problems due to futuristic technology allowing matter replication and hence forgery. Authors have proposed currencies that are incapable of replication such as the non-replicable latinum used by the Ferengi in the Star Trek universe, or the currency in Pandora's Millions by George O. Smith, which is booby-trapped to explode if scanned by a replicating machine.[4] Money in fantasy fiction faces analagous challenges from the use of magic; in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, magically-created currency is time-limited, while in Ursula K. Le Guin's fictional realm of Earthsea, the world's Equilibrium is unbalanced when something is created from nothing.[4]

The long-term value of currency is an issue in works featuring journeys through time or the elapse of very long periods (for instance due to the deep sleep or cryopreservation of the protagonists). While compound interest may swell small amounts into a fortune, as happens in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and When the Sleeper Wakes by H. G. Wells, inflation may also reduce the value of money, as in The Age of the Pussyfoot by Frederik Pohl.[1] Other plot factors can affect the worth of currency, and in The Moon Metal by Garrett P. Serviss the world's currency standard must be switched from gold to a mysterious new chemical,[5] artemisium, after the discovery of vast mineral deposits in the Antarctic devalues all known precious metals.[6]

While modern fiat currencies lack intrinsic worth, some fictional currencies are designed to be valuable in their own right. Intrinsically valuable currencies are used in the Frank Herbert's Dune universe, the Dungeons & Dragons world of Krynn and the Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony. The space opera Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks features coins convertible for chemical elements, land, or computers.[1] In utopian fiction, a money-free economy may still need a unit of exchange: in The Great Explosion by Eric Frank Russell, the Gands use favor-exchange based on "obs" (obligations).[7]

List of fictional currenciesEdit

CreditsEdit

The use of "credits" is particularly common in futuristic settings, so much so that Sam Humphries has pointed it out as a cliché: "In any science-fiction movie, anywhere in the galaxy, currency is refered to as 'credits.'"[2] Credits are frequently envisaged as a form of electronic money.[1]

  • The movie Total Recall.
  • The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov.
  • Doctor Who (sometimes specified as Galactic credits). In one serial the currency symbol is a Ƶ. A conversion ratio is mentioned in the episode "Voyage of the Damned": GB£1,000,000 is equal to that of 50,000,056 credits. As seen in "The Long Game", a credit is divided into sub-units.
  • The Star Wars universe, as Republic credits.
  • The Star Trek universe, as Federation credits.
  • The space trading computer game Elite.
  • Batman Beyond.
  • Babylon 5.
  • F-Zero video games and anime. A space credit, written with a symbol identical to a dollar sign ($).
  • Judge Dredd, as "creds".
  • The Traveller role-playing game universe: CrImps (i.e., Credits Imperial, or "Imperial Credits").
  • In the TSR Star Frontiers role-playing game, the credit is abbreviated "Cr". It was originally designated "Pan-Galactic Credits" and issued as corporate scrip by the fictional Pan Galactic Corporation of the Frontier Sector.
  • The galactic civilizations depicted in many Andre Norton books.
  • The space-faring 1964 alternate history timeline of Fredric Brown's "What Mad Universe", abbreviated to "Cr.", with one Credit (a worldwide currency) having the purchasing power of about 10 American cents in our timeline.
  • The interstellar civilisation of A. Bertram Chandler's books uses both credits (2000-2500 credits pay for a ticket on a spaceship across many light-years' distance), and dollars (a major salvage job can earn several million dollars, enough to buy a second-hand spaceship).
  • In the television series Firefly and its follow on movie Serenity, credits are used by the more civilised inner planets, while the outer worlds use platinum coinage.
  • The video game Mass Effect.
  • The Hive World of Necromunda in the Warhammer 40,000 universe uses Guilder Credits or Creds for short.
  • Dirty Pair.
  • The Futuristic game Freelancer uses credits as its currency. It is seen symbolised using the sign for a dollar ($)

Names adapted from real-world currenciesEdit

For science fiction set in the near future, modern currency names are often used. The selection of familiar currencies such as the dollar or yen, particularly in the far future, may be used to make suggestions about the way history unfolded; however, it would seem strange for aliens to use a recognizable currency.[3]

Novel namesEdit

  • Artemisium, in The Moon Metal by Garrett P. Serviss, replaces gold as the world's currency standard[5] after the mining of vast, newly-discovered mineral fields in the Antarctic leads to an oversupply of previously rare precious metals. Its instantly-wealthy monopolist discoverer ostensibly extracts and refines artemisium from Grand Teton in the Rocky Mountains, but it transpires that his mine is an elaborate ruse, and as its name suggests, the metal originates from the moon. The discovery of his secret allows others to produce artemisium, and it too collapses in worth.[6]
  • A-sia from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.
  • Aurics in the Domination of Draka.
  • Beri (Berries), from the anime One Piece.
  • Bolts, in the Ratchet and Clank series.
  • Buttons, in H.R. Pufnstuf TV series.
  • C-bills, from the BattleTech Sci-Fi Universe.
  • Crescents, in the nation of Calormen in C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia book series.
  • Cubits, from Battlestar Galactica. In Galactica 1980, cubits were revealed to be made from "Auric" - Gold.
  • Days, from the Terry Pratchett novel Strata. One day is the amount of money that will buy you the rejuvenation treatment needed to increase your lifespan by one day.
  • Dollops and sments, from the animated series Chowder.
  • Farquest-de-Jamal, used by the fictional character Juakinan Ambuhu Charlemange in YHA.
  • Flanian pobble bead, from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Not an especially useful currency, as they can only be exchanged for other Flanian pobble beads.
  • Fretzers, from Dr Trifulgas: A Fantastic Tale by Jules Verne.
  • Galleons, sickles, and knuts, from the Harry Potter series.
  • Gavvo, currency of George Barr McCutcheon's fictional East European principality of Graustark. A Gavvo was worth $1.40 at the time of the novel "Truxton King" (1909).
  • Grotznits, in the Doctor Who serials "The Mysterious Planet" and "Dragonfire".
  • Gil, from the Final Fantasy series by Square-Enix.
  • Grubnick, is the currency used in the fictional country of Elbonia created by Scott Adams.
  • Hytes and Kules, believed to be the currency of the Riah colonies, from Gundam 0080.
  • Jan-jan, from the movie A Good Man in Africa.
  • Jenny, approximately equal to 0.9 Japanese yen, from Hunter × Hunter.
  • Kalganids, from Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov.
  • Kan, from Bleach.
  • Khor, currency of Syldavia, in The Adventures of Tintin.
  • Marinera, a currency used in Malynera Kingdom from Patalliro! (ja:パタリロ!). Consisted of five subunits, namely Nemarira, Rarinema, Marinera, Maraneri, and Manerari. Preceding units are 100 times more valuable than succeeding units, meaning 1 Nemarira is equal to 100,000,000 Manerari.
  • Monies, from Invader Zim (on Planet Irk, Irken Empire).
  • Nargs, in the Doctor Who serial "The Two Doctors", including a 20-narg note, which "can be changed in any of the nine planets".[citation needed]
  • Nick, from the Left Behind series, named after the antagonist, Nicolae Carpathia.
  • Ningi, a triangular rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles along each side, from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It is valued at the rate of eight Ningis to one Triganic Pu, but thanks to the Ningi's immense size (almost twice as wide as the Earth's equatorial radius), it is more-or-less impossible to collect enough to own one pu. The inspiration for this may have been the Rai stones of the island of Yap.[citation needed]
  • Ool, from The Dance of Gods series by Mayer Alan Brenner.
  • Ozol, from the Alastor series by Jack Vance - see SVU below.
  • Pazoozas, (spelling uncertain) in Fractured Fairy Tales
  • Pi virtual currency, from the Double T Teds Cartoon Characters as used on TVWorlds Forums*
  • Pisotas, from the "Planet of Da Eyps" in Funny Komiks.
  • Professorland Funbucks, from an Anthology of Interest II episode of Futurama
  • Quatloos, from Star Trek (see The Gamesters of Triskelion)
  • Rasbukniks, currency of Lower Slobbovia in Li'l Abner, had literally no value.
  • Roon, currency of Helliconia, named after an important character in the first book.
  • Schrute Bucks, made by Dwight Schrute a fictional character in NBC's 'The Office.' Also, in this episode a unit called Stanley Nickels is mentioned, but only in a joke to make fun of Dwight.
  • Senine, Seon, Shum, Limnah, and Antion are units of gold currency from the Book of Mormon version of Ancient America. The units were at one time described as 'coinage' [10] but are now described as weights and measures.
  • Septim, currency of Tamriel in The Elder Scrolls game universe.
  • Snelfu, currency of "Cyberspace", the world in the PBS children's show Cyberchase.
  • Solari, from the Dune universe.
  • Star, currency of the human worlds from Larry Niven's Known Space universe.
  • Starbucks, from Spaceballs: The Animated Series.
  • Stellars and minims, from Citizen of the Galaxy.
  • SVUs (Standard Value Units), from The Demon Princes by Jack Vance and other stories set in Vance's "Gaian Reach" setting, is unusual as a labor-based rather than a commodity-based currency; one SVU is equal in value to one hour of an unskilled worker's labor.
  • Teef, actual Ork teeth are used by the Orks in Warhammer 40,000. The Bad Moon Clan is known to be richer than the other Clans due to their teeth growing faster.
  • Tik (iron), agol (bronze), smerduk (silver), and rilk (gold), the coins of Lankhmar. A diamond-in-amber glulditch is also mentioned.
  • Trenni, one of the coins used in Spice & Wolf series.
  • UN Marks, Earth currency before the introduction of the Star, in Larry Niven's Known Space Universe.
  • Warp Tokens, disks of refined Warpstone used by the Skaven as currency and also used by their wizard to fuel their dark sorcery, in the Warhammer World.
  • Whuffie, a reputation-based currency from Cory Doctorow's novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.
  • Widgets, from Lego's Bionicle franchise by the Matoran of Metru Nui/Mata Nui though introduced relatively recently in the timeline.
  • Wong, basic currency in the universe of the anime series Outlaw Star.
  • Woolongs (₩), used in the anime Cowboy Bebop.
  • Zeni, currency in the Dragon Ball universe.
  • Zenith, divided into Minims, the currency in the universe of Walter Jon Williams' "Dread Empire's Fall" series. A single Zenith has a considerable purchasing power, comparable to a 19th Century British Pound. Five Zeniths are enough to settle a moderate debt incurred in a card game, a hundred Zeniths are half a year's earnings of an ordinary person, a skilled artist giving personalised service to an aristocrat earns 15 to 20 Zeniths a month, gangsters showing off their money can spend hundreds of Zeniths in a single evening, the freedom of a detainee can be procured from corrupt police for 35 to 200 Zeniths (depending of the prisoner's importance), 3000 Zeniths is a tempting reward for the head of a wanted criminal or rebel, a small estate could be bought for 9,000 Zeniths, the entire property of a minor noblewoman amounts to about 30,000 Zeniths, 14,000 Zeniths is a bargain price for a ju yao porcelain pot of the Song Dynasty, 80,000 is the price of a surviving Rembrandt painting, 200,000 Zeniths can assure a person of a comfortable lifetime livelihood (though the truly rich big aristocrats have much more). There is no paper money, the Zenith is either a metallic coin even in the high denominations or virtual electronic money in banks.
  • Zulacks, (spelling uncertain) from the "Captain Sternn" story in the movie Heavy Metal

Exchange mediaEdit

These are not currency as such, but rather nonstandard media of exchange used in certain works of fiction.

  • Dirt, from Waterworld, was valuable since the world was (mostly) covered with water.
  • Energy, mentioned as a world currency in a "future timeline" by Arthur C. Clarke. It is also used this way in the Alpha Centauri computer game.
  • Energon, the primary fuel of the transformers is sometimes used as currency.
  • Latinum, or Gold-Pressed Latinum, is a liquid form of platinum[citation needed] used by Ferengi in the Star Trek universe. It is a fictional liquid, stored in gold slips, strips, bars and bricks in standardized amounts. Latinum derives its value from being non-replicable by any known existing or predicted replication technology.[11] It should be noted that, as Quark points out in "Who Mourns for Morn?", the gold in Gold-Pressed Latinum is merely a convenient material in which to suspend standardized quantities of Latinum, which, as Dax points out in reply, is somewhat awkward to use as cash due to being a liquid at room temperature and standard pressure, requiring an "eye dropper" to give change. It is suggested that the Latinum is encapsulated in the gold, rather than being alloyed with it, as in the same episode Quark can been seen breaking open bars of supposedly gold-pressed Latinum but from which the Latinum is missing. The gold is regarded as worthless, as Quark can be heard/seen to say "I am left with all this worthless gold" in the same episode, as he finds the bars contain no Latinum.
  • The K, or kilocalorie, is based on a human's dietary needs and has become the unit of exchange in Joe Haldeman's novel The Forever War.
  • Masses of the high-energy rare mineral Naqahdah in several grades is used as a galactic currency of sorts in Stargate SG-1. The value of the Prometheus appears to have been a suitcase-sized chest of weapons-grade naqahdah, the most refined kind of naqahdah.
  • Obs (obligations) are used by the Gands in The Great Explosion by Eric Frank Russell, as a means of service exchange in the absence of private property or money. To perform a service for somebody "lays an ob" on them; they can then "kill the ob" by returning the favor.[7]
  • Water, in the cult-classic Ice Pirates, ransom for hostages of the Kazon in Star Trek: Voyager, and on Arrakis in the Dune series.
  • Wirr, each equivalent to one hour's-worth of work done in the public interest, from The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted. Said to be based on a similar concept from Walden Two.

Fictional currency in computer gamesEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Gliddon, Gerald (2005). The Greenwood encyclopedia of science fiction and fantasy, Volume 2. Greenwood. p. 532. ISBN 0313329508. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ebert, Roger (1999). Ebert's bigger little movie glossary. Andrews McMeel. p. 172. ISBN 0836282892. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Athans, Philip; Salvatore, R. A. (2010). The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction. Adams Media. p. 113. ISBN 1440501459. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gliddon, Gerald (2005). The Greenwood encyclopedia of science fiction and fantasy, Volume 2. Greenwood. p. 531. ISBN 0313329508. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Stableford, Brian (2004). Historical dictionary of science fiction literature. Scarecrow Press. p. 310. ISBN 0810849380. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Serviss, Garrett P. (1900). "The Moon Metal". Gutenberg Press. http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/metal10h.htm. Retrieved August 20, 2010. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 James, Edward (2003). "Utopias and anti-utopias". In James, Edward; Mendlesohn, Farah. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. Cambridge University Press. p. 223. ISBN 0521016576. 
  8. http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/wells/hg/w45th/chapter30.html
  9. Peter F. Hamilton. The Confederation Handbook. 
  10. Book of Mormon, 1981 Edition, Alma Chapter 11's chapter heading reads "Nephite coinage set forth"
  11. Drexler, Doug; & Sternbach, Rick; & Zimmerman, Herman (1998). Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-01563-X. p. 63
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ru:Вымышленная валюта

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