Olaf Neddelson is a humble cambist, a money changer, whose life is changed when the notorious Lord Iron comes to his exchange window. Lord Iron demands that he exchange convertible guilders from the Independent Protectorate of Analdi-Wat for pounds sterling. If Olaf fails to do so within 24 hours, his license could be reviewed under an old statute against speculation. If he assigns an arbitrary value, his licence could be reviewed.
“And rest assured, my friend, that I am quite capable of determining the outcome of any such review.”
Olaf swallowed to loosen the tightness in his throat. His smile felt sickly.
“If I have done something to offend your lordship…”
“No,” Lord Iron said with something oddly like compassion in his eyes. “You were simply in the wrong place when I grew bored. Destroying you seemed diverting.”
That’s only the first of three dilemmas Olaf faces in Daniel Abraham‘s “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics” (link requires Flash). In a story full of surprises and satisfying turns, Olaf turns out to be not as mild-mannered as he seems. I love how he stands up to Lord Iron and explains what money is worth in a conversation straight out of Adam Smith. And since this is an economic fable, it demonstrates that trade is not a zero-sum game: both sides are happier after the exchange.
Money is magic.
Tomorrow: pure silliness