Fantastic Currency

There are certain things in our culture that are often over-looked, being blindly thrown into books without considering the immersion factor. Culture is transient by nature, and as such, will change with time and location. I read a review one time that said the immersion factor of a fantasy novel (don’t remember which one) was thrown off (for them) when the author used distance terms – like miles, feet inches, metres – and time terms – hours, minutes, seconds – that did not fit the culture. This got me thinking about what we do culturally without thinking, and thus infect our fantasy worlds with.

Said review has a point, and I was even more invested in the idea when reading Thread Sliver by Leeland Arta. (Check out the book on Amazon and my review of it here). For this book, the author spent a lot of time and energy building the world in a way that allows for greater immersion, remembering to look after these finer points that many of us forget should possibly be different. There is an entire glossary in the back of Leeland’s book that delve into some of these details. The detail of choice today is money, or more properly, currency.

I am currently writing draft two of my epic fantasy novel, Glanderxe (and yes, I am even thinking of changing that book name completely for those interested in that detail). In my first draft I wanted to make cursing/swearing different because the words that we consider “inappropriate” or “vulgar” are culturally dictated. As I get more involved in the culture of the world I am creating, more intriguing cultural differences are coming to play. I have yet to define how the people of Glanderxe talk about time and distance, but in the rewrite of a scene today I dealt with currency.

What would it mean to you if someone gave you a fistful of gold? This phrase may mean something different to the people of Glanderxe. I have integrated hand anatomy into how they speak of money. Instead of giving someone a fist, as in punching them, you can give them a fistful of gold, consisting of four fingers and one thumb. As a writer, I find I am using my hands a lot (go figure) thus I notice them more than some people might. (Also, I’m crazy and notice silly things). Each finger has three “joints” or “parts” or “knuckles” (whatever the proper word is. This is not an anatomy lesson; it is about currency.) and a thumb has but two. Here are some currency thoughts that I have just implemented into round two of Glanderxe thus far.

1 fist = 4 fingers + 1 thumb (of gold)

1 finger = 3 joints

1 thumb = 2 joints

… Thus 1 fist = 12 joints

So… some currency ideas based on my hands (yes my hands, not yours. Don’t be taking the credit, now). I wonder what else this crazy brain of mine will come up with out of the blue. Too many more, and I may just have to give myself a fist full of gold.

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  1. I find this very interesting. I am currently working on a novel set in a post-apocalyptic environment and had spent half a day working on the currency used. In the fall of our society we would have to get creative in the aspect of currency. There would need to be something used to give monetary value to items and services. After doing some thinking and head banging i figured it out, and needless to say it wasn’t as hard to figure out as I thought it would have been.

    • Absolutely! I think that building currencies, languages, calendars, a time/distance system is what makes cultures come alive. This is the open amazingness that writing speculative fiction offers us. 🙂

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