Top 10 Fictional Works for Startup Society Nerds


Many people reach their ideas about business, politics, and the world through the fiction and stories that they enjoy. There are uncounted generations that grew up with Star Wars and Star Trek, which lead to a love ofall things scientific and relating to space. We all understand that humans are story-telling animals, and scores of TED talks have explained that tellinga story is one of the best ways to put an idea across to an audience.

Given that many of us in SSF were first brought to these ideas through speculative fiction of various kinds, we’d like to put out our list of works that influenced us to take up the banner of a startup society future for mankind. We’ll definitely see a lot of science fiction in these stories, almost exclusively so – reader beware!

In order of least to most well-known, let’s begin!‍

10. NIGEL SELLARS: The Gonaymne Weapon

In a vision of the future where humanity has discovered long-lost artefacts that act as wormholes throughout the galaxy, a new age of experimentation with human societies on various planets takes place. However,conflict arises between humans and the avian alien race of Limarae, and a Diplomatis sent out to convert one of the planets, Askander, to defend against the aliens.

The book examines issues of social organization of the Askander planet and what faults a market in governance can bring about with the wrong incentives. It’s definitely a book that explains the palatability of a startup society world when collective action by all humanity is necessary.

9. JO WALTON: The Just City

The “Just City” is a startup society on a Mediterranean Island in the Bronze Age. However, the founder of the city is Pallas Athene, a Greek goddess that travels through time. Athene gathers humans of all ages from throughout history, and deposits them in the Just City as an experiment in creating the perfect society, and expanding the knowledge of human action.

Another deity, Apollo, chooses to live as a mortal among the populace in order to understand the trials and tribulations of those below. The story begins to shake apart once the inquisitive gadfly Sokrates arrives in the Just City: Which explains the fact that no startup society can ever be perfectly designed, and must constantly improve (like the character of Simmeain the story).

8. JOHN C. WRIGHT: The Golden Oecumene

This novel explores a society called the Golden Oecumene where technology provides for a population of endlessly wealthy and healthy individuals. The protagonist of the story becomes beset by covert influences,whose existence is ignored and disbelieved by those around him.

This story examines the nature of utopian ennui and boredom born out of safety and plenty, explaining the human urge for invention and conflict. The story continues in 2 more books, where the outer edge of the ideal meta-society is explored, as are the bounds of human thought.

7. ALISTAIR YOUNG: Vignettes of the Star Empire

Young’s expanded universe has a series of stories that happen in the Associated Worlds – a cornucopia of various governments that compete amongst one another for patronage. The inhabitants of this stellar sector are the elf-like Eldrae, and the stories primarily explore the concepts of innovative social systems faced with technological and social complexity.

The fictional universe has conflicts that are mostly solved through interesting negotiation tactics, technological marvels, and similar plot points, and is a fun and light-hearted sci-fi read for the startup society aficionado.

6. WATARU MITOGAWA: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Anime mostly stays away from political and economic subjects, but this one puts forward an examination of cross-cultural competencies between governments through the lens of a classic alien invasion story. The hero must act to connect a series of societies in an effort to battle the enemy.

The interesting point here is that the societies are all hexagonal seasteads on a bountiful ocean world, and can separate and attach to others at will. It’s a fun and easy series to digest, which explains the social complexities of a startup society world.

5. JULES VERNE: Propeller Island

The story examines a string quarter that travels to the Standard Island, a seastead that travels the Pacific Ocean. The society is populated entirely by millionaires, but nevertheless faces fragmentation between the Larboard-ites and the Starboard-ites.

Societal disintegration, upheaval and conflict are examined with some depth. The reader is also taken for a tour of the South Pacific Islands, but the primary interest of the book remains an examination of an insular society with a lot to lose.

4. MAX BARRY: Jennifer Government

This story exists in an alternate world where the governments of the world have become weakened to the extent that they can no longer exercise sovereignty, and society is instead policed and governed by multinational corporations.

The characters of the story are deep and well-written, andthe book examines the worst possible reality to come about in a startup society world. It’s definitely a solid fictional criticism of capitalism gone awry, which takes it fair share of creative license to deliver a powerful story.

3. WALTER MICHAEL MILLER JR: A Canticle for Leibowitz

The eponymous Leibowitz is an electrical engineer working for the US government, who works to conserve the knowledge of humankind after a Luddite uprising and nuclear war leave most of the human population disintegrated.

A caste of monks, however, maintains the knowledge that Leibowitz saved and the Luddites have not destroyed. The book examines subjects of cycles in human history and where society will go: calling it a chilling and sobering examination of human civilization is putting it lightly.


A cyber-punk novel that likely needs no introduction, Snow Crash is a story about a society that comes around after a massive financial meltdown. Points about the internet, digital currency, transhumanism, and other subjects are addressed in a fun, action-packed plot.

The value of the story to startup society entrepreneurs is understanding the effect that a startup society world can have on those without the means to help themselves, as well as how the powerful may pounce on such a world – for startup society entrepreneurs, this is close to required reading!

1. ROBERT HEINLEIN: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

To close we’re looking at a timeless classic by one of the greats. The Moon is a penal colony, much like Australia: the (descendants of)criminals inhabiting this society have created a highly unregulated gold-backed market, reminiscent of the Wild West.

The Lunar population rises up against the Earth government,at great expense. The value of the book for startup society entrepreneurs is understanding the ownership nature of societies, and when de-facto independence becomes de-jure.


One of the most important tools in any person’s arsenal is storytelling, and startup societies are an idea that is difficult to explain in words, but obviously enthralling in stories. The startup societies movement requires more stories of the calibre listed above, in order to spread to more minds.

“Don’t Argue, Build” can work for writing stories, as well.Using this memetic tool for spreading startup society awareness can do more for the creation of new societies than even building one’s own startup society.Naturally, in the words of Robert Heinlein, “specialization is for insects” and a true startup society entrepreneur can do both.

Don’t argue…build.

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