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The Golden Enclaves

Most people are familiar with the name Sam Bankman-Fried, or at least we'll all know his name for a little while, until we get distracted by a different scandal, since he's been in the news for being one of the biggest financial fraudsters in human history (at least, measured in dollar amounts stolen; I feel like one could measure by other metrics that would leave him much farther from the top of the pile, like longevity of the con, or resiliency of the scammer). You might not be as familiar with the name Caroline Ellison. She's the girlfriend, the one with the too-big glasses and the dull brown hair parted in the center, who flipped on him and testified against him after pleading guilty to things like conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering.

These scammers are the new robber barons, right? They take people's pensions and funnel it through their stupid get-rich-quick crypto schemes, pretending it's secured because they made up some fake monopoly money to 'secure' it to. They bankrupt people to prove they're clever, because they want the trappings of wealth, the cars, the podcast invites, the political influence, the mansions in the Bahamas.

Anyway, this Caroline Ellison, she's in prison now but before that, she was on Goodreads. Yes, that Goodreads, reviewing books. And tumblr, too, apparently. It's deleted now, but the internet is forever, which is why I know that this money-grubbing fuck-the-poor con artist read and reviewed Novik's Scholomance series. She liked it! Or at least, she liked book one and two, when she apparently believed that the trilogy wasn't going to trouble her worldview. THE GOLDEN ENCLAVES? Not so much.

Here's her review:

"A pretty good conclusion to the series.

Biggest pro was the resolution of mysteries/open questions from the first two books. It wrapped everything up in a way that felt very satisfying.

Biggest con was … I think I felt less bought into the ethics of the story than I had for the previous two books?

The first two books often have a vibe of “you can either do the thing that’s easy and safe or you can do the thing that’s hard and scary but right, and being a good person is doing the right thing.” And I’m super on board with that.

Whereas if I had to sum up the moral message of the third book I might go with “there is no ethical consumption under late capitalism.” It turns out the world economy is built on systemic exploitation of the vulnerable, and everyone who participates in it is complicit, and the way to be a good person is to burn the system to the ground and replace it with one that’s less problematic even if it requires a substantial decrease in global standards of living.

And like I think that’s likely true in the Scholomance universe? But I think it’s a bad analogy for the real world. And I think it makes for less satisfying conflict: I’d much rather see El wrestling with her own worst impulses than El being self-righteous at anyone who isn’t vegan eco-friendly fair trade strict mana."

Here's MY review: we desperately need books that smack people in the face with their lack of ethics, and although Ellison was beyond repair, I think her lack of enthusiasm for THE GOLDEN ENCLAVES's ethics is a sign that Novik's on the right track here. The system that needs burning to the ground is exactly the system Ellison and Bankman-Fried were trying to exploit for their own benefit, and yeah, signs point to this book actually being a great analogy for the real world. As well as being a kick-ass adventure with shockingly realistic characters.

I love this book. And fuck capitalists.


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