Building Beyond: Billionaires in Space

• 7 min read

I don't have a joke this week. We should just do it.

Building Beyond is an ongoing series of conversations about how much fun worldbuilding can be. Building a world doesn’t have to be hard or scary. Let’s give it a try, together.


They did it! All the billionaires went to space! And we immediately cut off all communications with them.


Lark Morgan Lu is a writer of science fiction and fantasy. They can be found at @LarkMorganLu or larkmorganlu.com.

Dear $BILLIONAIRE_NAME (Please put your name and preferred title here),

I hope your launch went well and that you’re settling into your new place quickly. I’m really glad you took this step in your relationship with the rest of the world by giving us much needed space so that we could look at our interactions with some healthy distance.

After speaking with the United Nations General Assembly, we, the rest of humanity, have come to realize that maybe this isn’t working out between us and yourself. We’ve decided to take your time away as an opportunity to re-evaluate what we’d like to do with our planet and collective lives.

Please be assured this has nothing to do with your brilliance, determination, innovative capacity, intellect, or any other facet of your personality that you take pride in. We just need to sort ourselves out first.

I hope you understand that we’ll reach out when we’re ready. I know this is awkward to receive over text. I wish I could’ve communicated to you in person, but there was never quite the right moment until now.

Sincerely,

Mx. Mary Li (they/them)
Secretary-General of the United Nations

P.S. Don’t worry about all the stuff you left at our place. The United Nations Economic and Social Council volunteered to ensure it isn’t misused while we are taking our mutual time away from each other.

Gailey: How does the world of politics change without billionaires present?

United Nations Security Council

The Security Council,

Recalling every press statement made over the past seven months,

Recognizing the sibling resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly regarding the healthiness of its relationship with any individual with a net worth of over 1,000,000,000 units of the United States dollar, euro, or British pound, colloquially referred to as a ‘billionaire’,

  1. Decides that henceforth any individual newly determined to be a billionaire will also be launched into space until the United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution that we are ready to reestablish communications with billionaires;
  2. Decides further that any billionaire who willingly reduces their net worth to an amount less than 1,000,000,000 units of the United States dollar, euro, or British pound, and thus no longer fulfils billionaire status, be welcomed back from orbit if they agree to enter joint therapy;
  3. Decides further that individuals who are close to violating everyone’s collective economic boundaries be offered a preventative program provided by the United Nations Economic and Social Council;
  4. Underlines that what is considered a healthy amount of wealth respecting the boundaries of the rest of humanity and the planet will change as we continue reevaluating our comfort level.

Gailey: How does the world of business change without billionaires present?

United Nations Economic and Social Council, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund proclaim most Global Goals Fully Funded At Last

In a joint announcement by the ECOSOC, World Bank, and IMF committees, almost all 17 Sustainable Development Goals included in the 2030 Agenda are considered fully funded decades years later using the collected donated assets of over two thousand billionaires in orbit. Previously considered a pure fantasy by prominent economists, several of which are also taking a much needed break from the planet, the windfall provided will go towards the estimated US$4 trillion per year costs necessary to fulfil the Global Goals.

The Global Goals funding, which includes eliminating poverty and hunger and taking urgent action to combat climate change, has been announced as an unprecedented act of self-care.

“At first we wanted to ensure that everything would be as they left it,” said spokeswoman Tianna Brown, “but then we realized that Earth really needs to work on itself if we want to be the best Earth we can be. We’ve spent so much time making sure billionaires are happy that we never considered our own needs.”

The announcement is expected to trigger an emergency meeting in the coming weeks with the United Nations General Assembly to produce a new, expedited agenda. Anonymous sources hint that a second announcement will occur in the coming weeks establishing the creation of a global fund for philanthropic participation by individuals and corporations participating in a more respectful relationship with Earth.

Gailey: How are they doing up there?

Dear fellow humans on Earth,

I’ll write this and then I won’t contact you again without being contacted first, I promise. It has come to my attention that while my intentions are good, I didn’t communicate them well when I live streamed my launch into orbit, making sure to highlight all the proprietary technology in my fully self-funded space station.

I understand now that when I took my selfie with the planet and put it on social media with an unfortunate hashtag, I was mocking sincerely held beliefs by millions of people (even though it was only an internal joke in solidarity with my fellow billionaires).

I am proud to say that I’ve done some self-exploration in the past sixteen months and I’m not that person anymore. As a show of good faith, I’ve spoken with my peers in orbit and we’ve agreed to collectively fund one space station for underprivileged families so that we can share the view. Please see the attached terms and conditions.

I know that there have been some mistakes made by multiple people but we need to come together as a civilization…

(transcript page 1/72)


C.D. Goodman (she/her) paints with pixels, acrylics, and words from her home in South Carolina. Overseeing her progress is Zoë, a fluffy black and white tuxedo cat whose hobbies include napping, harassing the house plants, and chewing books.

Journal found aboard the BSS Boldly Gone during routine space-trash cleanup mission.

Billionaut's Log: Stardate 001.41

It's been over a week since we lost communication with Earth. We're all just floating out here, drinking pee (they say it’s filtered, but I swear I still taste something). Nobody’s listening. Mr. Twitter and Mr. Facebook are up here, and they can’t post to their own websites. To top everything off, this morning, the zero-g robo-masseuse malfunctioned and started throwing hot rocks at anyone who opened the door. Or is it a hatch? A portal?

Anyway, the global economy cannot survive without us. I give it another day—two, tops—and we'll be back to enjoying gravity and wine and showers.

Billionaut's Log: Stardate 002.23

I may have overestimated the power of a market panic. Wall Street does love a periodic frenzy just so it can flex on everybody. And real investors know that all we have to do to bounce a market back, is agree that everything happening is the opportunity of a lifetime. After all, wealth is bliss manifested.

But it was a bit surprising how quickly things got back to normal without us. Not even the politicians we borrowed capital to buy are actively trying to bring us home. On the other hand, my bliss just doubled its value in the last five days, so I’m not that bothered.

Billionaut’s Log: Stardate 027.69

Mr. Nutella says we need to think ahead and start planting seeds so we can grow our own food. How long does he think we'll be up here? This was supposed to be a marketing gimmick. That’s all. We’d get all the billionaires onto a space cruise ship, blast off for a quick orbit and watch our portfolios grow. Three-hour tour and all that.

We’re just hard working folks. I mean, we may be billionaires (USD) according to Forbes, but really, how many of us are billionaire-billionaires? Like, if I hadn’t let my ex buy me out of the family business, I would have the same worries as everyone else. Hell, I do have the same worries as everyone else! This is the longest I’ve gone without a mani-pedi since—I was gonna say quarantine, but I had home visits for that.

The guys at the very top—Mr. Amazon and Mr. Microsoft—they're the billionaire-billionaires. They’re the ones who wanted to take over space. Earth was happy to see them go, and I don’t blame it. But why kick me out too? I barely have $3.6 billion. And it's not even money. Not really. It’s investments and real estate and Dogecoin and productive stuff like that.

Billionaut’s Log: Stardate 076.52

They’re seizing assets! Those white-board Libs and turncoat RINOs declared all souls lost, and now they think they have a right to collect ESTATE TAXES from us?!?! That’s the last time my pet Rep gets a ride on my yacht! I paid for his Congressional seat!

Wait, Do I still have a yacht?

ATTORNEYS! I still have attorneys. Great ones. The best! They’ll fight for me even if I can’t toss them a spare Rolex for old time's sake, right? Right?

Right?

Billionaut’s Log: Stardate 154.05

Mr. Berkshire-Hathaway died in a cage battle with Ms. Ebay. He lasted a long time for a 90-year-old, but I lost ten blissmarks and a potato.


My billionaire space-exile would be an international diplomatic coup. During the launch sequence, the UN would pass a resolution regarding space-law — effectively declaring anything beyond the Kármán line to be international waters. A crime committed in space, the UN would declare, doesn’t count. Let the zero-G purge begin! But then, an hour or so later, after the billionaires had committed at least one or two atrocities each, the UN would amend the law with a little footnote: a crime committed in space doesn’t count… unless the person who committed it comes back to Earth.

All of these possibilities are just beginnings. Lark's space-exile is the beginning of a sharp, brilliant satire in which mankind’s romance with capitalism goes sour. C.D.'s ongoing Billonaut’s Log is a beautiful, hilarious take on how ill-prepared the very wealthy are for actual hardship and introspection. My coup is the seed of a delicious horror film in which rich people do horrible things to each other for a short amount of time, only to find that they absolutely require solidarity and mutual support in order to survive.

How would your billionaires handle conscription to the void? How would Earth change and thrive without them?

Do whatever you want with these questions. You can write something down in the comments or on social media or in a notebook nobody will ever see. You can draw or paint or sit down a friend and talk their ear off about your ideas. You can stare at the horizon and imagine, letting the infinite landscape of your mind unfold just a little farther than it did yesterday. No matter what you do, take pride in the knowledge that you’re creating something that has never existed before. You’re building a little corner of a whole new world.

That’s amazing.


If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider subscribing to this newsletter. The subscriber community is a wonderful and supportive one, and we’re spending 2021 finding new ways to stay connected and share experiences.

No matter what you do, please find a way to support Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. There are some resources here to get you started. You can also click here to find ways to support Black people and communities.

In the meantime, care for yourself and the people around you. Believe that the world can be better than it is now. Never give up.

—Gailey

← Subscriber Chat 7.31
What We Share 7.3 →

Subscribe to Stone Soup

Subscribe to the newsletter and unlock access to member-only content.

Comments

Comments are for paying members only.
Please subscribe or sign in to join the conversation!

You've successfully subscribed to Stone Soup
Welcome! You are now a Stone Soup subscriber.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! You are now a paying member and have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.