There’s this Andrew Bird song, “Tables and Chairs,” about looking forward to the holocaust. My favorite lines in it:
“‘Cause listen, after the fall
There will be no more countries, no currencies at all
We’re gonna live on our wits
We’re gonna throw away survival kits,
Trade butterfly knives for Adderall”
Which in turn reminds me of the snippet in “Fragments of a Hologram Rose,” in which the protagonist–stuck in a post-secession Texas shantytown–scrounges a leather jacket off a corpse in a gulley. He ends up leaving the jacket hanging from the knife he finds in one pocket and taking the fifteen ampoules of antibiotics in the other, which are priceless, or anyway worth enough to buy him passage out through an Army cordon.
How do you play the postapocalyptic bartering game? Is it a deck of custom cards, or a markerboard on which people can asynchronously scribble new inventory and offers? Is the goal to amass wealth, and if so, how do you manipulate relative worth to prevent everything from staying zero-sum? Is the goal just to stay alive from day to day, and if so, what are the risks involved in scrounging for new items?