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The SciFi - Econ story was a good read.

My own pet-peeve with SciFi or fantasy worlds is less the economics and more the thermodynamics.

In watching the Lord of the Rings movies, I was happy to suspend disbelief and allow for a certain level of magic, like some sort of energy bolt coming out of Gandalf’s staff. But I have my limits, and the best illustration of those limits is the creation of the orc army.

Down in that vast hole in the ground at Isengard, workers are churning out vast quantities of steel weapons and armor, and breeding up vast numbers of orcs. Steel isn’t made without huge amounts of energy, which meant wood in the technology of the time. Living beings aren’t conjured into flesh without an irreducible minimum of matter and energy.

I haven’t done the math, but my intuition shouts at me that if you added up all the energy requirements to breed and arm that orc army, you’d find that you needed an area of forest and field much larger than what Saruman commands, perhaps larger than all of Middle Earth.

Magic is one thing. But wholesale violation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics is simply not on.

You are a wonder, Karl.

My problem has long been -- how can the people of Middle Earth survive with so few women.

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