2024 (21), №1

The Phenomenon of Megacycles in the Science Fiction of Robert Heinlein

30.03.202411 апреля, 2024Без комментариев

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Balatsky, E. V. (2024). The Phenomenon of Megacycles in the Science Fiction of Robert Heinlein. AlterEconomics, 21(1), 141–158. https://doi.org/10.31063/AlterEconomics/2024.21-1.9


The article focuses on the science fiction story “The Year of the Jackpot” by American writer Robert Heinlein, published in 1952. In this story, Heinlein outlines a social megacycle — an interesting and unusual phenomenon for that time. The essence of the megacycle lies in the internal connection between various nature cycles, leading to resonance when the minimum / maximum points of all individual cycles synchronize at a specific moment, causing a magnification of crisis events. Furthermore, as Heinlein emphasizes, by this moment, a mass of people has entered a somnambulistic state of consciousness, where their actions lose signs of rationa­lity and awareness. The article demonstrates that over the past 70 years since the story was released, the idea of the megacycle has become a norm in natural sciences. Causal relationships are now traced between astrophy­sical processes and tectonic megacycles, which in turn determine the geological, climatic, and biotic rhythms of the Earth. Meanwhile, concepts such as technological megacycles, capital accumulation cycles, passion cycles, and social revolution megacycles have been established in social sciences. The study provides an original explanation of the nature of the social megacycle from the perspective of chaos theory (complexity) and non-equilibrium economics. The role of the coherence principle in uniting individual cycles into a unified phenomenon is underscored. The article describes the impact of the population’s economic prosperity on the emergence of the social autism syndrome, which serves as a key factor in amplifying the megacycle.

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Evgeny V. Balatsky — Dr. Sci. (Econ.), Professor, Chief Research Associate, Central Economics and Mathematics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation; https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3371-2229 (47, Nakhimovsky Prospekt, Moscow, 117418, Russian Federation; 4, 4th Veshnyakovsky Lane, Moscow, 109456, Russian Federation; e-mail: evbalatsky@inbox.ru).

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