Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from Latin: aurum) and an atomic number of 79. It has been a highly sought-after precious metal for coinage, jewelry, and other arts since the beginning of recorded history. The metal occurs as nuggets or grains in rocks, in veins and in alluvial deposits. Gold is dense, soft, shiny and the most malleable and ductile pure metal known. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water.
In most of the works of Harry Turtledove, including his alternate history, fantasy, and science fiction, gold has the same economic and cultural significance that it does in OTL. Gold is specifically relevant to a Turtledove plot only on a handful of occasions.
Gold in "Getting Real"
Following the Sino-American War of 2117, the United States was forced to pay an indemnity of twenty trillion dollars to China in either gold, petroleum, uranium or hard currency to be agreed upon with the full amount to be paid within ten years.
Gold in "Liberating Alaska"
In the early 20th century when the city of Siknazuak, Alaska was still under Russian control, a Russian trapper hunting beaver found gold in the region. Siknazuak almost immediately boomed as Russians, Canadians and Americans flooded the area, digging for gold. Within six months, the city had an Orthodox cathedral, a Catholic cathedral, an opera house, and eleven brothels. However, once the easy gold was dug out, the boom became a bust, and large chunks of the population returned to their respective homes. Gold could still be had, but it required a great deal of work.
During the Russian Civil War, the U.S. was able to seize the entirety of Alaska. The leader of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, had no choice but to let Alaska go. In 1929, Lenin's successor, Joseph Stalin, still angered by the loss of the whole of Russian Alaska to the U.S., fomented an uprising and occupation of Siknazuak. Stalin intended to create a labor camp akin to the ones Lenin had created in the USSR in order to extract the remaining gold in the area..
Gold in Southern Victory
Prior to the Great War, gold was the basis of most countries' monetary systems. This gave rise to the "Gold Standars" in which the standard economic unit of account was based on a fixed quantity of gold.
When the Confederate States won the War of Secession in 1862, they had very little in the way of naturally produced gold with which to back their economy. This caused the CSA to import most of its gold.
After the Great War, the CSA was forced by treaty to pay huge reparations to the USA in as much gold as it could, damaging the value of the CS dollar. The same applied with France to Germany, which resulted in France leaving the Gold Standard in the 1920s.
Gold in Videssos
During the Time of Troubles, Avtokrator Maniakes "persuaded" the priesthood of Phos into "donating" a large amount of gold for the war effort. Even this was not sufficient to maintain the economy, so Maniakes had to "water down" the coins with baser medals, so that his "goldpieces" were not pure gold.
Gold in "Vilcabamba"
The Krolp found some gold along with the large deposit of silver deep below the surface of northeastern Utah within the territory of the rump United States. Despite a treaty recognizing the sovereignty of the U.S., the Krolp demanded access to the desposit. U.S. President Harris Moffatt III realized that the Krolp's mining efforts would probably leave what was left of his country uninhabitable, and staged a desperate, doomed uprising.
- Asimov's Science Fiction, July/August, 2018.