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The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl
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The Space Merchants (1953)

by Frederik Pohl, C.M. Kornbluth

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Space merchants (1)

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1,520477,484 (3.8)70
  1. 10
    Jennifer Government by Max Barry (prezzey)
    prezzey: Two satirical takes on capitalism and consumerism in the future, a classic and a more recent work.
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» See also 70 mentions

English (42)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Greek (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Very prescient. A crazy future world where advertising *rules*. Can you imagine it. (Oh, guess I don't need to). ( )
  mrklingon | Apr 22, 2019 |
Published in 1952 this novel is included in the Science fiction masterwork series. It is science fiction very much of it’s time with its central hero Mitch Courtenay bulldozing his way through seemingly impossible odds to marry the girl of his dreams while defeating all his enemies. It is also a very fast paced thriller which despite its title is very much earthbound. What makes it stand out from the crowd of science fiction writing of the time is the scenario of an America (and the world) in hock to advertising corporations that shape society in order to increase sales. They have become so powerful that they control the government and in allegiance with production companies have addicted much of the population to their products. These huge companies’ creation of a totally free market driven by greed for more and more sales probably strikes a chord with some readers as it does not seem a million miles from our current situation. Perhaps then this short punchy novel lingers more in the realms of rosy reminiscence than actuality, because in my opinion it is not great science fiction.

It is written in the first person and starts off well in plunging the reader into the viscous world of a board room struggle at the Fowler Schoken associates who we are told have achieved a corporations dream by merging a whole sub continent into a single manufacturing complex. Mitch Courtenay gets to be named head of the latest project which is to control advertising and production for a manned space flight to Venus. He has to juggle his new responsibilities which include fending off the resentment of other unsuccessful executives with his prolonged courtship of Kathy who blows hot and cold and at the moment seems to be trying to avoid any commitment. It is very much a sort of here and now scenario with any background to the rise of the conglomerate companies kept to a minimum as the novel is intent in taking off on its path through action and adventure country. Not only does Mitch have to fend off attacks from within the company, but there is also a rival conglomerate who will stop at nothing to achieve their ends and in addition there is an underground group of “consies” the WCA or World Conservation Association. In no time at all there are attempts on Mitch’s life and he finds himself stripped of all authority working as a labourer amongst the slave like conditions of much of the addicted population. The rest of the story is the struggle to regain his position and an unconvincing conversion to the “consies” cause.

The book paints a picture of a dystopian future with a small minority of executive figures manipulating the lives of the vast majority of addicted consumers, but too much is taken for granted as far as this reader was concerned. We get glimpses of this future world which seem to me to serve more as a convenient background for the thrills of the action adventure and the working of the plot. It is in keeping with much American science fiction of the time with the central premise that energy, hard work and a dare devil approach to life will lead to success. In my opinion this novel deserves its position as one that stands out from the crowd (early 1950’s science fiction) because of its plethora of ideas and glimpses of a believable future and the writing is decent enough, but it wasn’t much of a crowd. A thriller dressed up as science fiction or science fiction that wants to be a fast paced thriller, it seems to be caught between the two and so 3.5 stars. ( )
4 vote baswood | Mar 8, 2019 |
This was weird... but I liked it. I think. It is a madcap adventure set in a dystopian world ruled by advertising companies and consumerism. The world is overpopulated, resources exploited, environment ruined, a ruling elite exploits “consumers” whom they addict to products and keep enslaved in perpetual debt to the company. An underground organisation, the “consies” are fighting against waste, exploitation of the Earth’s resources and corporations... and Mitch Courteney is all caught up in it.

It is a crazy story of crossings and double-crossings, a satire of consumerism and corporate greed, with an environmentalist bend... a mystery, an adveture, a love story, a business interest war... it is quite unlike anything I have ever read. Slow starting but fun from about 40% in. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
Dan Bittner did a fantastic job narrating this science fiction novel.

I don't know what I had expected, probably a space opera, but this sci fi book wasn't that. Some parts of its view of the future in which the United States society and government are run by advertising agencies made me laugh and others made me wince. ( )
1 vote leslie.98 | Oct 12, 2018 |
I hated the first half. It improved after he got bopped on the head, and became much more going, and funnier. Like a mix of Mad Men and Brazil.
  Ednsam | Jun 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frederik Pohlprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kornbluth, C.M.main authorall editionsconfirmed
Negretti, AndreinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover Artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thole, KarelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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As I dressed that morning I ran over in my mind the long list of statistics, evasions, and exaggerations, that they would expect in my report.
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Die Welt ist unsere Auster.
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It is the 22nd Century, an advertisement-drenched world in which the big ad agencies dominate governments and everything else. Now Schoken Associates, one of the big players, has a new challenge for star copywriter Mitch Courtenay. Volunteers are needed to colonise Venus. It's a hellhole, and nobody who knew anything about it would dream of signing up. But by the time Mitch has finished, they will be queuing to get on board the spaceships.… (more)

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