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The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl

The Space Merchants (1953)

by Frederik Pohl, C.M. Kornbluth (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Space merchants (1)

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1,184256,790 (3.84)51
  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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English (22)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Space Merchants is the story of how the US could be. In the futuristic society where advertising is king: the little people are still the ones to suffer. It takes living as one of the lower classes for one of the upper classmen to understand what it means...but it doesn't mean he has to change.

A fun book with some hilarious plot twists--a good quick read. :) ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Space Merchants is the story of how the US could be. In the futuristic society where advertising is king: the little people are still the ones to suffer. It takes living as one of the lower classes for one of the upper classmen to understand what it means...but it doesn't mean he has to change.

A fun book with some hilarious plot twists--a good quick read. :) ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this cynical and satirical sci fi novel. It's about Mitchell Courtenay, a high ranking ad exec in a futuristic American society dominated by advertising. Indeed, it's virtually un-patriotic to not adhere to advertising's role in society. Mitch is given the assignment of leading his firm's intention of colonizing Venus, even though it's not remotely habitable, by making American suckers go there based on his expertise in advertising. The book starts taking some bizarre twists at that stage, leading to his being essentially kidnapped and put to work as a "crumb," a common consumer, his escape, his workings with the Consies, or conservations, a Greenpeace-like group which attempts to overcome America's fixation with rampant consumerism and its negative impact on the world, and more.

This book was written 60 years ago, but it was seriously ahead of its time. To quote another Goodreads member, Nancy Oakes wrote:

"Awesome book! Hard to believe this was written like 50+ years ago, because it is so incredibly relevant to our modern times. For example: it takes a look at the dangers of imperialistic corporations & greed, the plight of workers and the ungodly conditions under which some of them have to work, the clear and unmistakeable division of class in society, the total lack of concern for the environment and the treatment of those who care about it and want change."

This book is frighteningly applicable to our current times. Pohl (the book was co-written with CM Kornbluth) was a true visionary. The satire is witty and funny. One scene that had me laughing was Mitch's dissing of Moby Dick due to its lack of advertising. LOL! My only complaint, and the reason I'm only giving it four out of five stars, is that the scene transitions are often lacking. You're in a scene and then, boom, something happens in the course of a sentence to radically change the plot and you're left picking up the pieces, trying to figure out what just happened. This occurs several times in the book and I found it very distracting. Nonetheless, it was a good, quick read and I heartily recommend this book. ( )
  scottcholstad | Feb 10, 2014 |
This follows Mitchell Courtenay, and the television series Mad Men has nothing on this advertising executive of the future trying to sell the idea of colonizing Venus. This is a world where Advertising executives are the ruling class--and the rest of the gray mass are "consumers."

OK, at the risk of being labeled a capitalist tool without a sense of humor, I have to admit I don't like this book, while seeing while it may appeal to some. This is a sharp satire of consumer culture and capitalism, and unlike many a science fiction work of its era, it's not too dated--some parts very current. I think because the critics of capitalism have been saying the same thing about it--and it's defenders--forever. I'm no fan really of the kind of books that make Big Business the villain, I'm rather sick of them and how predictable they read, but mostly I was amused not irritated in the first half--I found this particular passage...well, resonant of attitudes of some:

The Conservationists were fair game, those wild-eyed zealots who pretended modern civilization was in some way "plundering" our planet. Preposterous stuff. Science is always a step ahead of the failure of natural resources. After all, when meat got scarce, we had soyburgers ready. When oil ran low, technology developed the pedicab.

And the picture Pohl and Kornbluth painted of a dystopic society was imaginative--even if I was sick of the gazillionth novel that tells us our future is soy burgers--although this should be forgiven because back then it might have been original. This was published in 1952. What made me lose patience actually is when the authors gave us a bit of the Consies (the Conservationists) Samizdat. The rift on demanding "planning of population, reforestation, soil-building, deurbanization, and the end to the wasteful production of gadgets" *clutches etablet* made me think of the Unabomber's treatise--and these are obviously supposed to be the good guys. The novel just stopped being even a little bit fun for me after absorbing that. I think if it had stuck to a satirical view of selling Venus, I'd have enjoyed it more, and even mulled over its points more. I think Sayers' Murder Must Advertise is a funnier, and more effective, critique of the advertising world. Bottom line: I can't honestly say I like this novel, even though I could see recommending it to a friend who finds this worldview more congenial. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Jul 29, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frederik Pohlprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kornbluth, C.M.Authormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Negretti, AndreinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover Artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thole, KarelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vasarely, VictorCover 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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It is the 20th 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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