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The Space Merchants (The Space Merchants,…
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The Space Merchants (The Space Merchants, #1) (original 1953; edition 2003)

by Frederik Pohl

Series: Space Merchants (1)

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1,953588,642 (3.76)75
Fantasy. Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:

In a vastly overpopulated near-future world, businesses have taken the place of governments and now hold all political power. States exist merely to ensure the survival of huge transnational corporations. Advertising has become hugely aggressive and boasts some of the world's most powerful executives. Through advertising, the public is constantly deluded into thinking that all the products on the market improve the quality of life. However, the most basic elements are incredibly scarce, including water and fuel. The planet Venus has just been visited and judged fit for human settlement, despite its inhospitable surface and climate; colonists would have to endure a harsh climate for many generations until the planet could be terraformed. Mitch Courtenay is a star-class copywriter in the Fowler Schocken advertising agency and has been assigned the ad campaign that would attract colonists to Venus, but a lot more is happening than he knows about. Mitch is soon thrown into a world of danger, mystery, and intrigue, where the people in his life are never quite what they seem, and his loyalties and core beliefs will be put to the test.

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Title:The Space Merchants (The Space Merchants, #1)
Authors:Frederik Pohl
Info:Orion Publishing Group Ltd, Paperback, 186 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:to-read

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The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl (1953)

  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 (50)  Spanish (2)  Czech (1)  Italian (1)  Greek (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
This is one of the classics of the genre during the early 50s (in fact, it was included in the Library of America omnibus American Science Fiction: Four Classic Novels 1953-1956). I'll admit that I thought it was going to be about a trading spaceship visiting different planets, but it's nothing like that. The book is set in a near future (for the 50s) where humans live in a dystopian society, heavily controlled by corporations and where the environment is very deteriorated. In fact, environmentalists are considered social deviants and ruthlessly persecuted. A big corporation specializing in marketing buys the contract for the colonization of Venus (which in the book is a very inhospitable planet but not as much as we now know it to be). The first thing they need to do is create a marketing campaign to convince people that they want to volunteer as colonists. We follow the point of view of the executive in charge of this campaign. In the meantime, there are plots by commercial rivals and by an underground environmentalist organization that try to interfere.

One problem with SF written before the computer era is that the futures they depict fail to predict how ubiquitous computers have now become, and the implications for humanity. I do not really consider this a failure, because these people are writers, not fortune tellers, but when reading it it's true that nowadays we need to suspend disbelief in this sense and accept this "retrofuture" with no internet and no smartphones. Also, socially it's extrapolated from the 50s, so the marketing companies depicted work a bit like what we see in the Mad Men TV show.

Pohl did work as a marketing copy writer, so he knows his stuff and it shows. The dystopian element is also very relevant now, with echoes of Huxley's Brave New World. Unlike Brave New World, this novel adds a thriller/action plot, so it's not going to be considered respectable literature. It's well-written, and although it does have outdated elements I still thought it entertaining and worth-reading, particularly if you enjoy classic SF. ( )
  jcm790 | May 26, 2024 |
I really like Pohl and admire some of his work. I had head so many good things about this book I had to have it. Now that I've read it I am less enthusiastic. It is a OK SF book and I'm sure it was well ahead of it's time in the 1950s. His "Gateway" books are better. ( )
  ikeman100 | Apr 25, 2024 |
Not my usual cup of tea, and read as part of my university course, but very engaging and entertaining nonetheless. ( )
  justgeekingby | Jun 6, 2023 |
Good sci. fict. novel. ( )
  kslade | Dec 8, 2022 |
3.8 stars! Amazingly true to these times, even written many years ago. ( )
  MakebaT | Sep 3, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (96 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frederik Pohlprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kornbluth, C.M.main authorall editionsconfirmed
Bittner, DanNarratorsecondary authorsome 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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Fantasy. Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:

In a vastly overpopulated near-future world, businesses have taken the place of governments and now hold all political power. States exist merely to ensure the survival of huge transnational corporations. Advertising has become hugely aggressive and boasts some of the world's most powerful executives. Through advertising, the public is constantly deluded into thinking that all the products on the market improve the quality of life. However, the most basic elements are incredibly scarce, including water and fuel. The planet Venus has just been visited and judged fit for human settlement, despite its inhospitable surface and climate; colonists would have to endure a harsh climate for many generations until the planet could be terraformed. Mitch Courtenay is a star-class copywriter in the Fowler Schocken advertising agency and has been assigned the ad campaign that would attract colonists to Venus, but a lot more is happening than he knows about. Mitch is soon thrown into a world of danger, mystery, and intrigue, where the people in his life are never quite what they seem, and his loyalties and core beliefs will be put to the test.

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