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The Space Merchants

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2007

    Consumerism vs Conservationism

    Written over 50 years ago, The Space Merchants is a dystopian vision of a future world obsessed by consumerism, where corporations have seats in congress and executives live the lives of rock stars. Advertising bigwig Mitch Courtenay has bagged his biggest challenge -- selling consumers on moving to the nigh-uninhabitable world of Venus for the purpose of exploiting its resources. Mitch soon learns that powerful forces oppose him -- his identity is stolen and replaced with that of a lowly laborer, forced to spend his days in the hot sun, skimming scum and incurring debt. His only chance to find his way back to his old life might be to turn to the underground Conservationist 'or 'Consie'' movement, whose ideals are directly opposed to Mitch's own. The Space Merchants is that rare sci-fi work that creates a future world solely to allow us to better examine the morals and values of our own world. Pohl's distaste for rampant capitalism was obviously influenced by his brief stint in the Communist Party 'and it's obvious what 'Consie' would have sounded like to any American in the early 1950s when this book was first published'. Although The Space Merchants is recognized as a classic in the science-fiction genre, after reading it I believe it belongs in classic literature, firmly between its spiritual brethren Brave New World and 1984.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2002

    sc-fi satirical masterpiece

    This book was recommended to me by my English Literature tutor at Glasgow University when I told him I was returning to the U.S.It turned out to be a remarkably accurate depiction of the world that we wake up to every day.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    classic dystopian thriller still relevant

    International corporations run the world as they own the governments. CEOs rule society with their advertising gurus the keys by not just twisting the truth but selling lies persuading the downtrodden that "God has created the world and that, therefore, the world must be perfect" (Voltaire). These experts live lifestyles of wasteful abundance while the commoners lack fuel, water and food; and share one room dumps.

    Fowler Shocken Associates executive Mitchell Courtenay is assigned spinning Venus the planet from hell as an idyll place to live. Though he knows this will anger his beloved ethical Kathy, he looks forward to the folk tale he will sell. However, someone steals Mitchell's social security identifier by tattooing additional numbers onto his arm that makes him a laborer with a large debt. He knows he has no hope of returning to his affluence lifestyle as the government bureaucracy demands bribes and a corporate buddy sold his downward spiraling spin. His only chance for salvation resides with those ridiculed by the brainwashed commoners, the Consie opposition.

    Frederik Pohl states in the Preface to this powerful timely satire that he revised aspects of the plot to eliminate "minor scientific or logical errors". Although mostly undetectable except for names, some of the changes lead to disconnect with predominate acceptable social mores of the early 1950s. Still this remains a classic dystopian thriller that condemns a world driven by corporate spin masters as the authors mock Madison Ave. for the corporate takeover of government. The Space Merchants revision retains its keen lampooning of a world falling in disarray while people on need are sold on "What A Wonderful World" (by George David Weiss and George Douglas).

    Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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