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The Midas Plague (The Galaxy Project Book 17) [Kindle Edition]

Frederik Pohl
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99
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  • Length: 69 pages
  • Series: The Galaxy Project (Book 17)
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Book Description

Although the three part serial beginning in the June 1952 issue in collaboration with Cyril Kornbluth had established Frederik Pohl as a formidable contributor, this novelette in the April 1954 issue was his first solo contribution and marked him as an important addition to the growing roster of social satirists enlisted by Horace Gold, the editor of GALAXY magazine. The audacious and patchwork concept underlying this story (the richer you are the less you are forced to consume; the greatest poverty is involved with the aggregation of goods) was Horace Gold’s and according to Pohl he had offered it to almost all of his regular contributors, asking for a story centered on the idea. The idea lacks all credibility, everyone (including Pohl) told him and everyone refused to write something so patently unbelievable until, according to Pohl, Horace browbeat him into an attempt and Pohl decided that it was less trouble to deliver something than continue to resist. To his utter shock, the story was received by Gold and his readership with great glee, was among the most popular GALAXY ever published (or Pohl) and one of the most anthologized. Whether this demonstrated the audacity and scope of Gold’s unreason or whether it confirmed Gold’s genius (or both) Pohl was utterly unable to decide. The sculpted consumer-obsessed society was used again by Pohl a few years later in the novelette THE MAN WHO ATE THE WORLD which was far more credible (consumption-obsession as a kind of personal tyranny) and, perhaps for that very reason, much less successful, barely remembered.


Frederik Pohl (b. 1919) has been at the center of science fiction for three-quarters of a century. As an editor at GALAXY, Gold’s successor for a decade, as the editor a decade earlier of ASTONISHING and other competitors of ASTOUNDING, as the science fiction editor at Bantam Books and as an editor of the first original anthology series, STAR SCIENCE FICTION, Pohl has been perhaps more influential than any editor other than John W. Campbell. His novels and short stories alone or in collaboration since THE SPACE MERCHANTS have been at the cutting edge of the field; GATEWAY and MAN PLUS each won both Nebula and Hugo in successive years. Writers he first published or made prominent as an editor include R.A. Lafferty, Cordwainer Smith and Joanna Russ. His mainstream novel, THE YEARS OF THE CITY is probably his finest. He is a Grandmaster of the Science Fiction Writers of America. His most recent novel, published in 2011 is ALL THE LIVES HE LED.


Horace Gold led GALAXY magazine from its first issue dated October 1950 to science fiction’s most admired, widely circulated and influential magazine throughout its initial decade. Its legendary importance came from publication of full length novels, novellas and novelettes. GALAXY published nearly every giant in the science fiction field.

The Galaxy Project is a selection of the best of GALAXY with new forewords by some of today’s best science fiction writers. The initial selections in alphabetical order include work by Ray Bradbury, Frederic Brown, Lester del Rey, Robert A. Heinlein, Damon Knight, C. M. Kornbluth, Walter M. Miller, Jr., Frederik Pohl, Robert Scheckley, Robert Silverberg, William Tenn (Phillip Klass) and Kurt Vonnegut with new Forewords by Paul di Filippo, David Drake, John Lutz, Barry Malzberg and Robert Silverberg. The Galaxy Project is committed to publishing new work in the spirit GALAXY magazine and its founding editor Horace Gold.

Product Details

  • File Size: 203 KB
  • Print Length: 69 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (October 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,236 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Social and science and economics August 29, 2012
By C.K.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this first decades ago, and loved it for the plot itself.
Reading it again, I understand that I was not just enjoying the plot, but getting a deep but subtle commentary on science, economics, interpersonal relationships, and politics hidden away inside a fun story. I know well-crafted stores influenced me subtly in many ways in later life, and I thank Pohl for being the master writer and laying the groundwork for critical thinking in me.
You will have a good deal of fun with this, and face questions that we still haven't answered.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old friend April 7, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I remembered reading this long ago and went looking for it. The chance to put it on my Kindle and have it to read anytime thrilled me. I'll be gathering in more of this Author as well - a golden-ager and one I always appreciated.

It tells a good story, the roll reversal between wealthy and poor was why I remembered it in the first place; it is more than mere entertainment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insighful Story September 22, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed The Midas Plague because it is a good example of 1950's science fiction where the problems of modern man stem from automation and the resulting need for overconsumption. The Midas Plague is written with a tone of endearing satirical humor. The theme is still relevant in the 21st century as, not only has automation become more common, but applications and smart everythings have also taken over our lives.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a classic, written by Pohl in response to a challenge by an editor. Much in the vein of Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons", it is a satirical look at the ultimate effect of a consumer driven economy--or perhaps farcical would be more accurate, the logical extension of an illogical condition. Light and with tongue firmly nestled in check, it is a quick, relatively short introduction to the easy writing style that became Pohl's trademark. Is it Pohl's best, no. Is it something all readers of modern SF will embrace, probably not. Is it a solid example of what causes so many to reminisce fondly of the "golden age", definitely. A must read for anyone who want to explore what made Pohl Pohl, the golden age the golden age, and SF the force it is today.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Bad edition of a great work September 11, 2014
By Mec
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

About Galaxy Magazine
About Science Fiction Novelettes and Novellas
About the Author
About the Author of the eForeward
About the Jacket
The Midas Plague

There are 6 introductory sections for one novelette! And they are pretty bad, too -- cold, incomplete, and dull. As far as I can tell, all those introductions are good for nothing for but padding the page count.

The story is marred by more than a dozen OCR transcription errors and one bad duplicate passage. I know the budget must be tight, but come on.

The jacket is a nice touch, though.

The story itself is a wacky "what if". As another reviewer posted, it depicts people behaving irrationally in an irrational world. That makes it more of a satire rather than a serious work. Pohl manages to pull off the satire long enough to carry the story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Short story reading. August 31, 2014
By VikiLu
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A short story written in the early 1950s it was enlightening in that things haven't changed all that much from today, 2014. The lead character marries a women from money who doesn't find it necessary to be going out all the time. He also keeps in mind his 'ration' card being careful to save in other areas. He has a job and boss who calls him into the office from time to time. At the time it was written it was considered somewhat futuristic. The symbolism and social mores haven't changed, maybe just loosened a bit. I happen to be an avid reader so considered it worth my time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Winner November 4, 2013
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Incredibly clever and very well written as I would expect from this outstanding scifi author. This is the sort of concept that turns the world upside down and you can't get it out of your head once you have devoured this story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great 50`s Science Fiction October 27, 2013
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Even more revelent in light of todays out of control consumerism. A great short read for 50`s SF fans like me. Must also add that the recent death of the author influenced my decision to purchase along with a good price.
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