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The Merchants' War Mass Market Paperback – March, 1986


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press (March 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312902409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312902407
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,668,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By 2theD on March 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Pohl's satirical predecessor, Space Merchants, was written in the 50s but lost its momentum halfway through and unraveled into an incoherent ending. Fast forward 30 years and Pohl writes a sequel named Merchants War, which didn't let me down as its predecessor did. Merchants War is chalked full of wonderful satire, the same way in which Space Merchant's started but never finished. The satirical momentum never lets up and includes political, religious, advertisement, cultural and military satire wrapped up in a cozy sci-fi blanket. These satirical jabs are delightful the whole way through.

The plot is progressive and the happenings are whimsical. This pace of plot is rarely seen in modern sci-fi and seems to fit perfectly for this type of novel. Pohl has a wicked sense of humor and is at times a sadist when involving his characters in crazy schemes or just laying on the perpetual hardships for Tennison. You can easily manage a sympathetic smile for such a kicked-when-down character. Below Tennison, there are even more characters which can be recognized through the general satire - everyone has a tyrannical boss, or a gopher assistant, or a manically possessive roommate, or an obese addict for a friend, or a unicycling presidential hopeful. What?

Pohl's continual quirky wit, colorful imagination and bold/cold stabs at all things satirical provide a one-of-a-kind novel which is now prized on my sci-fi bookshelf among his other great novels like Gateway, Man-Plus and Starburst.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By gmsmith@wolf.co.net (Geoff Smith) on July 26, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Although it's not as well known as some of his other work this is Pohl at his best! Take the worst trends of society right now and that's where this book starts. This is the sequel to Space Merchants and in some ways it's a redrafting of that story. Excellent.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jari Aalto on April 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Tennison Tarb who works at the Earth embassy on Venus whose colonization was sold to an overpopulated Earth. Tennison, an undercover agent in disguise of diplomat, who tries to recruit pro-Venus people to the advertising side. In a guerrilla incident, he and her beloved one Mitzi gets almost killed. Tennison is called back to Earth. He finds the rules of advertising have changed. The advertising takes him unguarded and he becomes addicted to Moke-Coke. He becomes persona non-grata in his previous job; an unreliable who can be seduced to do anything just to get his daily dose every 6 hour. In spite of his star grade status, he is sentenced to sell intangibles: religion and politics. Tennison soon learns that Mitzi is not in fact Mitzi, but a Veenie agent who took her place after the accident. The underground movement wants to stop Earth from interfering in the affairs of Venus. Tennison is recruited to their cause.

This book published in 1984 is sequel to The Space Merchants published in 1953. It's remarkable that in spite of 30 years in between, the exact style of the original book has been preserved. The strong satire and drive of underground movement is duplicated in this second book like it was in the first one.

Two (2) stars. What's the difference between the first an second book? There lies the problem: there isn't much to add to the story started in the first. The second book shows much more mature writing, but the satire that held up the first book isn't fresh any more in the second. We still see no character development, we read the same plot twists as in the first one, and the "war" is over in 10 pages at the end of the book. In some sense this book is more subtle and avoids some of the excess of the first, but overall the first one is better in its originality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Frederik Pohl takes us back to his dystopian future, where unrestrained growth has ruined the Earth, and produced a two-tiered world with an ad-company elite, and a huge underclass of “consumers.” It is many years after the events of The Space Merchants, and ad-man Tennison Tarb is ready to return to Earth from an agonizing stay on the weird dystopia built by the conservationists on Venus. But, the world has changed since Tarb left, and he does not know all of the new rules. It’s a weird future that Tarb has to survive in, especially if he is going to make a difference.

This book was written some thirty years after The Space Merchants, and has a rather different feel to it. But, that said, I did find it to be a very interesting read. If you read and enjoyed The Space Merchants, then you really should read The Merchants' War!
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