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The Space Merchants Paperback – December 6, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Revised, 21st Century Edition edition (December 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250000157
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250000156
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A novel of the future that the present must inevitably rank as a classic.”—The New York Times

About the Author

FREDERIK POHL’s writing career spans over seventy years. He won the National Book Award in 1980 for his novel Jem. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy magazine and its sister magazine, If, winning the Hugo Award for it three years in a row. His writing also won him four Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993. Pohl won the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer, based on his writing on his blog, “The Way the Future Blogs.”


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Customer Reviews

There is humor as well.
Celestial Abyss
In the book, the marketing people are very happy with the decrease in average intelligence of the world population.
Wendy van Dijk
One of the best 50s sf novels I've had the pleasure to read.
woofer.carter@kcl.ac.uk

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Davis on March 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Written over 50 years ago, this book anticipated much of what is wrong in the world we now live in -including corporate imperialism, environmental degradation and the villification of conservationists, the replacement of humanity with two categories of people -those who sell and those who consume, the death of spiritual values and the total ascendancy of materialism. Pohl and Kornbluth have created a materialist, consumerist dystopia that ranks with Vonnegut's Player Piano (also written in the early 1950s), and anticipates books like Harry Harrison's Bill the Galactic Hero and Joseph Heller's Catch 22. And, like the latter books, it manages somehow to be funny much of the time. What a tremendous loss it was for science fiction, and literature in general, when Cyril Kornbluth died prematurely. He had the makings of another Swift, if only he could have lived another 20 years.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on November 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
Brilliantly written in the 1950s, "The Space Merchants" is a deeply cynical and darkly prescient dystopian novel in which advertising, conspicuous consumption and capitalism have run rampant in a world beset with overpopulation and environmental degradation.

Mitch Courtenay is an executive copywriter with Fowler Schocken, an advertising agency that has been given the task of selling the notion of colonizing Venus, an environmental hell-hole, to an over-populated and environmentally stressed earth. Courtenay, born with a proverbial silver spoon in his mouth and unaccustomed to anything but a pampered lifestyle is attacked by a deadly corporate conspiracy, robbed of his identity and imprisoned in an impoverished third world environment, the very existence of which came as a complete shock to him.

At the end of the day, whether you believe Courtenay to be an incorrigible villain or a reformed conservationist, "The Space Merchants" is a soft sci-fi classic well ahead of its time that explores thought-provoking themes and disturbing political issues that will be with us for many years to come. A gripping novel that well deserves it place in classic sci-fi libraries.

Paul Weiss
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By lazza on May 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Space Merchants is an interesting little science fiction novel which describes the world in the 23rd century. By then global capitalism, especially the top advertisers, almost literally rule the plant. Excessive population and pollution have driven the masses underground. People are nourished by the flesh of weird genetically modified beasts. Considering this book was written fifty years ago I found the subject matter surprisingly fresh and relevant.
The story involves a top ad man who finds his task of developing a campaign for the colonisation of Venus dramatically undermined by dark forces. In this complex stew of industrial espionage are competing ad companies and the underground conservationist guerillas. The mystery moves along at a good clip although it sputters a bit towards the end.
Overall this book touches some deep issues along the lines of Aldous ('Brave New World') Huxley, and has a satiric (and weird) feel like the works of Philip K. ('Ubik') Dick. Certainly a minor classic in its own right.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By not me VINE VOICE on October 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
"The Space Merchants" is one of those science fiction novels that succeeds as social criticism and political satire even though its literary merits are slim. On the negative side, the book has flat characters, ridiculous plot twists, and not one cool scientific idea. Even worse, the story races from scene to scene, never fully imagining the world it tries to create. But in the context of the era in which it was written -- the insane McCarthyite 1950s -- "The Space Merchants" was surely a subversive bombshell. It depicts a crazy 23rd century world in the grip of Big Business and market fundamentalism: ad agencies brainwash the public, private companies own Senate seats, conservationists are hunted down like Reds, and food is laced with opium (the better to build brand loyalty). "The Space Merchants" had a lot of anger hidden beneath its irreverent humor. It must have prompted smart teenagers to think about the warped social values of capitalist America in the 1950s. Smart teenagers will still enjoy it today.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 13, 2002
Format: Library Binding
One of the more frustrating things about Science fiction is the way that many of the premier titles in the genre go out of print and remain unavailable for long periods of time. It would be really great to see a couple of publishing houses attempt to keep some of the greater Sci-fi novels from the past in print.
THE SPACE MERCHANTS is remarkable for the way it combines advertising, corporate culture (especially relevant today with the Enron and Worldcom scandals), and reflections on ways it might be possible to exploit the solar system economically in the future. Like the best of Sci-fi, it presents a plausible vision of the future that seems equally to life today, while also managing a great plot. The ending (which, of course, I cannot describe without giving too much away) is one of my favorites in all of Sci-fi. The book feels like it was written much more recently than 1952.
Definitely worth seeking out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 1998
Format: Paperback
He has been largely forgotten by the mainstream now, but C.M. (Cyril) Kornbluth was one of the giants of science fiction. He was just hitting his stride when cancer claimed him in 1958 at the age of 35. "The Space Merchants," a collaboration with the legendary Frederick Pohl, has been rated one of the seminal works in the entire field. A quick look at the logo-addicted styles of today will show you just how on-target Kornbluth and Pohl were four decades ago.
If you enjoy reading "The Space Merchants," I suggest you prowl the used-book stores for a copy of Kornbluth's "The Syndic," another satire.
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