Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Book review: THE SPACE MERCHANTS by Frederik Pohl & Cyril M. Kornbluh

THE SPACE MERCHANTS (1952) by Frederik Pohl & Cyril M. Kornbluth. 

Although this novel was written in the 1950s, it depicts an all-too-believable future:

Multinational corporations run everything including the government; food is laced with addictive drugs; the environment is being depleted by rampant greed; society is stratified into the haves and have-nots... and powerful, feuding advertising agencies hold it all together by manipulating the public.

In this world, Greta Thunberg wouldn't be allowed to speak; the environmentalists (called "Consies"=Conservationists) are persecuted and smeared as dangerous subversives.

Sounds dreary - but in fact this satirical novel is quite funny. And while the protagonist eventually joins the "Resistance," he is at heart a selfish jerk. (Think Don Draper of the future.)

THE SPACE MERCHANTS may have inspired later near-future stories, but it remains an enjoyable SF classic.

The novel originally ran as the serial "Gravy Planet" in the magazine GALAXY Science Fiction. Check out these scanned magazine pages containing the first chapter...

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