The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl & Cyril M. Kornbluth

The Space Merchants

This book is a gem. It was written over 50 years ago but deals with topics still relevant today.

The story is about a star-class copysmith Mitch Courteney who works for Schocken Associates, one of the two main advertising agencies in the world. This is a pretty elite position to be in as the world, including governments, is ruled by advertising. It’s capitalism gone maaaaad! To be a good citizen you have to be a good consumer, which is actually pretty easy for most I would imagine. The baddies are known as ‘Consies’ who are essentially environmentalists (Boo! Hippies!).

When Mitch gets the job of trying to make Venus sound like an attractive place to be he suddenly finds himself up against both the Consies and an evil rival ad agency. He then starts to learn all about the world.

I loved this book. Sure some of the writing feels a tiny bit dated but it is chock-full of good ideas and characters. There’s even a womanising, heavy drinking, dwarf astronaut which is always a welcome addition. Mitch Courteney himself is a pretty unrepentant bastard when we first meet him but he slowly changes when people start to do him over and the reality of how others live dawns on him.

I would highly recommend this. It’s a cracking read set at a furious pace. Buy it now! It’s a classic and we all love classics.


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