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In a vastly overpopulated near-future world, businesses have taken the place of governments and now hold all political power. States exist merely to ensure the survival of huge transnational corporations. Advertising has become hugely aggressive and boasts some of the world’s most powerful executives. Through advertising, the public is constantly deluded into thinking that all the products on the market improve the quality of life. However, the most basic elements are incredibly scarce, including water and fuel.
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Mitch Courtenay is a star-class copywriter in the Fowler Schocken advertising agency and has been assigned the ad campaign that would attract colonists to Venus, but a lot more is happening than he knows about. Mitch is soon thrown into a world of danger, mystery, and intrigue, where the people in his life are never quite what they seem, and his loyalties and core beliefs will be put to the test.
YOU DON'T GET PULLED TO VENUS, YOU GET PUSHED.
Turn off your Hypnoteleset, get your pot of Coffiest from your nightstand and listen to me rather your a Star Class or a Consumer. I am a slow reader of hard backs, so I can count on my fingers the number of hard copy books a have read more then once in the last 30 years. This book I read at least three times. I had a copy of this on cassette and I listened to it numerous times. I am so glad it is out in a new audible format. This should be on your top ten list of classic Science Fiction.
SHE WAS JUST A TOOL
This is a world taken over by advertising agencies and by corporations. Some may think it goes a little too far. I say it is spot on and is happening right now. Just before I listened to this, there was a story on the news about retail stores using cameras and face recognition to follow customers through the store and to keep track of where in the store consumers spend most of there time. This was written in 1952. One of the products talked about was called Pregnot. The pill was not approved until 1960. Another product was the Bolster Bra. Have you seen the padding in push up bras at Victoria Secret? Did you think 20 years ago that half naked women would be modeling panties and bras on TV? In the book, cops will not come investigate a crime unless you subscribe to them. Is there not places where you can not get firefighters to come out unless you subscribe to them? Are you one of the millions of people who must have caffeine in the morning, either through coffee or cola? Isn't one of the more recent books to come out, called Sugar and Salt, and doesn't it talk about how much sugar and salt is put in food, because it is addictive. One of my favorite parts of the book, is when they talk about congress. People are not represented by States. The congressmen represent companies, such as Yummy Cola. Don't many people believe that lobbyist from special interest groups and large corporations, own many of our congressmen? The president is just a figure head in this book with no power. The president is born to his position. How much power does today's president have? Until Obama didn't most of our presidents come from the same powerful families? The book has hypnotelesets and people go into a trance when they watch it. I have seen people do the same thing in front of modern television. In the book people sign a contract on the length of there marriage. Remember in 1952 it was very hard to get a divorce. How long do most marriages last today and how many times do most people marry? A big part of the book is the wide divide between Star Class (conservatives) and Consies (liberals). Is there not the largest divide today between the two?
SPLIT A SHOWER, BUD?
Pohl and Kornbluth did not get everything right. Like the Science Fiction writers of there day they thought space travel would be common place and they believed in overpopulation. Regular people don't travel to the moon or Venus and overpopulation is not what they tried to convince us it would be. Also like most writers of that time, Pohl was a huge liberal. Some of today's readers may not be able to get over there bias in that area.
The narrator did an excellent job and really got into the spirit of the book.
19 of 21 people found this review helpful
I picked up this scifi classic as a way to begin filling in my knowledge of works from the past that inform the genre's current status and to see what things have dropped out. Pohl's work, like Bester's, is tough to read/listen to because the central character is not the usual hero figure. That said, Pohl's vision of the future from the fifties appears to be more accurate than Asimov's, and so maybe we are a lot more like his characters than Asimov's.
The performance of the story is quite good, making the story quite followable and giving nuance where it's called for.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
Pohl & Kornbluth's Space Merchants takes place in a not-so-distant future where the world is ruled by advertising agencies. It's a very satirical take on the commercial world and its possible future, in which corporations and governments don't manage advertising---the advertisers manage the corporations and governments.
One agency has won the contract for the planet Venus --- find the colonists, create commercial enterprises, and essentially make the biggest buck possible. Opponents include competing agencies and the "Consies" (conservationists).
The plot is interesting but the value of the story is in the satire and humor value. It's not a laugh-out-loud book, more of a OK-that's-our-society-taken-to-the-max kind of humor.
Bittner's reading is pretty good...maybe a little more editing in the sound booth was needed, but OK.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
Is there anything you would change about this book?
The author built an intriguing and terrifying world and could have used it to build a better story. The book ended suddenly and left me wondering what would have happened next.
What about Dan Bittner’s performance did you like?
Was The Space Merchants worth the listening time?
Not really. I was disappointed. I expected a better read.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Where does The Space Merchants rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Among the better ones. I've listened to Good fact and this is Good fiction.I read the novel in the sixties and couldn't remember it. This was better.
What other book might you compare The Space Merchants to and why?
I like SF and Fantasy. Some of them had the theme "you can sell anything with adequate promotion."
What three words best describe Dan Bittner’s performance?
Quite Good really.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I listen 30-45 min sessions.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
Many people urged me to read this classic by Frederick Pohl, but I resisted. Then, I finally gave it a listen and it was great! It was much more "modern" than a lot of the sci-fi from the 70s and it is relevant to issues that are important today. For example, we now have the technology to create Chicken Little and alleviate widespread hunger - but should we? There are also aspects about business, marketing and advertising that are more relevant and insightful today than ever. The story itself is a bit formulaic as compared to the world in which the characters are living. However, it was good enough to move the story along and keep the book interesting. <br/>
This book captures a lot of truth about corporate controlled politics and in the post-Citizens United world it feels down right psychic. Marketers and ad-men at the top of the heap pushing useless products on a consumer public. I wish the second book was on Audible!
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to The Space Merchants the most enjoyable?
I've been mining classic SCI-FI for a little while now, and I found the Space Merchants very refreshing. A good story set in the future, zero sexism of the era, and a fascinating look at the future from a 1950's perspective.
What did you like best about this story?
The issue of classism being addressed in the past, and in the future at the same time.
Which scene was your favorite?
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
It definitely kept me going, and I enjoyed getting back to it when free time allowed.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
The narrator mispronounces a number of common words ("pragmatic," "assay," etc). Worse, his inflection is mocking and exaggerates the satire in the story (which is already none too subtle). It could be that this book is just better read on the page. As for the story itself, it is dated, of course, but still pointed and entertaining.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about The Space Merchants? What did you like least?
In my opinion there is nothing worse than old, out dated Sci-Fi. This book was written in the 50's or 60's. No science is involved in the story. I am sure it was very ground breaking when first published.
1 of 13 people found this review helpful