The Space Merchants • 1952 • SF novel by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth


Meta: isfdb. SF Master works  #54. SF novel published in 1953.

This dystopian satire about advertising agencies which rule the world was written in 1952. Which means, it was pre-Computer miniaturization, before industrial automation and of course before cell phones and the internet revolution.
Sometimes, this doesn’t matter when reading classical sci fi. I simply ignore or smile about actors who stop for a telephone cell to call someone or having to flight in person to achieve something.
But in this novel, the antique technology projection into the future disturbes: The plot depends heavily on loads of manual work done by people – nowadays, most of this work would be done by factory automation.

The world building is interesting – a business promotion equals climbing the social ladder and leads to different rights. Everything is ruled by advertising. The US Congress directly represents corporations.
But the characterization of the main actor – Mitch – isn’t very believable. Very often he acts and thinks quite strange and sometimes absurd. Changes in directions aren’t motivated very well.
And the simplicity of this detective story is a little bit one dimensional, but makes it a quick read with all its action density.

Thankfully, this is a quite short read with it’s less than 200 pages which makes it quite easy to forgive the plot holes.

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