The Space Merchants – Frederik Pohl & C. M. Kornbluth

The Space Merchants


Advertising runs the world, and Mitch Courtney is a Star Class Copysmith. Sure, he faces trouble with his contract wife, who has Conservationist sympathies, and refuses to move in with him, but Mitch is a man on his way up. When he’s assigned the task of selling hot, inhospitable Venus as a settlers’ paradise, things start to go wrong, and he finds out just what it’s like to be on the outside for once.


The Space Merchants is everything you could want in a satire of the advertising industry, and of corporate power in general. Yes, its attitudes are considerably dated, but then it’s over 60 years old: Mitch is clever and resourceful; his wife is beautiful and clever; his secretary is adoring and loyal. It all works pretty well regardless, with a neat skewering of brand idolatry, fear of communists, and other themes that work just as well today as they did in the mid-20th century. Pohl and Kornbluth make a few missteps in characterization – Hester, the secretary, gets a much thinner treatment than she deserves, but largely the concept works.

This is a deserved classic of science fiction, and one that deserves rediscovery. Plus, it’s a light quick read. Recommended.

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