The Space Merchants

Narrated by:
Dan Bittner

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
December 2011
6 hours 3 minutes
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.

The planet Venus has just been visited and judged fit for human settlement, despite its inhospitable surface and climate; colonists would have to endure a harsh climate for many generations until the planet could be terraformed.

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 in Frederik Pohl's novel The Space Merchants.
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The Space Merchants is an ahead of it's time dystopian satire about corporate espionage. Copy smith Mitch is trying to get his marriage together while trying to sell a future on Venus for an overpopulated earth. He's shot at, interviews celebrities, undermines his associates, and is eventually sabotaged, and Pohl writes it like its all in a day's work for the man. The author makes him dislikeable enough to satirize but likeable enough to carry you through the world of the book. Worldbuilding is something this book does really well, especially because the anarchistic future is so believable. Every unfortunate event Mitch endures logically connects to the previous ones, but his series of shanghais guide us through the world of the corporate overlords, exploitative labor camps, and rebellious concies. Unfortunately sags in parts and makes the short read an expository slog. I also think that Pohl and Kornbluth couldn't decide if they wanted characters with arcs, or caricatures to satirize. Mitch was the only character with any sort of goals, and while he's a dick he remains focused on his goals throughout the entire work. Everyone else was flattened into one-dimensional caricature of a person, and I felt that the book lacked more depth that it could have had. It's a good book with a solid arc and world. But the lack of character depth from anyone who wasn't Mitch made it feel one-dimensional at times.

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