Sunday, October 28, 2007

Science Fiction - "Space Merchants"

"Space Merchants" is a novel by Fredrik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth about marketing in the future. The main character of the book, Mitch Courtenay, is an executive at an advertising agency and he is given the project to market colonization of Venus. At this point in time, only one person has gone to Venus (a rather short astronaut - since weight was a consideration) and he found that the environment on Venus is not particularly hospitable to human life. Still, good marketing can overcome such problems, especially in the hands of a talented executive.

In the "Space Merchants" universe the world is controlled by large corporations, which fight among themselves like gangsters. There is also a large working underclass, who are also the consumers. The consumers are not smart enough to understand the subtleties of marketing.

In any case the Venus campain does not go as expected. Our hero winds up in strange places (still on Earth), is forced to live and work as part of the consumer class and has to fight his way back to his rightful executive position.

The book was fun to read, as the plot twisted and turned in unexpected ways. I also like the slight fun poking at marketers. On the other hand, the technology was all wrong. Everyone travelled via rockets, but there were no computers or computer networks.

There is a sequel to this novel, I think it is called "The Merchant's War" - but I am not planning to read that.


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