Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Space Merchants-Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth

The Space Merchants

Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth

St. Martin’s Griffin, Dec 6 2011, $14.99

ISBN 9781250000156

International corporations run the world as they own the governments. CEOs rule society with their advertising gurus the keys by not just twisting the truth but selling lies persuading the downtrodden that “God has created the world and that, therefore, the world must be perfect” (Voltaire). These experts live lifestyles of wasteful abundance while the commoners lack fuel, water and food; and share one room dumps.

Fowler Shocken Associates executive Mitchell Courtenay is assigned spinning Venus the planet from hell as an idyll place to live. Though he knows this will anger his beloved ethical Kathy, he looks forward to the folk tale he will sell. However, someone steals Mitchell’s social security identifier by tattooing additional numbers onto his arm that makes him a laborer with a large debt. He knows he has no hope of returning to his affluence lifestyle as the government bureaucracy demands bribes and a corporate buddy sold his downward spiraling spin. His only chance for salvation resides with those ridiculed by the brainwashed commoners, the Consie opposition.

Frederik Pohl states in the Preface to this powerful timely satire that he revised aspects of the plot to eliminate “minor scientific or logical errors”. Although mostly undetectable except for names, some of the changes lead to disconnect with predominate acceptable social mores of the early 1950s. Still this remains a classic dystopian thriller that condemns a world driven by corporate spin masters as the authors mock Madison Ave. for the corporate takeover of government. The Space Merchants revision retains its keen lampooning of a world falling in disarray while people on need are sold on “What A Wonderful World” (by George David Weiss and George Douglas).

Harriet Klausner

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