The Space Merchants is a very good short novel (158 pages) presenting an early 1950s view of what the world would look like in the near future if it became dominated by advertising agencies. The book is written from the perspective of the marketing executive who is in charge of promoting the soon to be launched colonization of Venus. Given the premise and when the book was written, it is an accurate representation of a then possible future. The story holds up well today; some of the technology is of course dated, but other parts (‘Chicken Little’) may be in our near future. As long as you are capable of accounting fro the cultural differences between today and sixty years ago, the plot itself is still relevant. The authors do an excellent job of twisting everyday events and common sayings to advance the story, highlighting the differences between our world and the Space Merchants’ world without explicitly explaining them. It is easy to imagine a future where society takes a path toward a Space Merchants type world; particularly the form of government:

Our representative government now is perhaps more representative than it has ever been before in history. It is not necessarily representative per capita, but it most surely is ad valorem. If you like philosophical problems, here is one for you: should each human being’s vote register alike, as the lawbooks pretend and as some say the founders of our nation desired? Or should a vote be weighed according to the wisdom, the power, and the influence—that is, the money—of the voter? That is a philosophical problem for you, you understand; not for me. I am a pragmatist, and a pragmatist, moreover, on the payroll of Fowler Schocken. [page 15]

Now, off to find the Consies; and to read the sequel, The Merchants’ War.


	Author = {Frederik Pohl and C M Kornbluth},
	Title = {The Space Merchants},
	Year = {1953}