Space Merchants (Sf Masterworks)

The Space Merchants - C.M. Kornbluth, Frederik Pohl This follows Mitchell Courtenay, and the television series Mad Men has nothing on this advertising executive of the future trying to sell the idea of colonizing Venus. This is a world where Advertising executives are the ruling class--and the rest of the gray mass are "consumers." OK, at the risk of being labeled a capitalist tool without a sense of humor, I have to admit I don't like this book, while seeing while it may appeal to some. This is a sharp satire of consumer culture and capitalism, and unlike many a science fiction work of its era, it's not too dated--some parts very current. I think because the critics of capitalism have been saying the same thing about it--and it's defenders--forever. I'm no fan really of the kind of books that make Big Business the villain, I'm rather sick of them and how predictable they read, but mostly I was amused not irritated in the first half--I found this particular passage...well, resonant of attitudes of some: The Conservationists were fair game, those wild-eyed zealots who pretended modern civilization was in some way "plundering" our planet. Preposterous stuff. Science is always a step ahead of the failure of natural resources. After all, when meat got scarce, we had soyburgers ready. When oil ran low, technology developed the pedicab. And the picture Pohl and Kornbluth painted of a dystopic society was imaginative--even if I was sick of the gazillionth novel that tells us our future is soy burgers--although this should be forgiven because back then it might have been original. This was published in 1952. What made me lose patience actually is when the authors gave us a bit of the Consies (the Conservationists) Samizdat. The rift on demanding "planning of population, reforestation, soil-building, deurbanization, and the end to the wasteful production of gadgets" *clutches etablet* made me think of the Unabomber's treatise--and these are obviously supposed to be the good guys. The novel just stopped being even a little bit fun for me after absorbing that. I think if it had stuck to a satirical view of selling Venus, I'd have enjoyed it more, and even mulled over its points more. I think Sayers' Murder Must Advertise is a funnier, and more effective, critique of the advertising world. Bottom line: I can't honestly say I like this novel, even though I could see recommending it to a friend who finds this worldview more congenial.