The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Each of the seven chapters of Midas World except the first was originally published as a short story. The stories are linked by a common history. In “The Fire-Bringer,” an introductory chapter, Frederik Pohl tells how Amalfi Amadeus, an eccentric genius, perfects the fusion reactor, creating a safe, abundant, and inexhaustible source of power. Amadeus believes that his invention will create universal peace by eliminating scarcity and competition. Powerful corporations seize control, however, subverting his humanitarian purposes. These profit-motivated interests encourage senseless, ecologically destructive consumption.

In “The Midas Plague,” Morey Fry and his young wife experience the effects of enforced consumption. The government issues ration stamps that, instead of permitting the purchase of goods and services, require people to use them for consumption or face the penalty of being issued even more stamps. In their upside-down society, the poorest people are forced to consume the most. The Frys stuff themselves with food and break the law by throwing away scarcely used possessions. Much of the world’s work is done by robots of such advanced design that it is hard to tell them from humans. Morey becomes a hero by conceiving the idea of using the robots to consume goods.

In “The Servant of the People,” Congressman O’Hare is in trouble because he is running for reelection against a robot. Robots, who gained voting...

(The entire section is 600 words.)