The Plot (Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature)
One of many collaborations between Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth, The Space Merchants was also Pohl’s return to writing after working as a literary agent. The novel has an interesting textual history. Written under the title Fall Campaign, it was serialized as “Gravy Planet” in Galaxy magazine, whose editor, H. L. Gold, thought that the ending was incomplete and demanded that Pohl and Kornbluth produce an additional three chapters to show what happens to the colonizers after they reach Venus. When the novel was published in book form, these chapters were omitted from the text, although they have since been reprinted in Our Best: The Best of Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth (1987). Pohl has made minor revisions to the novel’s text; for example, a reference in the first edition to “Western Union and American Express Railway” became a reference to “United Parcel and American Express” in the 1985 edition. More than three decades lapsed before the publication of the novel’s sequel, The Merchants’ War, written by Pohl alone. The two novels were collected into an omnibus volume, Venus, Inc. (1985).
The Space Merchants is the story of Mitch Courtney, a “copysmith star class” in a future in which advertising dominates the world and outlawed “Consies” (Conservationists) are regarded as dangerous and deluded radicals. Mitch’s big break in the corporate world occurs when...
(The entire section is 1050 words.)
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