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The Space Merchants Audiobook, by Keigo Higashino Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: C. M. Kornbluth, Frederik Pohl, Keigo Higashino Narrator: Jeff Woodman, C. M. Kornbluth, Dan Bittner Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Series: The Space Merchants Series Release Date: December 2011 ISBN: 9781427221025
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,088 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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In a vastly overpopulated near-future world, businesses have taken the place of governments and now hold all political power. States exist merely to ensure the survival of huge transnational corporations. Advertising has become hugely aggressive and boasts some of the world's most powerful executives.

Through advertising, the public is constantly deluded into thinking that all the products on the market improve the quality of life. However, the most basic elements are incredibly scarce, including water and fuel.

The planet Venus has just been visited and judged fit for human settlement, despite its inhospitable surface and climate; colonists would have to endure a harsh climate for many generations until the planet could be terraformed.

Mitch Courtenay is a star-class copywriter in the Fowler Schocken advertising agency and has been assigned the ad campaign that would attract colonists to Venus, but a lot more is happening than he knows about. Mitch is soon thrown into a world of danger, mystery, and intrigue, where the people in his life are never quite what they seem, and his loyalties and core beliefs will be put to the test in Frederik Pohl's novel The Space Merchants.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A novel of the future that the present must inevitably rank as a classic. The New York Times

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charles | 2/17/2014

    " Science Fiction as a prescient guide to future technology and society has never much interested me. I read recently that Jules Verne kept abreast of all the latest scientific journals just to up his odds on getting something right. But even with his background research he came up mostly with plots that today are absurd given almost any background in science. Occasionally you read that some writer predicted the internet or the types of computers that we now take for granted. And they "predicted" manned spaced flight, but who couldn't see that coming? But we've only gone to the moon, which is a far cry from the type of intergalactic travel on which much of sf depends. Who is holding their breath for travel faster than the speed of light, time machines, or telepathy as the common means of human communication? These are useful plot devices, as are our encounters with alien life forms. If we were to travel to other galaxies and meet up with aliens, they would be nothing like ourselves or else they would zipping around the galaxies as well. They would most likely be below our evolutionary development, anywhere from an early hominid or more likely a bacteria. If aliens came to see little ol' us, they would necessarily be so far advanced technologically that they might consider us lichens. That said, there are moments in Pohl and Kornbluth's The Space Merchants (1952) where well-heeled advertising executives take off for a round of golf or a game of tennis and appear to be playing something very much like a Wii machine. But I don't think this constitutes a "prediction" of the Wii. It is an natural development from Pohl's and Kornbluth's imagining of a future world where space is so limited and the atmosphere so dangerous that anyone who can afford to stays inside. If there are predictions in this novel, they are much more disturbing than executive pastimes or even the hint of severe global warming. In The Space Merchants, Earth has been monetized, states have been incorporated into commercial zones, and the government has forgone the fantasy of elected officials and allowed corporations to place their own candidates in the senate and the house. Given the recent Supreme Court ruling on corporations' free speech rights when it comes to political contributions, this development may far outweigh whatever foresight the authors showed when combining physical exercise with video games. The author team has also forecast the replacement of "commies" with "consies," dangerous environmentalists who, possibly because of some genetic defect, do not see the total exploitation of Earth and neighboring planets as a necessarily good thing. The Space Merchants is a thriller in which Mitchell Courtenay, a Star Class Copysmith for the most prestigious ad agency in the universe, has been assigned the plum job of preparing a campaign for the colonization of Venus. This involves convincing pioneering sorts that it will be patriotic, exciting, and lucrative to make the move while not letting them know the planet is a hellhole. But corporate intrigues find Courtenay drugged and shipped to a Central American industrial plant where the algae used in manufacturing most of earth's food stuff is grown in conditions so degrading they could be confused with those on the banana plantations Dole maintained about the time the book was written. But Courtenay's innate abilities as a copywriter can serve him well even there, as well as in the Consie underground that he sees as his ticket out. I read a review more or less contemporaneous with the novel that used it as a example of sf's failure as social criticism, an evaluation based on the fact that Madison Avenue types, the target of the satire, became one of the novel's most enthusiastic audiences. But of course they did. Didn't New Jersey and New York mafiosi tune in weekly to The Sopranos? Doesn't Hollywood loves to "expose" itself in films like The Bad and the Beautiful and The Player. Had The Space Merchants come out ten years later, I'm sure the producers of Mad Men would have placed a copy on Don Draper's nightstand. And he would have loved it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 M | 2/17/2014

    " must read for all you advertising and marketing whores "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dinofly | 2/9/2014

    " A great book. Would suggest it even to people, who do not like SF. Advertisement agent living in high society is thrown into the slums, is forced to live between and among the lowest working class. Tastes his own medicine one could say. In the end discovers, that there are other values except money. I loved this book and read it many times since. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Celeste | 1/23/2014

    " A bad future novel in the tradition of brave new world or 1984. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ihatethatguy | 1/23/2014

    " This novel was nothing short of amazing. Quite possibly one of the best (if not the best) Science Fiction novel of the 1950s. The narrative on media and advertising rings even more true today than in the 1950s when "Mad Men" and advertising were striking it huge. Pohl had an eerie way of predicting the future and the current state of humanity. This novel seems more and more likely as time goes on. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 1/23/2014

    " Cynical, satirical and utterly, brilliantly bonkers "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 F.S. | 1/16/2014

    " Love this book - 1950's sci-fi classic, so on the ball about advertising and Chicken Little 50 years out. Prescient. Found out Frederick Pohl, who is now in his 90s, blogs over at Too much fun. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 J. | 12/20/2013

    " I liked this one a lot, it's got a little bit of 1984 & Brave New World in it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bethnoir | 12/5/2013

    " I like to be surprised by books, but I really had no idea where this one was going, or would end up, it was a grand ride though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill | 10/22/2013

    " Reading The Space Merchants at age11 changed my life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deanne | 10/1/2013

    " Great idea for a book but felt the execution was a bit lacking, most of the characters come off as two dimensional. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Camilla | 12/21/2012

    " I liked this book. Some little things were a bit outdated, like the way it depicts female characters, or some technological or societal details. However, the plot was interesting and its main points have remained relevant. I began to like the cynical main character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dwight | 8/27/2012

    " Mad Men meets vintage sci-fi. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Timday | 3/27/2012

    " great pulp fiction read it in a night - always love the old sci fi where you think oh my god this is 70n years old - sometimes blowes me away "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ari | 3/25/2012

    " A science fiction adventure in a world dominated by advertising executives. A funny satire of 1950s commercial culture that has aged reasonably well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Serenitydots | 12/30/2011

    " Very creative, very predictive, especially considering when it was written! The tempo lags at times, but still a very worthy read! "

About the Author

Keigo Higashino is the bestselling, best-known novelist in Japan and around Asia, with television and film adaptations of his work in several languages and many prestigious awards. He’s the author of The Devotion of Suspect X, the English translation of which was the finalist for the Edgar Award for best novel, and Salvation of a Saint.

About the Narrators

Jeff Woodman is an actor and narrator. He is a winner of the prestigious Audie Award and a six-time finalist. He has received twenty Earphones Awards and was named the 2008 Best Voice in Fiction & Classics, as well as one of the Fifty Greatest Voices of the Century by AudioFile magazine. As an actor, he originated the title role in Tennessee Williams’ The Notebook of Trigorin and won the S. F. Critics’ Circle Award for his performance in An Ideal Husband. In addition to numerous theater credits on and off Broadway, his television work includes Sex and the City, Law & Order, and Cosby.

Dan Bittner is an actor and voice talent and winner of several AudioFile Earphones Awards for audio narration. He has starred on stage and on the screen, in movies such as Men in Black, Adventureland, and the Producers: The Movie Musical. He has also appeared onstage as Macbeth and Sherlock Holmes in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.