Tag Archives: The space merchants

Science fiction, prediction, and satire-ction

It seems like discussions of science fiction among non-fans always end up examining the predictive successes and failures of the genre. This approach strikes me as counterproductive. To be tautological about it, fiction is inherently fictitious. Fiction necessarily abstracts certain aspects of the real world, correctly or not. If fiction was perfectly accurate, it would be real life (à la Simulacra and simulation). Why, then is it so popular to take fiction, especially fiction that is at one additional remove from the “real world” and critique it for what it got “right” or “wrong”? If science fiction was intended to be predictive, it wouldn’t be science fiction. It’d be prophecy.

I realize that this issue has been discussed many times, by better writers than I, but it’s an issue that still continues to come up. I’ve encountered it with patrons, but I’ve also encountered it on Tor of all places.*

*One particular Tor blogger, who happens to be a multi-award winning author, is an especially egregious offender.

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The space merchants

The space merchants / Frederik Pohl & C.M. Kornbluth. Originally published 1953.

The space merchants is the 1953 science fiction classic about an overpopulated, resource-starved future where rampant consumerism has caused advertising agencies to be the most powerful organizations in the world.

Brief plot description

(Spoiler free)

Mitch Courtenay is a high-powered advertising executive on a future Earth ruled by advertising agencies. Courtenay is assigned the task of creating an advertising campaign to recruit colonists for a colony on Venus.

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