cover image The Space Merchants

The Space Merchants

Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth. St. Martin’s Griffin, $14.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-00015-6

In 1953, Pohl and Kornbluth (1923–1958) published this wry tale of a future run by corporations, a groundbreaking narrative in its time. Mitch Courtnay is a ruthless ad-man with a prestigious job and high-class lifestyle. He also has pangs of conscience, and his idealistic wife, Kathy, won’t move in with him until he becomes a better person. After Mitch lands a cushy account, persuading colonists to take the long, arduous trip to Venus, his identity is stolen, forcing him into a grim subsistence life farming vat-grown meat. Pohl has attempted to make this classic novel relevant to modern readers with new references to Wal-mart, Enron, and Reagan, but the revisions only throw the 1950s attitudes and gender stereotypes into sharp relief, resulting in a dated, muddled mess. (Dec.)