Williwaw's Reviews > Os Mercadores do Espaço

Os Mercadores do Espaço by Frederik Pohl
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Nov 16, 11

Read from November 12 to 15, 2011

(I admit that I did not really read the Portuguese edition. I only selected it because the cover (by Vincent di Fate, I think) is pretty much the same as the one on my cheap little mass market paperback.)

This book was fun to read. It is short and the plot moves quickly. There's lots of corporate espionage, double-agents, and tensions between the monied powers and a conservationist group. Identities are fluid, and you never know what the various characters might really be up to or how their interests are aligned. The authors have imagined a dystopian future where advertising giants clash to control the economy and the government, while overpopulation, pollution, and corporate manipulation dominate people's lives.

It reminded me, in some ways, of two contemporaneous novels: Vonnegut's "Sirens of Titan" and Bester's "The Stars My Destination." I won't put this in the same class as Vonnegut's novel, but there are clear parallels.

The main character, Mitchell Courtenay, who is an advertising executive, really goes through the ringer and comes out quite a different person on the other side. This is a breathless, pulpy, adventure/suspense novel with plenty of humorous elements. The funniest part for me was how the conservationist movement had a secret office under a gigantic hunk of artificially grown meat, known as "Chicken Little."

It may be of interest to others who have read this book that the publishers cut off the ending. As it originally appeared in Galaxy Science Fiction, Courtenay goes to Venus and, with the help of microscopic, alien life forms, begins terra-forming the planet.

P.S. Wow! I just found a CBS Radio adaptation of the book: look here. The music is awesome!

P.P.S. In Pohl's autobiography ("The Way the Future Was"), he reveals that H.L. Gold, editor of Galaxy, demanded the ending that appeared in the magazine. Pohl & Kornbluth didn't like it, so it wasn't included in the book version.

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