Only Consies like surprises.
Who wrote this book and when?
Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth co-wrote this novel in 1953.
Has there been a movie made of it?
No, but it’d be one great movie.
Who are the main characters?
Mitch Courtenay – a Copysmith Star Class in the ranks of Fowler Schocken Associates, one of the ruling Advertising companies
Dr. Kathy Nevin – Mitch’s wife-in-trial-state, a doctor
Matt Runstead – one of Mitch’s in-company rivals, he runs the Market Research department
Fowler Schocken – President of Fowler Schocken Associates, one of the most powerful men in the world, and winner of the rights to the Venus project
Jack O’Shea – the only man to have ever visited Venus, a midget
Taunton – the head of Fowler Schocken Associates’ rival advertising firm
What’s it about?
Mitch Courtenay is in the upper class of this advertising-driven society. In this world, everyone is addicted to Coffiest – a drink with drugs in it, nobody but the very rich eat real meat, and all vehicles are pedaled. Every inch of Earth is sectioned off for some advertising company and everyone is always inundated with commercials for something. Being in the advertising business is the highest calling out there. And Mitch is at the top. He is placed as the director for the biggest advertising job in decades – the Venus project. His job is to advertise for a new Venus colony, to make only Americans want to travel there, to fend off rival advertising companies and the “Consies,” the conservatives.
Mitch is also in the middle of a one-year trial marriage with a doctor named Kathy Nevin. She seems to be no longer attracted to him and is dead bent on leaving him despite his efforts to win her back. He finds himself friends with Jack O’Shea, a midget who is the only man to have ever set foot on Venus. And on top of all this, someone is attempting to murder him – repeatedly.
Why is this book a classic?
It presents a different view of the future than the run-of-the-mill Orwellian government oppression. In this future, which is plausible if you consider it, the advertising companies run everything. It’s frighteningly accurate, with all the good storytelling you would expect from Orwell or Wells.
Why should I read this book?
For a new take on an old idea – the oppressive future we are creating for ourselves. *ominous music*
Has it won any awards?
No, but the authors have won numerous awards for other works.
“Silly. If ‘Nature’ had intended us to eat fresh vegetables, it wouldn’t have given us niacin or ascorbic acid.” – p 14
“It was an appeal to reason, and they’re always dangerous. You can’t trust reason. We threw it out of the ad profession long ago and have never missed it.” – p 81
“After take-off, Hester was hysterically gay for a while, and then snapped. She sobbed on my shoulder, frightened at the enormity of what she’d done. She’d been brought up in a deeply moral, sales-fearing home, and you couldn’t expect her to commit the high commercial crime of breaking a labor contract without there being a terrific emotional lashback.” – p 113
It scares me how much advertising has already wormed its way into our society…
I enjoyed this book immensely. It’s been a while since I’ve found myself curled up in bed in the wee small hours of the morning straining my eyes open just so I can find out what happens next. His concept of the crazy future seemed very possible – even plausible considering what the world is like today. And it was refreshing to see a world, although depraved and disgusting, not shaped by a nuclear war or holocaust.