THE MERCHANTS' WAR by Frederik Pohl
Kirkus Star


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A masterful sequel to Pohl's sf classic satire on advertising and consumerism, The Space Merchants (1953, co-authored with C.M. Kornbluth). On Venus, advertising executive Tennison Tarb helps his executive girlfriend Mitzi Ku subvert the adamantly anti-commercial ""Veenies."" Later, having narrowly avoided a suspicious ""accident"" (Mitzi was seriously injured), Tarb returns to Earth, only to stumble into an area equipped with brain-impressing commercials: he becomes hopelessly addicted to the alkaloid-laced ""Mokie-Koke""--and his tumble down the corporate ladder is swift. Then, drafted into the army, Tarb helps bring compulsive advertising to remote, unsuspecting, as-yet commercial-free peoples. Meanwhile, Mitzi, recovered and mysteriously much richer, begins conspiring with other agency personnel; and, feeling sorry for Tarb, she sends him to a detoxification center. Cured, he returns to the agency and uncovers more of Mitzi's plot: the Veenies, to preserve their non-consumerist independence, intend to destory Earth's economic system; Earth, in turn, is preparing for an all-out commercial invasion of Venus! So Tarb, still in love with Mitzi despite the realization that she's a Veenie substitute, agrees that the system is vicious and destructive--and (in an upright ending in contrast to the Space Merchants cop-out) uses his advertising talents to tell Earth's hapless consumers the truth. Razor-edged satire, with a well-organized plot in an absorbing narrative: vintage Pohl--even if overshadowed by the brilliant, flawed original.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's