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The Space Merchants - C.M. Kornbluth, Frederik Pohl I was blown away by this satirical and cynical novel. I couldn't believe how fresh it felt, even sixty years after it was originally published, it's still so pertinent, so topical. I would not have been surprised to find out it was written twenty years after it was.

Reading up about the origins of this novel, I was amazed to discover that Pohl actually decided to get a job in advertising just so he could know the industry better and write about it with more authority. And yes, one certainly feels that he knows what he's talking about when reading this.

This is a dystopian, consumerist future in which it is considered un-patriotic not to like advertisements and to be a fully participating consumer in a society of stark wealth inequality and acute shortages of basic things such as fuels, non-synthetic food and fresh water. It is the consumer's duty to consume, not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of production machine, and the "star class" executives at the top.

We are introduced to this world through the eyes of one of these star class executives, Mitchell Courtenay, a masterful copywriter who is appointed to run the next big project but things start falling apart as he is caught up in a deadly game of industrial espionage with one of their rivals and the seemingly deluded ideologues; the "Consies" (conservationists).

I notice that Pohl and Kornbluth collaborated on several other novels and I will definitely be interested in reading them.