The Space Merchants, 21st Century Edition


In 2011, Fred revised The Space Merchants, his classic collaboration with Cyril Kornbluth. The most notable changes in the 21st Century Edition were the replacement of defunct brand names with more contemporary ones, and a few tweaks to make the science more accurate.

Not everybody was pleased with the update, but since earlier editions had been out of print for some time, the availability of new copies is a boon. Alas, this classic has not been released in an electronic edition, and we hope those of you who’d like to have it in your e-reader libraries will importune the publishers to make it so.

We thought Fred’s fans might like to see a few of the reviews of the latest edition:

  • “The novel is full of fantastic plot twists and adopts an irreverent attitude to everything from the things we eat to the power of the president. Its wry take on the role of media in shaping popular culture makes it a dazzling proto-Pop novel.” —Doug Cube, Cubic Muse.

  • “At the end of the day, the book can’t help but retain its quality as a cautionary glimpse into the future from a little over a half-century ago. . . . Science-fiction fans who somehow missed reading THE SPACE MERCHANTS should definitely get this new edition. The rest of us can retire our dogged-ear paperback copies and enjoy reading it again in this sturdier, comfortable format.” —Alan Cranis, Bookgasm.

  • “In 1953, Pohl and Kornbluth (1923–1958) published this wry tale of a future run by corporations, a groundbreaking narrative in its time.” — Publishers Weekly.

  • “The best science fiction novel about Madison Ave you’ll ever read. . . . Now out in a ‘Revised 21st Century Edition,’ The Space Merchants is quite literally Mad Men in space. It’s also a reminder that this book should take its place among the great literary satires of the twentieth century.” —Annalee Newitz, io9.

Have you read both versions? What did you think?

The blog team

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  1. Stefan Jones says:

    I have a suggestion:

    Change the black-bordered tribute to Fred so that new posts are immediately visible. Perhaps it can be a turned into a “bar,” with a headline and a picture, which when clicked on goes to the full tribute article.

    I mention this because until I was “tipped off” by a mention on Twitter I’d moved the link to “The Way the Future Blogs” way down my bookmarks list. I’d thought it had gone quiet, and when I did check I only saw the tribute and thought nothing new was being added.

    I really enjoyed Elizabeth’s entries, and the history of The Space Merchants.

    Keep them coming!

  2. JJ Brannon says:

    I concur with Stefan Jones.

    An abbreviated banner of Fred’s obit would better serve the site. Keep it atop the new stuff, but at most a third of the display height.

    I’m enjoying both Fred and Dr. Hull’s material.


  3. Robert Nowall says:

    I found it disconcerting to see contemporary names in something I read some forty-some years before…dunno what the contemporary (i. e. “younger”) readers might’ve thought. But I did turn back to the original text after a couple chapters in…