REVIEW: The Merchants’ War by Frederik Pohl
REVIEW SUMMARY: Just couldn’t finish it.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: More futuristic advertising satire
PROS: One funny line in the first 60 pages
CONS: Boring; missing the appeal of the prequel; unlikable characters?and boring.
BOTTOM LINE: Skip it.
I read The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth recently and loved it. And what was not to love? There was the taut writing style, the captivating plot and the adventure. Based on that enjoyable reading experience, I had high hopes for the sequel, The Merchants’ War.
But another enjoyable experience was not meant to be.
First off, let me say that I did could not finish this book. I gave up after 60 pages of this 300 page book (20%). Now, some would argue that I have no right to review a book I didn’t finish. To them I say “Bah!” One of the main reasons I am reviewing is to record my reading experiences so I can look back and see what I liked (or didn’t) about a book. It can also serve as a refresher for me if there is a long time span between books in a series. Besides, what else is a rating of zero-out-of-five there for?
From the previous satirical story, we know that the colonization of Venus was sold to an overpopulated, advertising-controlled Earth by advertiser Mitch Courtenay. This sequel follows the story of Tennison Tarb who works at the Earth embassy on Venus at some indeterminate time after the time of Courtenay. (I say “indeterminate” because Pohl is apparently inconsistent on the issue.) Tarb is really an undercover agent who tries to recruit “Veenies” away from their pro-Venus, anti-Earth loyalties. Tarb is set to end his tenure on Venus and return to Earth, but he is pushed in front of a tram. (This is where I stopped reading, but I’ve since learned that Tarb wakes up on Earth to find the rules of advertising have changed, he becomes addicted to Moke-Coke, and is duped by a Veenie spy. Whoop-de-doo.)
Sad to say, this story just did not work for me. It failed to capture my interest on numerous reading attempts. There was just not enough action or sense-of-wonder to keep my attention. The seemingly-forced writing style did not help either. I’m left wondering if the book was harmed by the absence of Kornbluth (who dies years before this book was written) or that it was written some 30 years after the original and the times were different. Oh well.
To leave off on a positive note, though, there was one funny part where Tarb notes that he always confuses the Soviets with Scientologists.
Filed under: Book Review
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