Originally titled “Gravy Planet”, The Space Merchants is perhaps one of 1950s best know science fiction novels.
And one of the most prescient.
Frederic Pohl, the highly regarded author and editor was also as member of the World Future Society and engaged (as did most 40s, 50s and 60s SF authors) in speculating on ways in which the future might develop.
Together with Cyril Kornbluth, they wrote several novels exploring different professions and how they might change in the future. The Space Merchants took a look at high-power advertising agencies (just like the later television show Mad Men) and made some uncannily accurate predictions of the lengths to which advertising and marketing would go to make a sale.
The novel was originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, serialized in the June, July and August 1952 issues of that magazine. It was subsequently published as a novel by Ballentine in 1953.
Many years later, it was adapted by the CBS Radio Workshop and presented in two parts in 1957.
And here it is: