In a vastly overpopulated near-future world, businesses have taken the place of governments and now hold all political power. States exist merely to ensure the survival of huge transnational corporations. Advertising has become hugely aggressive and boasts some of the world’s most powerful executives.Through advertising, the public is constantly deluded into thinking that all the products on the market improve the quality of life. However, the most basic elements are incredibly scarce, including water and fuel.The planet Venus has just been visited and judged fit for human settlement, despite its inhospitable surface and climate; colonists would have to endure a harsh climate for many generations until the planet could be terraformed.Mitch Courtenay is a star-class copywriter in the Fowler Schocken advertising agency and has been assigned the ad campaign that would attract colonists to Venus, but a lot more is happening than he knows about. Mitch is soon thrown into a world of danger, mystery, and intrigue, where the people in his life are never quite what they seem, and his loyalties and core beliefs will be put to the test.
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As I dressed that morning I ran over in my mind the long list of statistics, evasions, and exaggerations that they would expect in my report. My section— Production—had been plagued with a long series of illnesses and resignations, and you can’t get work done without people to do it. But the Board wasn’t likely to take that as an excuse.
I rubbed the depilatory soap over my face and rinsed it with the trickle from the freshwater tap. Wasteful, of course, but I pay the water taxes, and saltwater always leaves my face itchy.
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“A novel of the future that the present must inevitably rank as a classic.”—The New York Times
FREDERIK POHL’s writing career spans over seventy years. He won the National Book Award in 1980 for his novel Jem. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy magazine and its sister magazine, If, winning the Hugo Award for it three years in a row. His writing also won him four Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993. Pohl won the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer, based on his writing on his blog, “The Way the Future Blogs.”
Frederik PohlC. M. Kornbluth