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Frederik Pohl, 1919-2013.


Frederik Pohl died yesterday, aged 93. In a 1980 interview he said: “I like to talk to people and get them to change their views when I think their views are wrong. Why else would anyone write a book?”

Here’s an extract from his 1951 collaborative novel with C M Kornbluth, The Space Merchants, a fantastic satire on American consumerism:

He explained how the government – it’s odd how we still think and talk of that clearinghouse for pressures as though it were an entity with a will of its own – how the government wanted Venus to be an American planet and how they had selected the peculiarly American talent of advertising to make it possible. As he spoke we all caught some of his fire. I envied the man who would head the Venus Section; any one of us would have been proud to take the job.

He spoke of trouble with the Senator from Du Pont Chemicals with his forty-five votes, and of an easy triumph over the Senator from Nash-Kelvinator with his six. He spoke proudly of a faked Consie demonstration against Fowler Schocken, which had lined up the fanatically anti-Consie Secretary of the Interior. Visual Aids had done a beautiful job of briefing the information, but we were there nearly an hour looking at the charts and listening to Fowler’s achievements and plans.

But finally he clicked off the projector and said: “There you have it. That’s our new campaign. And it starts right away – now. I have only one more announcement to make and then we can all get to work.”

Fowler Schocken is a good showman.

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