Science Fiction Though the Decades

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

1960: The Man Who Ate the World (Pohl, Frederik)

Pohl the unique social critic? Sure! (4/5)
From July 27, 2010 

I've read a load of Pohl and I consider his novels to be... a great disappointment (with the exception of Gateway and Merchant's War). This short story collection along with Pohl's Pohlstars is, however, a great read. Specifically in this collection, Pohl pens some satire poking fun at mass production, consumerism, an industrialization. It's a fun sort of satire along the exact same lines as Space Merchants and Merchant's War.

Collectively, a great collection of short stories (3 of 6 being social criticism), with the exception of The Man Who Ate the World where Pohl takes a jab at the American consumer and the expectation for them to consume, buy, destroy and repeat the cycle (still rings true, huh). The Wizards and The Waging follow along the same lines as Pohl's Space Merchants series where advertising takes the central role and looking at how humans react to the every commercial product pushed into their faces. Pohl makes it fun (hello, Marlene Growshawk!), unique and timely even considering it's 50 years of age. The Snowmen is a short but very bizarre story which manages to slowly unfold the whole scenario and entertain at the same time. The Seven offers a smart set-up on the planet Venus followed by an equally like clever solution to the problem of the protagonist.

The Man Who Ate the World (1956) - 2/5 - Spoiled brat of a child told to consume and consume, only to continue to construct, destroy and consume for twenty years. Construct robots to maintain robots to produce robots that destroy robots, etc. All he needs is teddy's love. 28 pages

The Seven Deadly Virtues (1958) - 4/5 - Wife-stealing Venus newbie is ostracized for his past actions by a powerful man. Newbie looks to a newer newbie for protection and includes him in the plot to destroy the powerful man and at the same time regain his citizenship. 29 pages

The Day the Icicle Works Closed (1960) - 4/5 - Distant planet becomes cut off from trade and some factory workers attempt to kidnap the mayor's son for needed cash... it's either that or rent your body to tourists while you perform hard mental labor. 33 pages

The Snowmen (1959) - 5/5 - Trysting couple are visited by an alien craft. While the woman converses with the naked being, the suited man loots the alien craft looking for metal objects and food. A good, full belly is best during the long, cold winter. 8 pages

The Wizards of Pung's Corner (1958) - 5/5 - Advertiser comes to Pung's Corner hoping to open the post-war secluded town to new products through advertising and diligence, only to be subverted by an old-hand of the same ilk (Tighe), who manages with simplicity. 29 pages

The Waging of the Peace (1959) - 4/5 - Buick salesman inundated with new and old Buicks takes his complaint straight to Tighe in the Capitol, only to be recruited in attacking and stopping production at the National Electro-Mech fortified factory. 28 pages

1 comment:

  1. Cool! I've yet to read any of his shorts -- I do love my 60s social science fiction :)