First, let me say that The Space Merchants is excellent. For a novel published in the mid-fifties, it is a masterpiece of prescience (or else a sign of how little things have changed). Its portrayal of media domination, inequality, and environmental ravages is eerily relevant; simply replace the novel’s world spanning, world dominating advertising firms with social media companies and search engines and you won’t miss a beat.

But, it must also be said that it can’t quite fulfill the extravagant promises of its brilliant first fifty-odd pages.

As a studious consumer of sci fi pulps from the thirties to the seventies, I recognize some of the common plotting tendencies, like the particular style of the direct progression of the plot in the second half and the deus ex machina-like reversals and reveals of the genre.

But let nothing take away from the biting satire of unchecked capitalism that inevitably leads to monopolies and loss of choice.