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review 2018-11-06 12:05
WORLDNET: "The Age of the Pussyfoot" by Frederik Pohl
The Age of the Pussyfoot - Frederik Pohl

(Original Review, 1980-12-01)

Egads! We have met the Joymaker and it is us! While my Teleray terminal has not (yet) begun dispensing contraceptives, the rest of the parallel is strikingly clear. It brings up some interesting questions concerning how a WORLDNET will function. With the amount of netmail, messages, informational data and similar niceties flying about this VERY LIMITED POPULATION network, what would a "real" WORLDNET be like?




If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-10-26 12:15
Gödelized Messages: "The Gold at the Starbow's End" by Frederik Pohl
The Gold at the Starbow's End - Frederik Pohl

(Original Review, 1980)

It is true that Gödel numbering by itself is not an information compression technique. Its purpose is merely to represent a message as a number so that the message can be operated on with arithmetic and number theory. Gödel's original use of this device was to enable statements in number theory to talk about statements in number theory, possibly even about themselves, unambiguously. In Pohl's "The Gold at the Starbow's End", some very smart people want to send a very long message with a very small amount of energy. They Gödelized the message, and then converted it to a compact expression (perhaps by magic - these are VERY smart people) which evaluates to the original number:

354 852 2008 47 9606 88
1973 + 331 + 17 + 5 + 3 + 2 - 78



If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-02-28 00:52
The Space Merchants by Frederick Pohl & C.M. Kornbluth
The Space Merchants - Frederik Pohl,C.M. Kornbluth

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.





Business and consumerism have replaced government and politics. The population has exploded. Problematically, food sources have vastly diminished. Panicked scientists are pushing Earthlings to maybe start considering the idea of colonizing Venus. Mitch Courtenay works as a copywriter for an advertising firm, his latest project tasking him with making Venus colonization an appealing prospect to citizens via slick adverts. 


Once the idea becomes an actual project being executed by the government, space ships are designed by Walmart Kitchen Appliance Division through Defense Dept. contracts. Mitch is chosen as a leader for the mission. Before long, Mitch begins receiving death threats, but from whom? Searching for the answers, Mitch is thrown into an unexpected journey of mystery and danger, often finding himself left with only mounting questions rather than answers. 


Having originally been published in 1953, this sci-fi classic has had plenty of time to gather quite the following. A quick search and you'll find pages of glowing reviews. Seeing that, combined with a plot that sounded fantastic and apropo to today's times, I went in with mighty high expectations! 


While certainly enjoyable, not to mention eerie with the still-relatable social commentary, I closed this book feeling it had been a middling adventure for my mind, but one that was largely forgettable. The world building didn't strike me as all that well detailed, some plot details insufficiently explained, leaving it difficult for me to fully immerse myself in this dystopian world. Also surprised to see that in this " Revised 21st Century Edition" (as the cover proclaims) the term "midget" was left in the text. 


As for comedy or action, not much was to be found in the early portions of the book. Things pick up around Chapter 7, with a mistaken identity element thrown into the storyline. There are some twists and turns near the end but this was one of those ones where it all felt a bit rushed to give everything a tidy closing. 

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review 2017-05-12 00:00
Man Plus
Man Plus - Frederik Pohl Delaying on my rating only becauseI have to think about how I actually felt about this book for a little bit.
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review 2017-03-12 02:53
Gateway by Frederik Pohl
Gateway - Frederik Pohl

Series: Heechee Saga #1


I think this may have been my first book by Pohl, and I’m not sure whether there’s any point in my trying to continue the series.


The concept behind the book was interesting. Humans discovered an alien space station (rock) with a lot of ships with pre-programmed courses and they blindly set out on missions in these ships to try to discover Heechee alien artifacts. Sounds cool, right? But then the book seems to just go on and on and on, and nothing seems to be happening because the main character, Bob Broadhead, is too scared to actually go on any of the missions. He does eventually go but by that point I was already tired of him and his whining. Meanwhile we keep bouncing between the past at Gateway and the present in Bob’s computer-psychiatrist’s office who apparently puts great stock in dreams. Yawn. Did I mention that he blames his girlfriend for triggering her beating by hitting him? [Aside: I’m not defending her hitting him but he beat her very badly and justifies it to himself that way.] And I was already tired of him before this point.


Classic science fiction and I are not a very good match, apparently, and this book was only published in 1977.

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