The Midas Plague (The Galaxy Project Book 17)
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Although the three part serial beginning in the June 1952 issue in collaboration with Cyril Kornbluth had established Frederik Pohl as a formidable contributor, this novelette in the April 1954 issue was his first solo contribution and marked him as an important addition to the growing roster of social satirists enlisted by Horace Gold, the editor of GALAXY magazine. The audacious and patchwork concept underlying this story (the richer you are the less you are forced to consume; the greatest poverty is involved with the aggregation of goods) was Horace Gold’s and according to Pohl he had offered it to almost all of his regular contributors, asking for a story centered on the idea. The idea lacks all credibility, everyone (including Pohl) told him and everyone refused to write something so patently unbelievable until, according to Pohl, Horace browbeat him into an attempt and Pohl decided that it was less trouble to deliver something than continue to resist. To his utter shock, the story was received by Gold and his readership with great glee, was among the most popular GALAXY ever published (or Pohl) and one of the most anthologized. Whether this demonstrated the audacity and scope of Gold’s unreason or whether it confirmed Gold’s genius (or both) Pohl was utterly unable to decide. The sculpted consumer-obsessed society was used again by Pohl a few years later in the novelette THE MAN WHO ATE THE WORLD which was far more credible (consumption-obsession as a kind of personal tyranny) and, perhaps for that very reason, much less successful, barely remembered.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frederik Pohl (b. 1919) has been at the center of science fiction for three-quarters of a century. As an editor at GALAXY, Gold’s successor for a decade, as the editor a decade earlier of ASTONISHING and other competitors of ASTOUNDING, as the science fiction editor at Bantam Books and as an editor of the first original anthology series, STAR SCIENCE FICTION, Pohl has been perhaps more influential than any editor other than John W. Campbell. His novels and short stories alone or in collaboration since THE SPACE MERCHANTS have been at the cutting edge of the field; GATEWAY and MAN PLUS each won both Nebula and Hugo in successive years. Writers he first published or made prominent as an editor include R.A. Lafferty, Cordwainer Smith and Joanna Russ. His mainstream novel, THE YEARS OF THE CITY is probably his finest. He is a Grandmaster of the Science Fiction Writers of America. His most recent novel, published in 2011 is ALL THE LIVES HE LED.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Horace Gold led GALAXY magazine from its first issue dated October 1950 to science fiction’s most admired, widely circulated and influential magazine throughout its initial decade. Its legendary importance came from publication of full length novels, novellas and novelettes. GALAXY published nearly every giant in the science fiction field.
The Galaxy Project is a selection of the best of GALAXY with new forewords by some of today’s best science fiction writers. The initial selections in alphabetical order include work by Ray Bradbury, Frederic Brown, Lester del Rey, Robert A. Heinlein, Damon Knight, C. M. Kornbluth, Walter M. Miller, Jr., Frederik Pohl, Robert Scheckley, Robert Silverberg, William Tenn (Phillip Klass) and Kurt Vonnegut with new Forewords by Paul di Filippo, David Drake, John Lutz, Barry Malzberg and Robert Silverberg. The Galaxy Project is committed to publishing new work in the spirit GALAXY magazine and its founding editor Horace Gold.
penetrating psychic blocks and releasing inhibitions—the trouble with everything we psychiatrists do, in fact, is that we can’t afford to do it too well. An inhibited man is under a strain. We try to relieve the strain. But if we succeed completely, leaving him with no inhibitions at all, we have an outlaw, Morey. Inhibitions are often socially necessary. Suppose, for instance, that an average man were not inhibited against blatant waste. It could happen, you know. Suppose that instead of
he had elicited a satisfactory answer, “don’t have to spend so much time consuming, give more attention to work. Greatest luxury in the world, work. Wish I had as much stamina as you young fellows. Five days a week in court are about all I can manage. Hit six for a while, relaxed first time in my life, but my doctor made me cut down. Said we can’t overdo pleasures. You’ll be working two days a week now, hey?” Morey produced another nod. Elon drew deeply on his cigar, his eyes bright as they
to sell to Playboy and Rogue with some regularity.) “What did this prove?” he asked. He wasn’t sure he knew what it proved. It was a bemusement. I can relate to this narrative. In 1968 I delivered my first Olympia Press novel to Maurice Girodias. That would have been Oracle Of The Thousand Hands. “Very nice,” he said. “Not your number one bestseller, that’s for sure, but very promising. I will publish for you. Now you will do something for me. You will write a novel about a man who goes to the
not to like the robot. Jokes and funny stories when you needed amusement, sympathy when you were depressed, a never-failing supply of news and information on any subject you cared to name—Henry was easy enough to take. Cherry even made a special point of asking Henry to keep them company through dinner, and she laughed as thoroughly as Morey himself at its droll anecdotes. But later, in the conservatory, when Henry had considerately left them alone, the laughter dried up. Morey didn’t notice.
conscientiously used his liquor rations for years, but he had never gone beyond the minimum, so that although liquor was no new experience to him, the single drink immediately warmed him. It warmed his mouth, his throat, the hollows of his chest; and it settled down with a warm glow inside him. Howland, exerting himself to be nice, complimented Morey fatuously on the design and poured another drink. Morey didn’t utter any protest at all. Howland drained his glass. “You may wonder,” he said