Tag Archives: advertising

Through the eyes of another …

Last night I finished reading the 1952 classic The Space Merchants. I was so happy to have found this older story in my dad’s science fiction collection, and I’ve been talking about it on my other blogs. Today I realized that the discussion of one of my favorite elements of this book belongs here.

I’ll post a full review this novel by Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth on Goodreads and will only say now that it is not a total thumbs up. I know that styles have changed over the decades, and science fiction has never been know for its complex character development, but I found the ending and many of the emotional transitions abrupt. I had high hopes for the story and it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, even though I’m glad I read it.

So what did I like? The satire of a society driven by ever increasing sales was spot on, in spite of the author’s failure to predict so much of modern society. What made the dichotomy between the ruling class of advertisers and lower class consumers work was the way in which the sales people so thoroughly misunderstood the lives of the average person. It’s barely a spoiler to reveal that protagonist and ad agency executive Mitchell Courtenay finds himself stripped of his identity and turned into a low life laborer. Once he is on the receiving end of his own work, his perspective changes.

Psychedelic 9The idea of obtaining personal growth and better perspective by walking the in shoes of another is a common plot tactic and rightfully so. From the literary classic The Prince and the Pauper to Trading Places, the hilarious movie it inspired, story tellers have shown how the heart is softened once a human walks in another’s shoes. Sexism took blows from both Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire. Black Like Me opened minds in entirely white Hays Kansas in 1968. I know, because I was in the English class that was required to read the controversial book.

The authors of the “The Space Merchants” use this powerful tool well as the privileged Mitch discovers that workers do not hold menial jobs merely because they are lazy. In fact, he is surprised to learn just how much hard work a menial job requires.

If the idea of experiencing the life of someone you don’t understand is powerful in a novel, it is even more powerful in the world. Reality TV shows, such as Wife Swap, have used this theme about swapping lives, and student exchange programs are based on it. At their best, travel and intercultural communication of all kinds can foster enough exchange to encourage empathy and respect.

My initial interest in telepathy grew out of curiosity about how difficult fighting a war would be if you could read the mind of your enemy and feel his or her emotions. Most of us can’t read minds and never will, but living a life similar to that of your “enemy” is the next closest thing.

Mitch Courtney is willing to sell anybody anything, until he experiences a life in which his small amount of discretionary income is the continual target of clever ads trying to pry his limited money away for things that bring him little joy and even harm him. The emotional transition that rang most true in this novel was the story a man who learns to see the world through the eyes of another, and changes his own life as a result.

(For more about the Space Merchants, see my posts I Know Sexism When I See It?The Kinky of the Future and Predicting the Future or Shaping It.)


Posted by on August 25, 2015 in empathy, peace, telepathy


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x0 on 1670 people’s to-read list!

Like most independent writers who have decided to not go the traditional publishing route, I am always looking for effective ways to promote my three novels. I don’t have training in advertising, and in truth I would much rather write than sell. However, if I am going to spend some time trying to get folks to read my books, I would like that time to be as productive as possible.

goodreadsSo far, my best results seem to have come from advertising and doing give-aways on After about six months of steady effort, I am happy to see that I now have 77 ratings and 43 reviews (mostly good), and over 2700 different people have selected one or more of my books to go on their shelf of books to be read.

I have been promoting x0 for the longest, and so not surprisingly it has the most reviews and most would-be readers. It’s true that some ratings appear to be random from people who have just joined the site and haven’t read my books and I have no idea why someone would do that. (These people seem to grab about 50 random books all on the same day and often give them all the same rating, be it three stars or five.)

Others, however, have taken the trouble to provide thoughtful reviews with both compliments and criticisms and their efforts are greatly appreciated by this author and hopefully by the possible readers who they help inform.

Check here for news on z2 out in paperback and here for news on y1 making it to the semi-finals of a contest.



Posted by on July 2, 2013 in One of One elsewhere


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Ads for world peace

Yes, the point of an ad is to sell you something. And yes, it is probably something you don’t need. Yet given that ads are part of our world, no question I do prefer those that at least appeal to the better in each of us. As for those that hawk their product by suggesting that we annoy others and make fun of each other even more cruelly? Eh, I didn’t need what they were selling anyway.

beerAds in this latter category are everywhere. For a while the Miller Lite commercials that used attractive but slightly tough looking women to insult the masculinity of guys who dressed or acted a little different was at the top of my “you’ve got to be kidding” list. Fine, no Miller Lite at my house. I like foreign beers better anyway. For more on this particularly offensive ad campaign, check out a great post on a blog called BitchMedia here.

Last night I was puzzled as I watched an ad for Netflex in which people kept annoying others by throwing out spoilers for movies their companions had not yet seen. Oh what fun. Let me spoil another movie for you.

peace signThe other extreme, of course, are ads that appeal to the greatness in each of us. Yes it was syrupy, but if you are old enough to remember seeing a 1971 TV ad with a bunch of teenagers from the world over standing on a hill together singing “I’d like to Teach the World to Sing in Perfect Harmony” I bet you liked it the first time you saw it.  Come on, you know you did. Probably the first several times. And if you didn’t see the original, check it out here. It’s very 70’s, but you will probably still like it.

Yes, yes I know quite well that Coca Cola is bad for your teeth, your bones and your stomach.  It has caffeine, used to have cocaine, and is filled with high fructose corn syrup.  We should all drink water instead.

But guess what their latest ad campaign focuses on?  These people are really stuck on world peace. Looks like Coca Cola is now designing vending machines that will allow a purchaser to wave hello to buyers in other countries. Particularly in countries they don’t get along well with. Clearly this is going to require some real time filtering to keep the idiots from mooning each other, but the idea has hope. It might even give hope. See more about this at Advertising Age here.

Consumers need to be wary and informed. And they need to drink water, mostly. But every once in awhile we all get to indulge ourselves. I pick my treats using lots of different criteria but I confess that if I’m going to drink a beer, you know what product it won’t be. And if it’s going to be soda — I’m buying from the world peace guys.

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Posted by on March 18, 2013 in peace


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