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Gladiator-at-law (1949)

por Frederik Pohl, C. M. Kornbluth

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

Séries: Born Pockets (SF26)

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5281045,238 (3.39)9
CAUTION! You are about to enter a world... where all engineering ingenuity has been employed for public spectacles of torture and death where the stock market operates with pari-mutuel machines where a court clerk transcribes testimony on punch cards, then feeds it to a jury machine where the dream real-estate development of today has become a cracked-concrete savage jungle In this world, young lawyer Charles Mundin battles a great combine of corporate interests--battles them in board meetings and in dark alleys--in a struggle that lays bare some brutal promises of the future...promises we are beginning to make right now. "...wholly admirable, in both thinking and execution."--Galaxy "Reminiscent in vigor, bite and acumen to THE SPACE MERCHANTS"--Anthony Boucher. "...possessed of a bite and savage vigor which makes it one of the outstanding science fiction novels of the year."--The New York Times "...a powerfully convincing story."--New York Herald Tribune… (mais)
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review of
Frederik Pohl & C. M. Kornbluth's Gladiator-At-Law
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 13, 2012

This is the 3rd Pohl/Kornbluth collaboration I've read so far. W/ each new one I'm more & more impressed by their skill at social analysis & at their ability to just tell an engrossing tale. Reading this one led me to compare them to Aldous Huxley & the comparison's in their favor. When I was a teenager & 1st hearing about what I'd now call dystopian novels or social critique or prophesy novels, I heard of George Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World, & Ayn Rand's Anthem. I read all 3. That was something like 40 yrs ago.

Much more recently, I listened to an old radio program of Huxley reading Brave New World &/or talking about it & I was surprised to find the main thrust be a theme of state-enforced-sexual-promiscuity. Maybe that's only one aspect of Brave New World but it seemed a little odd as an emphasis - kindof like: look-what-these-godless-commies-are-going-to-make-you-do. Anyway, Huxley wrote 'serious literature' & Kornbluth & Pohl wrote 'pulp sci-fi' so they probably weren't taken as seriously. The thing is that Gladiator-At-Law, despite its seemingly trashy title, strikes me as a much less trite social critique than Brave New World may have been.

If this is a "What If?" type of novel, the fuller question might be: What if people were to invent a solution to one of mankind's problems, in this case housing, & that solution were to be commandeered in the interest of greed? The answer is: corporations will get very rich providing good housing but at a cost of only allowing people to live in it that go along w/ the company-store style program. Everyone else has to live in dangerous run-down areas.

& there're plenty of great details & characters to flesh out this premise. At the beginning, the reader witnesses a severe penalty given to someone who steals from a stadium. It's obvious that stadiums & 'sports' are 'sacred'. Why? B/c the oppressive corporate-run society uses bread & circuses / shock & awe to keep the masses 'in their place' in more ways than one. Is this really so different from now? Not from my POV.

One of the main sortof comic relief villains works for a company that was formerly I. G. Farben. I. G. Farben, of course, used concentration camp victims for slave labor amongst many other war crimes. This sets the mood - but not every reader will understand this.

The inventor of the housing solution 'hung himself in his cell' when he was falsely arrested after he was basically driven out of the company he created. I was once told by the police that I was "the kinda guy who hangs himself in his cell." I, too, was arrested on false charges. This story rang all too true for me.

Even Anaconda Copper, an old villain in the annals of labor & ecology activists, makes a cameo appearance. As the lawyer protagonist is being advised on how to proceed against the offending mega-corporation, this dialog occurs:

"'Just keep your head, and remember the essential nature of a great private utility corporation.'

"'A legal entity,' guessed Mundin, 'A fictive person.'

"'No, boy.' The old eyes were gleaming in the ruined face. 'Forget that. Think of an oriental court. A battlefield; a government; a poker game that never ends. The essence of a corporation is the subtle flux of power, now thrusting this man up, now smiting this group low.'"

Notice that in the latter example, it's a single person who rises up & multitudes who suffer. I'm giving this bk a 5 star rating not b/c I think it's the equivalent of Finnegans Wake as a work of great writing but b/c I think that the authors of SF shd get credit for doing what they often do astonishingly well: see the present w/ great clarity & warn us about its future. Unfortunately for the general populace, 57 yrs after this bk was written in 1955, corporations seem to have gotten closer to the dystopic possibilities explored in this bk - rather than further away.

Interestingly, Gladiator-At-Law was published by Bantam & so was Brave New World. But Huxley's bk is touted as a "modern classic" while this is just categorized as "science fiction". Given that Pohl was "science fiction editor of Bantam Books" as of the January, 1977 edition of this that the quoted biographical entry is in, maybe that's one of the main reasons why the bk cd even get published at all. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
Az ötvenes években íródott sci-fi egy olyan jövőképet mutat be, ahol az emberiség egy része nyomorúságos körülmények között lakik (bár éhezniük nem igazán kell) a szerencsésebbek mai szemmel is luxusnak tűnő buborékházakban laknak. A lakás viszont jogi nem a saját tulajdonuk, hanem a cégé ahol dolgoznak, vagyis a munkahely elvesztése lényegében automatikusan a nyomorba taszítja őket. A lecsúszottak egyetlen öröme a Nagy Verseny, a véres ünnep.

Elsőre a könyv egy tipikus "csúnya gonosz cégek elnyomják a kisembereket" könyv, abban próbál más lenni, hogy a kisember itt a jog eszközével veszi fel a harcot. Ez szerintem nem igazán segít a könyvön, persze lehet, hogy csak én nem élvezem eléggé a jogi furfangokat, de igen esetlegesnek tűnik, hogy ki mikor tartja be a törvényt és mikor szegi meg. ( )
  asalamon | Sep 23, 2014 |
Kornbluth and Pohl came up with this attire of American Corporate life in 1955. As time goes by, with the gradual destruction of the Middle Class it's growing more relevant. The 2000's were not supposed to be as much like this as it has turned out. So still a good read, and trenchant! ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 16, 2014 |
L'ère des gladiateurs : un monde futur où la violence est institutionnalisée. Une jungle de béton formée de cités-cauchemars, où les Jeux du Cirque ont retrouvé la même faveur qu'au temps de l'Empire Romain, avec un raffinement d'imagination technique et de perversité. Dans cet uni-vers où tout est jeu, votre destin dépend d'un gigantesque système de paris-mutuels. Mais pour les gansters au pouvoir il n'y a pas de Hasard. Contre eux, contre cette maffia de l'avenir, le jeune avocat Charles Mundin engage un combat sans merci. Le voilà obligé de se faire gladiateur. Combien miseriez-vous sur lui? ( )
  vdb | Nov 21, 2010 |
Terrific 1955 novel, which takes place in a dystopia that looks frighteningly more possible now than it did then. In a world run by massive corporations and big corporate law firms, a lawyer with a marginal grip on a reasonable life teams up with various members of the underclass to challenge the system. The satire is still pointed, and the corporate manoeuvering is still of interest. Worth reading, and re-reading. ( )
  annbury | Sep 28, 2010 |
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» Adicionar outros autores (11 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Frederik Pohlautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Kornbluth, C. M.autor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Berkey, JohnArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Jael.Artista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Powers, Richard M.Artista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Reussien, Okko H.Tradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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CAUTION! You are about to enter a world... where all engineering ingenuity has been employed for public spectacles of torture and death where the stock market operates with pari-mutuel machines where a court clerk transcribes testimony on punch cards, then feeds it to a jury machine where the dream real-estate development of today has become a cracked-concrete savage jungle In this world, young lawyer Charles Mundin battles a great combine of corporate interests--battles them in board meetings and in dark alleys--in a struggle that lays bare some brutal promises of the future...promises we are beginning to make right now. "...wholly admirable, in both thinking and execution."--Galaxy "Reminiscent in vigor, bite and acumen to THE SPACE MERCHANTS"--Anthony Boucher. "...possessed of a bite and savage vigor which makes it one of the outstanding science fiction novels of the year."--The New York Times "...a powerfully convincing story."--New York Herald Tribune

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