I had a conversation with a few friends about the dangers of advertising the other day, and parts of this story have been running through my mind.

  • The main character is a woman who used to be a marketing executive

  • Marketing and advertising is extremely targeted and advanced; algorithms are used to determine what a person, in certain community, based upon their purchasing patterns, will likely want to buy soon

  • Main character takes it upon herself to 'save' her parents and their small community from this sort of consumerism, by convincing them to vary their purchasing patterns, hoping to confuse the algorithms

  • Some points about authenticity

I think I may have read this story in a "hard sf" collection(?).

1 Answer 1


Except for the sex of the protagonist, this is "Market Report" by Alexander Jablokov (who had actually worked in advertising). There is a lot more going on in the story than described in the question though. The purchases made by the parents' community are highly unusual, for reasons that are explored in detail in the course of the narrative. The story was anthologized in Year's Best SF 4 in 1999.

I cannot, strictly speaking, say I have read this story. I actually heard a reading by the author (which was abridged and modified from the version that I linked to above) at MIT in 1998. The event also featured Babylon 5 creater J. Michael Straczynski, who got most of the attention, but I remember that, during the question and answer session, it was actually Jablokov who asked Straczynski the most interesting questions.

  • Damn, you got it. Even got the anthology I read it from a few years ago. Thanks a lot, this has been bugging me all week. Jan 7, 2018 at 0:31

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