I randomly recalled a scifi novel I read at least 15 years ago, likely an old one even then, which involved a rich man and his plots. The frontier, so to speak (don't recall what term the book used), was a lot of worlds where some rich folks effectively made their own laws. I think a lot of the events involved the main character's plots, but it wasn't one straight storyline, more like multiple stories over time.

I only recall 2 scenes: First was the intro, where a lady paid a lot for a ticket to get to the planet where her family member (sister?) lived. However, she found out that the ship wasn't going there, people were tricked and in reality the ship went to only 1 destination, not multiple. After some events, I think she ended up as the secretary of the main character.

Another scene had the main character in a spacesuit, about to be spaced after being betrayed. He pulled off a move and jumped into space himself, preventing them from executing him. However, due to having pushed off with his foot, the cold from the ship hull was now spreading into his suit. His temperature was dropping but he was saved before dying.

Edit: I recall that in the ship-destination, the lady went to protest and was basically told 'planet X is paying for us to deliver people, so we're delivering them there.' 'But you're letting us vote?' 'Yes, but we only show the good sides of planet X, and bad sides of other planets, so the vote swings the right way. And now that you know that, I must insist you stay here until we arrive, so you can't tell anyone else.'

  • FIrst impulse is goodreads.com/book/show/392566.The_Space_Merchants, but I'm not finding the details just yet.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 21, 2022 at 12:52
  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Do you recall the cover art? Also, was this a paperback, a hardcover or an ebook? Do you remember any names?
    – DavidW
    Jun 21, 2022 at 12:54
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    Unfortunately I don't recall any names, maybe something like Halden but not sure. I assume it was a paperback, either a book in my mother's collection (but it doesn't ring bells for her) or one of many random books I borrowed from the library. It's not Space Merchants, because it wasn't in a single star system. Jun 21, 2022 at 13:08

2 Answers 2


I think the book is probably Planets for Sale, 1954, by A.E. van Vogt and/or his wife E. Mayne Hull.


The book is a collection of short stories published from 1943 to 1946 turned into a novel.

The setting is a newly settled star cluster, the Ridge Stars, with a frontier society and Gilded Age robber baron type business practices.

In the first story, "Competition", a woman is travelling to the Ridge stars to the planet where her sister lives, but the liner is going to take the pasengers to anther planet, holding a rigged election to decide where to go, and when she finds out she is held prisoner until the ship lands. After being released from the ship, her troubles begin.

One feature of "Competiton" and Planets for Sale, is that the main planet is a double planet, with the other planet now dead and lifeless, except from a lizard person known as the Skal thing who has a castle that the more ruthless rich men use for their dirty doings. If you remember that, Planets for Sale is the book you are thinking of

  • 1
    That definitely sounds like a match! Being a compilation of multiple short stories explains the episodical feel the book had. And the descriptions of the start of Competition match my memories. I also read that Blord is a womanizer, which matches my 'he had a James Bond vibe' recollection. Jun 21, 2022 at 15:11
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    My mother found the book in her collection, so we definitely have a winner. Gilded Age robber baron sounds like a perfect description and is part of what stuck to me about this story. Cheers! Jun 21, 2022 at 15:35
  • Hi I'm new to this site, but I'm a bit confused on how you guys can find these stories based on descriptions so quickly! How do you do it :o
    – DialFrost
    Jun 22, 2022 at 6:52

Try maybe Frederik Pohl's Gateway - Heechee sextology ?

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F! Can you explain what details of this matches the question? And also please be specific about which book matches the question.
    – DavidW
    Jun 21, 2022 at 13:43
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    Checked info on wikipedia, unfortunately it's not a match. The book I read didn't involve Earth, it was all the way on the outskirts of human civilization basically. Jun 21, 2022 at 14:00
  • Glad you found the match ! I must to admit I haven't read Planets for Sale, unless I read some of the stories, if they were ever published individually in some magazines.
    – Santa
    Jun 22, 2022 at 16:20

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