Beyond This Horizon
Robert A. Heinlein
Baen, Oct 7 2014, $15.00
Due to his ancestors’ need for the perfect human, millionaire entrepreneur and government spy Hamilton Felix is the product of generations improving the DNA until he is near the original paragon objective. However, his late kin failed to consider one nagging problem: ennui and disinterest especially in siring let alone improving his family’s genetic makeup.
He and Monroe-Alpha Clifford dine on a restaurant’s balcony, when his friend clumsily drops a crab leg into a drink on the table below, which in turn wets a woman. Appalled Monroe-Alpha apologizes, but another patron takes him to task leading to a duel between the stranger and Felix who shoots him in the shoulder. However, unbeknownst to Felix or Clifford, the wounded man believes, unlike the vast majority of society, that utopia has not been achieved because of a lack of an upper class in charge’ he and his associates plot insure this happens soonest with his group in charge. Felix is the star they need to achieve their goal.
This reprint of a 1940s hard boiled science fiction seems relevant with the debate on income distribution and other related societal issues. Robert A. Heinlein makes a strong case that a Utopian society fulfills the lowest two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy (published at around the same time) but once physiological and safety needs are satisfied humans require much more (love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization). Although at times the pace slows down, overall this is an engaging thought-provoking thriller.