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Beyond This Horizon (Post-Utopia) MP3 CD – Audiobook, 7 Oct 2014


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  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; MP3 Una edition (7 Oct 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 149154645X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1491546451
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.3 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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About the Author

Robert A. Heinlein was one of the greatest science fiction writers of the century and won the coveted Hugo Award for FRIDAY and STARSHIP TROOPERS as well as several others. He died in 1989. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Jan 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Published in 1942, Beyond This Horizon gives clear evidence of the genius and writing power that Heinlein possessed, but this early novel is definitely less than perfect. In the process of churning it out for publication in Astounding Stories (published under the pseudonym of Anson MacDonald), he privately confessed to editor John W. Campbell, Jr., that "it stinks." The ideas behind the story fascinated him, yet he struggled to distill a good story out of them. It is my opinion that Heinlein set his sights too high for this short novel, as it basically revolves around the very reason for man's existence. The premise is quite promising: genetic engineering has produced a "perfect" world, one free of disease, war, poverty, hunger, etc. "All of them should have been happy," as Heinlein begins the narrative, yet they are not. The protagonist in particular is not happy and has no desire to bring children into a seemingly pointless existence. This is a cause for concern for the local sociopolitical moderator because Hamilton Felix hails from a true star line of men. His genetic code represents one of the more impressive accomplishments of social and genetic engineers working over the course of three centuries, and his line will be essentially perfected in the course of two successive generations-if he can be induced to father a child. Of course, one of a very select group of females must be selected, and the chromosomes of the match must be carefully manipulated, but society needs him to reproduce. In fact, the powers that be agree to begin a scientific search for the meaning of life in order to talk him into becoming a father.Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Heinlein started his publishing career with quite a bang, with three novels, a couple of novellas, and numerous short stories all published in a short two-and-a-half-year time span. Due to this copious output, he frequently had more than one story in a single issue of Astounding magazine, necessitating his use of several pen names. This story, as it did not fall into his 'Future History' chart, was first published as by Anson MacDonald, though its style and subject material, being so different from most of what was being published at that time, pretty clearly marked who the author really was.
This is a book of many and various ideas, both social and scientific, some of which may seem a little ludicrous, others of which are very valid and of great import to today's society. One of the most confounding ideas presented here is the idea that government should not be taxing people, but rather should be distributing money to all citizens so as to provide as much new money in circulation as there has been in new production of products. Next up is an idea that an openly armed citizen will command respect and demand polite behavior, while those who choose to go unarmed are to some degree second class citizens - an idea that probably was not very well thought out for all of its implications, unusual for Heinlein. But most prevalent is the idea of managing the human genome to produce a 'better' human, better in this case being defined as 'entity most able to survive under changing conditions'. The converse of this is also shown, of what happens when genetics are manipulated to produce particular types of supermen (or monsters, depending on your point of view).
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Heinlein always amazes with his concepts. Here you have him formulating economic systems to support a non-communist utopia and a benevolent non-fascist eugenics programme. Truely inspiring.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 54 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
The Post-Utopian Blues 8 May 2003
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Beyond This Horizon (1948) is a "post-utopian" novel. After the problem of world hunger, and all other issues of wealth distribution, have been solved, what problems will remain? If everybody is rich and healthy, what more could a rational person desire?

In this novel, Hamilton Felix visits his friend, Monroe-Alpha Clifford, to show off his new pistol, a .45 caliber automatic, and then invites him out for dinner. As they dine on the balcony, Monroe-Alpha fumbles a crab leg, which slips from his fingers and lands in a drink on a table below, splashing purple liquid onto a woman's lap. Monroe-Alpha is called to task for the accident and apologizes, admitting his fault. However, another man chides him for his clumsiness and Hamilton does the honors, but only wounds the man in the shoulder.

Unknown to Felix and his friend, the wounded man is an assassin for a group that believes that utopia lacks only one thing: a ruling class. The story goes on to detail the uncovering of this irrational plot and the eventual actions taken, including a shootout in the Genetics Clinic.

The author draws upon the old saying, "man cannot live by bread alone", to point out that a material utopia will not settle all human issues. Such problems include not only the ambitions and aggressions passed on through our genes, but our higher aspirations for ourselves, for our families, and for the whole human race.

This story is the author's first adult novel published in book form. He had been writing shorter works for the magazines for some time and two previous juvenile novels, but this was his masterwork, his proof that he could sell in the adult book market. There is very little that is dated in this story (one editorial review commented on the dialogue as dated, but maybe retro was in again). In fact, his depiction of the eugenics program has the look and feel of modern genetic engineering; of course, the author doesn't dwell on the details, but the ways and means seem very contemporary.

This novel has never been acclaimed as much as others, such as Stranger In a Strange Land, that attracted the attention of a wider, but less knowledgeable, audience. Maybe it came before its time, for the topics discussed herein are more apropos today than 60 years ago. One of the possibilities of the post-ColdWar era is the development of a worldwide material utopia. Would that solve all our current problems? Are you certain?

This reprint has a 2001: A Space Odyssey starchild on the cover. Some people don't know a Heinlein from a Clarke! And probably not even a hawk from a handsaw!

Highly recommended to Heinlein fans and anyone who enjoys the serious contemplation of the unthinkable in a SF setting.

-Arthur W. Jordin
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Defining a 'Better' Human 27 Dec 2002
By Patrick Shepherd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Heinlein started his publishing career with quite a bang, with three novels, a couple of novellas, and numerous short stories all published in a short two-and-a-half-year time span. Due to this copious output, he frequently had more than one story in a single issue of Astounding magazine, necessitating his use of several pen names. This story, as it did not fall into his 'Future History' chart, was first published as by Anson MacDonald, though its style and subject material, being so different from most of what was being published at that time, pretty clearly marked who the author really was.

This is a book of many and various ideas, both social and scientific, some of which may seem a little ludicrous, others of which are very valid and of great import to today's society. One of the most confounding ideas presented here is the idea that government should not be taxing people, but rather should be distributing money to all citizens so as to provide as much new money in circulation as there has been in new production of products. Next up is an idea that an openly armed citizen will command respect and demand polite behavior, while those who choose to go unarmed are to some degree second class citizens - an idea that probably was not very well thought out for all of its implications, unusual for Heinlein. But most prevalent is the idea of managing the human genome to produce a 'better' human, better in this case being defined as 'entity most able to survive under changing conditions'. The converse of this is also shown, of what happens when genetics are manipulated to produce particular types of supermen (or monsters, depending on your point of view). This, written at the height of Hitlerian rhetoric, is remarkable for is perspicacity and its ultimate relevance to today's debate about the ethics of all forms of genetic engineering from cloning to stem-cell research. Not satisfied with just these ideas, the latter half of the novel tackles the age-old questions of life-after-death, reincarnation, and when a fetus becomes a human.

So this book is loaded with interesting ideas, but it is also very definitely an early effort, with numerous indicators that Heinlein had not fully learned the craft of writing. As it is, there is some evidence that at least parts of this novel were a re-write of his first never-published (and since destroyed) novel, For Us The Living, apparently written somewhere around 1937. That date may be significant, for as we start this book, we find a utopia where there is no hunger, no poverty, no need to work to earn a living, though many do. It is also around the time frame of 1937-1938 that Heinlein was heavily involved with the social program EPIC (End Poverty in California) that was championed by Upton Sinclair, and it is apparent that at least some of the ideals from that program provided some of the impetus for the society Heinlein presents in this book. As is typical for first novels, though, there is a tendency to include sub-plots and incidents that don't further the ultimate aim of the novel. The entire first half, with its emphasis on the actions of a misguided revolutionary group, has almost zero relevance to the second half of the novel - it's almost as if there were really two separate books here that have been forcibly mated, to the detriment of both halves. Coincidence plays far more of a role than it should. Characterization is very spotty, with Felix, the protagonist, reasonably well portrayed, but most of the other characters, and especially the women, are very two-dimensional. Dialogue is dated with forties slang, and there is too much telling, rather than showing, of much of the more scientific detail.

But even with all these flaws, this is still a fascinating book, with its multiple ideas and opinions to keep your head engaged, with the action fast enough to hide most of the problems. Not the best, nor even the second best of his works, but still very recognizably a Heinlein novel.

--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Unnecessarily derided 16 Dec 2001
By Bill R. Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
To be sure, this is far from being one of Robert A. Heinlein's best novels, but it is a good book, and nowhere near as bad as it is often made out to be - I found it to be an engrossing read. The book was written in the early 40's, but it tackles a subject that has only much more recently been seriously looked into on more than a mere esoteric level (due to books like Jurassic Park and such): genetic engineering. If you knew nothing of genetics, this book could teach you some (although certain "facts" in the book - 48 chromosomes - have been outmolded by subequent science, which Heinlein wisely decided to leave well enough alone), and it's speculation can be enlightening. This book explores the issue pretty thoroughly, almost on a remarkable level for the time, and it really should get more credit for that. This is surely one of the very earliest science fiction books to deal with the subject on such terms - perhaps not too surpisingly, as Heinlein is generally credited with introducing the social sciences into science fiction, and genetic engineering is a logical tangent from that springboard. Perhaps the reason it hasn't received such credit is the ease with which certain subjects are dispensed. Aside from the occasional absurd coincidences in the story (Phyllis showing up at Hamilton's house and Marion meeting Cliff at the park are never explained) which can be overlooked with a knowing wink towards artistic license, this book makes an issue of bringing up most of the major philosophical points in existence (including, but certainly not limited to, "What is the meaning of life?" itself), but never really attempting to answer them (Heinliein has done the same thing in subsequent writings, too - Gulf, for instance.) Of course, on the byline, such questions cannot be answered. Kudos to the book for at least dealing with them (also, the realization that Felix comes to about the meaning of life, though scientifically unsatisfying, is at least moreally reassuring.) Still, aside from all this, this is an entertaining book, and you will have fun reading it. It hooked me. It's fun, interesting, more than a little thought-provoking (as all good SF, and Heinlein, should be), and somewhat underrated in Heinlein's oeuvre, as it is often unnecessarily derided.
Perphaps, as to emphasize the point that this book is better than is generally ackwnoledged (or maybe just looking to make a quick buck on the theory of "anything with Heinlein's name on it will sell"), this book has been recently re-published. I'm glad to see it back in publication. It's a worthy part of the Heinlein canon, and deserves to be read. Unfortunately, it is adorned with a horrendous cover, unshamedly derivative of 2001 - somebody's horrible lapse in judgment - that may give this already undeservedly notorious book an even worse reputation. At least it's back in print. Perhaps a better edition lies somewhere "beyond this horizon." Alas.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Heinlein's talent obvious in first novel 6 Aug 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Elsewhere I had heard this rated as one of science-fiction's classics of the forties, and so, upon seeing it in the store, I figured "what the heck" and decided to go for it. As usual, Heinlein never fails to disappoint, and this book is crammed with so many ideas that you lose count after a while.

Heinlein made a neat twist by making the world perfect and everybody happy, and still managing to get a passable plot out of all that. Beyond This Horizon is a nice middle ground between those who find his "kiddie" books like Have Spacesuit, Will Travel too simple and his more adult books like Stranger in A Strange Land and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress a little too radical.

One thing I find interesting, as a little aside, is that when publishers right copy for the summary's on the back of his novels, they often neglect the best parts of the book. On Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, it makes great mention of the pirates, but nothing at all of the trial of Earth that came later and took up a good portion of the book. It's the same case here, with all the focus on the revolt of the Survivor's Club, which is resolved about the middle of the book, and nothing on the issues that are discussed later. The point is here, when looking at a Heinlein book, or any book, don't always go by what the back cover says.

Just another public service announcement. But, seriously, this was a great book. Read it
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
One of the best Science Fiction novels ever written 13 Feb 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Though many of the other comments on this book have been critical: that it goes way too fast, has little plot,is one of Heinlein's weaker books, I can assure potential readers that this is one of the best Science Fiction novels ever written.
Heinlein manages to write a novel that not only has charming characters, but also manages to be bursting with really cool ideas (especially considering that this novel was written in the 40's). He takes on subjects which we just today are starting to discuss seriously, the most obvious one being genetic engineering, and gives his view of how society adapts to it.
He also provides (as with all Heinlein books) some interesting social commentary (in this novel he seems to endorse a republic where the citizens police themselves).
And though, as critics are quick to point out, this novel has many different plot lines (some of which do not begin until around half way through the book). Any experienced reader who has surpassed the Piers Anthony level should be able to follow what is going on as long as they take the time to read the book properly.
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