Beyond This Horizon
|Beyond This Horizon|
First single volume edition - 1948
|Author(s)||Robert A. Heinlein|
|Genre(s)||Science fiction novel|
|Publisher||Astounding Science Fiction (orig. serial) & Fantasy Press (single book)|
|Publication date||1942 (orig. serial) & 1948 (single book)|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
Beyond This Horizon is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It was originally published as a two-part serial in Astounding Science Fiction (April, May 1942, under the pseudonym Anson MacDonald) and then as a single volume by Fantasy Press in 1948.
The novel depicts a world where genetic selection for increased health, longevity, and intelligence has become so widespread that the unmodified 'control naturals' are a carefully managed and protected minority. Dueling and the carrying of arms is a socially accepted way of maintaining civility in public; a man can wear distinctive clothing to show his unwillingness to duel, but this results in a lower social status. The world has become an economic utopia; the "economic dividend" is so high that work has become optional. The chief economic problem is in fact using up the economic surplus: many high-quality goods actually cost less than those of lower quality. Many people use lower quality goods as status symbols. The government invests heavily in scientific research, but this has the side-effect of further increasing productivity a decade or more later, so long-term projects with no expected economic return are favored above anything but medical research, on the theory that longer lifespans will consume more surplus.
The story's protagonist, Hamilton Felix (surname first) is the archetypal superman. Felix possesses a superhuman physique, an intellect to match it, and can expect to live centuries without any form of medical assistance. Authorities aware of his genetic makeup consider him to be the most advanced human in existence - the "star line". However, he lacks eidetic memory, which disqualifies him for what many consider to be humanity's most important occupation: that of an "encyclopedic synthesist", one who analyzes the sum total of human knowledge for untapped potential. As such, he finds his life - and the society he lives in - to be enjoyable but meaningless. However, when one of these synthesists seeks him out, inquiring when he plans to continue his line, he finds himself drawn into an adventure which not only gives him purpose but convinces him that his society is worth saving after all.
A major theme in the novel is reincarnation, the immortality of the soul, and telepathy. Hamilton Felix is the product of generations of genetic engineering. He is almost but not quite the perfect human. In the second half of the book his genetically engineered son is born. The son is the final climax of generations of genetic engineering and selective breeding, and is a genetically perfect human. As the son grows he begins to develop almost super human mental abilities and a surprising telepathy ability. As the novel draws to a close, it becomes apparent that the son senses that Hamiton Felix's second child, a daughter, is the reincarnation of a wise elderly government official who foresaw her own death and arranged to die shortly before Felix's daughter was born. This official understood that the soul is reincarnated, and in preparation for her own death and reincarnation she was instrumental in the genetic engineering of the son and daughter.
Literary significance and criticism 
In the first two decades of his writing career, Heinlein wrote on average one novel every year, nearly all intended for young adult readers. Beyond This Horizon was his second published novel, and the last adult novel he was to write for some years. The recent publication of his lost first novel, For Us, the Living, reveals that Beyond This Horizon is largely a second attempt to treat most of its ideas. For Us, the Living consists largely of thinly-fictionalized lectures on social credit (a movement that Heinlein later hid his involvement in), as well as free love, and criticism of religious fundamentalism. From the first page of Beyond This Horizon, Heinlein shows a revolutionized mastery of storytelling applied to the same materials. The title of the first chapter is "All of them should have been very happy —," and it introduces the utopia by the expedient of the protagonist's inexplicable dissatisfaction with it.
Eugenics is shown as the wave of the future, and yet it is a eugenics that explicitly rejects racism, and can be reconciled with Heinlein's strongly held belief in cultural relativism. Scientific progress is satirized as often as it is glorified, and Heinlein displays his disdain for positivism, as his protagonist convinces the society's leaders to plow vast amounts of money into research on topics such as telepathy and the immortality of the soul.
One sub-theme of the book is the carrying and use of firearms. In the novel being armed is part of being a man; otherwise he wears a brassard and is considered weak and inferior. Women are allowed but not expected to be armed. Duels, either deadly or survivable, may easily occur when someone feels that they have been wronged or insulted, a custom that keeps order and politeness. A defining quote from the book which is repeated throughout Heinlein's work is, "An armed society is a polite society," is very popular with those who support the personal right to keep and bear arms.
Nudism and free love, which had been prominently featured in For Us, the Living, are absent from this story. Nudism would not appear again in Heinlein's work until 1957's The Door Into Summer; free love next made an appearance in 1961, in Stranger in a Strange Land.
Boucher and McComas characterized Beyond This Horizon as among "the finest science fiction novels of the modern crop.". P. Schuyler Miller reviewed the novel favorably, saying "in true Heinlein manner the basic theme of the book smashes the screen of action only in the closing pages."
Heritage Check System 
Presented in both Beyond the Horizon and For Us, The Living, the Heritage Check System is an alternative form of government funding, specifically an alternative to taxation. It was proposed by Robert A. Heinlein initially in his book For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs, written in 1939 and expanded in a later book, Beyond This Horizon. The heritage check system is a moderately altered Social Credit system. Its modification reflects Heinlein's more libertarian views and Heinlein's interpretation of how financial systems are affected by the relationship between consumption and production.
The system could be construed as a libertarian's approach to a socialist idea, creating an alternative to a tax system that puts fewer requirements on individuals, while simultaneously providing more for the common welfare. This is not too surprising, as Heinlein (a self-proclaimed libertarian) was also fascinated by Social Credit plans that were proposed in Alberta, Canada but vetoed by the Canadian Federal Government. In this role, the government becomes less a part of the economy and more a facilitator of it.
The Heritage Check System in "For Us, the Living" can be summarized by four major actions:
- A required end to fractional reserve banking. Banks must always have a 100% reserve for any loan they give out.
- New money is printed only by the government, and then only enough to counteract the natural deflation that would occur in a system without fractional reserve banking.
- The government uses this money, and only this money, for all of its necessary roles. Any extra is divided evenly among citizens and businesses that over-produce, to offset the loss of not selling their over-production. The government buys the over-production for its own use, and it can be bought by citizens later at the same price if they wish.
- Goods bought by the government are later sold or used by the government, and normal governmental services such as postage are sold. These goods and services provide the standard backing for the currency, similar to how gold is used under the gold standard.
Dealing with government funding in this way is theorized to stabilize an economy, and deals with the production/consumption problem that Heinlein claimed to exist under more conventional economic systems:
- "A production cycle creates exactly enough purchasing power for its consumption cycle. If any part of this potential purchasing is not used for consumption but instead is invested in new production, it appears as a cost charge in the new items of production, before it re-appears as new purchasing power. Therefore, it causes a net loss of purchasing power in the earlier cycle. Therefore, an equal amount of new money is required by the country."
In addition to stabilizing the economy, the heritage check system is theorized to have the added benefit of being a system where Federal taxes would not be needed for government function but only for regulatory measures (for example enforcing environmental standards, taxing corporations for not meeting government requirements, discouraging buying from certain locations through tariffs, or redistributing wealth.)
The heritage check system also uses the fact that government spending and government taxing are not directly connected, and each can happen in the absence of the other (especially, it is posited, in a heritage check system). The system projects that as far as market effect, taxing causes deflation and Government spending causes inflation. Heinlein projects that as a result, the value of money can be completely and totally controlled, making the currency as stable as it is desired to be.
Release details 
- 1942, USA, Astounding Science Fiction magazine (ISSN NA), Pub date April 1942-May 1942, orig. serial
- 1948, USA, Fantasy Press (ISBN NA), Pub date ? ? 1948, hardback (First edition)
- 1948, USA, New American Library(ISBN 0-451-07599-4), Pub date ? ? 1948, Paperback
- 1964, USA, Signet (ISBN NA; Signet D2539), Pub. Date August 1964, Paperback
- 1981, UK, Gregg Press (ISBN 0-8398-2672-9), Pub date ? ? 1981, paperback
- 1975, USA, Signet (ISBN 0-451-08966-9), Pub date ? ? 1975, paperback
- 1975, UK, Panther Press (ISBN 0-586-02348-8), Pub date ? ? 1975, paperback
- 1981, USA, Ultramarine Publishing (ISBN 0-89366-282-8), Pub date ? June 1981, hardback
- 1983, UK, Hodder & Stoughton (ISBN 0-450-06022-5), Pub date 1 May 1983, hardback
- 1985, USA, New English Library (ISBN 0-450-03289-2), Pub date 1 November 1985, paperback
- 1989, USA, Signet (ISBN 0-451-15616-1), Pub date ? April 1989, paperback
- 1997, USA, Atlantic Books (ISBN 0-451-16676-0), Pub date 6 August 1997, paperback
- 2001, USA, Baen Books (ISBN 0-671-31836-5), Pub date ? September 2001, hardback
- 2002, USA, Baen Books (ISBN 0-7434-3561-3), Pub date 1 September 2002, paperback
- "Recommended Reading," F&SF, October 1951, p.60
- "Book Reviews", Astounding, February 1949, p.146
- Heinlein, Robert (1939). For Us, The Living. New York: Scribner. pp. 156–184. ISBN 0-7432-5998-X.
- M-la-maudite. "on Heinlein: For Us, The Living". Ludwig Von Mises Institute. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- Rowland, Robin. "Heinlein novel imagines a future America patterned on Alberta". CBC News Indepth. CBC News. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- "Автор: Heinlein Robert A. - Книга: "For Us, The Living"". Выбрать главу. litmir.net. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- James, Robert, PhD, "Afterword", in For Us, the Living, by Robert Heinlein, Simon & Schuster, 2003
- Station, Mike. "For Us, Who Didn't Build That". Mike Street Station. http://mikestreetstation.wordpress.com. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- Patterson, Heinlein (2010). Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907 - 1948). New York, NY, USA: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-7653-1960-9.
- Sewell, Thomas, "Featured Review: For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs - A Young Heinlein tries for Utopia, but fails", Books Under Review, retrieved 21 March 2013
- Heinlein, Robert (1939). For Us, The Living. New York: Scribner. p. 179. ISBN 0-7432-5998-X.
- Heinlein, Robert (1939). For Us, The Living. New York: Scribner. p. 180. ISBN 0-7432-5998-X.
- Heinlein, Robert (1939). For Us, The Living. New York: Scribus. p. 182. ISBN 0-7432-5998-X.