Dieser Roman wurde 1942 geschrieben und ist somit ein Stück Zeitgeschichte. Die Menschheit lebt in einer Welt in der die meisten als genetisch sortierte Idealmenschen aufgewachsen sind und in der neues Leben meist gewissermaßen am Reißbrett entsteht. Die Wirtschaft der Erde ist weitestgehend zentral gesteuert und Hunger, erbliche Krankheiten und ähnliche unangenehme Dinge sind fast ausgerottet.
Viele der wissenschaftlichen Beschreibungen in diesem Roman mögen uns heute zu detailliert vorkommen, aber Heinlein hat hier, genau wie Huxley, für ein genetisch eigentlich analphabetisches Publikum geschrieben.
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In the distant future, after several wars and much scientific progress, the USA (though not the rest of the world) has achieved peace and prosperity by genetic manipulation of almost every child born for generations. People are talented, healthy and - generally - peaceful by nature. Tension is relieved by formalized duels and a clear separation between unarmed and armed citizens. But there are people who aren't happy with the status quo. These rebels want a future in which they rule absolutely and in which all kinds of genetic manipulation are allowed, not just the benevolent methods used now, which simply select the best genes the parents have to offer. These rebels try to pull Hamilton Felix on their side, a man who is the product of a particularly successful genetic project and who is so smart and talented that he is bored and doesn't really see any meaning to life as it is now. But this is a mistake since he abhors their philosophy and methods, and he uses the opportunity to infiltrate the aggressive organisation. Another friend of his ends up being a genuine member, there is also some romance strewn in, and in the final third of the novel it's about research into the meaning of life, telepathy etc. I think the summary already shows one weakness of this novel: It feels as if several ideas were pieced together. The genetic topic and the revolution could have easily filled the book, the romance plots would have also fit well enough, if only they had been given more room, but the last third of the book is about something completely different and this really doesn't fit too well. Most of the characters don't yet have the depth Heinlein later gave his characters, which is a pity because there is so much potential. What I really found interesting was his handling of the genetic topic, which is scientifically sound and actually a lot more convincing than a lot of the stuff written later. I'd say it's an interesting book, the science of the book is impressive, more so for a novel from the 1940s, and Heinlein's potential as a great writer already shows. But it took a few more books until that potential was fully developed. I'd say it's interesting and worth it for a fan, but as a newcomer to Heinlein it would be better to start with another novel, e. g. Friday (adult novel) or Red Planet (juvenile novel).