“Easy times for individuals are bad times for the race.”
Utopias have their downside. A landmark science fiction novel by a dean of the genre. Written before the United States entered World War Two, yet amazing prescient of the next fifty years.
“But man is a working animal. He likes to work. … likely to spend his spare time working out some gadget which will displace labor and increase productivity.” (20th, not 21st century man)
Marred by lengthy exposition/preaching. While Heinlein was ahead of society in some ways and clearly foresaw many technology advances only made possible by the invention of the transistor some years later, he mistook then-current fads in economics and para-psychology as indicative of future trends. “The structural nature of finance is too deeply imbedded in our culture for pseudo-capitalism to return.”
“The only thing that could give us some real basis for our living is to know for sure whether or not anything happens after we die.”
The protagonist voice is like P. G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster. “I’m one long joke on myself.”
“An armed society is a polite society.”
Skip the post-script blather by Tony Daniels. “Which shows how much of the modern negative criticism that Heinlein evokes in the present day is not only completely mistaken and stupid, but pernicious and hatefully intended.” Denounces ad hominem attacks by “critics, most of whom I consider idiots.” Claims it “does not end with a twist” but with “an authentic answer.” Which is wrong on both counts. Dissuades reading any of his works.
“The only choices that matter are those that we responsibly made based on the evidence, not on anyone’s declarations, however well intentioned.”
(Finalist for Hugo retro award for 1943)