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The Eyes of Heisenberg by Frank Herbert

The Eyes of Heisenberg (original 1966; edition 1983)

by Frank Herbert

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Title:The Eyes of Heisenberg
Authors:Frank Herbert
Info:New English Library Ltd (1983), Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Eyes of Heisenberg by Frank Herbert (1966)



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Set in the far future in a time when Optimen lived for tens of thousand of years, The Eyes of Heisenberg is kind of like 1984 on Steroids. In this society, the rulers only allow certain people to procreate, and when they do so, genetic engineers manipulate the embryo seeking to make these superhumans, who can virtually live forever. The concept is okay, but I thought by and large the execution is poor. For one thing, I think to fully understand the story, you need an advanced degree in biochemistry. Secondly, it was never fully explained why things were happening. Why the embryos are engineered, what was so important about the embryo belonging to the Durants, which is the focus of the story, that makes all hell break loose. The other thing that really annoyed me was how Herbert jumps from one scene to another skipping all sorts of scenes in between that are necessary to set up the scene. It almost seemed like I was reading an abridgement. So although the concept was interesting, and there was good character development in the story, I found the novel more exasperating than anything else.
Carl Alves - author of Blood Street ( )
  Carl_Alves | Mar 16, 2013 |
Dystopian sci-fi set around the themes of the engineering of the human body, immortality, and man as god. Scarily relevant stuff considering it was written in the 60's, but then that's sci-fi for you.

More book reviews at http://talesfromfoxglovecottage.blogspot.co.uk/ ( )
  onelittlething | Mar 15, 2013 |
Lately I have been buying a lot of cheap second hand science fiction novels, most from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. I try to stick to writers I know of, and sometimes those books who sound interesting. What I have noticed is that most books from the early eighties and before are pretty thin, about 150 to 200 pages, whereas most book I read now are at least 350 and often more.
This is an oldy by Frank Herbert (of Dune fame) from 1966. We are many (tens of thousands) years in the future. Mankind is kept sterile and kept that way by the Optimen, prime humans who are immortal. The humans are basically slaves and pets for the Optimen. Some humans are allowed to breed, but the embryos are grown vats after being submitted to a cut, where unwanted elements are cut out of their DNA. This also cuts the bond with the parents, essentially making it that nobody has a past or a future. But then Durants appear, with an exceptionally good embryo. It seems to mutate on its own, and then it turns out that the embryo is also strangely fertile. Somehow cyborgs are also involved, working a plot against the optimen.
All in all, the basics of the story sound like it could be a very good scifi story. But all in all the book is too short. You are dumped right in the middle of it, and hardly anything is explained. You very slowly figure out where and when you are, what the world is like at that moment, and who and what is acting why and how. It could have done with a lot more world building. Now it was a bit of a jumble with a lot of interesting ideas but not a good story. ( )
  divinenanny | Oct 11, 2011 |
Short sf novel from 1966 about a far distant future where genetic engineering has brought longer lives for all and immortality for a minority -- but at the cost of genetic engineering being both compulsory and necessary, as humans no longer reproduce naturally. Many are naturally sterile, and for the rest, there is the contraceptive gas that ensures that only the chosen few with a potentially viable gene mix are allowed to try their luck at creating a zygote for the gene surgeons to improve. The immortal Optimen have ruled, largely by consent, since not long after the first of them was created some eighty thousand years ago, but there are challenges to their rule.

This is one of the sf books I first read as a teenager, and was hoping would still hold up. I had occasional problems with suspension of disbelief, but it's staying on the keep pile rather than going into the Oxfam box. The opening sequence with a genetic surgeon preparing to cut a new embryo with Optiman potential, and finding that it is something even greater and forbidden -- that still has the power to evoke sensawunda for me. The rest of the novel doesn't quite hit the same heights, but there's still a worthwhile story about the price and effects of immortality. And while this short novel doesn't have the same depth of world-building as Dune, there are still some lovely little details, such as the hand-pressure language used by the Parents Underground to communicate secretly in public. ( )
  JulesJones | Jun 11, 2011 |
i have to say that while i liked Frank Herbert's Dune, this was nothing like it. The book deals with very interesting ideas; however, it seems to short. The book lacks a lot of the detail that was put into Dune. It seems as if all the ideas that he wanted to cover were mapped out and then a story was put together; not a complete story rather just a rough draft. I have to say that after reading the book it will give you a few things to think about. it is a quick read and entertaining. I would recommended that everyone should read it at least once. ( )
  dsoj84 | Apr 2, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frank Herbertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caron-Lowins, √ČvelyneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garsault, AlainTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehr, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765342529, Mass Market Paperback)

A New World in Embryo

Public Law 10927 was clear and direct. Parents were permitted to watch the genetic alterations of their gametes by skilled surgeons . . . only no one ever requested it.

When Lizbeth and Harvey Durant decided to invoke the Law; when Dr. Potter did not rearrange the most unusual genetic structure of their future son, barely an embryo growing in the State's special vat-the consequences of these decisions threatened to be catastrophic.

For never before had anyone dared defy the Rulers' decrees . . . and if They found out, it was well known that the price of disobedience was the extermination of the human race . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:23 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Public Law 10927 was clear and direct. Parents were permitted to watch the genetic alterations of their gametes by skilled surgeons...only no one ever requested it.When Lizbeth and Harvey Durant decided to invoke the Law, when Dr. Potter did not rearrange the most unusual genetic structure of their future son, barely an embryo growing in the State's special vat--the consequences of these decisions threatened to be catastrophic...… (more)

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