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The Inner House

Greenhill Science Fiction Series: Book 1

Walter Besant

An excerpt of a review from The Unpopular Review, Volume 10, December, 1918:

...WHEN we come to The Inner House by Sir Walter Besant, we find a Utopia that strikes at the very root of the Utopian idea, -- man's desire for a society without drawbacks. To Sir Walter, all Utopias are bad. The craving for them is most harmful. For man to follow the line of least resistance all through life, and to encounter no obstacles in his path, would result in a moral flabbiness that would mean his downfall. The working effect of a society in which there is no struggle for existence is pictured in the Inner House with convincing probability. Hardships are unknown, and the citizens, having overcome all dissatisfaction with conditions, are left in torpor and apathy, stupid and sluggish, for lack of any "large and liberal discontent."

In the land of The Inner House there is no more death or pain. The physicians of the House of Life have made the Great Discovery, how to abolish both pain and death. The result is that Religion and Love have perished from the land. How could Religion survive the removal of Death? "We fear not Death and, therefore, need no religion," the people say. "Without the certainty of parting, Religion droops and dies.... He who is immortal and commands the secrets of Nature so that he shall neither die, nor grow old, nor become feeble nor fall into any disease, feels no necessity for any religion." Love too disappears. But one thing kills Love. It cannot live long while the face and form know no change. Only at the price of abandoning the Great Discovery can Love be revived. The people rise up and throw off their effortless existence, for the sake of the Greater Discovery, "that to all things earthly there must come an end." The inhabitants realize in regard to their loved ones that "the very reason why they clasp them is because they die."

Utopias have their uses; The Inner House is needed to show their possible abuses, and it stands out as the great warning to all Utopians.