This is another in my 12 in 2012 reads. Twelve novels by authors awarded the Damon Knight Grandmaster Memorial Award by the Science Fiction and Fantasy writers of America. This was much less awful than the previous one on my list.
There were some interesting ideas here about what would happen to society if it became possible to ensure happiness for everyone. Would we all become Lotus Eaters? Is discontent necessary?
The story consists of three sections, each further forward in time as the "science of hedonics" comes to dominate society. They were all interesting, written in clear readable prose and with an underpinning of good what if questions. There was also some fun tech stuff here and there.
I could have done with a little less of the nubile young woman gazing adoringly up at the strong wise man who is inspired by her adoration to struggle to rise to greatness... that's not exactly my favorite trope. There was also a fair tendancy for the plot to suddenly slam to a halt so the man rising to greatness could take a few minutes to lecture the rest of the characters about the intrinsic nature of man and how one should live and etc, and etc, which teetered on the edge of being annoying. But it wasn't unendurable.
On the whole there was more good than bad here, and I liked most of the characters - even the adoring nubiles weren't completely spineless. Its dated, but its still readable, and kind of fun.