The Space-Born by E. C. Tubb
The volume is undated, though it notes that the novel was first published in 1956 by Ace books, and is copyright A. A. Wyu, Inc., which should be A. A. Wyn, I think.
This is typical 50s SF adventure. A generation starship is inhabited by a manufactured society, designed by the people who sent whether off. People are educated to believe that 40 is old — and so they should not be shocked provided 40-year-old people happen to tend to die, when in fact it is a secret police unit that is killing them. Why? Because we need a population of vibrant, young people, and we need rapid turnover to allow continuous breeding.
This is an adventure novel. Fights, betrayals, romances, escapes, ambitious underlings; they all jostle through the book. Is it brilliant literature? No. The writing is suited to the goal — fast-paced action, no purple prose, existential agonising or poetic descriptions.
Is it a good book? Well, the characterisation is minimal, stereotypes abound, women have little agency — in short, it is a typical sci-fi novel of the 50s, and typical of the ones that are long forgotten. Obviously it is a bit dated in some ways, but I was in the mood for an easy read, something I did not have to ponder throughout or puzzle out, and I got it. Probably best not to think too tough about provided the society posited would really function, best to allow the plot, which is what the book is all about, to carry you along and drop you out at the much-as-we-might-have-expected ending.
Because this book is really fodder, meant to be read, enjoyed and replaced with another, similar one, it is good that it is relatively brief. You’ll have a pretty good idea of the broad outlines of how it is going to be resolved by the time the pieces are all on the board, so you don’t want to have to plough through 300 more pages when you know (more or less, especially whether you make the mistake of reading the back cover and inside blurb) what’s going to happen — but 50 more is fine.
What can I say? Not a ‘great book’, but it suited me at the time of reading.