Job: Comedy of Justice Mass Market Paperback – Oct 12 1985
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From the Publisher
Like many people, I go way, way back with Heinlein. My very favorite book (and one that stands out in my mind--and with much affection--to this day) is Tunnel in the Sky. I really, really wanted to go off to explore new worlds with a covered wagon and horses, like the hero does at the very end of the book. But one of the nice things about Robert Heinlein is that he's got something for everyone. One of my best friends has a different favorite: Podkayne of Mars. Go figure.
--Shelly Shapiro, Executive Editor
About the Author
Robert A. Heinlein was the grand master of science fiction in the twentieth century. Over the course of his long career he won numerous awards and many of his novels have cemented their place in history as science fiction classics, including STARSHIP TROOPERS, THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, and the beloved STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
A bit weird, but his rich characters and their plight makes for a humour-filled ride. I enjoyed it as the funny novel that it is, but I think "Starship Troopers", "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", and "Stranger in a Strange Land" still stand as better examples of his work. This is a fun romp, with some interesting philosophical implications, but it is not his greatest work.
Still highly recommended.
Why do we believe what we do? Why are certain parables regarded as examples of morality? Have we been conditioned to believe that great evils were in fact just and moral? What the heck is morality anyway?
These are a few of the questions that Job will challenge you with. It is a book that left an indelible impression on me, and caused me to reject many of the things I had been force-fed as a child.
If you are looking for Heinlein's typical science-fiction, you won't find it here. Instead you'll find a story spun from Heinlein's ascerbic wit that navigates the human system of beliefs and values, and does so with greater incisiveness than he's done in any other title.
This one is essentially a retelling of the story of Job, with Alexander Hergensheimer as the put-upon protagonist. The outcome, too, parallels the story of Job, but I can't tell you how without giving away the ending. Let's just say that Heinlein borrows from, and builds on, some of his own nearly-forgotten early fantasy/horror works, particularly 'They' and 'The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag'.
It's also a grand homage to two of Heinlein's literary forebears -- James Branch Cabell (_Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice_) and Samuel Langhorne Clemens ('Mark Twain'; 'Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven'). You don't _have_ to know this in order to appreciate the story, but it helps.
You probably already know the plot. On a bet, Hergensheimer undertakes a firewalk and comes out the other side in a different world, one in which people keep calling him 'Alec Graham'. Level One plot: Who is Graham and how did Hergensheimer come to take his place? And what's up with this world-changing business?
Hergensheimer is also a minister in a conservative Protestant sect, and he's married. But in his new world, he's got Graham's girlfriend: a stunning Danish beauty named Margrethe, with whom he commits all sorts of 'sins' and for whose soul he is deeply concerned (she worships Odin). Level Two plot: How does Hergensheimer handle all the moral quandaries, and how does he grow and change in the process?Read more ›
The various paralell universes turn out to be prety interresting themselves, the wonder of such things as street lights(people will actually obey a light?) or other minor things add to the story. As they move through elaborate tests, the world changing around them with no warning at random intervals they seek some kind of stability on which to stand. At every turn they work hard, save thier money, only to find all thier hard work for nothing, and themselves destitute once more.
And why all the suffering? His "all-powerful" god wants to have fun with a wager, and send him all this suffering and pain. Unlike the biblical Job, our protaginist does not suffer from boiles and fevers and sickness. Finally, he comes to understand that the world of his creator is not as he had thought, and those enemies of his creator are not all bad.
Read at one level, this novel is a updated biblical Book of Job. The main character is put through the wringer because of a wager made by his Creator. Read at another level, it is the story of transformation: religious bigot and all-around prig Alex Hergensheimer is transformed into a much better person, even if that may not have been anyone's intent. But at another, deeper level, Heinlein illustrates what is really important, what really matters, what really endures. Because Alex discovers, over the course of the story, what real love can be, and how real love is the most important thing in the universe. More important than the dubious Heaven he finds when, about to lose his wager, the Creator pulls the Last Trump and Alex ascends to sainthood and Heaven, without his true love. He abandons Heaven and harrows Hell to find her. Heinlein couldn't have put it much more plainly.
My favorite scene: when, risen into Heaven as a Saint, Alex asks Heaven's help in finding his wife. And Heaven produces his wife. His first wife. From before he found real love. She's a harridan, and the transformed Alex is appalled. Even the angels are embarrassed for Alex.
The denouement hearkens back to the denouement of "Jonathan Hoag.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I found this to be a satisfying take on the common conceptions of good and evil, God and Lucifer and things we chose to believe about religion, love and faith.Published on Dec 19 2011 by Karen
The writings of Robert Heinlein's later years are a good bit different from the science fiction classics he produced in his prime. Read morePublished on July 14 2006 by Daniel Jolley
I love Robert A. Heinlein's quriky brand of libertarian sci-fi, and I enjoyed this book. However, it didn't compare to some of his other work like "The Moon is a Harsh... Read morePublished on March 19 2004 by Jerry Brito
The good: It was a page-turner with some rich characters and a compelling study of human nature. And Heinlein as usual makes the reader feel just as his characters do. Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2004 by J. T. King
Heinlein wastes no time in jumping right into the story. Alex Hergensheimer, on vacation in Polynesia, is challenged in a bet to walk through a firepit. Read morePublished on Jan. 28 2004 by Taylor B. Rodgers
...what if everything you believe in and everything you know to be true were tested? Tested so much so that one moment you're walking into an ice cream parlor with your taste buds... Read morePublished on June 18 2003 by yygsgsdrassil