This is a great cosmic guffaw of a masterpiece, one that spins worlds around its dazzled audience.--This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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 ›