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After he firewalked in Polynesia, the world wasn't the same for Alexander Hergensheimer, now called Alec Graham. As natural accidents occurred without cease, Alex knew Armageddon and the Day of Judgement were near. Somehow he had to bring his beloved heathen, Margrethe, to a state of grace, and, while he was at it, save the rest of the world .... After he firewalked in Polynesia, the world wasn't the same for Alexander Hergensheimer, now called Alec Graham. As natural accidents occurred without cease, Alex knew Armageddon and the Day of Judgement were near. Somehow he had to bring his beloved heathen, Margrethe, to a state of grace, and, while he was at it, save the rest of the world ....


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After he firewalked in Polynesia, the world wasn't the same for Alexander Hergensheimer, now called Alec Graham. As natural accidents occurred without cease, Alex knew Armageddon and the Day of Judgement were near. Somehow he had to bring his beloved heathen, Margrethe, to a state of grace, and, while he was at it, save the rest of the world .... After he firewalked in Polynesia, the world wasn't the same for Alexander Hergensheimer, now called Alec Graham. As natural accidents occurred without cease, Alex knew Armageddon and the Day of Judgement were near. Somehow he had to bring his beloved heathen, Margrethe, to a state of grace, and, while he was at it, save the rest of the world ....

30 review for Job: A Comedy of Justice

  1. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Gone Where the Woodbine Twineth Quantum theory has some strange implications, one of which is the existence of parallel universes.* If physical reality does bifurcate at every quantum event, creating an infinite number of alternative realities, what happens to consciousness? Does it split as well, implying that twin minds exist in parallel but isolated states? Or does consciousness continue on a single trajectory, thus maintaining the presumed uniqueness of the individual personality? Could consc Gone Where the Woodbine Twineth Quantum theory has some strange implications, one of which is the existence of parallel universes.* If physical reality does bifurcate at every quantum event, creating an infinite number of alternative realities, what happens to consciousness? Does it split as well, implying that twin minds exist in parallel but isolated states? Or does consciousness continue on a single trajectory, thus maintaining the presumed uniqueness of the individual personality? Could consciousness migrate from one trajectory to another, inhabiting perhaps several alternative worlds, or bodies, in the course of its existence? And what are the moral responsibilities of a conscious mind which finds itself in radically different social environments? These questions are important, especially if you are Heinlein’s protagonist Alex, a priggish, religious fundamentalist and racist but who still possesses enough nineteenth century pluck and grit to confront cosmic uncertainty head on. Or rather these would be important issues if Alex, the fundamentalist, had the leisure to ponder them. As it is, mostly he has enough trouble surviving from day to day. The experience of being thrust from one version of reality to another is a fact that a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture just doesn’t cover. Not unless the Christian God is as playfully sadistic as he is reportedly bloodthirsty. Perhaps the old Norse Loki, the pesky divine practical joker, is actually behind such apparent irrationality. This is the god of changing rules; just when you think you know the way the world works from a moral perspective, Loki pulls the rug out. But wait, scripture does cover even this. The story of Job in the Old Testament does, after all, describe a Loki-like Yahweh who thinks it a fine thing to move the moral goal posts as well as physical laws of his creation on a whim... or a wager. “Yahweh rolls loaded dice with His universe... to deceive His creatures,” according to Heinlein’s most reliable celestial authority, Rahab the biblical whore of Canaan. Even the material uncertainty of bifurcating quantum universes is then multiplied by the moral uncertainty that a Loki/Jehova suspends or even directs quantum effects willy nilly depending on his mood and latest conversation - a bit like an omnipotent Donald Trump, for example. This theological explanation accounts for much more than the contradictory results of quantum science. Who could expect an omnipotent deity to be constrained to maintaining the consistency of physical or moral laws? If God did not demonstrate his arbitrariness from time to time how would we, or he, know he was God? The ultimate divine lark is the long awaited Apocalypse, the Last Trump (the pun unintended by Heinlein of course), the End of Days. Turns out it’s a bureaucratic fiasco that should have been organised by Disney World rather than the archangels Gabriel and Michael. Archangels don’t know nothin’ ‘bout human needs like plumbing and sanitary facilities. As Alex realises, “A saved soul in Heaven occupies much the position of a blackamoor in Arkansas. And it's the angels who really rub your nose in it. I never met an angel I liked.” The last thing the resident angels want is a horde of wet back migrant human beings creating disorder in the heavenly precincts. So the Saved only get to ride in the back of the bus in the Divine Transportation System. Bit of a let down really, suggesting less than a strong ethic of biblical Truth In Advertising. Quite apart from the smug hostility of the natives, Heaven is a bust: no industry, so nothing creative or interesting to do; no horticulture, so no natural beauty or development; and no public libraries at all, so no intellectual stimulation. And to top it off, the others who have been saved - like for instance former wives - are not people you like to spend dinner with much less eternity. The Christian idea of the Holy Trinity, it turns out, is absolutely true. But its real function is simply to provide an audience for the Divine Jokester, a sort of in-house mutual appreciation society or Magic Circle which lives to laugh, mostly at the consternation they can cause among human beings. It’s all a scam of course, Heaven, that is. The Other Place is where you want to be: A rather nice planet with “No snakes. No cockroaches. No chiggers. No poison ivy. No tax collectors. No rats. No cancer. No preachers. Only two lawyers.” And the people you’d much rather be with. They even take American Express. The whole divine justice thing is the ultimate switcheroo, therefore. What japes! The basic motive force of the universe revealed: divine high spirits. No wonder we’re all confused, as Alex says, “On reflection. I realized that I was in exactly the same predicament as every other human being alive: We don't know who we are, or where we came from, or why we are here. My dilemma was merely fresher, not different.” And no wonder that many of us feel put upon because of, “The delusion that the whole world is a conspiracy. Only it's not a delusion.” As Alex concludes, “Paranoia is the only rational approach to a conspiracy world.” So next time you get irritated with the obstinate stupidity of a believer, just remember that they’re suffering too. Theology may provide a more coherent theory than quantum mechanics. But belief in infinite and arbitrary divine power comes at a price: profound fear of its arbitrary exercise (“Thy will be done...”). As Alex finally realizes, “A man who is happy at home doesn't lie awake nights worrying about the hereafter.” * See: https://www.space.com/32728-parallel-...

  2. 5 out of 5

    fromcouchtomoon

    Leave it to Heinlein to make blasphemy lame.

  3. 5 out of 5

    SheriC (PM)

    I tried, I really did. But I just can’t anymore. This story was not wholly without merit, but for the most part it is boring, boring, boring. At least the main female character has agency, but it still reads like a 14 year old boy’s fantasy of the ideal “independent” woman, with the antagonist being a shrill, angry, disrespectful harpy. I thought the story would pick up when he finally got to heaven and hell, but nope. DNF at 89%. Audiobook, borrowed via Overdrive from my public library. Stilted I tried, I really did. But I just can’t anymore. This story was not wholly without merit, but for the most part it is boring, boring, boring. At least the main female character has agency, but it still reads like a 14 year old boy’s fantasy of the ideal “independent” woman, with the antagonist being a shrill, angry, disrespectful harpy. I thought the story would pick up when he finally got to heaven and hell, but nope. DNF at 89%. Audiobook, borrowed via Overdrive from my public library. Stilted reading by Paul Michael Garcia.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    This was my last favorite Heinlein novel, for many rereads. I've pretty much stopped rereading RAH -- but I might give this one another reread sometime. Enough years have passed, and it's a clever & unusual setup. Heinlein's homage to James Branch Cabell, one of his influences and favorite writers. If you've never read it, you should. The opening pages are a classic of sinking the hook early and keeping you reading. Heinlein was amazingly good at that. This was my last favorite Heinlein novel, for many rereads. I've pretty much stopped rereading RAH -- but I might give this one another reread sometime. Enough years have passed, and it's a clever & unusual setup. Heinlein's homage to James Branch Cabell, one of his influences and favorite writers. If you've never read it, you should. The opening pages are a classic of sinking the hook early and keeping you reading. Heinlein was amazingly good at that.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

    Heinlein's take on the biblical story of Job is a little less biblically based and a lot more fantastically oriented. That said, it is quite an interesting story, with a double share of twists and turns, and throughout it all you're rather unsure exactly where Heinlein is going. The more religious minded might be rather offended at Heinlein's theological inversion of good and bad. I think this would be a tragedy, because the wide range of religions interwoven here it seems quite obvious this is n Heinlein's take on the biblical story of Job is a little less biblically based and a lot more fantastically oriented. That said, it is quite an interesting story, with a double share of twists and turns, and throughout it all you're rather unsure exactly where Heinlein is going. The more religious minded might be rather offended at Heinlein's theological inversion of good and bad. I think this would be a tragedy, because the wide range of religions interwoven here it seems quite obvious this is not his version of the way things might be, but just a very creative exploration of "what if...?" What if you were just an unlucky pawn in a game between two really powerful players? What if they turned out to not be the most powerful? What if they were themselves not to high on the cosmic food chain? Where would that put you? Heinlein has never been lacking the creativity department, and in places I think he pretty much let it run wild in this book. All said, the theology is blatantly non-scriptural, and in places, anti-christian. It is quite an interesting read, just don't pick it up with the wrong expectations of what you're getting into.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jam

    To start, it is the year 1994, and in Alexander Hergensheimer's world, there are no airplanes, television, computers or traffic lights. Their only form of aeronautic transportation comes in the form of dirigibles. The world is incredibly moralistic, with abortion now termed a capital offense. A "federal law making the manufacture, sale, possession, importation, transportation, and/or use of any contraceptive drug or device a felony carrying a mandatory prison sentence of not less than a year and To start, it is the year 1994, and in Alexander Hergensheimer's world, there are no airplanes, television, computers or traffic lights. Their only form of aeronautic transportation comes in the form of dirigibles. The world is incredibly moralistic, with abortion now termed a capital offense. A "federal law making the manufacture, sale, possession, importation, transportation, and/or use of any contraceptive drug or device a felony carrying a mandatory prison sentence of not less than a year and a day". Swearing is a crime liable with punishment in the stocks in the form of public nudity and ends with wrongdoer voluntarily leaving the community. Dresses cover all the skin and Women Do Not Have The Vote. However, on a cruise ship trip, he finds it all gone awry as one unfortuznate tourist tour to the Polynesian islands finds him walking through fire...and into another universe. He is no longer Alexander Hergensheimer. He is now Alec L. Graham, a man with questionable associates, who has an affair with his stewardess, Margrethre, and one million dollars in his safety deposit box on the ship. Amazingly enough, he learns to cope pretty well with everything. That is, until, for some ridiculous reason, the ship hits an iceberg, in the middle of the Southern seas at that, and he ends up in another universe...again, but this time, with Margrethe at his side. And from there, Alex and Margrethe experience one world change after another, until they grow faster and faster in frequency. In the midst of all this, Alex is convinced the End of Days has come, and that God is showing the beginning signs of His Apocalypse. As Alex struggles to try to save Margrethe from her heathen ways, their time runs out, and the problem is taken out of his hands. In Heaven, Alex finds that it's not all it's cracked up to be. And that, horribly, Margrethe is nowhere to be found. From Heaven to Hell, he struggles to find her. And as he begins to realize that maybe all is lost, Satan comes to his rescue, with insights that his mind yearns to disbelieve. As they go to a Higher Power, higher even than God, Alex struggle to make sense of it all, and to put into context what is really important to him, his faith...or Margrethe. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The title of this book is apt, and ironic. It parallels the tale of Job in the Bible, wherein he suffers many trials, before finally finding happiness. I always found it, extremely offensive in the end, that it was nothing but a game between God and Satan. God trying to prove the loyalty of Job, and Satan saying otherwise. In short, Job was a tale of how God plays with our lives. And in this book, God plays with Everything. He plays with a man's reality, his beliefs, and even his faith. And Satan becomes the sympathetic one, a trickster who possesses something God does not have, the ability to understand human emotion. Because at some point, the trickster knows when to stop, but the deity does not. This book encourages questions. Such as, how can people worship a God who is so far apart from the human experience, that he does not understand their pain, pleasure, or love? God is the Alien. And Satan, though he may be evil, but through his countless centuries of human interaction, has in some small part of him, the knowing of a Human. It was amusing to read through all the different versions of Earth, and see how many ways people span the spectrum from extreme fanaticism, to extreme liberalism, and how machines range from antique technology, to the advanced. It was also interesting to see how a man, Alex, from a very religious background, would react to such changes. Would he waver in his faith, or be true to it? And would Margrethe, the woman in this tale, be able to cope with the changes brought on by her relationship with this man? They are both very different people. Alex was at times, a bigot, a chauvinist, and no doubt if he had had the opportunity, he would have denounced homosexuals and feminists as well. However, even he could not escape the changes these constant peeks into a different dimension, have wrought on his character. The title of this book is truly apt, as it really is a fun ride through the different versions of Earth, and eventually, Heaven and Hell. In the midst of it all, Alex is a believable character truly epitomizing the behavior of his original worlds. Alex, with his supremely moralistic upbringing, sometimes borders on bigotry and chauvinism in his thinking. The only fact which saves him from being a revolting character, is his minds ability to adapt and keep his mouth closed. I guess what saves him from behaving abominably, was that no parts were written were he was ablt to meet homosexuals and feminists. If he did, I'd be interested to see what behavior he'd show. Both he and Margrethe were blessed with hardworking and pleasing characters which enabled them to survive in the many different worlds they dwelt in for a time. Alex would preach, but it was inoffensive. His, somewhat bumbling behavior endeared him to people. Margrethe was beautiful, as well as a good soul. As Lazarus Long would say, "she was innocent in her lechery." The most delightful surprise in this book, was the Rapture. I admit, I was expecting something more along the lines of wormhole opening in space. I guess, I really should have clued in on all the hints dropped (especially the title). I was irritated at first, the way a little kid expects a basketball for X-mas, but he gets a football instead. Well, I guess I'll just have to admit to myself that I can't always predict the twists in a story. Sometimes, we just get things wrong. In the aftermath of the Rapture, I was treated to a picture of Heaven and Hell, that I never expected to see. Heaven, is as place of strict rules, and a permanent hierarchy. It's revolt to any liberal thinker and burgeoning activist, because I'm sure, in this type of place, you can't instigate a revolt and change the status-quo. I, myself, believe that democracy is a myth, however, I do enjoy the illusion of it. However, the Heaven being shown, strips you of all your illusions. The rule in Heaven is RHIP, "Rank Hath It's Privileges." There is no Golden Rule. Instead, there's a three-level ranking system. Angels on top, Saints in the middle, and Humans at the bottom. Again, I doubt God would stand for a reenactment of the French Revolution in his stratospheric territory. Hell, is as bureaucratic as any Earthian government. You increase or decrease in rank according to your wits, cunning, and manipulative talent. People compete for their place. Of course, you've got those who suffer, and those who enjoy. It's no different from Earth, except you in this place, you can actually see the demons when they talk to you. This book reminds me a lot of Heinlein's Time Enough for Love, in the way that he incorporates several settings and plots into one story. I also like the irreverence he has for religion, although my own Catholic upbringing hardwired into my head, has made me uneasy at some parts in the story. It's social conditioning though, so I can't quite help it. In the end, again, the story of Job is paralleled. After the many trials and tribulations, Alex and Margrethe are given new beginnings, not to mention new memories. The lives they lost as they journeyed, were replace with new ones. Just as Job's daughters and sons were replaced with new children. However, of these two parallel stories, I prefer Heinlein's. Alex came out of the experience, dispelling his naivety and blind faith, and was reborn, a more discerning and open-minded man. Job, on the other hand, came out of his experience, minus twelve children. (It doesn't matter to me that they were replaced. They're not goldfish you can flush down the toilet, then go to the pet store to buy new ones.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    David (דוד)

    3.5 stars Well, I have mixed feelings about this book. This is a religious parody. Some aspects of it I enjoyed very well, like the world-changing and its relevant questions that the protagonists ask. The next-to-end eighty pages were most interesting, imagining the Heaven and Hell. So hilarious this part!! However otherwise, it was quite a bit boring many times. It was hard for me every time to pick up the book to continue where I had paused. But after a few pages, things used to become interest 3.5 stars Well, I have mixed feelings about this book. This is a religious parody. Some aspects of it I enjoyed very well, like the world-changing and its relevant questions that the protagonists ask. The next-to-end eighty pages were most interesting, imagining the Heaven and Hell. So hilarious this part!! However otherwise, it was quite a bit boring many times. It was hard for me every time to pick up the book to continue where I had paused. But after a few pages, things used to become interesting if one gets engrossed. Couldn't go on for too long though. I am glad the book was the size as it was. And thank goodness for that Heaven/Hell section. That part kept me going, or else I was almost on the verge of abandoning the book at 60%.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

    The key to understanding this book lies in the subtitle, "A Comedy of Justice." It exactly mirrors the subtitle of James Branch Cabell's breakthrough best seller, "Jurgen." And the plot is similar. Dig deeper, and you will discover that Cabell was Heinlein's favorite author, and that all of Heinlein's later works, from "Stranger in a Strange Land" onward, were attempts to mimic Cabell"s 18-volume "Biography of the Life of Manuel," of which "Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice" was not the best, merely t The key to understanding this book lies in the subtitle, "A Comedy of Justice." It exactly mirrors the subtitle of James Branch Cabell's breakthrough best seller, "Jurgen." And the plot is similar. Dig deeper, and you will discover that Cabell was Heinlein's favorite author, and that all of Heinlein's later works, from "Stranger in a Strange Land" onward, were attempts to mimic Cabell"s 18-volume "Biography of the Life of Manuel," of which "Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice" was not the best, merely the best-known. So how did Heinlein do? Well, Cabell repeatedly insisted that he wrote only for his own pleasure. Heinlein, in these later books, seemed to be indulging in a similar private obsession. If that is the case, he wouldn't have cared much what we think. That being said, "Jurgen" is a far, far better book than "Job: A Comedy of Justice." Cabellian irony fit his mythic cosmos-building and droll story constructs. Heinlein may have aimed for irony, but his personal philosophy rubbed against the grain of that emprise. He was, in the end, a pretty straight-forward guy, if a nudist and all-around crank. This book is one of those very odd failures that may haunt unwary readers for reasons hard to grasp. The haunting, I think, is due entirely to the strange and unlikely presence of the shade of James Branch Cabell.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    I really tried to like this book, but I just didn't get it. The characters were flat and the scenarios they found themselves in seemed so episodic and inconsequential that, by about halfway through the book, I grew bored and apathetic. It was recommended to me by someone whose taste I admire, but the book wasn't for me. I really tried to like this book, but I just didn't get it. The characters were flat and the scenarios they found themselves in seemed so episodic and inconsequential that, by about halfway through the book, I grew bored and apathetic. It was recommended to me by someone whose taste I admire, but the book wasn't for me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melody

    I'd forgotten how thoroughly unlikeable the protagonist of this book is. Ick. I also had a hard time understanding what caused him to fall in love with Marga, and even more, WTF did Marga see in him? It's an interesting meditation on religious fundamentalism, but ultimately it strikes me as a little too facile. It was written near the end of Heinlein's career and it feels a little as if it were done by rote. There are several recycled bits from earlier works, including the obligatory reference to I'd forgotten how thoroughly unlikeable the protagonist of this book is. Ick. I also had a hard time understanding what caused him to fall in love with Marga, and even more, WTF did Marga see in him? It's an interesting meditation on religious fundamentalism, but ultimately it strikes me as a little too facile. It was written near the end of Heinlein's career and it feels a little as if it were done by rote. There are several recycled bits from earlier works, including the obligatory reference to consensual parent/child sex. The dialogue is a bit stiff- RAH was very stingy with his contractions, and I think that makes for awkward sounding conversations. The Farnsworth family were far and away my favorite characters. I liked the steampunky elements of the first several chapters. In the end, though, I couldn't get past my distaste for Alex. This one's not going back on the shelf. 2.5 stars.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michele Brenton

    Yet another of my perennial favourites. I regularly pick this one up and re-read it. Each time I find something new to enjoy. One of the things I'm enjoying this time is the character of Margarethe as I have got to know some people of her nationality and now the dialogue involving her has suddenly become more amusing. This is a work that leads to a great deal of pondering on the part of the reader as Heinlein's main character Alex Hergensheimer is a philosopher extraordinaire and a Christian minist Yet another of my perennial favourites. I regularly pick this one up and re-read it. Each time I find something new to enjoy. One of the things I'm enjoying this time is the character of Margarethe as I have got to know some people of her nationality and now the dialogue involving her has suddenly become more amusing. This is a work that leads to a great deal of pondering on the part of the reader as Heinlein's main character Alex Hergensheimer is a philosopher extraordinaire and a Christian minister who finds himself head over heels in love with a person who worships the Norse gods and together they are plunged into what seem to be parallel universes with no warning time and time again. Hardline Christians may take umbrage with this book - but people with open minds and a sense of humour will enjoy the twists and turns. For folk like me who have had an interesting path through a life that sometimes feels as though somebody up there is having a joke at our expense - this book can be a crumb of comfort if viewed from the right angle.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eliza Hirsch

    This book is like distilled Heinlein. Women who are generally intelligent sex objects and the men who love them, slightly awkward but nonetheless charming dialogue, and a healthy smattering of really thought provoking lines. Not a spoiler: "On reflection I realized that I was in exactly the same predicament as every other human being alive. We don't know who we are, or where we came from, or why we are here. My dilemma was merely fresher, not different. "One thing (possibly the only thing) I lear This book is like distilled Heinlein. Women who are generally intelligent sex objects and the men who love them, slightly awkward but nonetheless charming dialogue, and a healthy smattering of really thought provoking lines. Not a spoiler: "On reflection I realized that I was in exactly the same predicament as every other human being alive. We don't know who we are, or where we came from, or why we are here. My dilemma was merely fresher, not different. "One thing (possibly the only thing) I learned in seminary was to face calmly the ancient mystery of life, untroubled by my inability to solve it. Honest priests and preachers are denied the comforts of religion; instead they must live with the austere rewards of philosophy." This is why I love Heinlein. I have to admit, though, this book feels kind of dated.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Peterson

    2020-09-03 I read this about 25-30 years ago and remember really liking it. Just as the book of Job in the Bible can really make one think about what is just and is it worth it to believe in god, this book posed similar questions. I don't remember too many details, but perhaps some time I will read it again, since I have such a favorable opinion about it after all these years. 2020-09-03 I read this about 25-30 years ago and remember really liking it. Just as the book of Job in the Bible can really make one think about what is just and is it worth it to believe in god, this book posed similar questions. I don't remember too many details, but perhaps some time I will read it again, since I have such a favorable opinion about it after all these years.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gridcube

    So. This book. It was probably one of the greatest adventures i've read on a long long while. Following Alexander "Graham" "alec" Gergermester through all the tribulations, dimentional jumping and pure anarchy of reality he was placed, how he learns to become more than a simple follower of the "word of god" how he tries to save everyone he meets to His grace, even lucifer himself, though he didnt knew at the moment, how he is faced with reality, how he learns to respect his "wife", the women who So. This book. It was probably one of the greatest adventures i've read on a long long while. Following Alexander "Graham" "alec" Gergermester through all the tribulations, dimentional jumping and pure anarchy of reality he was placed, how he learns to become more than a simple follower of the "word of god" how he tries to save everyone he meets to His grace, even lucifer himself, though he didnt knew at the moment, how he is faced with reality, how he learns to respect his "wife", the women who chooses to be with him, but also chooses to be herself, much to his raising conflict, how she respects him but still has her own beliefs and none of his prude attitudes toward sex or "modesty", well... Alexander is sent to a travel around realities where he becomes more and more human, but still has love for others first in his heart, and tries to save them all when he can. It felt like i went with him for the hundreds and hundreds of years that it took for him to grow, you feel the weight of the time and still is an easy read, you are shown a picture of heaven and a picture of hell, and of what lies beyond, and its extremelly interesting. its funny in many places how Alexander and Marga find themselfs having worked their backs off to just end in a different reality, where all the money they carry means nothing, its funny to pretend for a moment and see what the world would be if no one invented electricity, or aviation, or oil motors, or if this all was invented a few decades before we know it. Its a really fun set of universes, and its a really fun book

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Catarino

    This book is awful. I never liked Heinlein, but I found this on Junk Day and decided to give it a try. My god, does it suck. The prose is around a third-grade level and the plot couldn't be any less interesting. The thing that totally ruined it for me was that, if he's supposed to be Job, why is he given the girl of his dreams to accompany him on his interdimensional jaunts? And if washing dishes in Mexico is your idea of Hell, you are an extremely sheltered human being. I didn't even finish thi This book is awful. I never liked Heinlein, but I found this on Junk Day and decided to give it a try. My god, does it suck. The prose is around a third-grade level and the plot couldn't be any less interesting. The thing that totally ruined it for me was that, if he's supposed to be Job, why is he given the girl of his dreams to accompany him on his interdimensional jaunts? And if washing dishes in Mexico is your idea of Hell, you are an extremely sheltered human being. I didn't even finish this shitheap, and I blame it for my lapse in reading over the past few weeks. It was my nightstand book, and instead of read it, I opted for insomnia. That's how bad this is.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mohammed Algarawi

    A satirical examination of religion in general, and Christianity in specific, through the eyes of a Christian political activist who gets pulled out and thrown into different realities and parallel universes. Absolutely witty and hilarious. Makes you ponder and laugh out loud at the same time. Note: this book was recommended by the video games spiritual father and legend Nolan Bushnell. I met him in a conference and we hit it off. Meeting him again in a month or so and can't wait to discuss the boo A satirical examination of religion in general, and Christianity in specific, through the eyes of a Christian political activist who gets pulled out and thrown into different realities and parallel universes. Absolutely witty and hilarious. Makes you ponder and laugh out loud at the same time. Note: this book was recommended by the video games spiritual father and legend Nolan Bushnell. I met him in a conference and we hit it off. Meeting him again in a month or so and can't wait to discuss the book with him.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    One of the best books I have ever read. The utter disregard for any of the societal norms of the time, or any of the organized religions makes this a must read for any pure thinking person!! It will force you to consider alternative viewpoints to your own closely held dogmatic views.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Curtis Seven

    I really don't read a lot of fiction but I first read this book as a young man when I was reading all of Heinlein's work. As I recall this was around the time the man died so that probably will date me a bit for some of you. In his later books he seemed to be sticking with more of a formula than in the early books and this book seemed to kick off his alternate universe and history section. I think it was also probably one of his best works overall but I'll get into that. It follows the adventures I really don't read a lot of fiction but I first read this book as a young man when I was reading all of Heinlein's work. As I recall this was around the time the man died so that probably will date me a bit for some of you. In his later books he seemed to be sticking with more of a formula than in the early books and this book seemed to kick off his alternate universe and history section. I think it was also probably one of his best works overall but I'll get into that. It follows the adventures of a man (a preacher as I recall) who suddenly finds the world is changing and he is shifting through variations on the reality he had grown up in. He finds himself in a world where Zeppelins are the primary air transport not jetliners, and in another he finds himself in Hell and it's whole lot like Arizona with the Devil a retired businessman. I think it's the irreverent side of the book that always liked and why i actually read it twice which is rare for me. For instance without giving too much away there is a scene where two demons who are tasked with catching sinners as they are cast out of Heaven with what amounts to large butterfly nets are in an argument of sorts. One of them says basically "well if that's true then I'll be a flying pink ape" or words that effect and as they are between Heaven and Hell God hears this and having a bit of a sense of humor (as the whole book suggests) there is a sudden flash of lightening from on high accompanied with the smell of burnt pink monkey fur. God has struck the demon with a lightening bolt and turned him from a fearsome demon bat like wings into a little pink monkey with feathery wings. As I recall this occurs just as Job plummets pass on his way to Arizona but the pink monkey is pissed at his buddy who is laughing at him and they forget to catch him in the net. Generally speaking I always liked Mr. Heinlein's earlier works but like any literary study you should read them all to get a picture of the guy over the course of his life. He lived to be around 90 as I recall and some of the later works were a bit formulaic but I always thought this one stood out along with many of his best early titles. In no small part because it was in fact pretty funny with the hero apt to show up in unfortunate spots completely nude as he shifts through universes but also because in some sense it also speaks to a deeper meaning. He takes the title from the biblical book of Job which is about a contest between God and the Devil to see if the later can tempt a righteous man to renounce the former. That's essentially the premise here as well but in Heinlein's work he throws in a decidedly modern cast to the story. As bad as things get there is usually a silver lining or at least a punchline to be had. Along with Stranger In A Strange Land I recommend this title for the casual reader looking for a new author who has not read any of his works. I would suspect that Stranger In A Strange Land is easier to find among the used paperbacks than this one but if you find you like Heinlein I'd recommend you keep an eye out and give it a read if you can.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jude Malta

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The first 200 pages were tedious to read as Heinlen's throws the main character and his mistress into an adventure through parallel universes. Throughout these adventures, religion is continually addressed which later surprisingly serves a purpose to the story. It's somewhat refreshing, yet tiresome, to see Heinlen's female roles reappear in Margrathe and Katie Farnsworth. Heinlen obviously has a clear view of women; he favors women and desires his women to have strong sex appeal, be intelligent The first 200 pages were tedious to read as Heinlen's throws the main character and his mistress into an adventure through parallel universes. Throughout these adventures, religion is continually addressed which later surprisingly serves a purpose to the story. It's somewhat refreshing, yet tiresome, to see Heinlen's female roles reappear in Margrathe and Katie Farnsworth. Heinlen obviously has a clear view of women; he favors women and desires his women to have strong sex appeal, be intelligent, be caring, be independent and strong, have patience, and not have a jealous bone in their bodies and still bow down to the male dominant figure of his books. He clearly shows his disapproval of "nagging" women by Alex/Alec's close-minded legally wedded wife of Abigail. Surprisingly, I inferred a possible racially prejudiced viewpoint in this book by his references to the "crooked" Mexicans and "blackamoors" serving as subservient roles in the kitchen. I will admit these references were slight and not pronounced. After the "Rapture", the story is finally captivating. Alexander/Alec travels to Heaven, Hell, and back literally for the woman he loves, Margrathe. Heinlen creatively portrays heaven as a bureaucratic caste system of angels, saints and "creatures" which I found refreshing/unique/hilarious. He clearly shows this R.H.I.P. (Rank Hath Its Privileges) by setting a scene on a bus with the Angels up front, saints in the middle, and "creatures" in the rear; similar to the pre-Civil Rights era. Heinlen adds humor to Saint Peter by having him comfort our protagonist by saying "I could talk with any One of the Trinity [Father, Son and Holy Ghost:].. but reminded me that, in consulting the Holy Ghost we had consulted all of Them." Obviously Alexander wasn't getting any answers from this bureaucratic system. After a literal fall from Grace, Alex finds himself in Hell in search for Margrathe. Might I add that Heinlen's view of Hell has BEER and alcohol!! Awesome! And hilariously enough, it is run by a City Manager. "Hell isn't very organized. It's an anarchy except for a touch of absolute monarchy on some points." (Readers: I would like to add that I worked in a municipal government for 5 years, and I compared it to Hell most of the time. Apparently, I wasn't too far off the marker.) Satan is a Texan, that has Wagner-like compositions as his own background music (which I have always disliked, so it's quite appropriate). I found the book witty towards the end. If only the first half of the book was as interesting and different as the latter part.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Richard Kelly

    I don't know why it took me so long to give Robert Heinlein a try, but he was an amazing writer. This book is almost as much a masterpiece as was Stranger in a Strange Land, but it is not nearly as appealing to as many people. As a pure work of literary merit this book is put together as well as anything else in the English language. I did not find myself feeling that he repeated painful sentence structures. I did not notice words being used that were far above the level of others around them. I I don't know why it took me so long to give Robert Heinlein a try, but he was an amazing writer. This book is almost as much a masterpiece as was Stranger in a Strange Land, but it is not nearly as appealing to as many people. As a pure work of literary merit this book is put together as well as anything else in the English language. I did not find myself feeling that he repeated painful sentence structures. I did not notice words being used that were far above the level of others around them. I did not see any issue with the dialogue or description. It is VERY WELL written. The plot is outrageous and incredibly interesting. It seemed as though I was guessing as to what was really happening the entire time. I had theory after theory to match the main character's theories at the same time. Even though I did not know where the story was going, I found myself fully enthralled the entire time. I personally loved this book, but I feel many will not. The biggest issue is this is a very religious book. The last quarter or so of the book is so drenched in theology that if you have not read the Bible or at least spent years attending Bible study, I doubt you will get the full effect of many of the conversations. But, you need to be aware that on top of the very strong theology feel there is a lot of what many Christians would feel is outright blasphemy. For anyone who is willing to take the Bible and challenge the popular view of the stories and characters within will do fine with this book. But, if you are someone who is easily offended when people challenge your religious beliefs, then this book is not for you!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    In someways I think my journey to this book will always outlast the book itself. When I was seventeen I told my boss I would read this book, that had been so influential to his young catholic school life. It was one of only two gallon sized bags worth of objects prized from my worst car wreck in my early twenties. It has been the lasting joke of a decade. Whether I had finally read it. And this late winter, in the year I will turn 29, he sent me a second copy. It is pristine, and not as tender w In someways I think my journey to this book will always outlast the book itself. When I was seventeen I told my boss I would read this book, that had been so influential to his young catholic school life. It was one of only two gallon sized bags worth of objects prized from my worst car wreck in my early twenties. It has been the lasting joke of a decade. Whether I had finally read it. And this late winter, in the year I will turn 29, he sent me a second copy. It is pristine, and not as tender warming as the one that slowly is trying to die, but its very much still in this house with me. (And both copies likely find it queer, I read it on my Kindle instead of through either of them.) I am not sure I liked this novel. It is slow and plodding, and it does not do details and relationships the way my favorite books do. But it was quite compelling, and I was involved with the point of the novel by about the one-third mark. I can see very much why it changed his life when it did, though at 29, I can see why it seems for granted to me, with all my life has had in it. I'm not sure I'd rec it to others, but I'm certain I would still love to talk about it with people. And thus I will leave you the quote that will stay with me forever, too: "Is this Texas, then, or Hell?" "Well. That's all really a matter of opinion."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Usually classified as sci-fi due to the frequent moves from one alternate world to another. But is a terribly sharp satire on the fundamentalist religionists. Main character Alec is a preacher/fundraiser for a fundamentalist church called the Churches United for Decency (C.U.D.). Along the way his moral standards are tried mightily by earths where scanty clothing is the norm, not to mention the fact that his alter ego is carrying on an affair with his lovely female steward. Any money he accumula Usually classified as sci-fi due to the frequent moves from one alternate world to another. But is a terribly sharp satire on the fundamentalist religionists. Main character Alec is a preacher/fundraiser for a fundamentalist church called the Churches United for Decency (C.U.D.). Along the way his moral standards are tried mightily by earths where scanty clothing is the norm, not to mention the fact that his alter ego is carrying on an affair with his lovely female steward. Any money he accumulates toward traveling home to Kansas is rendered unusable by the frequent changes to another reality. Oh, poor Job/Alec. Will he ever get home? The answer is not before he is Raptured, yes Raptured to a Heaven where angels lord it over the common peons/humans. Sure, you're issued a robe and a halo (harp optional) but you are NOT on the same level as Angels, nosirree, back of the bus, buddy. Oh well, I could go on, but I just want to say that I thought the best part came from the time he is Raptured thru his tour of heaven -- and you have to read about 3/4 of the book to get there. But hang in there. Four stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    A modern-day (well, set in 1994, written in 1984) retelling of the story of Job from the Biblical Old Testament, with quite the sci-fi twist. Alexander Hergensheimer is a pious church fundraiser who is experiencing something very weird. He participated in a native fire walking during a cruise ship vacation and regains consciousness in a world not his own. It looks very much like Earth, but everything is different: culture, values, technology, even his name! He falls for his stewardess and therea A modern-day (well, set in 1994, written in 1984) retelling of the story of Job from the Biblical Old Testament, with quite the sci-fi twist. Alexander Hergensheimer is a pious church fundraiser who is experiencing something very weird. He participated in a native fire walking during a cruise ship vacation and regains consciousness in a world not his own. It looks very much like Earth, but everything is different: culture, values, technology, even his name! He falls for his stewardess and thereafter together they are flipped into world after world. Why is this happening to him? Who is doing it? The answers to those questions are highly entertaining and thought-provoking. Although I didn't care for Alec's constant preaching and proselytizing, I understand the necessity of it as regards to the plot and was able to deal with it better after I finished than while I was reading it. I very much enjoy Heinlein's take on religion, and wonder if this is the budding of his World as Myth theories.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jenn Brink

    This is not the first time I've read this book, not even the second. Each time I read it, I get something else out of it. I hadn't read it in years, so I picked it up for another round. This time, I found myself looking it as both author and reader. Once again, I was reminded at how slow the beginning was. As an author, I can see areas that could have been cut to make a smoother introduction. The book continues on with a few more extraneous areas, familiar concepts, and surprise twists, until th This is not the first time I've read this book, not even the second. Each time I read it, I get something else out of it. I hadn't read it in years, so I picked it up for another round. This time, I found myself looking it as both author and reader. Once again, I was reminded at how slow the beginning was. As an author, I can see areas that could have been cut to make a smoother introduction. The book continues on with a few more extraneous areas, familiar concepts, and surprise twists, until the end where it seems almost as if Heinlein himself had become fatigued with the plot. Then, BAM, switch hit! Here I was reminded of Heinlein's literary genius. He never disappoints. By the last page, I started thinking of a few more of his treasures that I need to reintroduce myself to. Nobody spins a yarn like Heinlein. Jenn Brink Author of the Jessica Hart series

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sara Gabai

    wow! almost finished , 25 pages to go. how did I never hear if this book before?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alan Chen

    This book has the triplet distinction of being my first Heinlein book, a book that in which I read extraordinarily fast, and of being one of the funnest books I've read in a long time. I first came to this book, attracted to the premise of a modern retelling of the Book of Job, and curious as to what an author could do. Heinlein decided not to pursue a completely serious adaptation of the book and instead choose to merely adopt the basic premise - what would happen if the world constantly shifted This book has the triplet distinction of being my first Heinlein book, a book that in which I read extraordinarily fast, and of being one of the funnest books I've read in a long time. I first came to this book, attracted to the premise of a modern retelling of the Book of Job, and curious as to what an author could do. Heinlein decided not to pursue a completely serious adaptation of the book and instead choose to merely adopt the basic premise - what would happen if the world constantly shifted in subtle ways, and what would that do to a person? What if they had someone to go on the journey with, too? The result is a book that is not very thought-provoking, or stimulating, or even memorable. In fact, this book is going straight onto my PaperBackSwap list, and onto Amazon if the book will sell for more than $0.01. However, that is not to say the book is _bad_. Quite the opposite - this book is incredibly entertaining! I haven't had this much fun reading a book in a very long time, and for that it deserves my recognition. I was often surprised that I was so engrossed in the story, wanting so much to find out what would happen next. It's not a memorable time, but it is a very _fun_ time. Heinlein's writing is superbly funny. Written from the third-person, it includes numerous self-deprecations, internal conversations, and funny ways of phrasing things, using devices such as mock outrage. Fortunately, it turns out the main character's mind is entertaining, and it's often very amusing to follow his thoughts as he attempts to squirrel through another situation problem. I also enjoyed the tongue in cheek descriptions of certain things, like "hollow-grams." Heinlein constantly makes reference to things that are commonplace in our world but foreign in the world of the main character, making it appear at first that he is stepping into our realm and that this is being played for cheap laughs. However, once more reading goes on, it becomes apparent that the new-fangled inventions of each of the worlds that the main character visits are similar but not quite identical to the things in our world, and then the laughter becomes tinged with a touch of uncertainty and discomfort. Excellent writing. If there is a flaw, it's that most things, places and characters aren't very memorable. The world shifts so many times that eventually it all blends together. However, this is not much of a hindrance. In fact, a potential deal-breaker becomes a flaw as Heinlein acknowledges it and is able to get away with it because he works it into the main character, who is understandably overwhelmed and a little peeved to discover, once again, that he has to continue moving and traveling because the money he earned last night as a dishwasher is no longer legal tender. The formula works until the last portion of the book, when Heinlein attempts to start a few things together and it doesn't succeed as well as it could because the rest of the book has trained us not to care too much, to pay attention to things like we would a movie that has the barest excuses of a plot to justify transferring its characters from set piece to set piece. RATING: 4 stars (I like it, but I don't love it). I had a lot of fun reading this book, and unlike a lot of other books I found that it was a _pleasure_ to read this, instead of feeling like it was a chore or an obligation. The writing is deliciously clever and funny and I wish I could write like this. But, the plain fact of it is that I remember very little of what happened, and I have no strong desire to re-read or revisit the book, or to find out more about the characters. For that reason, the book will not stay on my bookshelf and I will try to get rid of it. But, it will remain in my memories. TL; DR: Enormously fun, but not memorable or stimulating.

  27. 5 out of 5

    James

    Heinlein is undoubtedly the writer most responsible for forming many of my views and my general outlook on life. I remember the feelings I had after finishing Citizen of the Galaxy as a young boy, and how, even today, the song Wayfaring Stranger can evoke those emotions. I remember how, after receiving my parents' and the school librarian's permission, I was allowed to check out and read Stranger In A Strange Land from the public library and wandered around for months afterward with a head full Heinlein is undoubtedly the writer most responsible for forming many of my views and my general outlook on life. I remember the feelings I had after finishing Citizen of the Galaxy as a young boy, and how, even today, the song Wayfaring Stranger can evoke those emotions. I remember how, after receiving my parents' and the school librarian's permission, I was allowed to check out and read Stranger In A Strange Land from the public library and wandered around for months afterward with a head full of concepts and ideas I couldn't fully process but which stayed with me nonetheless. I remember the thrill of finding someone else who'd read Heinlein and shared the enthusiasm and hopefulness for the human race his writing engendered. I remember hearing the news of his death and, rather than being saddened, I was grateful for having found his writing and respectful of a life well spent. And I remember buying this book as a young college student, seeing it on my bookshelf for many years, knowing the general premise of the story and even the characters' names, but for the life of me I could not remember reading the book. A recent discovery of a similarly-themed book by another writer (the first of many, I hope) brought back those memories, but when I went to find the book to re-read it, I could not. Fortunately, Amazon quickly made that a non-issue. The book is certainly dated in its mores and social views, as one would expect from an author who was born at the beginning of the twentieth century. That said, it's a comic tour de force that hearkens back to Clemens and Cabell. It's also a sardonic meditation on religion in general and, specifically, on fundamentalist Protestant sects.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    A comedy of justice, true in every sense of the word. Job is the riveting tale of dimensional travel and exciting circumstance to test the limit of your imagination and perception of our world. Knowing that the book is set in a non-standard universe from the very beginning helps in clearing up your thoughts for the thought provoking look at a human’s spirituality. The book itself is beautifully written, every page being exciting as well as moving the plot along. Job could be considered one of th A comedy of justice, true in every sense of the word. Job is the riveting tale of dimensional travel and exciting circumstance to test the limit of your imagination and perception of our world. Knowing that the book is set in a non-standard universe from the very beginning helps in clearing up your thoughts for the thought provoking look at a human’s spirituality. The book itself is beautifully written, every page being exciting as well as moving the plot along. Job could be considered one of the best novels from Heinlein for its look at the cosmos and organization of the divine. “Nobody's ever been this far up before” sums up one of the few unique looks on religious endeavors. The only considerably bad parts of this book would be the preachy nature the characters can draw into at times. But other than that, this novel is worth reading for anybody who can question their own divine entities.

  29. 4 out of 5

    L S

    This may be one of my favorite Heinlein novels. It gets five stars on its own from me but also gets the requisite sentimental rating bonus. I read Job at a commune in Virginia called Seven Oaks, where my older half-sister's mother was a librarian. I had taken a bus cross-country, was listening to a tape of Queen's Innuendo on repeat, and was reading Dune at the time. I was fifteen years old and traveling alone for the first time; it's a week or so that is particularly vivid for me. At any rate, J This may be one of my favorite Heinlein novels. It gets five stars on its own from me but also gets the requisite sentimental rating bonus. I read Job at a commune in Virginia called Seven Oaks, where my older half-sister's mother was a librarian. I had taken a bus cross-country, was listening to a tape of Queen's Innuendo on repeat, and was reading Dune at the time. I was fifteen years old and traveling alone for the first time; it's a week or so that is particularly vivid for me. At any rate, Job is entertaining as a sci-fi novel and also does a fun job (no pun intended) of bringing out the uncomfortable features of god and satan's personae in the eponymous old testament book. Definitely worth the read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    After consuming several Spider Robinson books, I felt it was necessary to explore some of Heinlein's work finally. I decided upon Job: a comedy of Justice because it was recommended by a friend. I loved it. I can totaly see where Spider Robinson has been influenced greatly by this writer. I will be going into some more of his work soon. After consuming several Spider Robinson books, I felt it was necessary to explore some of Heinlein's work finally. I decided upon Job: a comedy of Justice because it was recommended by a friend. I loved it. I can totaly see where Spider Robinson has been influenced greatly by this writer. I will be going into some more of his work soon.

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