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Job: A Comedy of Justice Mass Market Paperback – October 12, 1985

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Editorial Reviews

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

From the Inside Flap

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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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (October 12, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345316509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345316509
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on March 9, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Back in 1942 Heinlein wrote an amazing short story, "The Unleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag." It was an astonishing story for its time and genre. It was out of print for a number of years, but is now available in "The Fantasies of Robert Heinlein." I mention "Jonathan Hoag" because as he often did in the last decades of his life, Heinlein returned to some of the themes of earlier books. He returned to some of the ideas of "Jonathan Hoag" in this remarkable book, "Job."
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.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Michael Battaglia on March 27, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been kind of hard on Heinlein on the last few books of his that I read but that ends here. Farnham's Freehold might have had a better slate of ideas and Friday might have had a better main character but this book has them both beat hands down. Heinlein manages to keep doing what he was doing in those other books, which was make comments about society and aspects of it as a whole . . . but here he remembers to have a sense of humor and drops the somewhat snide tone that colored the other two books (ie the "all the enlightened people will see that I make sense and agree with me" feeling). Our hero, Alex/Alec is a devout and orthodox preacher who goes firewalking while on vacation and from there starts bouncing randomly from world to world. By the second world he's picked up a girl and is starting to detect a pattern . . . it must be the devil's fault because he's preparing for the upcoming end of the world. The story starts out as standard science fiction and Heinlein whips out worlds in a few pages that lesser writers would have spent entire series detailing . . . about two thirds through it becomes something utterly unexpected and just as good. What remains constant is the aforementioned sense of humor, Alex has some interesting views because of his faith that make him seem a bit narrow minded but all in all he's a likable character who really wants to help people (or "save" them by bringing them to a "state of grace" so they'll go to Heaven) . . . he's a typical Heinlein protagonist in that he's always resourceful and resolute, even when it doesn't seem that way.Read more ›
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on March 25, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This late-period Heinlein work is one of my personal favorites of his, although I don't think it's one of his absolutely top-drawer novels. Heinlein kept experimenting right up to the very end; this is his last novel but two, and the final two were just as daringly experimental.
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?
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