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The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1989

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Robert A. Heinlein:

''One of the grand masters of science fiction.'' --Wall Street Journal

''The most influential science fiction writer of all time!'' --Locus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert Anson Heinlein was born in Missouri in 1907, and was raised there. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929, but was forced by illness to retire from the Navy in 1934. He settled in California and over the next five years held a variety of jobs while doing post-graduate work in mathematics and physics at the University of California. In 1939 he sold his first science fiction story to Astounding magazine and soon devoted himself to the genre.

He was a four-time winner of the Hugo Award for his novels Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), Starship Troopers (1959), Double Star (1956), and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966). His Future History series, incorporating both short stories and novels, was first mapped out in 1941. The series charts the social, political, and technological changes shaping human society from the present through several centuries into the future.

Robert A. Heinlein's books were among the first works of science fiction to reach bestseller status in both hardcover and paperback. he continued to work into his eighties, and his work never ceased to amaze, to entertain, and to generate controversy. By the time hed died, in 1988, it was evident that he was one of the formative talents of science fiction: a writer whose unique vision, unflagging energy, and persistence, over the course of five decades, made a great impact on the American mind.


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (March 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441854575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441854578
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #848,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Charles Dexter Ward on June 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an excellent short novel/long short story by Robert Heinlein. It's not the hard sci-fi he usually wrote: it's more of a horror/suspense story (as you can tell by looking at the great cover of the Kindle edition). But Heinlein was a great story-teller & his short stories were always well-crafted & interesting. I don't want to give anything away so I won't say anything more about it other than that it's a very memorable little story & I can still vividly remember the first time I read it many (many!) years ago.

I do want to mention that the Kindle version consists of just this one short story. When this was published in paperback, it was accompanied by five or six other stories & it's a little disappointing that this is being published solo. Hopefully, the other stories from the original collection will appear in Kindle editions sometime in the future--I want to read them on my Kindle too! But if you're wondering if this edition contains anything other than "Hoag", it doesn't. I'm not complaining, but wanted to let potential buyers know that this was different from the paperback edition.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on October 25, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Much of Heinlein's early writing was tied to his envisioned Future History, but he had a few stories that didn't fit into that mold, stories that frequently showed a different side of Heinlein, a more mystical, musing, fantastical side than what appeared in his standard science fiction fare. The stories here are part of this very different group.

"The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathon Hoag" first appeared in the Oct 1942 edition of Unknown magazine, as by "John Riverside" (one of about six of Heinlein's pseudonyms). Mr. Hoag has a problem: in the evenings he finds a curious reddish residue under his fingernails, and no memory of what he was doing during the day to get that residue. So he hires a husband and wife team of detectives to follow him around and find out what is really going on. The trail leads to non-existent 13th floors, some very shadowy characters who are part of the Order of the Bird, and a conclusion that reality really isn't what we think it is. Some good suspense, reasonable characterization, but the final answer that Heinlein presents may leave you feeling a little let down, and I had difficulty believing in the scenario.

"They", first printed in the April 1941 issue of Unknown, is a minor classic. Here is paranoia run rampant; the main character just knows that everything around him is just a setup meant to keep him ignorant of the true state of the world. Of course, it's only paranoia if such a belief is incorrect... One of his better early stories.

"Our Fair City" first appeared in the Jan 1949 issue of Weird Tales, and is an out-and-out fantasy, with an intelligent whirlwind used as an instrument to bring down a corrupt city government. Mildly amusing but a pretty slight effort.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Edelman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 3, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Why in the world did they let this gem go out of print?Heinlein was often at his best in his shorter works, and each of thestories in it is a matserpiece of the genre. The ideas are totallyoriginal, the writing is spare and sharp, and the dialog is crisp and to the point. No sci-fi jargon, no talk of fusion drives and orbital mechanics.
The title story, "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag", begins with a simple premise- a man comes to a private eye and asks him to figurie out what he does all day. He can't remember anything of the day's events, and worries that the material he finds under his fingernails might be blood. It isn't; it's dirt, but something infintely more bizarre is waiting to be discovered.
"He Built A Crooked House" is one of the wittiest, most imaginative short stories I've ever come across. An architect designs a modern house meant to resemble a three-dimensional projection of a hypercube, but when he and his client arrive after an earthquake, something quite odd has happened to the house. END
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dave Deubler on October 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book collects some of Heinlein's earlier efforts in the fantasy vein. There's virtually no science fiction here, but there are some interesting ideas. The title piece is almost a short novel, and features a husband and wife detective team who are hired to find out exactly what their client does during the daylight hours. The answer takes them on a journey through the looking glass to a world of evil secrets that lie just beneath the surface of our comfortable reality. There are plenty of surprises and a fair amount of suspense, but Heinlein's hazy ending may leave some readers unsatisfied. The remaining stories in the collection are a pretty mixed bag, highlighted by "All You Zombies", which is not about zombies at all, but still delivers a powerful punch. Without giving away the plot, the protagonist manages to recount the story of his (generally speaking) totally unique life. Although by no means prurient, this story has some sexual components that could lead to very embarrassing questions if read by the very young, so be forewarned. Equally solipsistic is the paranoid fantasy "They", in which a mental patient questions the very nature of reality. Heinlein seems to enjoy this kind of philosophical rambling, but apart from the sharp ending, this story has little to recommend it. Similarly, "-And He Built a Crooked House" involves speculation of a more mathematical nature. An iconoclast architect designs, and then actually builds, a house in four dimensions, with what one assumes to be intended as comic effect, although having a stuffy dowager faint repeatedly seems more like an exercise in misogyny than in humor.Read more ›
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