***Dave Hill's Reviews > Job: A Comedy of Justice

Job by Robert A. Heinlein
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's review
Jun 07, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: text
Read in May, 2014 , read count: 4

As noted below, each time I re-read this, I enjoy it all the more. The narrator, Alex, is a tough nut to crack -- and, ultimately, the story is less about him (and Margrethe) than the metastory (just as in the Biblical book of Job). It's simply a bit of sacrilegious fun, and worth the periodic re-read.


(Oct 2011)

Most recent re-read, and, each time, I enjoy this book more. Yeah, it's full of standard Heinleinian philosophizing, yeah it suffers from a multitude of (literal) deus ex machina ... but Alec Graham is a fun character, a diamond in the rough, culturally prejudiced while remaining pure at heart and fiercely dedicated to love: an appropriate saint.

Having read more Twain since my original review, I also see far more parallels to Twain's works ("Letters from Earth" in particular).

The book is, in short, a philosophical romp, using parallel Earths as a framework, and Mid-western Christianity as a backdrop. And it's fun.

(Original review, 4/2003, with ratings scale 1-3)

Summary [2]: This 1984 novel is one of Heinlein’s lesser-known works, and one of his few non-sf fantasies, but it remains delightful for all of that. Alex, the protagonist, finds himself being shifted maliciously between different parallel Earths, accompanied by his paramour Margrethe, all the time worried that the signs point to the Judgment Day — an event that minister Alex longs for, but which he fears will mean Margrethe’s damnation.

And then Judgment Day actually arrives …

There’s little “science” in this Heinlein work; it’s much more a religious fantasy, which could as easily have been penned by Mark Twain. Like Twain, Heinlein enjoys tweaking his characters for their vanity and self-righteousness, though Heinlein seems willing to pick here on bigger targets than Twain would have dared. There’s a bit too much meandering of the plot at times; Heinlein gets a bit lost at the struggle by Alex and Margrethe to keep anything of worth with them as they are shifted from world to world. He also seems to be both nostalgically fond of revivalist Christianity while scornful of the theology behind it

Entertainment [3]: Like most Heinlein works, it’s good fun and occasionally thought-provoking. Who could ask for much more?

Profundity [2]: Thinking you have all the answers is hubris that’s waiting to be taken down a peg. Roll with life’s punches. Don’t sweat the little things. Hard work won’t kill you. Love without respect isn’t love. The universe is run with a lot less justice than one would like to think. Piety does not imply horse sense. Love is more important than material things; it’s more important than a lot of immaterial things, too.

Re-readability [3]: I pull this one off the shelf every few years.

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