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The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar, #1)
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2012 Reads > TDSOH: Asymmetries of Heaven and Hell (spoilery)

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message 1: by George (last edited Nov 16, 2012 09:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

George Corley (gacorley) | 63 comments I'm a little further than halfway through the book and I keep noticing these little asymmetries between what goes on in Hell and in Heaven. (warning, some of these are spoilery):

- The Principalities are angels, though this doesn't seem to bias their judgements too much.
- Purgatory is a "win" for Heaven in the end. Even if you have to spend a thousand years there, Heaven still gets your soul.
- Demons are harmed by silver, but there is no mention of a substance that causes similar problems for angels
--- There might not be wards against angels, as there are against demons
- Angels can't remember their past lives, and don't even know whether they are dead humans or created beings, whereas demons can remember their lives as humans*
- In Hell you advance through blackmail and social manipulation, whereas in Heaven you seem to just be put where you're put (though there is some politics going on) -- (not a surprising one)
- There's an implication that there are places deeper and darker than Hell itself, but Heaven seems to be all there is in it's own dimension.
- Demons seem to know more about what's going on than angels do. In fact, Hell seems to be better known to both sides than the higher levels of Heaven.
- We see a particular demon who has a physiological oddity (view spoiler), whereas earthbound angels seem to have mostly normal human bodies.
- Higher level demons spend lots of time on Earth, but higher level angels seem to stay in Heaven most of the time.

What do people think about these differences. I can find good reasons for some of them: for example, nobody likes being in Hell, so it makes sense for the higher ups to try to stay out of it, while the higher angels are probably those who, unlike Bobby, prefer to stay in insanely blissful Heaven. Any thoughts?


John (JohnBrock) | 33 comments You have a lot of good points although I think the higher up demons hanging out on Earth isn't a difference, just a preference. I mean, wouldn't you prefer Earth to having to stay in the lava pits of hell?


George Corley (gacorley) | 63 comments John wrote: "You have a lot of good points although I think the higher up demons hanging out on Earth isn't a difference, just a preference. I mean, wouldn't you prefer Earth to having to stay in the lava pits ..."

Yes, it's a different preference, but it still leads to things being asymmetrical in a different way: princes of Hell actually own significant amounts of property on Earth, and exert real power there, whereas higher angels pretty much aren't present there -- and all of the Heaven-owned real-estate seems to be support structure for the activities of a bunch of peons like advocates and vengence squads.


message 4: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim (ZeroGain) | 93 comments I'm not sure if you were expecting it to be a situation of cosmic balance or not. To my mind the asymmetries exist to provide reason for the plot. If the universe and metaphysics were in balance ad a perfectly well oiled machine, there would be nothing for the protagonists to battle against. In that case, challenging the status quo would be an act of self-interested rebellion, and a fairly sinister one at that.

The Principalities seemed to be extant of the power structure. While they were angels, so too were the greater powers of Hell. Elegor is on par with any of the epherate that questions Dollar in the rising action. I think their neutrality is their job, assigned per the Tarterian Convention, and they are nothing if not sticklers for the Law. This is something from the older kabalstic practices, more in line with the Testament of Solomon than the standing Bible or Torah. I don't know enough about the Quran to say.

Regarding real estate, it seems to e another example of the sense of wrongness about Heaven. It sees as though Heaven is more concerned about winning than about caring for Humanity.

One last thing to keep in mind; since this is both first person and noir the narrator is almost certainly unreliable. What we have are Dolariel's impressions of the world, not fact. I may be way off base with my statements above. The older I get the less I know, it seems. Still, I enjoyed the book overall, enough to listen twice.


George Corley (gacorley) | 63 comments Tim wrote: "I'm not sure if you were expecting it to be a situation of cosmic balance or not. To my mind the asymmetries exist to provide reason for the plot. If the universe and metaphysics were in balance ad..."

I don't think I expected anything, I'm just noting something in the world-building. Obviously, the Abrahamic traditions that this view of the afterlife is based on suggest an asymmetry in the first place -- the one omniscient and omnipotent God of everything resides in Heaven, and presumably controls everything. Of course, if things *were* perfectly balanced, I still wouldn't necessarily think there would be no conflict to be had. There is still something to be said for the unfairness of one's afterlife being an eternity in either drug-like bliss or eternal torment. There is Purgatory, but the fact that a single judgement in a single trial determines the fate of a soul for all time might be reason enough for someone to went to rebel.


John Moncrief (jpmoncrief) I reckon it's completely unhelpful to hear, but once you've finished the book you may see a little more explanation (at least from the unreliable narrator's view) of the dissimilarities .

You also may be infinitely more curious about them. I certainly was.


Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 859 comments It's a very Gnostic/Cathari view of the cosmos: spiritual things are (mostly) good and pure, material things are corrupt and base.


message 8: by David Sven (last edited Nov 22, 2012 12:03PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

David Sven (Gorro) | 1582 comments Joe wrote: "It's a very Gnostic/Cathari view of the cosmos: spiritual things are (mostly) good and pure, material things are corrupt and base."

I didn't think of that while reading but I have to agree. Angels are able to "corrupt" their physical bodies because their physical bodies are already considered corrupt.


Redrosevertigo0 | 23 comments I think the demons prefer earth to hell because they can remember being human. If the angels could remember their past lives would they be happy dancing around all day or would they want to be on earth watching their friends and loved ones? Going to heaven and forgetting your life on earth doesn't seem like much of a reward to me. I'd rather go to purgatory or haunt earth like the sisters in the coffee pot than not be reunited with my dead loved ones.

I thought the demons having large holdings here on earth reflected them trying to keep their fingers in the pie. It seemed like most people are genuinely good and it was hard for Hell to get its souls without a little bit of cheating.


Jonathon Dez-la-lour (jd2607) | 173 comments I think some of the asymmetries/imbalances in the set-up are there just to help construct the conflict between Heaven and Hell, but it doesn't feel forced. There are some things I'd like to be explored/explained in future installments - like what's going on with the enforced bliss in Heaven, or why demons have weird physiological mutations on Earth.

I also get the feeling that the political situation in Heaven may be a feature of the upcoming installments in this series.


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