There are a lot of themes introduced in The Number of The Beast (TNOTB). Some of them are more fully fleshed out in Heinlein's later books, but they all show up here.
First, TNOTB is an homage to what he considers the greats of Science Fiction and Fantasy. He starts by writing in the style of the old masters. It's a pulp fiction opening that reminds one of Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. P. Lovecraft, E. E. (Doc) Smith, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) and even early RAH himself. Before the novel is finished he's mentioned and/or imitated as many writers, stories, and genres as he thought fit. A fun exercise for the reader is to try to pick out all of the SF&F references. Some of them were quite old, but others were as current as could be, as of the date the novel was completed. (Well, fun for me; your tastes may differ.)
Second, with the exception of Friday, all of his novels from TNOTB on deals with afterlife. This one starts with a situation in which the four protagonists 'die.' I believe he's working on the premise that human beings are incapable of really understanding their own deaths. Our myths all point to some sort of afterlife. So in that sense TNOTB deals solely with the common afterlife of Zeb, Deety, Jake, and Hilda. Several times in the novel, the characters themselves reference this concept as they ask whether or not they had died and this was their afterlife.
Of course there is always the theme that Heinlein always pounded home in his books: personal responsibility. His main characters were always self-aware and accepted total responsibility for their circumstances and their lives. I'm obviously a Heinlein fan. The only two things I ever faulted him for were his didacticism and his incest theme. But when he put some boundaries on those two, he was quite an entertaining writer who I could reread and relisten to any time.
The narration of this novel is better than it has been for some of his work. I'm glad to see the narration getting better as more of his works come online. (In case you're wondering, I HATE, HATE, HATE the narration of Time Enough FOr Love; it's too good a work to be that poorly narrated.)
I have listened to Job three times. Of course, I like well-done satire, though it may not be everyone's cup of tea, especially if your ox is being gored by the writer. But I think this story is one of the best refutations of biblical literalism I know of.
Most memorable moment? That's a tough one. I think it's the confrontation with Satan in Satan's great hall.
Obviously, I like the performance. There are so many BAD performances of Heinlein's work. For example, the reader of Time Enough For Love should be banned from further work. I mean, come on, I could almost hear the page turning. But here, Mr. Garcia plays the main character straight. Alex believes, and Paul Michael Garcia captures his sincerity and gullibility perfectly.
Can't say, as I've not read the print version
Frankly, I like all of the characters. Mr. Larsson took the time to draw all of the characters in detail. We get an amazing amount of detail about even seemingly minor characters.
Of course, it's the court room scene where the psychiatrist finally gets his back.
Frankly, the preponderance of statistics about violence against women that permeates all three books moved me to completely reevaluate how women are treated in our society.
I'm a huge fan of the whole trilogy. Of course, I had to downrate the performance because of the narration, and I'm a big Simon Vance fan. Still, the characters ARE Swedish, not British. I assume they couldn't get as good a narrator who could do Swedish accented English, so I'm not really dissing Vance. In fact, I admire the fact that he would take the project on knowing that his accent choices would be savaged.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.