Summer Reading Club Update Week 4

Have been at the beach the last two weeks so I have been able to get some reading done (in between having to put in a few hours of work a day and swimming in the ocean.)

The most recent book I finished was Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A Heinlein. I am a big fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy books and Heinlein is an important author in modern Sci Fi and Fantasy. I have read around a dozen of Heinlein’s books and this was the last one he wrote before he died. I am mixed in my review. This is written in a classic Heinlein style. It was first person, from the hero’s perspective. It has lots of libertarian style philosophy. But the real central theme in this book is against religion. As a Christian I disagree with his positions and many of the reasons that he complains about religion. However, I wanted to see where he was going and finished the book. A couple of comments for anyone that has not read Heinlein before. First, he tends write with a strong strain of individualism. The hero can always solve the problem if he works hard enough. He also affirms many conservative values, don’t lie, work hard, honor your elders, etc. But he has a very open view of sexuality and many of his books are fairly explicit and open about sex. This book while including ideas about sexuality was not that explicit.

On to the review. The story premise is that Alex while on a cruise get shifted into another world (or dimension). Everyone knows who he is in the new world, but he has to figure it out and learn his new part. He meets Marga, his soon to be wife, and soon after they get together the world shifts again. Through the next several chapters he and Marga learn the rules of the world shifting. They learn that they need to be touching to stay together, anything that is touching them will go with them, and the geography stays the same, although the history is very different. Heinlein likes to play with the ideas of alternative history in many of his books and this one is no different.

The characters get from Hawaii to Mexico and then slowly make their way to Kansas. Along the way Alex, who is a minister of a generic but mildly pentecostal church tries to save Marga, who in her world worships Odin and blames Loki for the world shifting. Similar to the style in Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie) he writes a book against religion by making the hero a pro-religious character. Starship Troopers was clearly anti-war, but you had respect for those that were soldiers. In this book Alex was a decent guy that you rooted for, but you had to see that the overall tone was against religion.

I also am still working on Liaden Unibus II and the Sharing Knife. But I did finish For the Love of My Brothers by Brother Andrew. Brother Andrew is best known for his book God’s Smuggler. I don’t know if I have ever read the full version of God’s Smuggler but I read it as a comic book as a kid. Brother Andrew smuggled bibles into Iron Curtain countries starting in the early 1950s. For the Love of My Brothers is part two of his story. After God’s Smuggler he was not able to get into Iron Curtain countries but continued to smuggle bibles into many other countries that were closed to Christianity. Similar to my book from last week (Three Cups of Tea) this is a story about a man that was dedicated to a single purpose (this time getting scripture into the hand of Christians in closed countries.) Brother Andrew really had raised the problem of religious freedom around the world.

The final book that I read was The Wilding by CS Friedman. I am not going to write much about this one because this is already too long. But it a follow up to In Conquest Born (written 15 years before The Wilding. The main problem that I have with the book is that it is written as if you should remember things from the previous book, but are not in the previous book. So you are reading right up until the end. The book also just seems to end. I was defintantly disappointed in the end. But overall the book wasn’t bad.

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