- Paperback: 231 pages
- Publisher: Pulpless.Com, Inc. (Jan. 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1584451890
- ISBN-13: 978-1584451891
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
Escape from Heaven Paperback – Jan 2002
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
He gives the kids free samples,
Because he knows full well
That today's young innocent faces
Will be tomorrow's clientele.
I'm not complaining, though. I just had to read the rest, because it was such a rollicking good story and funny as, uh, hell. I especially appreciated the little inside jokes and references for science fiction fans, libertarians and gunnies. It kept me glued to the screen until I had read it "cover" to "cover."
A couple of caveats; if you think you don't like anything but "hardcore" science fiction, this is probably not the J. Neil Schulman book for you. (Though I strongly recommend you give it a chance--hey, it's free.) Ditto, if you take your religion too seriously. (Schulman seems to agree with Heinlein's observation "One man's theology is another man's belly laugh." ESCAPE FROM HEAVEN has something to offend everyone's religious sensibilities, therefore plenty of belly laughs.
My next trip to the used book store (Acres of Books in Long Beach, CA, for true aficionados) found his second novel, The Rainbow Cadenza -- and as much as I liked Alongside Night, this one was heads above it. It was as crammed full of new ideas (a future art form based on Laserium, drafting women into public brothels, how all art is based on dialectics, and the ethics of cloning and "cerebral abortion") as Heinlein's later novels -- but without being as self-referential or talky. And it had a great plot and a young heroine worthy of Ayn Rand.
Then Schulman stopped writing novels for two decades. Bummer.
(Not that he stopped writing. He wrote one of the best episodes of the New Twilight Zone, "Profile in Silver" -- the one about the JFK assassination -- and some nonfiction, notably a book about gun rights and a book about the O.J. Simpson case -- and even though I think he's crazy about Simpson being innocent, it's a more-fun read than any other book about the Simpson case.)
He's back. Escape From Heaven is the new Schulman novel I've been waiting for.
For one thing, it's crammed full of as many new ideas as Rainbow Cadenza, but it's less than half as long. For another thing, there was always wit and sarcasm in Schulman's writing, but he outdoes himself this time: the book is fall-on-the-floor-and-roll-around funny. Especially chapter 13, where he lets Hollywood movie stars have it with both barrels.
Then there's the theology, which is enough to make an atheist believe in God (I think he's actually answered all the technical objections to belief in God that George Smith raises in Atheism: The Case Against God) but it's also enough to make a fundamentalist Christian start wondering whether the Bible might not have gotten the straight story. For the first time in my life, the character of Jesus made sense to me. I also love where the viewpoint character makes a good case at convincing Satan that she (yes, SHE; that's not a typo) is, in effect, making an existential error: looking for a reason behind her own existence instead of figuring out how to enjoy living forever.
Listen. You haven't read anything like this before, not even if you're a fan of Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice, or Victor Koman's The Jehovah Contract, or C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce.
Well done, J. Neil.
Soon Duj is involved in the climactic battle of God and Satan, conducted as a political campaign, with assistance from some of the greatest minds in history, not least of which is a man author Schulman has always admired--Robert Heinlein. All this is related in snappy, irreverent dialogue that will keep you laughing. But there is more.
In fact, there is lots more, and I won't spoil it for you. Schulman turns all the major religions upside down and shakes them. His ideas about God, Jesus, Satan, Adam and Eve, are totally unorthodox. What is he doing? It sounds a lot like midrash--a kind of teaching story that Jewish scholars use to teach theological principles. What is he saying? That God is really, really good. That God took a tremendous risk in creation, and in giving us free will. That God wants us, his children to be free and creative and--well--godlike.
Is Schulman a mystic, teaching us Kabbalah or Gnosis? Is he doing midrash cloaked in outrageous humor? Or is he just having fun? You will have to decide for yourself. And I hope you will. This is a marvelous book and I hope you will read it. Maybe more than once. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber
Storming Heavin is also decidedly Heinleinesque, or perhaps I should say "Heinlein-insque" given that one of the secondary characters is Robert Heinlein. The work to an extent resembles some of the later works of Heinlein, especially JOB A COMEDY OF JUSTICE.
From the contents one wonders about how much of Mr. Shulman's personal life is being played out in ESCAPE FROM HEAVIN. While the idea of a romantic reconcillation between god and lucifer ("Lucy" in this case, the devil being bisexual) after thousands of years is interesting, one comes away with the impression that perhaps this plot line is referential to something in Mr. Shulman's personal life. The fact that his central character, a radio talk show host, is similiarly afflicted only reinforces this impression.
It also seemed interesting that Mr. Shulman was confident that his 18 year old daughter was a virgin. This brought to mind a passage out of his first book, ALONGSIDE NIGHT where the central character learns that the leading lady is a virgin. It would seem that more than most in the modern age, Mr. Shulman has a fixation on virginity.
In any case ESCAPE FROM HEAVIN is a work well worth reading, which I quite enjoyed.
At first I wondered if deeply religious people would be offended by this book. But I don`t think so. If you can be offended by
a fictional religious comedy, your faith in your religious convictions must be rather weak.
Anyway, the story starts with an atheist talk radio show host, Duj Pepperman, who gets a call from God. Literally. Seems god has
a plan, and Pepperman is the poor dolt he has picked to carry it out. He is to run a political campain against satan. Seems that
armageddon will not be a shooting war, but an election. Winner take all.
Pepperman is joinned by some of the greatest figures in history in all out funny, political warfare against the forces of darkness.
Think of the story as a cross between the George Burns film "Oh, God!" and Robert Heinlein`s novel "A Comedy of Justice". And it`s
written very much in Heinlein`s style. Anyone who likes Heinlein`s books will probably like this story as well. Matter of fact
Heinlein`s ghost is one of the characters in the story.
Give it a try, if nothing else I`m sure you will find it different from just about anything else you have read lately.