Heinlein wrote very little Fantasy and arguably most of what he did write is disguised Science Fiction.(Glory Road for example.) This is unquestionably fantasy,although you may consider the explanation at the end is SF.
This short novel was written for Unknown, John Campbell's short-lived fantasy magazine, and Heinlein went off to war work soon after so there was no opportunity to follow it up.
Jonathan Hoag doesn't know what he does during the day and a visit to a doctor to check what is under his dirty fingernails only gets him thrown out in disgust. The Randalls, a married couple of private investigators, are approached and paid to track his profession down. This doesn't go well and the Randalls are soon in trouble with a bunch of supernatural villains (Straight out of Neil Gaiman, fifty years before his time.) The ending sorts it all out and contains Heinlein's best ever joke - Hoag's profession.
This is a classic in a number of ways. The main plot denouement is one of the first examples of its kind. The main characters are a mature married couple and clearly have sex - something usually eliminated by Campbell so it needed to be sneaked in, and the hard-boiled prose in a contemporary setting is excellent.
I read this first about fifty years ago and didn't like the plot outcome,frankly it scared me. I missed the elegance of the writing and certainly failed to see the innovations in his plotting. It stands up as one of the best, if neglected, fantasy novels of its time.
- Publisher: New English Library Ltd (1 November 1980)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0450047989
- ISBN-13: 978-0450047985
- Package Dimensions: 17.6 x 11 x 1.4 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 118 g
- Customer Reviews: 59 customer ratings