Those who would like to read an artistically successful example of what L. Ron Hubbard was trying to create in Mission Earth—that is, a combination of science-fiction adventure story, philosophical speculation and send-up would do well to pick up a copy of 's The Jehovah Contract.
It is set in Los Angeles in the last year of this century, a los Angeles that, putting aside its futuristic elements, is reminiscent of. It is narrated by Del Ammo, a hired killer who tells his story in a distinctly Chandleresque style. One of the most difficult assignments any writer can undertake is to imitate a famous style of his kind with both serious and comic intent. And pulls it off beautifully. It is a parody that can hold its own with 's originals and with the best of his followers.
The premise of The Jehova Contract is that the narrator is hired by a seemingly insane but fabulously wealthy TV evangelist to assassinate God. Since this is a mystery story, suffice it to say that manages to surprise and entertain in all the ways you would expect from a science fiction thriller, while at the same time working in an amazing amount of learned speculation on such questions as what the idea of God really means and what it would mean in practical terms to attempt his assassination. This is 's debut between hard covers. I fully expect it to join that list of novels that have gone begging for publishers for years only to become classics once they finally got into print.
A slightly different version of this review was published in the San Jose Mercury News.
Not just a killer, Del Ammo is an anti-terrorist assassin. He kills tyrants and would-be tyrants—only those who "demonstrate that they have it coming." When a chance of a lifetime assignment comes along, his firm atheism hardly prepares him to kill the biggest, most petulant and least rational tyrant of all—God. While researching methods of doing away with a fictitious character, he becomes convinced of one thing: If God did exist, he above all others would deserve destruction.
's plot make you think and laugh, but this book has more to recommend it—for instance the very funny sex scenes, the fictionalized versions of a couple of libertarian luminaries, the somehow realistic coupling of science, religion and witchcraft, the several characters that are as fully realized as possible in an action story, or his heroes' completely irreverent attitude toward government and religion.
As Mr. Riggenbach notes, the problem with reviewing a book like this one is how to describe it without giving too much away. So, as much as I am tempted to say more…
All trademarks and copyrights property of their owners.