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Shambling Towards Hiroshima [Kindle Edition]

James Morrow
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In the tradition of Godzilla as both a playful romp and a parable of the dawn of the nuclear era, this original satire blends the destruction of World War II with the halcyon pleasure of monster movies. In the summer of 1945 war is reigning in the Pacific Rim, while in the U.S., Syms Thorley continues his life as a B-movie actor. But the U.S. Navy would like to use Thorley in their top-secret Knickerbocker Project, putting the finishing touches on the ultimate biological weapon: a breed of gigantic, fire-breathing, mutant iguanas. Thorley is to don a rubber suit that will transform him into the merciless Gorgantis and star in a film that simulates the destruction of a miniature Japan—if the demonstration succeeds, the Japanese will surrender, sparing thousands of lives; if it fails, the mutant lizards will be unleashed. Godzilla devotees and history buffs alike will be fascinated by this conspiratorial secret history of a war, a weapon, and an unlikely hero who will have to give the most convincing performance of his life.

Editorial Reviews


“This dark, wildly funny, politically incorrect satire is a winner.”
—Nancy Kress, author of After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

“The most provocative satiric voice in science fiction.”
Washington Post

“...widely regarded as the foremost satirist associated with the SF and fantasy field.”
SF Site

“Morrow understands theology like a theologian and psychology like a psychologist, but he writes like an angel.”
—Richard Elliott Friedman, author of The Hidden Book in the Bible

“America’s best satirist.”
—James Gunn, University of Kansas

“Readers will never think of Godzilla—or any other B-movie monster—in quite the same way, that’s guaranteed.”
Green Man Review

“...the strange brew of jolly satire and moral indignity of vintage Kurt Vonnegut....”
Time Out Chicago

“It’s called satire, and James Morrow does it brilliantly.”
SF Site

“...tour-de-force of razor-sharp wit...packs a big wallop....”
SciFi Dimensions

“Morrow is the only author who comes close to Vonnegut’s caliber. Like Vonnegut, Morrow shrouds his work in science fiction, but the real story is always man’s infinite capacities for love and for evil.”
—Paul Constant, The

“...witty, playful...reminiscent of Watchmen....”
Strange Horizons

“...a reminder that for all the shenanigans in his plots, [James Morrow is] first and foremost just a great writer.”

“In the tradition of Dr. Strangelove...even as you’re laughing, you’re not sure you should be.”

“James Morrow’s bizarrely funny new book Shambling Towards Hiroshima turns the usual Godzilla paradigm on its head: Instead of being inspired by the horrors of nuclear war, Godzilla is its herald.”

“It takes a special sort of person to...imagine a real-world basis for Godzilla....”
—John Scalzi, The Big Idea

“Morrow liberally salts the yarn with real Hollywood horror-movie personnel, Jewish showbiz snark, and gut-wrenching regret for the bomb. As usual for Morrow, a stellar performance.”

“, delightfully batty...skillfully mingling real and imaginary characters with genuinely hilarious moments.”

“...a total hoot to read...recounting horrors both imagined and real with equal aplomb.”
The Agony Column

“A ridiculously fun read...pitch-perfect satire.”
Fantasy & Science Fiction

“This is what we have come to expect from Morrow: intelligent, thoughtful, dark comedy with real bite—and in this case radioactive breath.”
New York Review of Science Fiction

About the Author

James Morrow: James Morrow is the author of the World Fantasy Award-winning Towing Jehovah and the New York Times Notable Book Blameless in Abaddon. His recent novels include The Last Witchfinder, hailed by the Washington Post as “literary magic,” and The Philosopher’s Apprentice, which received a rave review from Entertainment Weekly. He is a master of the satiric and the surreal, a writer who has enjoyed comparison with Twain, Vonnegut, and Updike. Morrow lives in State College, Pennsylvania.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2079 KB
  • Print Length: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004INHH9C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #478,775 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic nostalgic novel. April 20, 2009
By S. Duke
Syms Thorley is a B-movie actor and writer renowned for his award-winning portrayals of monsters in 1940s Hollywood. Things are going well for Thorley: he's got the admiration of his fans, a steady work stream, and a brilliant script he and his girlfriend cooked up that could change the face of monster movies forever. But then the government shows up asking for his help: they need him for a top secret project to get the Japanese to surrender. What Thorley doesn't understand is why the need him. What good can a B-list monster movie actor do for the government? With this question looming overhead, Thorley soon discoveries that sometimes monsters aren't only in the movies...

Morrow's novel is a short one, but it sure packs a punch. A merger of the edginess of pulp fiction (the literary form, not the movie) and popular media drawn into reality, Shambling Towards Hiroshima sends us on what might be the ultimate top secret adventure. This isn't a novel that wants you to take it too seriously, though; it's a novel that is aware of the absurdity of its speculative claim and is all too prepared to capitalize on that in Morrow's writing style and characters. There is something both subtle and outrageous about the idea of the U.S. government using real-life monsters against the Japanese, particularly now that we think of Japan in terms of Godzilla jokes or production quality.

And I think this is Shambling Towards Hiroshima's strong point. Because it didn't take itself to seriously, I was able to set aside the little parts of me that wanted to call B.S. throughout the story. After all, this is an alternative history, of sorts, and it proposes something that is not only outlandish, but appropriately nostalgic.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some Fun, But Slight and Uneven July 25, 2011
It's 1945, and the army is working on a top secret, superweapon project to force Japan to surrender. No, not that one - this one involves creating enormous, fire breathing lizards and setting them loose to destroy Nipponese cities. B movie horror star Syms Thorley (Revenge of Corpuscula, Curse of Kha-Ton-Ra, etc.) is recruited to don a lizard suit and demolish a minitaure city as a demonstration to Japanese officials, in hopes that this will persuade them to surrender and aviod the real giant behemoths...or that other superweapon lurking in the background. Not particulary effective as a satire, especially in the last pages where Morrow tries to give the tale some weight by describing the real horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - the preceeding story is too flimsy/silly to support such a moral load - the book works best as a sort of goofy, Ed Woodesque tall tale. And I have to give at least some approval to a book that manages to mention Roger Corman, Bela Lugosi, and Lionel Atwill.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I-guana tell ya .... February 27, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoy Morrow's off-beat humor and his method of twisting reality. This book is a noir-ish, fantasy-ish take on the good old armed forces oxymoron ... (you've probably already said it to yourself - if not, think MI). It also spoofs Japanese monster movies. Lizards have a prominent role.

If you click on "See all Editorial Reviews" above you can read the description of the story. This is a very short/quick read (there are only 170 numbered pages) and in his acknowledgments Morrow calls it a novella. It's too short for me to give it five stars, but it was enjoyable.

If you like satire and tongue-in-cheek humor, give this book a try.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Giant Petri Dish of Fun February 17, 2009
If you like all those monster magazines and McFarland books and about B-movies, Lugosi, Chaney, King Kong, and Godzilla, you will love James Morrow's Shambling Toward Hiroshima. Maybe not as deep as the ethical dilemmas in The Philosopher's Apprentice or as dramatic as the clash between reason and superstition in The Last Witchfinder, but Shambling is a giant petri dish of fun and still has its poignant moments.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Godzilla on the Half-Shell May 3, 2009
Once again, another bitingly funny, moving and sharp-edged subversion from James Morrow. With a tip of the hat to the Godzilla movies that mean something quite different to the Japanese psyche than the North American world-view, Mr. Morrow's cautionary tale is required reading for anyone who values deep moral insight embedded within a hilarious satire. If he'd known the context, I think Yeats would've approved.

...and I don't doubt this will get a big thumb's up from Kim Stanley Robinson and the inimitable Howard Waldrop!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Morrow--Shamblin Towards Hirosima April 5, 2010
James Morrow, is an author who does his homework and research very well and provides delicious stories with quirky angles but because of his meticulous research, he gets just about everything right. "Shambling Towards Hirosima" is a twisted little tale about the end of WW II and creates the mood, color and ambiance of Hollywood "behind the scenes" in making of low budget sci-fi movies (he plays a little loose with time-lines). It is filled with his satirical and irreverant humor and is just a plesant and enjoyable read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monster Mash June 8, 2010
In a slightly alternate-reality, the Manhattan Project isn't working out too well so Plan B is to mutate some lizards and let them rampage Japan Godzilla-style. But before releasing Iguanas of Mass Destruction, the military plans a demonstration, involving a guy in a rubber suit stomping a scale-model city.

This book was a real hoot. It's funny/tongue-in-cheek as it is, but it's especially enjoyable if anyone has a soft spot for old b-level monster movies. The writing style, and a few of the underlying themes, reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut.

Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and unique yet endearing.
You'll never read anything else like it. Unfortunately the Amazon summary gives away too much of the wacky story, I would have summarised it as follows: "In the 1940s, a... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Tom Alaerts
3.0 out of 5 stars Just Crazy Enough To Work
This is more of a 2 or 2.5 star book, but the concept was "just crazy enough to work", and it managed to find its voice and rubber suit for most of the book. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Odin
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't finish
I just could not get into this book. Where was the author going with the story? I don't know.
Published 10 months ago by xyz
4.0 out of 5 stars thoughtful fun
The writing is like an old fashion love letter to English. The message is a bit darker than you'll expect based on how ludicrous the situations are.
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Tongue in cheek, to the max.
Good fun, with a serious underside. Worth the time to savor the flavor. Read it twice, once for the laughs, once for the issues it raises.
Published 11 months ago by Mikeinmotion
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better
The story was OK but, not really that good. The premise was a bit too weird and at the time not weird enough.
Published 12 months ago by A. Skowronski
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read and very well done
This novel is about an audacious plan to end World War II in the Pacific, without invading Japan. It involves a man in a rubber monster suit. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Paul Lappen
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Very Intriguing Morrow Book
I discovered James Morrow through a friend who found "Towing Jehovah" in a public library and was intrigued by the title. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Arthur Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars If you haven't read any James Morrow this is a fun place to start.
If you're a fan of Godzilla, and looking forward to the new movie, I think you would enjoy this book. Even if you're not a fan of that well known Japanese import... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Michael T. Walsh
4.0 out of 5 stars Those poor citizens of Tokyo
It's a terrific, if ridiculous premise: A B-movie horror star gets recruited by the US government to stage a fake monster invasion in order to convince the Japanese to surrender... Read more
Published on April 26, 2013 by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Born in 1947, James Morrow has been writing fiction ever since, as a seven-year-old living in the Philadelphia suburbs, he dictated "The Story of the Dog Family" to his mother, who dutifully typed it up and bound the pages with yarn. This three-page, six-chapter fantasy is still in the author's private archives. Upon reaching adulthood, Morrow produced nine novels of speculative fiction, including the critically acclaimed Godhead Trilogy. He has won the World Fantasy Award (for Only Begotten Daughter and Towing Jehovah), the Nebula Award (for "Bible Stories for Adults, No. 17: The Deluge" and the novella City of Truth), and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award (for the novella Shambling Towards Hiroshima). A full-time fiction writer, Morrow makes his home in State College, Pennsylvania, with his wife, his son, an enigmatic sheepdog, and a loopy beagle.

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