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Shambling Towards Hiroshima Paperback – February 1, 2009

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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.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications; First Edition edition (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1892391848
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892391841
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #963,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Parker on July 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By S. Duke on April 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
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.
Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tanstaafl VINE VOICE on 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 By Bill Ectric on February 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Gene Turchin on April 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Chrumka on May 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Farrell on June 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
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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