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Towing Jehovah Hardcover – May, 1994

4.1 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Godhead Series

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Pandemic by Sonia Shah
"Beacon 23"
A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

God is dead, and Anthony Van Horne doesn't feel very well himself. Van Horne--whose captaincy of a mammoth oil tanker during an Exxon Valdez -type spill has left him unemployed, estranged from his family and suffering nightmares--is hired by the Vatican to pilot his former vessel as it tows the Supreme Being (found dead of unknown causes) to a tomb in the Arctic that His angels have built for Him. Van Horne's task would be difficult enough without the well-intentioned efforts of devout atheist Cassie Fowler and her compatriots from the Central Park West Enlightenment League, whose reactions to God's corporeality belie their organization's quaint name. Morrow (winner of a World Fantasy Award for his novel Only Begotten Daughter ) describes a captivating voyage. As complication builds upon complication--including a shipwreck, an island that appears to be the abode of pagan gods, a mutiny, acrimonious dealings with Van Horne's father and contretemps from both the reappraising Vatican and the WW II Reenactment Society--Van Horne's journal reads like that of a modern-day Odysseus. There's an unnecessary death that deprives the narrative of the perspective of one of its potentially most interesting characters, but this clever novel still stands as a wry, boisterous celebration.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Anthony Van Horne, the disgraced captain of an oil tanker that spilled its cargo, is approached by the angel Raphael at the Cloisters in New York to command his former ship on an important mission. It seems God has died, and his two-mile-long corpse has fallen into the ocean at 0 latitude, 0 longitude. The Vatican would like the captain to tow God to a remote Arctic cave for a quiet burial. Naturally, things don't work out this simply, and the complications form the events of this splendid comic epic. As more and more folks with varying perspectives become aware of the covert mission, more hell, if you will, breaks loose. The author, an sf crossover, puts the weighty subject and its possible ramifications to clever use on many levels. He packs the story with sailing matters, cultural criticism, theology, physics, and more but still manages to keep the encounter bubbly and inviting. Recommended for general collections.
- Brian Geary, West Seneca, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1st edition (May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151909199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151909193
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,738,271 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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It's very odd. No, not this book, I'm speaking of the reviews I'm reading about it here.
I must say that I find very little humor in Towing Jehovah--or at least not the guffaw kind of humor. Read Stephen Fry for that. No, James Morrow has woven a thoughtful and provocative tale around a most improbable premise (the physical demise of God Almighty). And yet I also find little sacrilege in this, unless perhaps you are endeared with the notion that the Catholic Church is not very much like any other human institution, seeking to perpetuate its own dogma and ideology. Also, I must confess to finding little real satire here, too. Yes, there are the inevitable, and quite brilliantly done, jabs at the foibles of modern man and the society we have built--and especially at the diet we choose to eat--but these jabs are not delivered so as to ridicule or demean. There is no sense that Morrow wants us to join him in holding ourselves aloof from the rest of humanity in snobbish repose and declare solemnly "We are so much better than all that." Read Douglas Adams for that. What I did find was an intellectual, though never daunting work that displays a profound understanding of--and sympathy for--Man at the turn of this century. We may smirk at the idea that the best chef in the Merchant Marines is classified as such not because he prepares gourmet meals, but because he is capable of producing exact replicas of the world's leading fast food (no matter what the meat source). But doesn't that say an awful lot about us and our society? In Morrow's gifted hands it does. Morrow's intent seems less to ridicule Man and his institutions than it does to express faith in our inherent moral fiber.
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Format: Paperback
Sea captain Anthony Van Horne, who blames himself for an ExxonValdez-style oil spill years ago, is suddenly visited by an angel whobears the most profound - and disturbing - tidings of all time. GodHimself is dead, and His two-mile-long corpse has fallen into theAtlantic Ocean! The Host of Heaven are dying of grief, the angelexplains, and as their last act of worship they've prepared a tomb forJehovah in a huge iceberg in the Arctic. Van Horne can achieve somevindication by towing the late Creator's body to His frozencrypt.
At the helm of the supertanker Carpco Valparaiso (the shipinvolved in the earlier maritime disaster), and flying the flag of theVatican, Van Horne leads a ragtag crew on a secret mission to find Hiscorpse and steer Him to His final resting place. Along the way, theyrescue a militant feminist-atheist who, when she discovers the natureof their mission, secretly decides that she must find a way to preventthis "proof" from becoming known to the world atlarge.
Morrow's Towing Jehovah is an absolutely brilliant and oftenqueasily unsettling satire that explores many of the great issues ofreligion, faith, and skepticism. Using the tanker's crew as amicrocosm of society, Morrow takes jabs at Catholics, Jews, skeptics,feminists - just about everybody. How would the Catholic Church reactto the news that God really is dead? What would atheists do if theydiscovered they'd been wrong all along? Would there be any reason toadhere to morality, knowing that God is no longer watching? And thegreatest mystery of all - why did He die?
I can't recommend thisbook highly enough for fantasy lovers who are tired of the eternalTolkien rehashes.
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Format: Paperback
Great premise: God has died, and his two-mile-long body is floating in the Atlantic. The angels have hollowed out a tomb in the Arctic ice, and the Vatican hires an oil tanker to tow God's corpse to its final resting place.

Despite how that might sound, the book didn't strike me as particularly irreverent (and I'm a practicing Catholic). In Morrow's universe, what counts is a sincere and thoughtful concern for truth and goodness and forgiveness. The run-of-the-mill Christians come off as foolish and only superficially "faithful," but the Jesuit scientist/theologian and the Carmelite nun are two of the more admirable characters. The dogmatic atheists come off as narrow-minded bigots, but the reflective atheists who actually care about truth and about saving people from suffering are okay.

The interesting questions that are raised by God's "death" aren't explored as well as they might have been, and the romance is unconvincing, but this is still an entertaining story.
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Format: Paperback
James Morrow's story is startingly original. God is dead, and his lifeless and massive body has fallen into the Atlantic Ocean. Anthony Van Horne, a disgraced oil tanker captain, is recruited by the angel Raphael to tow His body to a final resting place in the Arctic. The ensuing Odyssean voyage challenges the crew's perceptions about God and morality. The result is a divine exploration of the theory that religion is the opiate of the masses.
As original as the story is, it never quite rises to the grandeur of its themes, which isn't necessarily a criticism. This is a pleasant and entertaining reading experience, not a dour theocratic and philosophical analysis. Morrow seems to have sacrificed a degree of depth in exchange for loads of irony and dark comedy - not a bad trade.
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