James K. Morrow

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For the Irish politician and trade unionist, see James Morrow (trade unionist).
James Kenneth Morrow
James Morrow South Street Seaport 2007-04-10.jpg
James Morrow
Born (1947-03-17) March 17, 1947 (age 67)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Occupation writer, editor
Nationality United States
Period 1981 to present
Genre Science fiction, Fantasy, Literary fiction
Literary movement Satirist, Transrealism, Humanism
Notable works The Godhead Trilogy

James Morrow (born March 17, 1947) is an American novelist and short-story writer known for filtering large philosophical and theological questions through his satiric sensibility.

Most of Morrow’s ouevre has been published as science fiction and fantasy, but he is also the author of two unconventional historical novels, The Last Witchfinder and Galápagos Regained. He variously describes himself as a “scientific humanist,” a “bewildered pilgrim,” and “a child of the Enlightenment.”

Morrow presently lives in State College, Pennsylvania with his second wife, Kathryn Smith Morrow (a veteran bookseller, freelance editor, and occasional literary critic), his son Christopher, and his two dogs. [1] His cousin is the journalist Lance Morrow.


Godhead Trilogy[edit]

  • Towing Jehovah (1994), in which the corpse of God (a two-mile long white male with a grey beard) is discovered floating in the Atlantic Ocean. The captain of a supertanker is dispatched by the Vatican on a secret mission to tow the Divine Corpse to a tomb carved out of the Arctic ice. A group of atheist extremists plan on destroying the body, as although God is dead, his corpse proves that they were wrong and he existed at some point in time. An extended subplot deals with the evolution of a character's views on ethics and morality as he faces the idea of a post-theistic world. Towing Jehovah won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1995;[2] was nominated for a Nebula Award in 1994;[3] and received Hugo, Clarke, and Locus Fantasy Award nominations in 1995.[4] Terri Windling selected it as one of the best fantasy books of 1994.[5]
  • Blameless in Abaddon (1996), in which God's body is now part of a religious theme park. A small-town magistrate, who has suffered many personal troubles, including the death of his wife and prostate cancer, decides to literally put God on trial for crimes against humanity. God's defense lawyer is a parody of C. S. Lewis. Other biblical figures including Satan and Jesus Christ appear in this book. "Abaddon" is the name of a small fictional township in Pennsylvania and as well as a biblical figure. Blameless in Abaddon was nominated for a Locus Award in 1997.
  • The Eternal Footman (1999), in which the absence of God, save for his skull orbiting the Earth, results in a plague of death-awareness. The Eternal Footman was nominated for a Locus Award in 2000.[6]
  • A special limited run (26 copies) leather-bound set was published by Dimension House and contained a fourth book that contains previously unpublished material containing short stories and plays by James Morrow. This volume is called "Reflections and Refractions", and contains three plays purportedly written by a character within the main novels. Two of these have appeared in short-story collections by Morrow, while the third is available on the author's web site.

Other novels[edit]

  • The Wine of Violence (1981) – First published novel. A space expedition crash lands on an undiscovered planet. Landing in a veritable utopia the survivors discover a dark and viscous secret that is the source of the murky moat that surrounds the walled Utopia and fends off the cannibalistic hordes that threaten its tranquility
  • The Adventures of Smoke Bailey (1983) – novelization of the computer game In Search of the Most Amazing Thing.
  • The Continent of Lies (1984) – Dealing with the future medium of "Dream Apples" entertainment that is eaten so that the experience of the entertainment goes straight into the viewers mind. A "Dream Apple" reviewer is lured into a dark and horrific world akin in many ways to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
  • This Is the Way the World Ends (1985) – deals with Nostradamus, a nuclear war, and the trial which sees the survivors of the war prosecuted by "the Unadmitted", or those who would have existed had the protagonist of the novel never signed away his complicity of the nuclear arms race that lead to Mutually Assured Destruction – nominated for a Nebula Award in 1986,[7] and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1987.[8]
  • Only Begotten Daughter (1990) – in which Jesus' half sister, the daughter of God, is born into contemporary society. Winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1991;[9] nominated for a Nebula Award in 1990;[10] nominated for Campbell and Locus SF Awards in 1991.[9]
  • City of Truth (1990) – a dystopian novel about a society (Veritas) in which everyone is conditioned to tell only the literal truth. The story revolves around an art critic whose son is infected by a rare illness after being bitten by a rabbit at Camp Ditch-the-Kids. The protagonist comes to believe that his son's only hope is for him to come to (falsely) believe that he will recover. With the help of subversives from "Satirev", he must learn how to deceive again.
  • The Last Witchfinder (2006) – a historical novel in which Jennet Stearne, daughter of England's last Witchfinder General, sets out to end the persecution of witches by proving that witchcraft is not logically possible. The book addresses the shifting of world view from the medieval/renaissance viewpoint to the Enlightenment. The story travels from England to America during the late 17th and early 18th century, and features fictional portraits of Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, the young Ben Franklin, and the Salem Witch Trials. In a metafictional twist, the novel is narrated by Newton's Principia Mathematica, which asserts that books are often the authors of other books (albeit with unwitting human assistance). The Last Witchfinder was nominated for a BSFA Award in 2006,[11] as well as the Campbell and Locus Fantasy Awards in 2007.[6]
  • The Philosopher's Apprentice (2008), formerly titled Prometheus Wept. In this novel, a philosopher is offered a large amount of money to come to the Isla de Sangre to instruct the daughter of wealthy Edwina Sabacthani, called Londa. He is to use his skills and knowledge to instil a conscience or a moral compass in Londa, after a diving accident supposedly destroyed her sense of right and wrong. He happily instructs her in schools of thought, from Stoicism to Epicureanism. When he introduces her to the Beatitudes, seeds of a rampaging sense of justice are sown in Londa. She goes on to become a celebrity saint determined to change society for the good with radical means, which include building a utopian metropolis, and hijacking a reconstructed Titanic in order to subject its wealthy passengers to a very steep learning curve. The Philospher's Apprentice was nominated for a Campbell Memorial, placing third.
  • Shambling Towards Hiroshima (2009, Tachyon Publications) – In the tradition of Godzilla as both a playful romp and a parable of the dawn of the nuclear era, this satire blends the destruction of World War II with subject of monster movies. Set in the summer of 1945 while war is reigning in the Pacific Rim, protagonist Syms Thorley, a B-movie actor, is approached by the U.S. Navy to participate in their top-secret "Knickerbocker Project": 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 Navy will unleash a new biological super-weapon on Japan: a breed of gigantic, fire-breathing mutant iguanas. Shambling Towards Hiroshima was nominated for Hugo, Nebula, Locus and Theodore Sturgeon Awards in 2010. This novella won the prestigious Theodore Sturgeon Award for 2010.
  • The Madonna and the Starship (2014).
  • Galapagos Regained (2015).

Selected short stories[edit]

  • "Spelling God with the Wrong Blocks" (1987) On a planet populated by robots who worship Charles Darwin, two 'science missionaries' have a hard time convincing them that they did not in fact evolve, but were intelligently designed at Harvard University.
  • "Bible Stories for Adults, No. 17: The Deluge" (1988) – Nebula Award Winner.[12] The tale of the Flood, told from the perspective of one of the sinners.
  • "Abe Lincoln in McDonald's" (1989) A time-travelling Abe Lincoln gets the opportunity to visit present-day America if the Civil War had never happened.
  • "Daughter Earth" (1991) A man and woman must learn to care for a most unusual offspring.
  • "City of Truth" (1991) – Nebula Award Winner.[12] A novella which pursues the premise of a future "utopian" society in which people are incapable of lying, and of a protagonist who, to save his terminally ill son's life, must somehow learn to not tell him the truth.

Short story collections[edit]


  • Nebula Awards 26 (1992)
  • Nebula Awards 27 (1993)
  • Nebula Awards 28 (1994)
  • The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent, with Kathryn Morrow (2007)


  1. ^ Fiona Kelleghan (March 2003). "War of the World-Views: A Conversation with James Morrow". Science Fiction Studies (Indiana: SF-TH, DePauw University) 89 (30). Retrieved January 10, 2009. 
  2. ^ "1995 World Fantasy Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved January 10, 2009. 
  3. ^ "1994 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  4. ^ "1995 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  5. ^ "Summation 1994: Fantasy," The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Eighth Annual Collection, p.xvii
  6. ^ a b "1997 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  7. ^ "1986 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  8. ^ "1987 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  9. ^ a b "1991 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  10. ^ "1990 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  11. ^ "1996 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  12. ^ a b "Past Winners of SFWA Nebula Awards". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Retrieved January 10, 2009. 

External links[edit]