Shambling Towards Hiroshima

( 2 )


2010 Sturgeon Award winner
Nebula and Hugo Award nominee

It is the early summer of 1945, and war reigns in the Pacific Rim with no end in sight. Back in the States, Hollywood B-movie star Syms Thorley lives in a very different world, starring as the Frankenstein-like Corpuscula and Kha-Ton-Ra, the living mummy. But the U.S. Navy has a new role waiting for Thorley, the role of a lifetime that he could never ...

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2010 Sturgeon Award winner
Nebula and Hugo Award nominee

It is the early summer of 1945, and war reigns in the Pacific Rim with no end in sight. Back in the States, Hollywood B-movie star Syms Thorley lives in a very different world, starring as the Frankenstein-like Corpuscula and Kha-Ton-Ra, the living mummy. But the U.S. Navy has a new role waiting for Thorley, the role of a lifetime that he could never have imagined.

The top secret Knickerbocker Project is putting the finishing touches on the ultimate biological weapon: a breed of gigantic, fire-breathing, mutant iguanas engineered to stomp and burn cities on the Japanese mainland. The Navy calls upon Thorley to don a rubber suit and become the merciless Gorgantis and to star in a live drama that simulates the destruction of a miniature Japanese metropolis. If the demonstration succeeds, the Japanese will surrender, and many thousands of lives will be spared; if it fails, the horrible mutant lizards will be unleashed. One thing is certain: Syms Thorley must now give the most terrifyingly convincing performance of his life.

In the dual traditions of Godzilla as a playful monster and a symbol of the dawn of the nuclear era, Shambling Towards Hiroshima unexpectedly blends the destruction of World War II with the halcyon pleasure of monster movies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“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

Publishers Weekly

In this witty and touching paean to the glory days of horror movies, elderly former B-movie actor Syms Thorley looks back from 1984 to recall his involvement in the infamous Knickerbocker Project. Near the end of WWII, facing a shortage of plutonium, the U.S. government scrapped the atomic bomb and instead built giant monsters to ravage Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Alongside a group of genuine Hollywood bigwigs-including Willis O'Brien, James Whale and Brenda Weisberg-Thorley helps craft a realistic movie of the havoc-wreaking Gorgantis, hoping to terrify Japanese leaders into surrendering. The sheer insanity of the premise only makes the eventual payoff even more powerful, and though Morrow (The Last Witchfinder) occasionally indulges in slapstick, he never loses sight of the need to make his characters fascinating and real. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
James Morrow's bizarrely funny new book . . . turns the usual Godzilla paradigm on its head: instead of being inspired by the horrors of nuclear war, Godzilla is its herald.
Time Out Chicago
No book has captured the strange brew of jolly satire and moral indignity of vintage Kurt Vonnegut so well.
The Agony Column
A total hoot to read . . . recounting horrors both imagined and real with equal aplomb.
A stellar performance.
Manchester Guardian
Few authors could successfully combine politics, humour and the line 'We can thank our lucky stars that Hitler never got the lizard,' but Morrow pulls it off with aplomb.
Green Man Review
Readers will never think of Godzilla-or any other B-movie monster-in quite the same way, that's guaranteed.
Fantasy & Science Fiction
A ridiculously fun read. Pitch-perfect satire.

Kirkus Reviews
From Morrow (The Philosopher's Apprentice, 2008, etc.), a sharp-edged, delightfully batty novella that denounces the atomic bombing of Japan during World War II. In the summer of 1945, as Japan prepares to defend itself to the death, an unexpected delay halts the Manhattan Project. Fortunately, the U.S. Navy steps in with its top-secret Knickerbocker Project: gigantic, fire-breathing, mutant iguanas poised to wade ashore and devastate the Japanese homeland. But before the Navy iguanas are unleashed, what's needed is a demonstration to convince the Japanese to surrender and spare themselves, and the rest of the world, the horror. Step forward Hollywood B-movie star Syms Thorley, fresh from his triumphs as the Frankenstein's-monster-like Corpuscula and Kha-Ton-Ra, the living mummy. The Navy will pay Thorley to rubber-suit up as the merciless Gorgantis and convincingly devastate, in front of a Japanese delegation, a miniature Japanese metropolis. If Thorley can play the most terrifyingly persuasive role of his career, the suitably cowed delegates will induce the Japanese high command to surrender. If he fails, the real lizards will lurch out of the ocean, roaring, stamping and spouting flame. Preposterous but somehow almost plausible, skillfully mingling real and imaginary characters with genuinely hilarious moments.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781892391841
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 985,023
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet 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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 28, 2014

    This novel is about an audacious plan to end World War II in the

    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.

    In mid-1945, Germany has already surrendered. A Top Secret American project involves the creation of a trio of mutant, bipedal, fire-breathing lizards, and unleashing one of them on a Japanese city. A total Japanese surrender is the only way to cancel the attack. It is decided that the Japanese should first witness a demonstration of the potential devastation. A miniature mockup of the city of Shirazuka is created at an isolated Army base in the California desert. The hope is that the visiting Japanese delegation will be so horrified by what they see, that they will run to the Emperor, and beg him to surrender.

    Enter Syms Thorley, veteran B-movie actor. He is most known as the living mummy Kha-Ton-Ra, and the monster Corpuscula. Thorley is assured that just one rehearsal is needed, with a less-detailed mockup of Shirazuka, and there will be just one performance, so he can work it around his current movie. He has to get used to the rubber suit, so he takes it to the beach a couple of times, and almost gets arrested. He also drives around Los Angeles with the suit strapped to the roof of his car.

    Performance day has come. The miniature Japanese ships and planes are firing bits of actual gunpowder at him, to make it look as real as possible. As the mock-devastation goes on, Thorley is supposed to act "injured," but he really is injured. Does Thorley give the performance of a lifetime? Is it enough to force a Japanese surrender?

    I really enjoyed this story. It's short, and easy to read, and it is very well done, from a veteran author. It is very much worth reading.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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