Shambling Towards Hiroshima by JAMES MORROWShambling Towards Hiroshima by JAMES MORROW

Shambling Towards Hiroshima


Paperback | February 11, 2009

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Sturgeon Award winnerNebula and Hugo Award nomineeIt 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.
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 Wee...
Title:Shambling Towards HiroshimaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:170 pages, 7.9 × 5 × 0.6 inPublished:February 11, 2009Publisher:Tachyon PublicationsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1892391848

ISBN - 13:9781892391841

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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Barbed-wire, lightning-quick wit. ''Doubtless Moses was correct when, reporting on the birth of the universe, he revealed that God rested on Sunday. God, however, did not have a Hollywood career to maintain...’’(p.105 ). Be prepared for a definite joust with words, both playful and skewering. ''Lifetime achievement - that's terrific...not everybody manages to have an achievement in their lifetime.''( p. 95). This book IS quite an achievement - short, painfully witty, yet causing deep ripples in the murky waters of 'civilization'.
Date published: 2015-07-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Goofy Science Fiction With a Deep Message Originally posted to Here's another book for my Science Fiction Course! This book is not really science fiction. It does possess science fiction elements in the form of giant lizard creatures (think Godzilla) and the idea of letting them lose on Japan to bring the Second World War to a firey, lizard-ocalypse. As you can guess, this book is a fun ride. In Shambling Towards Hiroshima, we are introduced to Syms Thorley a B Movie Creature Feature Actor, who has played every monster under the sun (expect vampires, those are against his principle). Thorley is approached by the Navy to serve his country in the only way he can, by wearing a giant rubber dinosaur suit and destroying a model of a Japanese City. The fate of World War Two is in his short stubby rubber hands, and thousands of lives depend on him giving the performance of his life. Thorley is a fun smart talking guy with a wicked sense of humour. You can't help but like him. He interacts with a few characters, but they're all pretty much stereotypes (Hollywood directors and actors, scientists, US Navy officials, nothing too deep). But this is a satire, the focus isn't on the characters per say, but on the message the author is trying to get across. The premise of this book is kind of silly. But I kid you not, it works really well. Shambling is both a WWII satire and a love letter to the B-Movie and Horror Movie Scene. Even if you're not one to appriciate WWII narratives, if you have any love for the cinema, this book is definatly something you should check it out. The subject matter that this novel explores is a dark one, but it manages to do it in a lighthearted fun manner that somehow is though provoking at the same time. There is a rather intensive shift in the tone in the last twenty pages. I can't get much into that without spoiling the book. But it works and fits with the flow of the story. So I highly suggest you check this one out. It's a pretty quick read and gives you a lot to think about and some awesome one liners you're going to want to quote in your next conversation.
Date published: 2012-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "We can thank our lucky stars that Hitler never got the lizard." James Morrow is an author I will follow to the ends of the Earth and beyond. His Godhead Trilogy is arguably (and I'll argue it to the pain) the greatest religious satire of the last century, followed close behind by his own Only Begotten Daughter. His work evokes the best of Vonnegut and Swift. Morrow is an author par excellence, a satirist of the highest quality, a provocative writer of limitless compassion for the foibles of humanity. And a damned funny novelist. But Shambling Towards Hiroshima, like its subject matter, is a weird beast. It's a light, airy piece of work, a lark. Morrow appears to be having a ball with this quick little read, loosing all his talents over a frolic of a novel. Consequently, Shambling may not be most focused work of caustic wit, but it is supremely entertaining. Remember Godzilla? Silly question. So great and powerful is the hold the mythic pop-culture monster has over our collective conscious that everyone everywhere knows of his exploits. Well, Godzilla had nothing on Gorgantis, at least as Syms Thorley tells it. According to Thorley, writing his memoirs over the course of one long night , Gorgantis was not a monster born of Japanese fears of nuclear argmageddon in films such as Gorgantis vs. Octopocalypse. No, Gorgantis was the brainchild of the U.S. Army during the final days of World War II, an attempt to terrify the Japanese high command into surrendering. And it was Thorley, b-movie actor and star of such 1940s monster epics as Curse of Kha-Ton-Ra and Corpuscula Meets the Dopplegänger, who was picked to star as the titular monster because, as head mad scientist Dr. Ivan Groelish says, "His lumbering is second to none." And given that Thorley is most famous for portraying Corpuscula, a monster with a "third eye embedded in his cheek and [a] herniated brain emerging from his fractured skull," he would seem ideal for the role. This being the U.S. Army, of course, frightening the enemy is not nearly enough; there must be something to back up the macho posturing. Through Dr. Groelish's tireless efforts, three leviathan fire-breathing lizards do in fact exist. These aren't cartoonish monsters, however, but truly horrific freaks of genetic alteration: "The creatures suggested quarter-mile-high tyrannosaurs, but modified for a marine environment - pulsing gill slits, translucent swim fins, webbing between their talons like the vanes of a Spanish fan - and retrofitted with fighting tusks, barbed horns, feelers as long as tentacles, and dorsal plates the size and proportion of fir trees." Thorley is to portray Gorgantis destroying a scale model of a Japanese city to demonstrate the unstoppability of the real monsters should they be unleashed upon Japan. Much of the novel's humour comes from Thorley's personal testing of the constume with his girlfriend Darlene, both for practical and impractical purposes, which leads to a scene of sexual bravado that can only be described as...well, I don't know how to describe it well enough to do it justice. Morrow's novel is at once a cautionary tale of military paranoia and a superbly enjoyable recreation of the b-movies of the '40s and '50s. Thorley's memoir is peppered with loving tributes to the days when movies were made in two weeks, descibing himself and his fellow b-movie breathern as "a bunch of hard-drinking alpha males who spent their days pretending to perform blasphemous medical experiments and their nights fantasizing that they were going to give up alcohol tomorrow." It was also a time when true craftsmen toiled in the trenches of pulp cinema to pursue their art. Cinema geeks will get a kick as luminaries such as esteemed director James Whale and special effects maestro Willis O'Brien make appearances. O'Brien is hired to create the effects, and Whale is pegged to direct the opus for maximum terrifying effect. Whale proves himself somewhat more artistic than the army had hoped: "This is not a cerebral part," Whale instructs Thorley on his role. "You are a monster from the id. You are Death with haunches, la Grande Faucheuse with scales." Beyond the loving recreation of Hollywood's monster era, Shambling Towards Hiroshima makes some trenchant points on military madness, the uselessness of war, and the way horror movies desensitize the populace to the true horrors that exist just out their windows. Such movies are fine for entertainment's sake, but they can serve to distract us from the importance of our own reality, as Thorley discovers in his later years, preaching on the perils of nuclear holocaust to Gorgantis fans far more interested in his recollections of wearing the suit. As I said, Morrow is being immensely loose and playful with his story, which may explain the novel's relative slightness. But how I can I really complain, when the result is so much damned fun? Shambling Towards Hiroshima is the most sheerly entertaining novel I've read in quite a while.
Date published: 2009-10-28

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.'- Bookgasm '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.'- Booklist '... sharp-edged, delightfully batty... skillfully mingling real and imaginary characters with genuinely hilarious moments.'- Kirkus '... 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