Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Morrow, James

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(1947-    ) US writer. His early novels are sf, although they deploy motifs which really belong to fantasy: The Wine of Violence (1981) features a fluid which soaks up aggression; The Continent of Lies (1984) involves a method of controlled dreaming; the plot of This is the Way the World Ends is haunted by the dark spectres of the "unadmitted" – people who would have been born if only nuclear war had not destroyed the world. JM's first full-blooded fantasy, Only Begotten Daughter (1990), is a sceptical and bitterly sarcastic Christian Fantasy about a female Messiah who has to contend with a suave and mendacious Satan as well as the excesses of near-future fundamentalists. The Nebula Award-winning City of Truth (1991) is a fabular account of a City in which truth-telling is compulsory, and its more comfortable but no less perverse Shadow where lying is not merely permitted but de rigueur. Towing Jehovah (1994) is an extended Fable in which a disgraced and guilt-ridden ship's captain is given a chance to redeem himself when selected by the dying Angels to tow the dead body of God to its final resting-place – a journey made difficult by the great size of the corpse, the determination of the Vatican to keep God's death a secret, and the dedication of a group of militant atheists to thwart the mission.

In parallel with these later works JM has issued various randomly numbered elements in a series of Bible Stories for Adults, which set out righteously and wrathfully to revise the moral precepts of the original tales according to modern principles of liberalism and tolerance. The Nebula-winning "Bible Stories for Adults #17: The Deluge" (1988) is in Swatting at the Cosmos (coll 1990), but the parables as a whole still await assembly.

JM is by far the most significant contemporary writer of religious fantasies. [BS]

James Kenneth Morrow


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.