NESFA Members' Reviews


by James Morrow

Harcourt Brace & Company, ISBN 0-15-188656-3, 1996, 404pp, US$24

A book review by Evelyn C. Leeper

Copyright 1996 Evelyn C. Leeper

BLAMELESS IN ABADDON is the sequel to TOWING JEHOVAH. In that book, the corpse of God has been found, and a disgraced tanker captain is hired to haul it to the Arctic.

In BLAMELESS IN ABADDON, the corpse has somehow ended up as the main attraction in a religious theme park cum miraculous shrine. Justice of the Peace Martin Candle hears there is neural activity in God's brain and decides to bring this most infamous criminal to justice. This is part of the age-old attempt to find an answer to mystery of suffering, and in the book, it is clear that Morrow has done his homework in researching the theologians who have attempted to answer this question. (At least from a Jewish or Christian perspective--one might argue that finding "Jehovah" means one needn't look at Buddhist or Hindu explanations, but a few Islamic sources might have been nice. On the other hand, it's unlikely the characters involved would have access to or inclination to look for these.) The person defending Jehovah is based on C. S. Lewis, and the story also involves scrabble-playing dinosaurs. (As Morrow quotes from Dostoyevsky, "If everything on Earth were rational, nothing would happen.") We also find out that God is a Platonist.

Morrow has said that he enjoys writing this sort of work in the genre, because "science fiction makes very literal what in other fiction is metaphorical." He also said that it might be nice if people took these things more seriously here (not "it's just a novel"), but on the other hand, he appreciated being able to write a novel such as this without having to go into hiding as Salman Rushdie did.

I would certainly recommend that you read TOWING JEHOVAH before reading this, but then I would recommend that you read TOWING JEHOVAH in any case. After all, it was nominated for a Hugo, which is a pretty amazing achievement for a story more cerebral than action-packed. Morrow writes books that are thought-provoking and entertaining, and this is certainly both of those.

(Morrow is now working on a third book, titled THE ETERNAL FOOTMAN. However, this book does not end on a cliff-hanger.)

%T      Blameless in Abaddon
%A      James Morrow
%C      New York
%D      August 1996
%I      Harcourt Brace & Company
%O      hardback, US$24
%G      ISBN 0-15-188656-3
%P      404pp
%S      Jehovah
%V      2

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