#89 = Volume 30, Part 1 = March 2003
War of the World-Views: A Conversation with James Morrow
James Morrow was born March 17, 1947, in Philadelphia. He received a B.A. in
creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania and earned an M.A. in
teaching from Harvard Graduate School. Morrow taught English and lectured on
media in various public schools in Massachusetts for several years, before
leaving the field of education in 1978 to pursue a writing career.
The arrival of a daring, satirical voice in science fiction was signaled with
the opening sentence of The Wine of Violence (1981), Morrow’s first novel:
“There was a time, believe it or not, when human beings did each other harm” (np).
His later novels include The Continent of Lies (1984), the Nebula
Award-nominated This is the Way the World Ends (1986), the Nebula-nominated and
World Fantasy Award-winning Only Begotten Daughter (1990), the Nebula-winning
City of Truth (1991), and THE GODHEAD TRILOGY—Towing Jehovah (1994), nominated
for both the Hugo and the Nebula and winner of the World Fantasy Award,
Blameless in Abaddon (1996), and The Eternal Footman (1999)—with
The Last Witchfinder on the way. His collections are Swatting at the
Cosmos (1990) and the World Fantasy Award nominee Bible Stories for
Adults (1996). Morrow also served as editor of the twenty-sixth,
twenty-seventh, and twenty-eighth Nebula Awards anthologies (1993 to 1995).
Morrow is one of a group of writers whom I call the Savage Humanists. Brilliant,
occasionally vicious, and always humane, his work has been compared to that of
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Joseph Heller, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Oscar Wilde, and
Dante. He is a master of social criticism whose fiction most frequently takes
potshots at fundamentalist religion, and his plots build on a polarization
between two viewpoints, often the rational and the irrational. His characters,
both good and vile, are seriously and sympathetically portrayed, however; they
are believable as humans. Morrow’s prose is literarily allusive, polished, and
electric with wit.
In a review in The Washington Post, Peter Heck wrote that Morrow has established
“a position as the most provocative satiric voice in science fiction, willing to
take on the Big Themes without pulling punches, and not afraid to step outside
the genre’s usual borders” (10). Many of Morrow’s works include a fantastical
element—in Only Begotten Daughter, for instance, Julie Katz really is God’s
daughter; in This is the Way the World Ends, the children who were never born
really do appear as malignant ghosts; in THE GODHEAD TRILOGY, God and the Devil
really do appear on Earth. But his fiction works best when read as science
fiction, because Morrow is pro-science and pro-rationalism, and the fantastic
elements appear in realistic settings and with scientific explanations behind
them. In a 2000 interview for Scifi.com, Morrow told F. Brett Cox that “I will
go to my grave saying science is privileged. Not universally privileged, not
privileged at the expense of other ways of understanding reality—I wouldn’t be
writing fiction if I didn’t think it was terribly important to come at reality
from lots of different directions. But I am distressed by a certain kind of
mindless dismissal, one that certainly doesn’t begin with postmodern academia, a
kind of resentment that science tells us lots of things that we would prefer not
to be the case: we’re not special, we’re not the center of the universe, there
doesn’t seem to be much evidence that we are the special creation of a divinity.
Those are extremely annoying messages.” Fortunately, Morrow is willing to risk
the annoyance of his readers in an attempt to open their eyes to new sides of
old arguments about the human condition.
He lives in State College, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Kathy, his son,
Christopher, and their dogs. This interview was conducted at the March 2001
International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts held in Fort Lauderdale,
Fiona Kelleghan: Let’s begin with how you got started writing science fiction.
What reading, or what movie, or what experience first gave you that sense of
wonder that made you say “I want to do this”?
James Morrow: I wish I had a poetic and lofty answer to that question, an answer
having to do with art and literature. The truth is I was inspired by television,
and I freely admit that the visual media have been as important in my life as
literature. I’m an avid film-goer and armchair movie scholar.
There was a situation comedy on television when I was maybe six years old. It
was called The Stu Erwin Show. This was a family sitcom and the adolescent
daughter was writing a novel. “I’ve finished chapter one, let me read it to
you,” she said to her family. And little six-year-old Jimmy Morrow was just
astonished by the idea that, wow, a person could just sit down and write a
novel. You didn’t have to settle for your grandfather reading a story to you.
[Laughs] And I was hooked ever since then.
I also extrapolated from The Stu Erwin Show that a novel was something divided
into chapters, so at age seven I wrote my first novel, dividing it into
chapters. I think it was a novel of about three pages, and each chapter was
about three or four sentences long. I dictated it to my mother, because I
couldn’t write neatly, and I knew that typewriting would look a lot better
anyway. And now I’m fifty-five years old, but I still have this book, The Story
of the Dog Family—dictated to my mother in six chapters. The characters were all
talking dogs, so I guess I was a fantasist right out of the gate. I never did
realism. Maybe other seven-year-olds were writing about, you know, divorce in
Scarsdale or something [laughs], but I was writing about talking dogs. We bound
it with yarn so it looked like a real book. So in a weird way I owe my writing
career to television, and I’d have to admit that my sense of wonder came largely
from that medium and from television broadcasts of fantasy movies—King Kong
 and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein  and so on—but I
certainly read children’s classics, and got lost in Gulliver’s Travels ,
and was blessed with a grandfather who was living in our house and who read to
me all the time.
So I had both the visual and verbal. The book has always been a kind of erotic
artifact in my life. And I think it’s that way for most readers and writers. I
can’t remember the citation, but someone said recently, “The book is a
technology that has nothing wrong with it.” And at this point in history, as we
sit here at the Conference on the Fantastic, a lot of us are concerned about the
possible death of the book with the emergence of hand-held reader thingies and
the Internet, and the fact that you can download all sorts of manuscripts now,
and Stephen King did his famous experiment with cyberspace and published a
novella on the Net. And it was successful, so everyone said, “Oh, there’s the
wave of the future. Authors will publish directly on the Net.”
FK: The reports of its success were greatly exaggerated.
JM: Were they greatly exaggerated? Just as the reports of the death of the book
are greatly exaggerated, I think. I mean, Stephen King’s readers would follow
him into any medium. If his next novel was written in the form of goat droppings
strewn along a mountain path in the Andes, they would all get plane tickets and
go and read the goat droppings. [Laughter] It was a test without a control
I found myself recently tangling with a writer—I think he was also a game
designer—on a panel at Harvard, about the future of print. And he was saying,
“You know, we writers are enamored of this medieval technology, ink and paper,
and what we should be doing, of course, is regarding the computer screen as our
medium. Paper should just vanish from the writer’s life. Save some trees. We’ll
just compose on the screen and send it to our readers, who will then read it on
the screen.” I don’t think that’s gonna happen. The book is a technology that
has nothing wrong with it, really.
FK: Exactly. Besides which, these proselytizers of the electronic overlook the
fact that books are not merely novels. Books are also cookbooks, and manuals
that you want to hold under your car while you’re fixing it—
JM: I hadn’t thought of that, actually. Yeah, you want to use books that way—I
just can’t imagine curling up with a good Palm Pilot. It just isn’t the same
thing. The eroticism of the book. Now sure, admittedly, this is a complex
subject, and sometimes I find myself on the other side of this argument—that is,
when people talk about the linearity of print and how that’s different from the
supposed nonlinearity of the visual media. I think that written words live
independently of the medium through which they’re displayed. The way you make
sense of any glob of print—whether it’s scribbled by hand with a Bic pen on a
legal pad or whether it’s on a computer screen or whether it arrives in the form
of a printed page—this is a very mysterious phenomenon, this process by which
the reader assembles a text in his or her mind and simultaneously paints these
mental landscapes. Nobody knows how that works, or why that works.
That’s why I don’t think that the supposed linearity of print is a topic worth
discussing. But I do reserve for the book a kind of intrinsic aesthetic worth.
The book is a beautiful thing. Even a paperback, a mass-market paperback, can be
a beautiful object. I would never say that about any piece of text floating
around on screen. It’s a ghost.
FK: I think that the desire to eradicate printed paper is well-intentioned but
wholly misinformed, an enthusiasm born out of naïveté about socioeconomic forces
that these anti-book zealots are overlooking.
JM: Yeah, they’re just not thinking about the problem. This gentleman I
disagreed with on the panel, I would assume either his writing sucks, or he’s
just not thinking about how dependent he really is on being able to read a
print-out and mark it with a pencil. There are nuances, there are rhythms, that
you cannot achieve on screen alone. You have to go back to that print-out. There
are typos you would never notice, to go from the sublime to the ridiculous.
There are typos that your spellchecker won’t catch.
But I love the dance, going back and forth between the print-out and what’s on
the screen. There are times when the imaginative freedom that word processing
provides is exhilarating. I almost close my eyes and just compose in a very
FK: You’ve probably been using AV materials longer than most writers today,
JM: In my first life I was an instructional materials specialist for public
school systems, and worked at it in Philadelphia and later in the Boston area.
So I’m pretty sure I’m not a Luddite. My chariness about the electronic frontier
in publishing doesn’t come from any hostility toward technology. I think
technology is swell, within limits. But I’ve thought a lot about the differences
among the media. I don’t need to say, “I hope the book doesn’t disappear,”
because it won’t disappear. Not gonna happen. Sex didn’t disappear when
pornography came in. [Laughs]
FK: If I can circle back to our opening paragraph, you sounded a bit defensive
or apologetic at first about the power of television as an influence. Your
pointing out subjectivity is important. Bill Sheehan wrote in an essay on The
City of Truth that you are the kind of writer most at home in the realm of grand
sweeping ideas . It’s true; every time I’ve read any of your work, short
stories included, I’ve always had a sense of the sublimity of your imagination.
Even the characters who are subjected to horrible depths of degradation in your
fiction are done so in a wondrous and imaginative style. We don’t usually
associate the sublime with television.
But clearly something was fermenting in your young brain and is still fermenting
in your brain now. The sublime has been defined in various ways by various
people; it doesn’t have to be the Shelleyian sublime of Mont Blanc.
JM: Yeah, and I think that there are more writers out there—serious
writers—writers who are taken seriously—those two groups are not exactly the
same—for whom experiences with film and television were formative and primal. I
always liked the film critic Pauline Kael, who once remarked something along
these lines: “I’ve never trusted the judgment of people who were born with such
good taste that they never had to feel their way through trash.” And by feeling
my way through trash, I developed an understanding of the Pleasure Principle.
The comfort with grand sweeping ideas came later. Naturally, I didn’t find much
intellectual material on the Walt Disney Presents program. But I did find
narrative: beautiful rapturous sublime narrative. The Disney adaptation of
Treasure Island  and the Disney version of the legend of Robin Hood 
are astonishing pieces of story-telling, astonishing paragons of script
construction, and I just responded to that right out of the gate. For me it was
The novelist Ross Lockridge, who wrote that very complex, intellectual novel in
the late forties called Raintree County —which became a lousy movie; it
has nothing to do with the vision behind the novel Raintree County—he was
influenced by D.W. Griffith’s movie Intolerance , which is a mawkish,
dopey movie on many levels, but it happens to have an astonishing narrative
drive and a very experimental structure: four different stories, intercut, and
then come four delayed climaxes that seem to happen all at once through the
frenetic parallel editing that Griffith did so brilliantly.
Nabokov used to watch television, I hear. [Laughs]
FK: I have no difficulty believing that. A book like Lolita  is filled
with every sort of diction from every walk of life that you can imagine.
JM: And you know, he didn’t watch it to sneer at it, just to be scandalized by
Philistine vulgarity. I think he appreciated it at some level. A literary
scholar once witnessed Nabokov and his wife arguing over whether they had last
seen Lenny Bruce on the Jack Paar program or the Ed Sullivan Show. Which is not
the sort of discussion that the literati imagine going on in the home of
Again, to go back to Pauline Kael, she points out that we’re not just
intellectual beings with lofty thoughts; we’re also ordinary schmucks, we
readers. The community of people with primal ideas and drives is terribly
important. If you separate yourself from that community, I think you’re lost, as
an artist. You’re then talking only to other artists, which is not why God
FK: So when you come up with these grand sweeping ideas, such as the
literalization of the death of God in THE GODHEAD TRILOGY—or I think of the
windswept landscapes of This is the Way the World Ends, the post-holocaust
continent of corpses and this vastness of wild grief, and then moving the action
to Antarctica of all places, and the walking dead—are you simply literalizing
metaphors, or do you have to work to come up with images like these?
JM: That’s a good question. I think that both must be the case, flights of fancy
and hard intellectual work. The construction of a novel is irreducible, and I
don’t like to think about it too much, because then I might become
self-conscious and lose the spontaneity, which I think is the sine qua non of
creativity. But I think a conceit like the potential descendents who get locked
out of life, as a result of human extinction—that’s very intellectual. I stole
it from Jonathan Schell’s book The Fate of the Earth  and added my own
flourishes to it, and literalized it. I don’t think Schell ever thought of his
idea in narrative terms, but I immediately saw that there was a drama in this
concept of the Unadmitted.
But it’s also very emotional, and that’s what art is all about. It’s about the
emotions. As I like to say, all drama is melodrama—it just doesn’t work the
other way around. All art is entertainment—it just doesn’t work the other way
around. But, gee, going back to television, I can remember a series called
Omnibus. They presented the Olivier film of Richard III , which I got to
see when I was about ten years old, I guess. It made an astonishing emotional
impression on me, the pageantry counterpoised against the dark, brooding,
quieter moments. So, yeah, I want to have both. It’s important to engage the
reader’s mind, and make the reader think and, I would hope, think about things
he or she has never thought about before. But as a child of the movies and
television, I find that the spectacular vistas also matter to me terribly, and
the emotional dimension.
FK: I admire your success in balancing the sensations of the individual and the
domestic with the sensationalism of the huge, catastrophic or post-catastrophic
JM: I’ll tell you something even more revealing. I was talking to Brett Cox
about this. When you talk of moving from the domestic to the catastrophic, all
academically-inclined people immediately think of the Uncle Scrooge comic books
that Carl Barks produced in the 1950s. [Pause] I guess you’re not of the cult of
Uncle Scrooge comics.
FK: [Laughs] I’m not acquainted with them.
JM: They’re a bit before your time. For your own amusement, you should try to
get me, Brett Cox, and John Crowley going on the Uncle Scrooge comics by Carl
Barks. He was both the illustrator and the script writer. Barks could do
astonishing things with his artistic talent—but he also had an amazing sense of
story structure. I learned from Barks the kind of narrative move that an author
can make, where you begin in the most mundane setting and take the reader to
some exotic locale. Barks always started the reader in Duckburg, you
know—[Laughter] Duckburg, USA—and before you know it, in the effort to protect
his fortune, Scrooge has had to go into the jungle, or underground, to
Antarctica, or halfway around the world, off on some fantastic adventure. You
can see that structure in nearly every novel I’ve written. I shouldn’t be saying
all this. I feel naked. I’m being too honest. [Laughs] But no, I think that
childhood passions are important to one’s development as an author. I’m not a
Freudian, or at least not in any orthodox sense, but God knows you are who you
Of course, the other half of my writer’s sensibility comes from literature,
which had become central to my life by high school. I had an astonishing course
in World Literature in tenth grade. The curriculum opened up the universe of the
novel for me—it enabled me to understand the novel as a matrix of ideas, not
just as a narrative. I realized that much more could be done with the medium of
the novel than Carl Barks was doing with Uncle Scrooge comics. I don’t think I
really understood that until this wonderful teacher, James Giordano, took us on
an amazing tour of world literature. We were mere tenth graders, fourteen years
old, fifteen years old, and he made us grapple with Camus’s The Stranger 
and Kafka’s The Trial  and Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment  and
Voltaire’s Candide . We read The Inferno . We read Madame Bovary
. We read Ibsen’s plays. So that changed my life forever—
FK: In tenth grade!
JM: In tenth-grade Honors English. You couldn’t do that today. I think Mr.
Giordano was getting in trouble for it even at the time. But today, both the
Left and the Right will have no truck with that kind of curriculum philosophy.
By the Left, I mean the postmodern Left, which is pretty hostile to the concept
of literature as the embodiment of a universal human spirit. In the postmodern
world-view, all human understanding is cultural and “local”—that’s one of their
favorite words, “local”—and the purpose of the novel is to express the voice of
a particular people. This type of criticism has its place, but I don’t think Mr.
Giordano would have been very happy if you asked him, “Was Kafka speaking for
the Jews?” I think Mr. Giordano would have said, “No, he’s speaking about the
human condition and what life feels like.” You know. Camus isn’t writing about
the French. [Laughter] On the Right, meanwhile, you have the guardians of public
morality telling teachers they mustn’t assign novels that satirize the demonic
side of the Catholic Church as Voltaire does, or that find God to be illusory,
as Camus does. That’s not gonna go down these days in the classroom.
So I was very lucky that I came of age at a time when it was thought that
adolescents could handle great works of world literature. So that’s why we’re
here in this room. [Laughter] Next question.
FK: How and when did your opposition to irrationality arise? Give examples.
JM: Boy, these doctoral defenses are harder than they used to be. My opposition
to irrationality arose through irrational means. It sounds like there’s a
paradox in there, and maybe even some hypocrisy on my part. But there’s a sense
in which—and I hope I’m not sounding remotely mystical—there’s a sense in which
those literary voices spoke to me: the voices of the skeptics, the world-view
that’s going on in Voltaire’s Candide or in the plays of Ibsen, in the satire of
Jonathan Swift, and in the honest atheism of Camus.
The word “honesty” is pivotal for me. These writers seemed like honest voices
when compared with the voices of Belief and Irrationality, and with the Theistic
Claims, and with Anti-Darwinism. It became so clear that something disingenuous
was driving the believers’ agenda. The proselytizer was not coming clean, was
not asking questions of himself or herself, tough questions—questions like,
“Why have I been appointed to go out and tell people about Jesus? Why does God
permit such a deranged state of affairs, where some people become privy to
ultimate truth, while others remain in the outer darkness? Why do I keep gunning
for Darwin? Is God so weak that he can’t even make his presence felt in a crummy
biology classroom? Is that a deity worth worshipping, this being who needs this
pathetic press corps running around, these spin doctors for the divine?” That
seemed ridiculous compared to the honest anguish of a Camus or a Dostoevsky.
Dostoevsky inhabits this wonderfully ambiguous mental space in which doubt and
belief collide with each other.
FK: His entire oeuvre is from the underground.
JM: Exactly. That’s my ultimate critique of so much belief, whether we’re
talking about New Age mysticism or orthodox church-going—or Marxism. At a
certain point, the practitioner is not asking the tough questions that have to
be asked. I always liked a truism about George Orwell, which was that the Right
Wing hated him because he was a Socialist, and the Left Wing hated him because
he told the truth. I don’t see myself as a truth-teller, but do I see myself as
an ambiguity-monger. Somebody who says that a question is always better than an
FK: Throughout my reading of criticism on the fantastic, I have encountered
again and again a manifesto that says that fantasy and myth and Story, with a
capital S, are better than science because they speak the truths that speak to
the soul, and meanwhile that science is good only at measuring things. And I’ve
always thought, “Well, there’s no need to be rude about science just because
myth is good for you.” I find my sublimity in the scientific world-view, which I
guess makes me an adherent of scientism.
JM: In a way, science is not about measuring things.
FK: It’s about asking questions.
JM: As opposed to theology, or at least Medieval Scholasticism, which is about
measuring things, and astrology is about measuring things, and all sorts of
nonsense is about measuring things. Science, at its best, engages the sense of
wonder, which is the topic we began with. I’m a Carl Sagan-ite, I guess. I think
that the given world, the given universe, is so astonishing and mysterious and
miraculous and, as Einstein would say, knowable, that if that isn’t enough, then
we’re all in a lot of trouble. In other words—and this is how I put it in my
recent novel—God got it right the first time. [Laughs] I think the given
available world is where we’re supposed to cavort and find meaning, not some
imaginary afterlife. Why should we waste our time looking for angels and imps
and goblins, and other stuff that has the drawback of not existing, when we have
stag beetles? That’s where the miracles are.
FK: The Enlightenment promised Western civilization a future of rationalism, an
irrevocable march of science and technology that would benefit all humanity by
promoting education and reason and abolishing superstition and pseudo-science.
What went wrong?
JM: That’s a great question. It’s a question every scientific humanist like
myself, every secular rationalist like myself, has to ask. What went wrong? Let
me take a stab at it.
I think that the rise of experimental science in the late seventeenth century
and the early eighteenth century was perhaps the most radical of all
revolutions. Nobody was prepared for it. It worked so well, it worked so
reliably, all the things that we humanists chant about science—it’s replicable,
it’s objective. I don’t care what the postmodernists say, there is a physical
universe out there, and it’s lawful, and we have a grasp on those laws.
Nothing like that had ever come upon the scene before—in this lawfulness, these
replicable experiments. People kept running back to Aristotle. “It must be in
Aristotle!” But it wasn’t. They would run to the Bible. “It must be in the
Bible!” It wasn’t there. It wasn’t there. “What are we going to do?” The
intoxication must have been profound. An inevitable extrapolation occurred from
those victories, the success of Newtonian science, into the social realm. I
think that’s what went wrong, the not illogical assumption that we could have a
science of ourselves.
But Newton never solved the problem of consciousness. The self: the quirky,
perverse, magical, individual self—the physical sciences can’t get a glove on
that. Nor should they; they don’t pretend to. For Newton, the answer to all
those mucky problems of self and soul lay in the Bible—in revelation and the
I can’t blame my ancestors for saying, “We have a mechanics that works for the
physical universe; the lawfulness of Nature seems to be a constant throughout
time and space; so why can’t we apply an analogous mechanics to ourselves, and
thereby construct a Utopia?” But there’s always the imp of the perverse, as Poe
would later put it. We’re a perverse species, for better or worse. I think for
the better. As Dostoevsky put it, and I quote this line in Blameless in Abaddon,
“If everything were rational, nothing would happen.” Aesthetics is ipso facto
irrational. There is no mechanics of the human heart.
So I think that’s what went wrong. Human consciousness remains a mystery.
Psychology hasn’t had a Newton yet. Some people would say it has had a Newton,
and his name was Charles Darwin, and you can explain human consciousness through
the theory of natural selection. Okay, but Darwinism also teaches us that there
are no ethical principles in Nature. If we want to construct a Utopia, we won’t
find any clues in the physical universe.
Unfortunately, the Darwinian insights were not available to the Enlightenment.
Ben Franklin once remarked that he wished he could be alive in a hundred years
when human society would be perfect. In retrospect, that’s Enlightenment naïveté
in a nutshell. And we have to factor in the French Revolution, with rationality
elevated to the status of religion. But anything elevated to the status of
religion is going to blow up in our faces. Whenever you pervert science—mere
systematic curiosity about the physical world—into a kind of church, that’s a
recipe for the guillotine, which is exactly what the French Revolution got.
The Enlightenment gave us two great gifts: the gift of reason and the gift of
doubt. The problem is, reason without doubt inevitably leads to disaster. Today,
it’s really fashionable to piss on the Enlightenment. I think what people are
really pissing on is the way our more immediate ancestors have fetishized reason
and completely missed the other half of the program. The journalist John Ralston
Saul wrote an Ambrose Bierce-ian dictionary called The Doubter’s Companion
 which influenced my thinking on this problem.
Now, for all this, I am willing to defend reason per se up to a point, because
I’m not sure that reason was tried, really. It’s not that reason was tried and
found wanting. I’m not sure that you can say it was seriously tried. [Laughter]
I think we’re all kind of waiting for the Age of Reason! I don’t know if it’s
just around the corner. And I hope it is, as long as it’s tempered by doubt, as
I said earlier. But at the moment we live in the Age of Nonsense, where any kind
of charlatan with a pseudo-science will get a hearing on the Internet or in the
bookstores. There’s nothing to do about that. The alternative is far worse, the
alternative of squelching such voices. The only answer to bad speech is good
speech. Which is one of those Enlightenment gifts: the need to keep a
conversation going about the immense human capacity for self-delusion.
I think that was the genius behind the founding of this republic. The Founding
Fathers were sick, sick to death of European monarchy and the notion of the
divinity of kings. I love that play by Peter Barnes called The Bewitched ,
which is about the reign of Carlos II, who was the last of the Hapsburg
monarchs. He had such a huge Hapsburgian jaw that he couldn’t even chew his own
food, and he was a mental defective and had epileptic fits. There’s a line from
one of Carlos II’s biographers that I think says it all: “Nobody can understand
how powerful over the human mind the belief in the divinity of kings can be,
unless he has watched its effects where the king has been an idiot.” [Laughter]
And there we have the genius behind the founding of this republic—this
understanding that God isn’t really arranging our political affairs for optimal
human happiness, so we’re going to have to do it ourselves. We’re in charge. But
we’re fallible. So we need the checks and balances in government. And it works
pretty well. It didn’t work in the last  election, in my opinion, but we
don’t have to get into that. [Laughter]
FK: In your first novel, The Wine of Violence, the love interest, Dr. Tez Yon,
is a member of a Utopian society. When she carries out an experiment to
demonstrate that some fishes’ acquired characteristics can be transmitted to
their offspring, she proves the Lamarckian hypothesis of evolution—which is what
utopianists always dream of accomplishing. Unfortunately, Tez Yon, who is a
paragon of rationalism next to the protagonist, entomologist Francis Lostwax, is
betrayed by him and collapses into homicidal madness, proving that irrationality
is contagious. It’s a sad outlook for these two lovers who are both scientists.
JM: There is in The Wine of Violence a playful attitude towards science. Since I
wrote The Wine of Violence, I have become much more an armchair student of
science, and I feel that I know more about science. So the tacit endorsement of Lamarckianism and the flippant, throw-away gags about chemistry and entomology
are not affectations I would indulge in today. But I think what I was getting
at, implicitly, was my impatience with dualisms of any sort. The idea that
science is sterile and somber, you know, and therefore kind of a dead end,
whereas everything mystical is ipso facto warm and nourishing.
That’s what the novel takes to task: the Romantic assumption about pacifism,
which is that a pacifist utopia would be devoid of passion, and everybody would
be a creampuff, or a Lotus-eater, or like the Eloi in The Time Machine ,
sitting around and drowsing their way to extinction. I just wanted to question
that assumption in the form of a novel.
FK: Tez Yon’s people, the Quetzalians, are pacifist utopians who are never
childlike. They are menaced constantly by the marauding brain-eaters, who
devolved through Lamarckian processes into madness; they’re mature and they
enjoy debates in place of violent sports. Yet I’ve been indoctrinated by my
capitalistic, inhumane government into thinking of pacifists and utopianists as
JM: The Quetzalians are fully developed humans who happen to be fanatically
pacifist—though they’re pacifists primarily for Skinnerian reasons; they’re
pacifists because they can hook themselves up to TV sets and drain off their
violent impulses. It’s essentially a technological Utopia—but it works.
So up to a point, what the Quetzalians are doing—inoculating themselves against
aggression—is okay with the author. Up to a point, that’s analogous to vaccines.
I’m sure the postmodernists have weighed in with a critique of vaccines. “Look,
you pathetic scientific rationalists, new viruses are emerging to haunt us, so
obviously it was arrogant to intervene in the first place.” But talk to any
parent whose kid didn’t get polio because of the Salk vaccine, and you won’t
find a sympathetic listener for that argument or its common New Age variant,
that any human intervention in nature is ipso facto bad and blasphemous.
In The Wine of Violence, the trouble starts when the hero takes it upon himself
to decide that the Quetzalian solution to the problem of violence deprives them
of their spiritual essence. I’ve always liked the moment in James Whale’s film,
The Bride of Frankenstein —it’s a great metaphor for how I feel about
this—where the monster stumbles upon a blind hermit, and the hermit becomes his
teacher. The hermit isn’t just taking the monster through the Piagetian
cognitive stages of thinking. He’s introducing the monster to the moral
universe. We all remember the moment when the monster says something like,
“Friend good. Fire bad.” And that’s the level of discourse that goes on about
science, among the postmodern intellectuals and the spiritual hucksters.
“Science bad. Irrationality good.” That’s about all you get out of so many fans
of the New Age and Deepak Chopra. The post-Enlightenment conversation shouldn’t
stop there. Because Deepak Chopra isn’t the Frankenstein monster. He can think
about these things a little more deeply and ask himself those tough questions.
FK: But it’s more lucrative for him not to.
JM: That’s another question worth asking: In what direction is the money
flowing? Who’s picking up the tab? When spirituality becomes lucrative, doesn’t
it lose its essence? When you commodify spiritual enlightenment, haven’t you
made a devil’s bargain?
FK: Charlatans need to eat too, Jim.
JM: Yeah, they do, yeah. I can’t begrudge somebody for being that canny. For all
I know, Mr. Chopra has rescued some people from despair. There’s a line in a
novel I like, Lying in Bed  by Mark Harris—it’s an academic novel set in a
college community, and some guru comes to town, and his line is, “Any cure is
the right cure.” And I can see the wisdom in that. If it helps you get through
the day and if it doesn’t hurt other people, then, you know, maybe the
“intuition good, science bad” model is a price worth paying. I don’t know.
FK: Was that what you were thinking when you wrote City of Truth?
JM: It’s a novel about how all dualisms and dichotomies almost seem to be
facto defeating. What I liked about Bill Sheehan’s essay was that he went right
to the heart of the theme: this fanatical devotion to a literal-minded version
of truth, this systematized attempt to turn a city into a teaching machine, to
turn a city into a Skinner box, is evil. Even if it’s done with the best of
Any truth that gets out of hand [laughter] becomes an evil. I loved what John
Crowley was saying here in his talk [at the Conference on the Fantastic] about
how magic easily devolves into sorcery and then the sorcerer exempts himself
from manipulation, but imposes it on others, and you get a situation where—how
did Crowley put it?—“The person with the least love wins.”
FK: In City of Truth and The Eternal Footman and other works, you expose the meretriciousness of belief systems that are designed to make adherents feel
better rather than to uphold the truth.
JM: Yeah. A whole other phenomenon that makes me mistrust religion and New Age
cosmology and all the “paradoxers,” to use Carl Sagan’s word, is that the news
they channel from the Higher Realms is always good news. It’s always lacking any
sense of the tragic. I said earlier that I’m not a Freudian, but I do appreciate
the tragic sense. It’s manifestly the case that we’re gonna die, with probable
oblivion to follow, no details at 11, and that’s very sad. I have this
thirteen-year-old, he’s turning thirteen tomorrow, and I love him more than
anything, and when I suddenly realize that he’s going to become an old man and
die, that seems monstrously wrong. And it’s even more wrong when a young person
dies, which is what City of Truth is about. And at this conference there were
two memorial services for people who shouldn’t have died [Jenna Felice and Dede
Weil]—who died young, too young. I think a certain kind of stoicism is to be
admired. Whatever problems you might have with stoicism or existentialism or
whatever you want to call it, it tries to tell us the truth about death.
I’m skeptical of the channeling phenomenon—these people who discover their past
lives, or who manage to bring us dispatches from beyond the grave—because these
messages are always banal. They’re always banal! There hasn’t been a single
scrap of interesting poetry channeled from ancient Egypt, nothing as good as
e.e. cummings, much less Shakespeare! One line of poetry, insight, even a new
cliché, or a new maxim would be nice. The whole thing is just people telling
other people what they want to hear. Betty Eadie writes that book, Embraced by
the Light , which seems to be saying there’s nothing ambiguous or
terrifying or even interesting about dying. You simply go to Heaven, and Jesus
gives you a T-shirt, and in her case she got to come back—[Laughter]
I guess I’m sort of a Jungian, even though I’m skeptical about that too. Jung
bothers me because, at a certain level, he is a critic of scientific humanism
and he sees empirical knowledge as a poor substitute for genuine religious
experience, and he opened the door to a lot of nonsense and a certain kind of
New Age folderol. But I do like Jung’s idea that everything has a shadow side,
and maybe that’s been the theme of this interview. The people who so frustrate
me are the ones who aren’t looking at the shadow side of their own systems.
That’s why the pseudo-scientists are so destructive.
The last product of the Enlightenment, perhaps, is Marxism, which claims to be a
scientific theory of humankind and tries to appropriate the mystique of
scientific objectivity; and it’s nothing of the kind. I don’t think Marx
understood the first thing about science. It’s a pseudo-science, and it’s the
worst kind of pseudo-science—it’s a political pseudo-science.
Telling people what they want to hear is such a devil’s bargain. We’re all
guilty of that foible at some level, but most of us don’t make money at it, so
we try to rein it in.
FK: Many of these New Age systems of thought allow great gaping blind spots to
make us feel better about things.
JM: Every religious and political system has a dark side—or a blind spot. It
would be a better world if people were up front about that. And that’s the
positive side of what the Veritasians in City of Truth are trying to achieve. If
Deepak Chopra lived in Veritas, he would get up there and say, “Let me tell you
how much money I’m making. They pay me a lot. They pay me more than you think.
And in fact I make all kinds of demands, you know, and I’m actually sort of a
prima donna when I come to a university. I expect to be treated really well. Now
let me tell you about the humble spiritual life.” [Laughter]
FK: Let’s talk about your trilogy in which you tackle deism.
JM: Well, I’ve recently finished this magnum opus, which I call
TRILOGY. Sometimes my publisher discourages me from talking about it in those
terms. The marketing of books is an art that eludes me, because it’s both a
trilogy and not a trilogy. It’s certainly not a trilogy in the sense that the
science fiction community often construes the term, as a long continuous saga,
with a single cast of characters, that the author chopped into three volumes.
That’s what happened with The Lord of the Rings [1954-55], which was not
conceived as a trilogy. It nevertheless begat that format.
I was disappointed that the last book in THE GODHEAD TRILOGY did not occasion
very many retrospective reviews—you know, considerations of the three Corpus Dei
books as a totality. None of the reviews I’ve seen has pointed out that the last
scene in The Eternal Footman circles back to the first scene in Towing Jehovah.
I mean, there’s nothing obscure about it, it’s pretty obvious, that when the
children put on their play, it’s a wildly inaccurate recapitulation of the first
scene in Towing Jehovah. It’s a way for the author to say, “Look how quickly
epiphanies get corrupted in the retelling,” because the kids are presenting a
version of the opening scene that’s quite distorted. It’s my critique of what
religions become in the hands of their followers, as opposed to whatever
creative spark got the faith started.
But I think that, after I’m dead, some people may really go back to those books
and consider them as a trilogy in the old-fashioned sense: three different takes
on the same state of affairs, but each with its own independent story, which is
what Dante is doing in the Divine Comedy—each volume is telling its own
story—and Robertson Davies’s DEPTFORD TRILOGY [1970-75] comprises three books
and each has its own cast of characters and its independent theme and plot. But
then there are revelations in the third book of THE DEPTFORD TRILOGY that
connect to volume one. So that’s what I was up to, but I also consciously
designed the trilogy so that each book could be enjoyed separately.
FK: One thing I like about the construction, one thing that occurs in each of
the three novels, is that each tableau, the drama of each chapter, plays out in
a finite setting. You constructed it so that each action scene occurs within a
small space, and yet is played against, for example, an immensity of ocean. The
re-enactors in their little airplane towards the end of Towing Jehovah are
flying this incredible mission through the huge sky, diving towards the huge
ocean, and then a grotesque, horrifying drama illustrating the fragility of the
human body shocks us within that cockpit. It’s not at all the same as in, say,
the Gothic, where we often have a finite setting to instill a sense of temporary
imprisonment. I don’t think you are working toward a Gothic aesthetic in these
tableaux—rather, maybe, you’re focusing on the individual playing out against
this vaster drama of catastrophe, as in an allegorical drama.
JM: Yeah. I’m fascinated by the problem of the individual self, the unique
psyche. I think much of science fiction and fantasy can be faulted for giving
its characters a strictly pre-Freudian psychology. Immediate existential pain is
usually not part of the world of fantasy. I think it’s Tom Disch, who’s here at
this conference, who says that science fiction lacks a decent sense of despair.
FK: He would.
JM: And I think Norman Spinrad amended Disch’s indictment to say that sf lacks a
decent sense of tragedy. The lives of sf heroes rarely end in failure. So the
cockpit scene you mention is an example of my commitment to not telling the
reader what the reader wants to hear, not letting the reader off the hook.
You know, that cockpit scene is about the destructiveness of fantasy. These
guys, these World War II re-enactors, are living in a dream-world!
FK: The re-enactors are romanticizing the war—
JM: They’re romanticizing World War II, romanticizing war, and it blows up in
their faces. I think that scene was probably influenced by the movie Bonnie and
Clyde, if you know that Arthur Penn movie. It was a revolutionary movie, and not
just because it was shot on the road. It was very unusual for a Hollywood film
to be shot on the road in those days. Those motels are real, they aren’t sets,
in Bonnie and Clyde . But Arthur Penn’s real breakthrough was to bring a
different—I’m at this academic conference, so I’m going to use the word
“discourse”—he brought a different discourse about violence to the movie screen.
Suddenly you weren’t allowed to get away from what being hit with a bullet
really means. There’s an appalling death in the second act—Gene Hackman’s
death—that was unlike anything that had been put on the screen before concerning
the relationship between a human and a bullet. It made everything that had come
before seem like a lie; and it really was.
I’m sure I had Gene Hackman’s death in mind when suddenly everything goes wrong
in the World War II re-enactment. I’m a pacifist at heart, you know. I think war
is obscene and pornographic. But I use war imagery a lot, and I could be
accused, at some level, of buying into the spectacle of battle as theater, as
grand theater of the sort that we also have in Shakespeare. I guess I would
plead nolo contendere to that charge.
FK: In The Eternal Footman, Nora Burkhardt’s journey south from New England—
JM: Yup, she’s going from New England through the American South, from the
Yankee industrial corridor but then south, trying to get to New Orleans.
FK: It’s a journey from chaos to greater chaos. Sometimes she’s a victim
fleeing, or she’s a participant, as when she takes shelter with the traveling
actors’ troupe and becomes a participant in their dramatization of Gilgamesh. In
one scene, Nora watches a battle on a New Jersey golf course between an army of
Jews and an anti-Semite army using Brinks trucks, reminding us that the Aryan
Nation brotherhood is alive and well today. She’s on a pilgrimage to Mexico, the
new Dark Continent, with her dying son, because she’s heard that a mysterious
cult may have a cure for the “death awareness” plague. Nora travels grimly
through increasingly outrageous scenes and situations, always single-minded and
optimistic and fighting her own despair to keep her son alive.
JM: Yeah, because it was analogous to what happened during the Black Death, the
FK: And you deliver a plague to end all plagues. The Eternal Footman is
remarkable because you managed to get everything in there! You have civil wars,
you have theological wars, you have wars of the spirit, you have a pandemic
plague, you have the post-theistic— Why are you frowning? You put everything in
JM: No, no, I’m just thinking. It sounds like a better novel than I remember.
FK: You’ve got the death of children, you’ve got the death of hope, the death of
faith, the death of most humans on the planet; and dying, the process of dying
that we all go through, is made manifest in these horrible fetches, and I don’t
know where you got that word from, is that something you invented?
JM: Fetch really is the term, if you go to an unabridged dictionary, for an
appearance of your own death. I didn’t know that. In fact, a very erudite friend
of my wife’s was visiting us at Hallowe’en, and I had this large Grim Reaper
sitting on the couch. I really get into Hallowe’en. [Laughter]
This Grim Reaper was sitting on our couch, this skull with a black shroud, and
she said, “Oh, I see you’ve got a fetch.” And I said, “What is that?” [Laughs]
So she knew about this Definition Number 14 of a fetch. Up till then I was
calling them sextons. But I figured the plague victims would have several words
for these wraiths.
It’s gratifying that you see the importance for me of existential pain, of
trying to speak for the victims. That was my credo while composing This Is the
Way the World Ends, a nuclear-holocaust comedy. I kept saying to myself, “Too
much post-holocaust fiction is about survivors.” Even good novels, even Canticle
for Leibowitz  and Riddley Walker  at some level they’re celebrating
survivors and they’re using the conceit of a post-holocaust world to say
something—very interesting perhaps—about human history and human nature. But I
went into This Is the Way the World Ends feeling that the pornography of
extinction had never been dramatized, at least not in the way I wanted to do it.
When there are no humans, there’s no longer any such thing as human nature. Pat
Frank’s Alas, Babylon  has lots of survivors in it, and so does David Brin’s
The Postman . Dr. Strangelove  has no survivors, but we’re—
FK: Relieved. [Laughs]
JM: Yeah. But Kubrick doesn’t show anyone dying, either. He doesn’t bring the
extinction on stage.
FK: Tell me more about this idea of a book asking to be written. Is this true of
your work-in-progress, The Last Witchfinder?
JM: I keep thinking of the reading we just heard from John Crowley [from
Translator, 2002] in which the narrator talks about how babies work so hard to
get born, and we have to go to such efforts to keep them from getting born with
all our contraceptive technologies. And the historical novelist, I would surmise
from my own experience, often feels as if the book is asking to be written,
needing to be written. Certain connections that are implicit in the matrix of
history get forged explicitly by the historical novelist.
The Last Witchfinder is about that remarkable time following the Renaissance,
the same Renaissance John Crowley is writing about in his
ÆEGYPT series [Ægypt,
1987; Love and Sleep, 1994; Dæmonomania, 2000] when science is getting up to
speed—hey, we’re bringing this full circle, aren’t we—and the Enlightenment and
Newtonian mechanics have taken hold of the Western imagination, but when there
is still overlap with the witch universe, the mental landscape that makes demons
not only possible but essential. For the best scientific minds of the day,
without demons, there is no way to account for movement, for action at a
distance, for all the flowings and the flappings and hummings and strummings of
Nature, which, according to Descartes, is dead, is inert, is just a kind of a
machine. To make the machine move, you have to have spirits and angels and
demons. Or if you’re a Cambridge Neo-Platonist, the world is sort of a shadow of
reality. It’s a demiurge’s playground. What’s making it move? Why do we have
gravity and elasticity? The only obvious answer is that God is constantly
deploying spirits and demons.
So for a while, the scientists of the Enlightenment, who called themselves
natural philosophers, the natural philosophers didn’t perceive any
incompatibility between their world-view and the world-view of the Malleus
Maleficarum [ca. 1486], the witch-finding enterprise. And I don’t think
anybody’s written a novel about that before. And I figured out I could create a
character who lived through the transition from the Renaissance world-view to
the point where the idea of motion-spirits was no longer seen as incompatible
with scientific laws. Some people might say this change was for the worse, this
incompatibility that arose in the scientific outlook, but I think it was for the
better. So when my heroine dedicates her life to bringing down witch beliefs,
this is perceived as a good thing. At one point she even arranges to be put on
trial for witchcraft.
Now, historically, I don’t think the transition can be traced to any one act of
courage, as opposed to some of the other revolutions we’ve seen, you know, like
the Civil Rights Movement, which required an enormous amount of courage. It
wasn’t so much courage as just a gradual erosion of the demon hypothesis. Newton
didn’t believe in evil spirits, but he was no crusader against witch-finders.
And many other members of the Royal Society—Robert Boyle, for example—found the
demon hypothesis indispensable.
The book that most influenced me is Edward Harrison’s Masks of the Universe
. He was a physicist at the University of Massachusetts. He talks about
paradigm shifts as universes. Science never gives us the Universe, with a
capital U. Rather, we move from universe to universe, and sometimes those
universes are psychotic, as the witch universe was.
In the witch universe you’ve got the corroboration of the Bible, an unequivocal
mandate to go out and execute witches. And you’ve got the corroboration of the
witch tests—which in a weird way were scientific tests. Swimming the witch, you
know: if the water spits her out, she must be an agent of Lucifer. And also
pricking any suspicious-looking marks with a steel needle, the Devil’s mark, and
the preternatural teat that the witch uses to suckle her imps or her animal
familiars. If the mark didn’t bleed, you knew you had a witch on your hands. All
sorts of tests. A witch can’t recite the Lord’s Prayer without making a mistake.
A witch will attract animal familiars, so you should lock her up and watch her,
and if a mouse or even a bee appears, of course, that’s her familiar. All these
“scientific” tests. The war of the world-views, as I like to put it, has never
been more dramatic than at that time. In America we’re going through a similar
war of the world-views now—secular humanists versus conservative theists,
Darwinists versus Creationists—but it’s being fought with words, it’s not being
fought with pyres and gallows.
FK: And with a different set of casualties.
JM: Yeah. I guess clear thinking is the main casualty. But actual fleshy people
were the casualties in the era I’m writing about: the Renaissance. I mean, the
Renaissance was a nightmare if you were on the victim list. We think of the
Renaissance as a rebirth of learning and a wonderful time to be a humanist or an
artist or a scholar, which it was; but it was a horrible time if you were just
another peasant scratching out a living somewhere, and you were vulnerable to
the charge of Satan worship. The Renaissance was a really screwy time, not
coherent the way the Medieval era was. You didn’t have one story to tell that
FK: It’s interesting that the human body is constructed to be a matter detector,
and yet the human mind is capable of dreaming up all sorts of immaterial
JM: Yes, yes, that’s a good way to put it.
FK: So that all of these scientific tests for testing witches can be justified,
JM: Exactly. I think of Gibbon’s work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
[1777-88]—the idea that the two great problems of history are how to account for
the rise of Rome and how to account for its fall. An analogous problem is how to
account for the fact that we started burning witches and how to account for the
fact that we stopped. Because what changed? The Bible didn’t change. God’s
opinion of witches didn’t change. Something changed! That’s why I’ll always
defend the Enlightenment. It was needed, it was really needed. Theism had gotten
out of hand in the Renaissance, and we needed the Benjamin Franklins and the Voltaires.
I use Benjamin Franklin as a symbol of the Enlightenment and Newton as a symbol
of the Renaissance. They almost met in 1725. They do meet in The Last Witchfinder, because the young Benjamin Franklin was sent to London by the
governor of Pennsylvania in 1725 to buy printing equipment, and Governor Keith
turned out to be sort of a knave and didn’t put the promised letters of credit
on the ship. So Franklin’s bopping around in London, working as a printer, and
wants desperately to meet Newton. Eventually he befriends Henry Pemberton, who
was an editor of the second edition of Principia Mathematica , and
Pemberton tries to get him an audience with Newton. But Newton didn’t want to
meet this cheeky kid from Philadelphia, you know. [Laughs] So I do have this
historical meeting take place—and it turns out they have nothing to say to each
other, because they really are in different universes. Newton, one of the most
pious men who ever lived, probably the weirdest scientist who ever lived; and
Franklin, an avatar of reason, the optimist—I mentioned Franklin earlier, as
someone who wished he could live to see the Utopia that was just around the
So that’s what I mean by a historical novel that’s almost asking to be written;
all these connections waiting to get forged. It turned out that Franklin’s life
was touched by the witch universe, in that one of the judges at the Salem trials
of 1692, Samuel Sewall, went on to become a sort of professional persecutor; and
Sewall next targeted Benjamin Franklin’s brother James, who was editing The New
England Courant, one of the first newspapers in the Colonies. And even though
James Franklin doesn’t come across very well in history books—he beat his
younger brother Ben, who was his apprentice in his shop—James Franklin is an
unsung hero in the history of free speech. He printed provocative things against
the Puritan clergy in Massachusetts and against the Royal Governor, knowing he
would get into trouble, but believing in the English ideal of freedom of
expression, and he was jailed for it by Judge Sewall. So I’m able to make that
All sorts of historical events just happened to have occurred when they were
supposed to in my plot. The Indians burn down the town of Haverhill,
Massachusetts, just when I needed them to. Franklin tried to track down Newton
just when I needed him to. The Baron de Montesquieu started gathering materials
for The Spirit of the Laws  just when I needed him to. Parliament struck
down the Witchcraft Statutes of 1604 just when I needed them to. God was really
looking out for me on this book.
WORKS BY JAMES MORROW
Morrow, James. The Wine of Violence. New York: Holt, 1981.
─────. The Continent of Lies. New York: Holt, 1984.
─────. This is the Way the World Ends. New York: Holt, 1986.
─────. Only Begotten Daughter. New York: Morrow, 1990.
─────. Swatting at the Cosmos. Eugene, OR: Pulphouse, 1990.
─────. City of Truth. New York: St. Martin’s, 1990.
─────. Towing Jehovah. New York: Harcourt, 1994.
─────. Bible Stories for Adults. New York: Harcourt, 1996.
─────. Blameless in Abaddon. New York: Harcourt, 1996.
─────. The Eternal Footman. New York: Harcourt, 1999.
───── and Murray Suid. Moviemaking Illustrated: The Comicbook Filmbook. Rochelle
Park, NJ: Hayden, 1973.
─────. Comics: Tab and Lil. Boston: Houghton, 1973.
─────. Media & Kids: Real-World Learning in the Schools. Rochelle Park, NJ:
─────. The Creativity Catalog: A Comic Book Guide to Creative Projects. Belmont,
CA: Fearon, 1982.
Morrow, James, ed. Nebula Awards 26. New York: Harcourt, 1992.
─────, ed. Nebula Awards 27. New York: Harcourt, 1993.
─────, ed. Nebula Awards 28. New York: Harcourt, 1994.
Barnes, Peter. The Bewitched. London: Heinemann, 1974.
Cox, F. Brett. “Interview: James Morrow Continues to Swat at the Cosmos with The
Last Witchfinder.” SciFi.Com <http://scifi.com/sfw/issue188/interview.html>.
Eadie, Betty. Embraced by the Light. Placerville, CA: Gold Leaf, 1992.
Harrison, Edward. Masks of the Universe. New York: Macmillan, 1985.
Heck, Peter J. “Science Fiction and Fantasy: The Divine Miss Katz.” The
Washington Post Book World (March 25, 1990): 10.
Saul, John Ralston. The Doubter’s Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common
Sense. New York: Free Press, 1994.
Schell, Jonathan. The Fate of the Earth. New York: Knopf, 1982.
Sheehan, Bill. “Of Lunacy and Sorrow: Comedy and Tragedy in James Morrow’s City
of Truth.” ParaDoxa: Studies in World Literary Genres 5.12 (1999): 95-104.
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