Tag Archives: james morrow

Author Interview: James Morrow

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Today I am interviewing James Morrow, author of the novelette, “Bigfoot and the Bodhisattva,” recently released as an e-book under the new Particle Books imprint from Tachyon Publications.

Over the course of a long career, Jim has published ten novels, four stand-alone novellas, and three short-story collections. He has won the World Fantasy Award (twice), the Nebula Award (twice), the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, and the Prix Utopia. His fiction has been translated into thirteen languages.

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DJ: Hey James! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

JM: I’m known primarily as a creator of theological fantasy with a satiric edge. My most popular novels in this vein are Only Begotten Daughter (concerning the tribulations of Jesus Christ’s divine half-sister in contemporary Atlantic City), Towing Jehovah (about a supertanker captain charged with burying God’s two-mile-long corpse), and Blameless in Abaddon (in which the Corpus Dei from the previous novel is put on trial for crimes against humanity).

But I’ve also written straightforward historical fiction (albeit filtered through a fantasist’s sensibility), notably The Last Witchfinder and Galápagos Regained.

“Bigfoot and the Bodhisattva” came about because readers (mostly at science fiction conventions) occasionally challenged me to think outside my theological comfort zone. It’s all very well to play games with Christian doctrines and Western philosophy, they argued, but why don’t you try applying your sensibility to Eastern religion?

DJ: Where did “Bigfoot and the Bodhisattva” first appear?

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JM: I wrote it, at the editor’s request, for the Betwixt the Between issue of the literary journal Conjunctions: an esteemed and prestigious venue, but with a circumscribed readership. “Bigfoot and the Bodhisattva” was an ideal candidate for the Particle Books program, which is committed to offering (as the Tachyon website puts it) “a dynamic mix of original, newly-collected, hard to find, and out-of-print material.”

DJ: What is “Bigfoot and the Bodhisattva” about?

JM: The plot turns on the angst of the Abominable Snowman, Taktra Kunga, denizen of the Himalayas, who feels compelled to devour the cerebrums of doomed yuppie mountain climbers. In a quest to enlarge his soul, my yeti apprentices himself to the Fifteenth Dalai Lama, His Holiness, Chögi Gyatso, who promises to teach him about Tibetan Buddhism. Taktra reciprocates by protecting Chögi from the predations of the Chinese, who for generations have sought to destroy, or at least assimilate, Tibetan culture. Continue reading

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Author Interview: James Morrow

Today I am interviewing James Morrow, satirist, science fiction writer, and author of a recent fantasy novella, The Asylum of Dr. Caligari.

Over the course of a long career, Jim has published ten novels, four stand-alone novellas, and three short-story collections. He has won the World Fantasy Award (twice), the Nebula Award (twice), the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, and the Prix Utopia. His work has been translated into thirteen languages.

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DJ: Hey Jim! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

JM: Within my circumscribed but loyal readership, I’m best known for my philosophical and irreverent Godhead Trilogy, comprising Towing Jehovah (a Nietzschean sea saga), Blameless in Abaddon (a modern-dress retelling of the Book of Job), and The Eternal Footman (a vision of a post-theistic world). All three books turn on the premise that God has died, leaving behind a two-mile-long corpse—a bald and arguably overbearing conceit, to be sure, but after living inside it for most of the nineties, I, for one, began to believe it.

Although I’m an atheist, I recently figured out that I don’t really write as an atheist—I write as a heretic, somebody who loves to play with grand theological and cosmological ideas. If it weren’t for God, I’d be out of a job. Most of my readers would describe themselves as nonreligious or even antireligious, but I’m always gratified when a churchgoer sends me a fan letter saying I sent his or her thoughts spinning off on unexpected directions.

DJ: What is The Asylum of Dr. Caligari about?

JM: Beyond all my scoffing at religion, much of my oeuvre critiques the popular notion that war is a good way for human beings to solve their problems. Back in 1986 I published This Is the Way the World Ends, mocking the Reagan Administration’s nuclear saber-rattling. The plot concerns “the unadmitted,” hypothetical humans whose lives were canceled when their would-be ancestors extinguished themselves in World War III. The unadmitted end up putting the perpetrators of Armageddon on trial, under the Nuremberg precedent, for crimes against the future.

Then came my stand-alone novella Shambling Towards Hiroshima, set in 1945 and keyed to the conceit that the U.S. Navy has developed biological weapon that strangely anticipates Godzilla. My hero, based on the horror-film actor Lon Chaney, Jr., must put on a lizard suit and demonstrate this horrendous biotechnology before a Japanese delegation.

In The Asylum of Dr. Caligari, I take potshots at war profiteering. Most of the action unfolds at the fictional Träumenchen Asylum during the early months of World War I. The title character, who happens to be a sorcerer, has created a jingoistic oil painting so hypnotic it can compel entire regiments to rush headlong into battle. The plot turns on the efforts of my hero, Francis Wyndham, an art therapist at Träumenchen, and his most gifted pupil, the supernaturally talented Ilona Wessels, to defeat Caligari’s wicked masterpiece with a Guernica-like painting of their own. Continue reading

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