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Only Begotten Daughter, James Morrow

What I like about James Morrow is his audaciousness. He’s willing to come up with an idea in the grand old SF tradition, i.e., BIG, and then run with it. Take “Daughter Earth,” a story in which a planet is born to a nice northeast couple, or “City of Truth,” a story about a city where no one ever lies. Or here in this novel, in which a new saviour is sent to the world, but it’s a girl this time. From immaculate conception–she evolves from her jewish father’s sperm donation–to being tested by the devil at an Atlantic City casino modeled after Dante’s Hell, Morrow keeps throwing the wild concepts and ideas at you straight out of left field. And what ostensibly seems a fantasy–God’s daughter and all–yet still has some of the trappings of SF and reality; she is born using an artificial womb, when she returns to earth New Jersey has become a totalitarian, evangelistic state that is a cross of Robert Heinlein’s Revolt in 2010 and Stephen King’s The Running Man.

While for some it was the ending here that they remember (I won’t spoil it), for me the best part was when God’s only begotten daughter meets God’s only begotten son and explained what had happened on earth after his departure. “They eat me,” he says, referring to the Eucharist. “Disgusting.”

Jill says that if you were of the total God-fearing type, then you would probably be offended by this book. She feels that an aethiest wouldn’t like it much either, for as much as it “blasphemes,” it comes out fairly spiritual. For those of us who can stand having religion poked at (like, at least Morrow wasn’t targeted by the Pope for assassination following the printing of this book), it’s a bunch of laughs among some interesting theological play.

[Finished 30 August 1994]


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