Synopses & Reviews
2010 Sturgeon Award winner
Nebula and Hugo Award nominee
It is the early summer of 1945, and war reigns in the Pacific Rim with no end in sight. Back in the States, Hollywood B-movie star Syms Thorley lives in a very different world, starring as the Frankenstein-like Corpuscula and Kha-Ton-Ra, the living mummy. But the U.S. Navy has a new role waiting for Thorley, the role of a lifetime that he could never have imagined.
The top secret Knickerbocker Project is putting the finishing touches on the ultimate biological weapon: a breed of gigantic, fire-breathing, mutant iguanas engineered to stomp and burn cities on the Japanese mainland. The Navy calls upon Thorley to don a rubber suit and become the merciless Gorgantis and to star in a live drama that simulates the destruction of a miniature Japanese metropolis. If the demonstration succeeds, the Japanese will surrender, and many thousands of lives will be spared; if it fails, the horrible mutant lizards will be unleashed. One thing is certain: Syms Thorley must now give the most terrifyingly convincing performance of his life.
In the dual traditions of Godzilla as a playful monster and a symbol of the dawn of the nuclear era, Shambling Towards Hiroshima unexpectedly blends the destruction of World War II with the halcyon pleasure of monster movies.
"In this witty and touching paean to the glory days of horror movies, elderly former B-movie actor Syms Thorley looks back from 1984 to recall his involvement in the infamous Knickerbocker Project. Near the end of WWII, facing a shortage of plutonium, the U.S. government scrapped the atomic bomb and instead built giant monsters to ravage Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Alongside a group of genuine Hollywood bigwigs including Willis O'Brien, James Whale and Brenda Weisberg Thorley helps craft a realistic movie of the havoc-wreaking Gorgantis, hoping to terrify Japanese leaders into surrendering. The sheer insanity of the premise only makes the eventual payoff even more powerful, and though Morrow (The Last Witchfinder) occasionally indulges in slapstick, he never loses sight of the need to make his characters fascinating and real." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In the tradition of Godzilla as both a playful romp and a parable of the dawn of the nuclear era, this original satire blends the destruction of World War II with the halcyon pleasure of monster movies. In the summer of 1945 war is reigning in the Pacific Rim, while in the U.S., Syms Thorley continues his life as a B-movie actor. But the U.S. Navy would like to use Thorley in their top-secret Knickerbocker Project, putting the finishing touches on the ultimate biological weapon: a breed of gigantic, fire-breathing, mutant iguanas. Thorley is to don a rubber suit that will transform him into the merciless Gorgantis and star in a film that simulates the destruction of a miniature Japanif the demonstration succeeds, the Japanese will surrender, sparing thousands of lives; if it fails, the mutant lizards will be unleashed. Godzilla devotees and history buffs alike will be fascinated by this conspiratorial secret history of a war, a weapon, and an unlikely hero who will have to give the most convincing performance of his life.
About the Author
James Morrow: James Morrow is the author of the World Fantasy Award-winning Towing Jehovah
and the New York Times
Notable Book Blameless in Abaddon
. His recent novels include The Last Witchfinder
, hailed by the Washington Post
as literary magic,” and The Philosophers Apprentice
, which received a rave review from Entertainment Weekly
. He is a master of the satiric and the surreal, a writer who has enjoyed comparison with Twain, Vonnegut, and Updike. Morrow lives in State College, Pennsylvania.