Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Pine Grove Mills, Centre County
Philadelphia native, Morrow has penned some scathing critiques of modern religion and politics using the literary devices of Science Fiction.
James Morrow was born in Philadelphia in 1947. He got his bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania and his master’s at Harvard University. He is a satirist who predominantly writes science fiction. His most famous series is The Godhead Trilogy (1994 - 1999). At the time of this writing, he lives with his second wife, his son, and two dogs in State College, Pennsylvania.
James Morrow was born in Philadelphia on March 17, 1947. As he was growing up, he enjoyed making short 8mm films of stories of the science fiction or fantasy genre. His offbeat tastes were evident in his choices, such as Poe’s The Telltale Heart and Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Morrow attributes his affinity for satiric and philosophical literature to his World Literature class in high school.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1969, he completed his formal education in 1971 with a Masters of Arts in Teaching in Visual Studies from Harvard. Since then, Morrow has had a number of different jobs: English teacher, cartoonist, independent filmmaker, and, of course, author. In 1977, he started working on his first manuscript for a novel, The Wine of Violence, which was published in 1981.
Since then, Morrow has become one of the great satirists within the science fiction genre. His most well-known works are the three books of The Godhead Trilogy, which includes Towing Jehovah (1994), Blameless in Abaddon (1996), and The Eternal Footman (1999). The books take place in a world in which God has died and fallen into the sea. A disgraced oil tanker captain, Van Horne, is then given the responsibility to haul God’s corpse to the Arctic, where it will be safe. Throughout the three books, Morrow explores this new, godless world and the struggles of its human occupants. Morrow’s works have earned him several awards in the science fiction genre, including multiple Nebula Awards and a World Fantasy Award for his novel, Only Begotten Daughter (1990).
Satire is the element that separates Morrow from the majority of science fiction writers. Although his most popular stories take place within the realms of fantasy, the issues within his books are grounded in real life. Ethics, religion, and morality are as important to his work as the fantasy worlds in which they exist. In an interview with Nick Gevers, an editor/reviewer for SF Site: The Home Page for Science Fiction and Fantasy, Morrow explained that, “...the satirist’s goal is not to reflect Nature but rather to reflect the most troublesome aspects of human society.” Although most science fiction novels are never recognized in the greater mainstream market, Morrow’s ability to combine morality with science fiction has gotten him popular attention. In the Washington Post he was described as “the most provocative satiric voice in science fiction,” and his novel Blameless in Abaddon was one of the New York Times’ Notable Books of the Year.
At the time of this writing, Morrow lives with his second wife, Kathryn, his son, Christopher, and their two dogs, Pooka and Amtrak, in State College, Pennsylvania. He also has a daughter, Kathleen. Morrow is still writing, and with his Godhead Trilogy finally finished, he has moved into the realm of the historical novel. The Last Witchhunter (2006), takes place in Restoration England and centers on the daughter of a man who tracks down and hangs witches. Morrow followed this up with The Philosopher’s Apprentice in 2008 and Shambling Towards Hiroshima in 2009. Isaac Newton and Benjamin Franklin are among the real historical figures Morrow incorporates into his fictional plot.
The Wine of Violence. New York: Ace Books, 1982.
This is the Way the World Ends: A Novel. New York: Ace Books, 1989.
Only Begotten Daughter. New York: W. Morrow, c1990.
City of Truth. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992.
Towing Jehovah. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994.
Blameless in Abaddon. New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1996.
Bible Stories for Adults. New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1996.
The Eternal Footman. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999.
The Last Witchhunter. HarperCollins, 2006.
The Philosopher’s Apprentice. HarperCollins, 2008.
Shambling Towards Hiroshima. Tachyon Publishing, 2009.