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Last time out (This is the Way the World Ends, 1986), Morrow science fictionally satirized nuclear war; here, in similar fashion, he prods at Western religion--with impressive but rather grim results. Murray Katz lives in an abandoned Atlantic City lighthouse, and makes a living by donating sperm samples to a clinic--until one day one of his samples spontaneously gestates! So Murray steals his (female) fetus (she's maintained by an artifical womb system) moments before the fanatical Revelationist Billy Milk orders the clinic blown to smithereens. Julie Katz, then, grows up knowing that God is her mother--after all, Julie can work miracles, even though Murray insists that she doesn't (look how Jesus ended up)--but wonders why her mother won't talk to her. Eventually, Julie works a major miracle, raising the sea to wash away a Milk-inspired arsonist army bent on burning the city to the ground, and thereby unwittingly founds a church. Then, tempted by the devil, Julie descends into hell, where she meets her brother Jesus (he's busy dispensing morphine and oblivion to the tormented souls). Eventually, the devil allows Julie to return to Earth, stripping her of her powers in the process; New Jersey, she finds, is now an independent theocracy ruled by Billy Milk. Finally, in trying to straighten things out, Julie is crucified, survives, defeats the devil, and thus earns a chat with her mother: God, that is, turns out to be a sea-sponge. Clever and erudite, to be sure, but also dense, depressing, and unamusing withal.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1989
ISBN: 0156002434
Publisher: Morrow