THE SNAKE OIL WARS by Parke Godwin


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Hard as it is to disparage a life-after-death novel that features L. Ron Hubbard as a telephone answering machine. . .this sequel to Godwin's rousing Waiting for the Galactic Bus (1988) has no ambitions beyond being a satire on religious extremism. Coyul, the vastly superior pure-energy being who (having been marooned on Earth five million years ago) created humanity, has been ordered by his superiors to stay on Earth and help humanity grow up; Barton, Coyul's partner in crime, will return home to stand trial. So Coyul, regarded as the devil by most inhabitants of the afterlife, finds himself in charge of both Topside (heaven) and Below Stairs (hell). But the (mostly fundamentalist) opposition to Coyul's benevolent rule is growing. Straight-laced hero Lance Candor (on Earth, he stopped a bullet meant to assassinate the President) throws a bomb at Coyul. The latter soon reconstitutes himself, of course, and arranges for Lance's trial. Lance, meanwhile, has his horizons delightfully broadened by the flamboyant Scherezade Ginsberg--to the horror of Lance's prudish wife. Coyul's lover, the ex-fertility goddess Purji, shows up. Both plaintiff and defense lawyers are famous people appearing incognito. Jesus Christ takes the witness stand and offers some pointed remarks. And so it goes. Hard-working and sometimes amusing--but the speculative territory Godwin covers is overly familiar, the fundamentalist target tempting but far too obvious.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Doubleday