Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shambling Towards Hiroshima

James Morrow
Shambling Towards Hiroshima

Tachyon Publications, 2009

A successful b-movies star Syms Thorley is at the peak of his career: he stars in films with such titles as "Corpuscula", "Lycanthropus", "Curse of Kha-Ton-Ra" and their many sequels, writes his own script, which is already predoomed to success, and generally has fun life. Hollywood is Hollywood, but that is the early summer of 1945, Japan still resists in the Pacific Ocean, but the military plans are maturing how with minimal losses to end the war. For plan realization they need someone who knows how to convincingly play in the costume of the reptile. This is Thorley. After listening to a plan of U. S. Navy, Thorley could not believe his ears: there is a secret project that America wants to use to intimidate the Japanese without using nuclear bomb. A team of U.S. scientists raised in the laboratory dragon-like terrible lizards, like Godzilla, to release them on the Japanese cities. However, the reptiles were not dangerous than kittens, besides they don’t live long. The plan had to be adjusted: in a secret hangar an exact copy of one of Japan's cities had been built, the delegation of embassy had been invited, and the role of the lizard would have to play Thorley, especially for him the suit of mighty lizard had been stitched. According to the plan Thorley with stage effects would destroy the city to scare the ambassadors so that they would run to the Emperor to beg him to stop immediately the war to save innocent people from the giant reptiles.

If in retelling it looks just funny when you read this book this is very funny. It's not just an ability of Morrow to construct convincing despite its seemingly absurdity and impossibility plot, but that’s Thorley himself. That b-movies star jokes as good as Chandler’s Marlowe, besides he has a dig at Hollywood celebrities of that time (cinephiles will get a special pleasure), Thorley is witty and resourceful.

This brilliantly written short novel has, it seems, only one flaw: for all his playfulness and irrationality, Thorley is too contrite. But without actor's contrition this book which is the longest suicide note in the world as well wouldn’t appear.

No comments:

Post a Comment