THE MADONNA AND THE STARSHIP is ridiculously blasphemous and completely absurd . . . and that’s entirely the point
Equal parts satiric, philosophical, nostalgic, and humorous, The Madonna and the Starship is an irreverent look at what happens when any belief system – whether it be based in faith or rationalism – is taken to the extremes. James K. Morrow clearly had a lot of fun writing this, and that blasphemous joy is something I shared through every page.
It’s the actual broadcast that really steals the show, however. It’s really quite brilliant the way Morrow brings it all together, with each scene and each line of dialogue topping the last for blasphemous irrelevance. Mary no sooner laments Jesus’ childhood (As a little boy, you were quite a handful, especially compared to your two brothers) when Brock Barton arrives, having traveled an entire light year to prevent yet another religion from contaminating the Milky Way. Due to contractual requirements for the actors, Morrow even works the commercials into the satire, with Jesus offering up a kid-friendly Eucharist (Eat these measures of Sugar Corn Pops, for they are my body), and commenting to Brock Barton that “four out of five elementary school teachers recommend Ovaltine.” The best part of the book – which I won’t spoil – is the final twist that Morrow throws at the reader, with a typical 50s sitcom blunder threatening to negate everything Kurt and Connie have worked to accomplish.
The Madonna and the Starship is a very funny, very clever look at philosophy and faith, couched in a comfortable, loving homage to nostalgia for a simpler time. It’s ridiculously blasphemous and completely absurd … and that’s entirely the point.
Read the rest of Milne’s review at BEAUTY IN RUINS.
For more on THE MADONNA AND THE STARSHIP, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover and design by Elizabeth Story.