ÊJames Morrow's latest novel, The Eternal Footman, forms the final part of a trilogy that began in Towing Jehovah and continued in Blameless in Abaddon. The first book dealt with the simultaneous proof of God's existence and his death. In the second novel, the corpse of God was placed on trial for crimes against humanity. In The Eternal Footman, Morrow examines how humans can exist in a world that has lost its moral and ethical focus, a world in which the future of faith is complex. Morrow's novel follows two main characters, Gerard Korty, a sculptor originally hired by the Vatican to build a reliquary for God's remains, and Nora Burkhart, an English teacher who is attempting to find treatment for her ailing son. Although the world through which they travel is an anarchic, post-apocalyptic one, Korty and Burkhart manage to retain both faith and hope.
The humor and satire in The Eternal Footman is toned down compared to the earlier works in the series; Morrow seems to have replaced them with a more philosophical examination of his subject matter. Humor does, however, still have its place in the books, and Korty's imagined conversations between his sculptures of Desiderius Erasmus and Martin Luther are a high point of the novel, combining the theological with the satirical.
Even those characters who admit to living in the post-theistic world discover that they need to find something to believe in. If they can't believe in the continuance of a God who has shown humanity His dead body, they will invent their own gods and imbue them with powers needed to serve the humans who created them. These beliefs range from pantheistic religions to a more secular humanist faith in knowledge and learning. With God dead, Morrow is able to turn his attention from the question of the source of evil and instead explore the formation of a human ethical system.
Morrow's characters manage to reinforce his philosophical musings. Nora and Gerard are complex and flawed humans who are trying their best to live according to their own ethics in a world lacking spiritual guidance. ¦ More of Steven Silver's reviews can be read on-line at http://www.sfsite. com/~silverag/reviews.html.