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The Madonna and the Starship cover



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New York City, 1953. The golden age of television, when most programs were broadcast live. Young Kurt Jastrow, a full-time TV writer and occasional actor, is about to have a close encounter of the apocalyptic kind.

Kurt’s most beloved character (and alter ego) is Uncle Wonder, an eccentric tinkerer whose pyrotechnically spectacular science experiments delight children across the nation. Uncle Wonder also has a more distant following: the inhabitants of Planet Qualimosa. When a pair of his extraterrestrial fans arrives to present him with an award, Kurt is naturally pleased—until it develops that, come next Sunday morning, these same aliens intend to perpetrate a massacre.

Will Kurt and his colleagues manage to convince the Qualimosans that Earth is essentially a secular and rationalist world? Or will the two million devotees of NBC’s most popular religious program suffer unthinkable consequences for their TV-viewing tastes? Stay tuned for The Madonna and the Starship!


* * *


“Jonathan Swift meets Buck Rogers in this hilarious send-up of the golden ages of television and pulp sci-fi. In mid-20th-century New York City, Kurt Jastrow, de facto head writer for NBC’s Brock Barton and His Rocket Rangers, receives a transmission from the planet Qualimosa … Can Kurt and Connie refashion her script into a satirical, sacrilegious screed, forestalling mass slaughter? This delightful romp from Morrow (Shambling Towards Hiroshima) provides the breathless answer in short order.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)


The Madonna and the Starship is Kurt Vonnegut meets Galaxy Quest, where everything, and I do mean everything is poked fun at, satirized, and made to look completely silly … When the book isn’t making you laugh, it’ll be making you think about your philosophical assumptions about both religion and rationality.”

The Little Red Reviewer


“The story has the tone of a manic tall tale, and is often just as hilarious, but it also includes some sly and knowledgeable references to early 1950s TV and SF culture.”



James Morrow’s The Madonna and the Starship is the sort of book you just don’t want to put down. Fortunately, because it’s a quick read, you shouldn’t have to! … The book is filled with humor, reminding me of the likes of Joseph Heller, Richard Hooker, and Ron Goulart. Yet underneath that humor is a remarkably touching, philosophical story.”

Looking for a Good Book


A … mixture of breezy humor and provocative thinking … Ever since Towing Jehovah [Morrow’s] books have addressed questions of morality, epistemology and religious belief, and done so with a satirical bite.”

Washington Post


Like many a great comedy, The Madonna and the Starship also has a dark underbelly. Volavont and Wulawand aren’t kidding around when they set out to destroy all the wholesome TV viewers thinking to tune in on their favorite religious program.”


“To whatever extent the Qualimosians represent the spirit of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, the ‘live and let live’ moral of The Madonna and the Starship is closer to Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World. And what’s more, it’s funny!”