A divinely (or diabolically) gleeful novella, I Am the New God follows a young man named Greg as he receives a letter telling him he’s going to be the new God. Sent by “a hierophant”, the correspondence culminates in a list of tasks Greg needs to follow on his path to godhood. It’s all a bit of a lark until the reader realizes Greg was a bit unhinged to begin with. Soon he’s all aboard with the idea of becoming the new God; he sets off on a search for the hierophant, making converts along the way by gouging out their eyes, their vision having long been poisoned by the reality of the old God.
Loonies always make the best characters, and the pair here are no exception; Greg’s descent from an ordinary, very identifiable cynic to a psychopath serial killer happens gradually, throwing the reader into a nice loop of surprises. The hierophant, a defrocked priest, is also insane, but more subtly so, almost as a parody of blind faith; his attempt to explain away how Greg is unable to walk on water is hilarious, and it’s his faulty logic which eventually pushes Greg over the edge. Greg’s crazy because he’s off his meds, but the hierophant really has no excuse.
There’s a lot of brutal, sudden violence in the novella; it works well with the spiky, dark humour. The theological aspects of the story are conveyed smoothly, none of it getting too theoretical or in the way of a good story.
The novella shares some similarities with T.E.D. Klein‘s brilliant short story Nadelman’s God; both stories are about the nature of god(s), and feature letters going back and forth between a skeptic and a believer. The rest is different, but the results are equally impressive.