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Monster Earth Paperback – January 18, 2013
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Monster Earth by Jim Beard, Edward M. Erdelac, Nancy Hansen, Jeff McGuiness, James Palmer, Fraser Sherman, and I.A. Watson was one of those special books that you can't wait to start reading. It has that special magic about it, because of the subject matter, that really makes for a fun read. Now to be clear, this is NOT `things that go bump in the night' type monsters. No, this is the kind of monster that tears down buildings, neighborhoods, airports and decimates things with atomic flame type of monsters. In other words, huge fun!
These stories were all told by someone who was sitting nearby watching the action or was some sort of other bystander, or in other cases a government employee or official. So you had a human issue with every one of these tales. These weren't just crash and rend monster stories. They had soul and heart as well.
Jim Beard's `Parade of Moments' starts the book off with a pre- world war II story about the first recorded experience anyone had with a monster on this Earth. As not one but two of them appear in china and battle it out, ending in the destruction of one of the creatures. A lone reporter and cameraman recorded the entire event and became famous for it. This was the event that heralded the age of the monsters
The next story was by I.A Watson and was called `Happy Birthday Bobby Fetch' This tale takes place in Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. In our world that day was the day that will forever live in infamy. In this world things were no different, just the manner of which the Japanese did their dirty work was. Instead of starting a sneak attack with planes, they used a monster.
This story is more about personal sacrifice and honor above anything else, but must be read to be understood. It was a very good piece that I really enjoyed.
The third tale entitled `The Monsters Home' By Jeff McGuiness was about America's very own monster, a hairy beast called `Johnson' who was entrusted to defending our shores from attack in the 1950's. He was a 300' tall mass of hair so thick you couldn't even see his eyes. He had escaped on several occasions himself, but like most of the other stories within these pages he was really just a co-star in his own tale. This one centered on the denizens of an almost abandoned Los Angeles and another escape by the towering Johnson, and how it affected a cabbie, a bank teller a cop and a bank robber. This was a very interesting piece about throwing disparate people into a room together and seeing the result. In a way it reminded me of an old `Twilight Zone' type of story.
The next tale is called `And a child shall lead them' by the esteemed Nancy Hansen, concerned the 1960's, a mystic gem and a slumbering snake woman/goddess several hundred feet tall. This tale was unique in that this was the only `monster' in this book with intelligence. She was more of a mythical creature who was guarding her mystic gemstone from those who would exploit it. This story was about the greed of one small, petty man and how his greed cost lives as well as massive property damage. Another excellent cautionary tale with a pretty epic battle sequence between two gigantic creatures tearing up Boston pretty good.
`Mighty Nanuq' is by Edward M. Erdelac and is a generational take between a Grandfather and his Grandson that again takes place in the 1960's though this story is in the tail end of it, and the majority of the story, told via flashback, concerns Nazi's bringing their own monster to the top of the world to attack Canada as well as the United States. An excellent story as another monster, a legendary creature named `Nanuq' appears to do battle with the Nazi's hellish monstrosity.
`Peace with Honor' by Fraser Sherman is an early 1970 story centered on the Vietnam war and the communists attacks on South Vietnam with their flying monster, a giant bat to which the United States retaliated with the son of Johnson, simply named Junior. Another epic monster battle ensued as the two gigantic creatures clashed. This story was as much about each creature's handlers as it was about the monsters themselves. These handlers each did what they could to control the beasts, for without them, both monsters would have been simply rampaging behemoths. There was as much fear of the combatant's fellow man in this tale as there was of each monster. Another solid story.
`Some Say in Ice' by James Palmer is the final tale in this tome and takes place in the 1980's as a tremendous ship designed just for capturing monsters is somewhere in the arctic searching for a never before seen beast. There is a gigantic creature here hiding under the ice and the American's want it. As they try out their experimental ship and equipment, hope runs high that the vessel has what it takes to capture a creature so large it snacks on whales. This was a good story that left some unanswered questions at its end, of which I'm assuming will be answered in the next volume.
All in all this was a `Must Read' book for those of us who grew up with Godzilla movies on a Saturday afternoon at the local cinema. Every story in this volume fed into the next one in one long continuous arc that spanned decades. I highly recommend this book, it was that good. Five stars.
The problem is that the writing doesn't quite live up to the premise. The stories are completely predictable, with stock characters and plot "twists" you can see coming from a mile away. The writing is pretty poor - numerous spelling and grammar mistakes about (at least in the Kindle version), along with poorly thought out sentences like "about six years, to be precise".
It's not a bad book, but it's not a great book either. It's probably worth the $3 if you need a little light entertainment (but if you're into kaiju, Jeremy Robinson's "Project Nemesis" is a much better bet)
Monster Earth (edited by James Palmer and Jim Beard) presents seven stories highlighting seven times in that history where humans and monsters have interacted in moments of war and peace. As in the movies you and I have grown up with, the clashes are mighty and terrible. The destruction at the 7th magnitude. And always at the center of the action, human beings achieving destructive ends of their own and the rest of us getting used to living with the primal forces of nature known as Monsters.
Pathos, danger and unexpected surprises lay in the pages of Monster Earth. The book is worth your time in one of the great what ifs that should have been done sooner. Read the stories and think about them. What could you contribute? Sequels can happen, my friends.
Beginning in the early days of World War II, and wrapping up in the early 80's, each story rests atop the foundation laid by the previous one while still acting as a stand-alone tale for the most part. Even better, most of the monsters display some sense of character while the human cast are fleshed-out, rarely being mere cardboard cutouts to be stepped on.
Terror, mystery, and some humor run through the book, which handles the subject matter in a serious manner. Not a stinker in the collection, either. Highly recommended for all giant monster enthusiasts!