Every Friday I focus on a New Pulp work that I think merits your attention. Sometimes it will be something that’s brand new, other times I’ll look at something that’s a few years old. This week, I’m encouraging you to check out Monster Earth by James Palmer, Jim Beard, I. A. Watson, Nancy Hansen, Edward M. Erdelac, Jeff McGinnis and Fraser Sherman. Before we start talking about the book in-depth, let’s see how the publisher describes it:
Welcome to a world where the Cold War was fought not with the threat of nuclear destruction, but with Giant Monsters. Watch as the denizens of this Earth that might have been learn to harness the power of these legendary creatures for good and ill. In these seven tales you’ll witness first hand as… –A young boy learns the value of sacrifice when the Japanese use a giant monster to attack Pearl Harbor… –An Inuit confronts his heritage to harness a frightening creature of the Great White North… –A false guru’s greed endangers 1960s Boston… All this and more await you in the pages of MONSTER EARTH! Join editors James Palmer (Slow Djinn), Jim Beard (Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker) and some of the most talented voices in New Pulp, including Nancy Hansen (Prophecy’s Gambit), Edward M. Erdelac (The Merkabah Rider series), and I.A. Watson (Blackthorn: Dynasty of Mars) as they take you to a frightening vision of Earth… MONSTER EARTH!
Obviously, this work is a an homage to the classic kaiju monster movies we’ve gotten over the years from Japan, where giant monsters fight other giant monsters. I grew up on a steady diet of Godzilla, Ultraman and Gamera so I’m in the right demographic for a book like this. The concept is ingenious and just lends itself to a whole lot of fun. And that’s exactly what these authors deliver — while the human element is never ignored, you’re also not going to be reflecting upon the nature of humanity after reading these tales. The main ‘draw’ — the giant monsters — is never neglected. I appreciate that because even now, I have to admit that I’m tapping my toe during all the in-between stuff in a kaiju film. I’m there to see big monsters punching other big monsters in the face.
There’s not a bad story in the bunch, which is saying something. I’m not the world’s biggest anthology fan because inevitably I wish the good stories were longer and could do without other tales entirely. There are no stories here that I would excise, however. The opening story, by Jim Beard, is a good one in terms of setting the tone and parameters of this world. It kind of reminded me of World War Z in the documentary-style approach it took. Nancy Hansen’s tale felt like classic kaiju and in particular, I enjoyed that one.
Some might scoff at the notion of kaiju as being ‘pulp’ but in feel and motivation, it’s definitely in the same ballpark. Both feature fast-moving stories with a focus on action. The characterization is delivered quickly and broadly. That’s New Pulp to me — and, most importantly, it’s escapist entertainment.
A word about the cover – something about the art seems a little “fuzzy” (perhaps this was something in the formatting or perhaps my eyes are going) but I love the movie poster feel of it and it not only captures the concept well but it makes you want to immediately dive in and start reading. It’s memorable and stands out well from many of the other covers that New Pulp works are sporting.
Monster Earth is a book that made me smile at least a half dozen times. If you love action-adventure or have a soft spot in your heart for dudes in big rubber suits stomping through model cities… then Monster Earth is something you should really consider checking out.