Friday, August 3, 2007

Book Review: Daikaiju! Giant Monster Tales

Kudos to editors Robert Hood and Robin Pen for assembling this great anthology novel- as almost every other subject matter imaginable has been done by fantasy anthologies, I’m surprised that a compilation of short fiction tackling this theme took as long as it did to make an appearance.

The majority of the stories (plus a handful of smaller pieces) in the collection are solid, fun reads with only a couple of entries that I didn’t really care for. I found that the works which I tended to warm up to the most were ones wherein the writer displayed an obvious level of familiarity and fondness for the theme; although there were a couple of contributors who were clearly not as familiar with the particulars of the genre that ended up with some interesting takes on the subject nonetheless (The Transformer of Worlds by Mark Rainey comes to mind). The final piece in the book is an essay regarding giant monsters in film called Wonders 8 Through 88.

A quick list of the stories I particularly enjoyed:

Running- A man participates in an amateur sport which amounts to a monstrous take on the “running of the bulls”.

The Transformer of Worlds- Two rivals adept in traversing and manipulating the alternate existences known as “dream worlds” conduct a battle in our reality with destructive results.

Seven Dates That Were Ruined By Giant Monsters- details of how living in the shadow of daikaiju can also affect one’s love life.

Notes Concerning Events at the Ray Harryhausen Memorial Home for Retired Actors- Those monsters you see in old films? They’re not special effects. They’re real. They’re thespians. And they also eventually get old and retire to specialized nursing homes...

Watching the Titans- a researcher in the vein of Jane Goodall accounts her experiences while observing daikaiju in their natural habitat.

Calibos- an elite military team is dispatched to stop a malfunctioning deep-water probe (a gigantic, mechanical crab) that is destructively carrying out its data-collecting mission on land.

Park Rot- When an enormous robotic mascot goes amok in the Thrill Acres amusement park, Kazuo Tabuchi and his domesticated giant monster, Itara are brought in to solve the problem.

Kungmin Horangi: The People’s Tiger- In a world where nations use daikaiju as weapons of war, North Korea unleashes a most devious creation.

Man in Suit- The brilliant scientist Dr.Nomura is coerced into using an untested invention to rid Japan of the monster Ragnaroka.

If you’re a fan, I definitely recommend hunting down a copy of this book. According to the publisher’s website, a second volume has just been released (and will be available on Amazon.com shortly) as well as plans for a third installment. Cool beans!

4 out of 5.

3 comments:

Robert Hood said...

Hey, thanks for the good review. I'm one of the two editors of the Daikaiju! anthologies and I was trolling the web looking for reviews when I stumbled upon yours. As a writer and editor, I like to find out what the fans think. I appreciate your comments.

I've just finished editing the third volume (which is called Daikaiju! 3: Giant Monsters vs the World and it's being laid out by the publisher right now. As in the first volume, the stories are quite varied. Volume 2 -- Daikaiju! 2: Revenge of the Giant Monsters -- is full of more traditional giant-monsters-trashing-cities type stories than the first volume.

For your information, Volume 3 is being launched in Australia at a science fiction convention next month. So far, volume 2 hasn't appeared on Amazon, but both should be up there soon. I'll let you know when it happens!

Mysterious Pants said...

Hey, thanks for dropping by! Again- great job on the book!
I'm very much looking forward to those sequel volumes. We need more guys like you and your partner out there in the publishing world...

Robert Hood said...

I thought I'd drop by and let you know that not one but two sequel volumes of giant monster stories have now been published: "Daikaiju! 2: Revenge of the Giant Monsters" and "Daikaiju! 3: Giant Monsters vs the World". Both are now available on Amazon from Agog Press and Prime Books. The first remains the definitive volume, but for those who want more... you know where to go!

I hope you chase up the books -- and I'd love to hear what you think of them if you do!

Robert Hood (co-editor)