Hypothetical: You live in a village with grass huts and no doors. There’s a tiger about, who only eats infants. He literally cannot eat anything else, if he tries, he starves to death. This tiger roams in and around your grass huts. You can hear it growling late at night. You know that sooner or later it will pounce.
A.) Wait until it eats a baby, then take action.
B.) Shoot that motherfucker in the face again and again and again and again until it goddamn stops moving, because baby eating tiger.
Call me retrograde, but I’d choose option B. I ain’t got no kids, and I’d still choose option B. I’d go all Atticus Finch on its ass, as soon as I could find a gun.
Well, I just read an Urban Fantasy novel where option A was the entire moral code of the main character. 24/7, 365 (366 on leap years), it was her entire job to not shoot baby eating tigers (actually baby eating monsters), until after they’d chowed down on a little child.
Crunch. Scream. Little limbs wave helplessly. Scream. Blood hits the walls. Scream. Slurp.
“Oh, what? A baby got torn to shreds by a poisonous slavering fang-toothed vaguely bat-like monstrosity from Mexican folklore? Now it’s on, asshole!”
(“Sure, I saw it last week. It hadn’t eaten any babies, then. That I know of.”)
Yeah. After a dead baby, and not a second before. That’s the best time to hunt slavering, baby-eating monstrosities you knew were there in the first place.
And God help you if you’re a human who shoots and shoots and shoots and shoots until the baby-eating, slavering monstrosity goddamn stops moving, because she will, no lie, track you down and shoot you — the human — in the face. Because ecology.
(No, really. That’s what the main character says. You can’t kill baby-eating, slavering, fanged monstrosities, because ecology.)
By the end of the book, I was so very tired of the “leave the fanged, slavering, baby-eating monstrosities alone!” attitude of the main character. “Can’t we all just get along?” No. No we can’t. Not when you eat babies. I gotta draw the line somewhere.
After that, I was a little burned out on Urban Fantasy. I said to myself, “Can I find some Urban Fantasy where the monster hunters actually, I don’t know, hunt freakin’ monsters?” I was ready to give up on the genre. Until…
Almost a year ago, I was reading this guy’s blog. He had a link to a book. I opened it up in a tab (one of my infamous 250 tabs), and it sat there. Unread. For a goddamn year.
Oh, I saw it. Occasionally. On my way to and from other tabs with research material or potential links. I just never stopped to read it.
Then, just this week, that same original blog linked to another blog. That blogger was clearly upset. I read his post, and found out he was an author. Of Urban Fantasy novels. The same novel I had been ignoring for a year. A novel described (by him) as “The X-Files meets The Expendables“.
It’s about a bunch of monster hunters. Monster hunters who actually shoot freakin’ monsters. Before the babies get eaten, even.
They shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot until the goddamn fanged slavering monstrosity is dead. The only time they’re not shooting, is when they’re reloading or reaching for a bigger gun, to do more damage when they resume shooting. (Wisely. These things are fricken tough. It’s like Tharkold that way.)
(Oh, and they sometimes use high explosives. Yeah, baby. Yeah.)
“Well, that sounds potentially alright”, I thought. A quick visit to iBooks, and I owned a new ebook.
And I’m loving it. L-o-o-o-o-o-o-ving it.
[Oh, wait. The book. It’s Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia. (Amazon link.) Buy it. Borrow it from a friend. Check it out from a library.]
I thought Jim Butcher (of “Dresden Files” fame) wrote great action. (And he does.) Larry Correia writes the best action scenes I have ever read. (And I was a technothriller addict.) Better than Koontz, Clancy, King, anybody.
His monsters are tough and implacable, the main character is literally, actually millimeters from being disemboweled or eaten all the time, and each action scene just goddamn moves. Each one is quick, tight, and inexorable. You can almost feel the half-a-ton werewolf busting through doors and walls, right on your heels, after having regenerated away all that damage you just did it. It’s incredible.
And he knows pacing. When to speed it up, when to slow it down, when to drop in a tense crawl through an abandoned structure liberally decorated with the viscera of former inhabitants and innocent victims, when to throw in another I-think-Owen’s-really-gonna-die-this-time action sequence. (Schmuck bait, yes. But effective schmuck bait.)
Tense action, smart and tough protagonists (who are nonetheless hopelessly outmatched), and viscerally evil bad guys. If I could order a bespoke Urban Fantasy novel — “Please, just make it decent, okay? Stalwart heroes versus pure evil, and a lot of gunplay. And some explosions.” — that would be it.
Again, Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia. (Amazon link.) Buy it. Borrow it from a friend. Check it out from a library.
Read it. It’s worth it.