Baen, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4767-8053-5
Fantasy, 2015 (Reissue)
Bad boy Larry Correia, the Ross Perot to the SFWA and the blister on the rear end of the Hugo committee, has been making such a fuss lately, riling up those people who really do deserve riling up now and then, that I am vastly entertained. I do agree with him on one point: the science-fiction and fantasy community has been unfortunately bogged down by too many crazy new generation so-called social justice activists whose modes of operation include being permanently outraged, blisteringly antagonistic, heavily reliant on hyperbole and strawman arguments, and generally behaving like constipated mastiffs trying to squeeze out square rock-solid turds. Mr Correia’s success in getting them all outraged to the point of mass psychosis group hug has me so amused that I just have to pick this book up as my silent show of support.
I have never read any book by Mr Correia prior to Monster Hunter Nemesis, and this is part of a series, so in the beginning, I’m a bit lost, especially when some of the characters have similar-sounding names (the villain Stricken has a henchman named Stark, for example). But after a while, my brain gloriously melts down in light of the sheer testosterone just flooding the pages of this book, and I think I grow some chest hair as a result. This book is almost X-rated in how violent and gory it is, to the point that I feel that this book isn’t sci-fi or fantasy as much as it is mayhem porn, and I like it. I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it.
Agent Franks has lived for a long, long time. He is, after all, the real thing that inspired Mary Shelley to write that book. What his creator didn’t know back then was when Franks the stitched-together body parts was animated, the “soul” that took over the body was that of a fallen angel who chose to remain on Earth to avoid being sent back to Hell. The big guy upstairs allowed Franks to remain what he is because Franks has its uses, and one of the tasks Franks was charged to do ended up being what could be his longest gig ever: he has served the US government – covertly, or as least as covert as a homicidal wrecking ball can be – since the days of Benjamin Franklin, as the big guy who does the dirty work of the Monster Control Bureau, taking out bad spooks that terrorize humanity.
Franks doesn’t do this out of the goodness of his heart, mind you. He just does what he does because, one, it’s an agreement has made and, two, he likes killing and breaking things. In this story, he finally meets his match in inter-department politics. The bad guy Stricken, who heads the STFU agency (don’t ask), clearly hasn’t seen Transformers: Age of Extinction, as he wants to create an army of new and improved Franks – much to the delight of the fallen angels who can’t wait to take over these things and bring the fight with Heaven right down to Earth. Franks refuses to allow such a project to happen, not that Stricken cares as the project has already begun and is nearing completion, but Franks has the backing of the President. For Stricken to rise in a blaze of glory, therefore, he needs to get rid of Franks. Fortunately, Franks is hilariously dumb in that he never thinks before he acts even after all this time (as a secondary character points out) so it’s really child’s play to frame him as a mass murderer.
It’s been a while since I read a story that is this unapologetic in how much it revels in its pulp fiction-style of over the top violence and machismo. Admittedly, I don’t read many books from the sci-fi and fantasy genre these days, but oh boy, Monster Hunter Nemesis is B-grade action porn at its finest. I squeal in delight when the author has all those bounty hunters throwing themselves at Franks like he’s the life of the buffet and everyone else is a starving lunatic. The gore, the violence, the no-nonsense body count – I am so entertained, I could light up a cigarette by the last page and I don’t even smoke.
Still, I do notice a problem. It’s probably a “just me” thing, but as I’ve said, Franks is comically incapable of finesse and cunning. While he’s not dumb, he prefers not to think, which makes him… well, dumb in my estimation. The problem here is that Franks become predictable and even tedious after a while, and I find myself more interested in the secondary characters in this story. Those people are wittier, less linear in their behavior, and are probably only a little less bloodthirsty than Franks, so you can’t blame me for feeling that they are more memorable than Franks. It’s a shame, considering that, from what I understand, this story is supposed to be Franks’ turn to grab the spotlight. The poor guy has his show stolen by the people around him.
Buy hey, look at all those body parts flying around! The only thing that is noticeably missing here is politically incorrect gratuitous sex scenes to complete the whole “I’ve just been shagged bandy-legged by Ash Williams with a chainsaw on top of a pile of corpses and I am living it!” experience but, oh well, I guess I can’t have everything. Now, readers looking for good taste and erudite discourses may be better off running the other way the moment they see this book on a shelf, but if you like gore, violence, and machismo all delivered in a speeding Mack truck that hits like a fucking nuclear warhead, don’t hesitate, don’t think – jump right in, the gut juices are just lovely.