Saturday, March 31, 2012

You should read these.

I know I'm really late to the party here, but the truth is Baen-type books don't normally hold my attention. I think of Baen as the place where pulp fiction went to die, and some of their writers seem intent on torturing it for as long as possible before it expires. Seen one armored super-soldier, seen them all. And of course why would anybody want to write a single book when he can make more money by padding his already outworn concept with half a dozen books in the same story line? That's what Baen does, it seems to be all it does, and some people like it and that's fine but I really don't. So the Larry Correia Monster Hunter books, while I've naturally heard of them, didn't really sound all that attractive.

The formula, of course, is as familiar as can be. What if monsters really do exist? What if they've always existed - vampires and werewolves and assorted sorts of zombies, and that's just the ones that aren't all that dangerous. And what if their shadow world is shared by cadres of humans intent on hunting them down and keeping their numbers under control in a very straight-forward manner? Hell, this bit's so old the good guy's been played in the movies by Peter Cushing.

So like I said, I've heard of Larry Correia's Monster Hunter books but for various reasons that seemed excellent at the time I didn't exactly rush to Amazon to stock up on them.

Boy, was I stupid.

It needs a lot of talent to take formulas beaten to death by Baen and Hammer Films, and write books within those formulas - extremely faithful to those formulas - that makes a jaded reader want to make the world go away so he can just sit and devour them. And really wish, at the end, that he hadn't read so fast.

Correia's characters are familiar as can be, but he animates them with action and dialogue that makes them as real as fictional characters can be. It's really hard to mix horror and humor without going all one way or the other or just collapsing into slapstick, but Correia handles it as smoothly as I've ever seen it done and with an ironic wit that makes you really like these people. If some of his villains are just there to be punching bags, well, that's what hordes of undead are for but the main characters, hero and villain alike, are for the most part fully realized people you want to know more about.

These are very good books. If you like action novels at all, you should read them.


Claire said...

My library system (usually pretty well stocked) has only one Larry Correia title, Hard Magic. Not part of the Monster Hunter series, but I read it after you mentioned him a month or so ago. Liked it a lot. Good combo of whiz-bang action and human (or maybe slightly-more-than-human) interest.

Library now has one of the MH books on order. Thanks for the recommendation!

Carl-Bear said...

Re: Baen observations. Sadly true. Baen used to be one of the better imprints, but for the past several years (and most notably since Baen died and left Weisskopf running the show) it's mostly just as you say. They'll get one book with something original and interesting, then run it into the ground with sequels that don't add anything but word count. And it looks to this outsider to be very cliquish; all the same writers endlessly co-authoring books with each other. I'm glad to hear that Correia's books don't seem to be falling into that trap. If I had the spare cash, I'd check 'em out.

On the other hand, I think it was Heinlein who said something about a good book being one that gets paid for, and people do keep buying those Baen series; so I guess they're doing something right.

Joe said...

I agree. I read the first one last week, and the day after I finished it, I figured "what the hell" and read it again. It certainly won't be winning any literary awards, but then again, consider who gives out literary awards. It's refreshing to read an author that knows guns. I've been reading the Steig Larsson 'Girl with a Dragon Tattoo' trilogy this week and groaned out loud when the character switched the safety off on a Glock and then rolled my eyes when another character acquired a Colt 1911 9mm.