I’m not a huge fan of kaiju (literally “strange beast” in Japanese—aka Godzilla stuff) for reasons that will become clear later, but I am a huge fan of this book.
The Kaiju Preservation Society is exactly what it says on the tin. Our protagonist, Jamie Gray, thinks they’re about to hit the big time as an executive for a food delivery startup, only to find themself delivering the food instead. Fortune smiles on Jamie as an old acquaintance from university convinces them to join an “animal rights organization,” only the friend can’t provide any real details, other than his role will be to “lift things” (which becomes a running gag for Jamie when describing his job: “I lift things”).
But this animal rights organization isn’t protecting pandas. It studies and protects monsters the size of skyscrapers. Of course, those can’t exist on earth, right? No, not this earth, but an earth that sits right next door to us in the multiverse. One where an extinction-level event never wiped out the dinosaurs. Not that these kaiju are giant dinosaurs. No, they are much stranger than that.
John Scalzi is my favourite kind of science fiction writer. He’s funny, the story is written funny, the characters often crack jokes. Yet I almost hesitate to call it a comedy. Because the story itself isn’t trying to be a comedy, everything around it is. To me, that’s a good thing. I like it when a story knows how to have fun and when to take itself seriously.
Despite how ridiculous the idea of giant kaiju is to anyone with a passing knowledge of biology, Scalzi provides a convincing scenario for their existence. For one thing, they don’t exist on our earth; they exist on one with a much thicker atmosphere (like the Earth used to have, back when insects existed that were the size and weight of a crow). For another, they don’t operate on our level of biology. No, they are much, much stranger than that.
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