“My name is Julie Shackleford. My family have been Monster Hunters for over a hundred years. My job is to keep the sweet little idiots who don’t believe in monsters safe.”
“And I’m okay with that.”
So begins the newest entry in the best-selling “Monster Hunter International” book series, another lead-slinging, bureaucrat-foiling, monster-slaying romp. Culturally, it also presents a dangerous level of subversive common sense. In a sane society, none of the “Monster Hunter” books would be considered “political.” In ours, though, they attract “social justice warrior” obstructionism.
By itself that wouldn’t be enough, however tempting, to inspire me to boost them. But added to the fact that they’re also just great stories well-told, it’s an extra level of satisfaction when a delightful guilty pleasure (like frenetic sci-fi action-adventure novels) has the redeeming quality of worrying the Left.
And so it is that I celebrate the success of the newest volume in the MHI saga.
Monster Hunter: Guardian is a particularly good addition to the series, because it’s the first book in the MHI universe told from a feminine perspective, and its heroine is a perfect antidote to the conventional Social Justice Warriorette of contemporary urban fantasy.
Once upon a time, young sci-fi fans grew up on Robert Heinlein’s “juvenile” novels—which preached masculine virtues, an American can-do attitude, and flagrant libertarianism. Today’s equivalents are far more juvenile dystopian “young adult” novels, such as the Hunger Games series and its endless clones. They generally preach grievance politics, socialist solutions, and belligerent “girl power” (all the while shamelessly exploiting the most clichéd and shallow of romantic subplots).
Readers eventually graduate to “urban fantasy,” a genre in which supernatural creatures and forces exist in the shadows of “our” world. Larry Correia’s “Monster Hunter International” posits a universe like this, as well, but his is a world in which evil is clearly evil, vampires never sparkle (unless caught in the kill zone of a flamethrower), and the forces of good are facilitated by market forces and the Second Amendment.
The series has been hugely successful with fans, and intensely hated by the forces of political correctness in the publishing world. Correia has become a symbol of resistance to those forces, his very name triggering outrage in intersectional sci-fi circles. Guardian is sure to take their outrage to new levels, because of its heroine.
A weakness of many great science-fiction authors has been an inability to tell a story with a feminine perspective. Robert Heinlein’s female protagonists (like “Friday”) had all the verisimilitude of video-game heroines, plausible perhaps to a 14-year-old boy, but not to any more sophisticated audience. Larry Correia sidestepped this potential pitfall, collaborating with sci-fi/fantasy author Sarah Hoyt (and formidable blogger at www.accordingtohoyt.com), in order to tell this story from Julie Shackelford’s perspective.
Julie, who’s been with us since the first volume, is a startling contrast with the assorted vampire huntresses, vampiresses, and other popular heroines of urban fantasy.
For starters, she’s happily married. That’s almost unknown in the genre. In fact, she’s also a new mother, and the Mama Bear protective instinct is crucial to her motivations throughout the book. Julie’s a Southern girl, raised in a gun-loving home, and her impressive combat skills are quite plausible—since she has specialized in weapons women can use effectively. No broadsword-slinging for Julie! No incantations, either; those are for the bad guys. Julie’s a sharpshooter and a strategist—and above all, now, a Momma. “Because from the moment you have a kid, the kid comes first.”
She’s also, of course, the Guardian, but that gets deeper into the specifics of the series than we need to do here. Nor need we describe her sidekick, Mr. Trash Bags. Suffice to say that one reason the MHI universe is so beloved of fans, is a healthy dose of humor relieving the horror elements at intervals.
This volume’s also the most “International” of the “MHI” series, allowing our old-fashioned, gun-toting, all-American heroine to make wry observations about the European way of doing things—from overbearing German bureaucracy to cozy Portuguese corruption—as brave monster hunters in each society work around the particular obstacles their home nations present.
Potential new fans of the series will find Guardian an approachable entry point; you needn’t read “all that has gone before” to quickly engage this story. One caveat, however: Julie, raised from childhood among monster hunters, takes fantastical (horrifying or amusing) aspects of the MHI universe for granted. It might be more satisfying for those brand-new to the series to tackle the first volume, Monster Hunter International, then “Guardian.” At that point, you’ll likely want to go back and read everything in-between.
Monster Hunter: Guardian is likely to be shut out from awards, while Correia and Hoyt laugh all the way to the bank, enjoying the benefits of a politically incorrect bestseller—and one which will hearten readers struggling against the real forces of chaos and evil which threaten our reality.