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Book Probe: Godzilla, Planet of the Apes, Monster Earth, World War Kaiju
Reviewed by Joe Crowe, @revolutionsf, © 2014

Format: Book
By:   Various artists
Review Date:   July 27, 2014

Book Probe provides you with two movie novelizations and two books with giant monsters in them. Because you deserve them.

Godzilla Novelization

Given the choice of reading a book with Godzilla in it and reading a book with anything else in it, let me just state for the record that I will choose the Godzilla book.

In this case, the novelization of the 2014 Godzilla movie fits my directive nicely. I love the novelization form, regardless of the movie being novelized. This comes from reading novelizations when I was a smaller child. I assumed they were the ancestors of DVD directorís cuts, book versions of what they didnít . Little did I know that the novelization guys and the movie guys usually didnít work together at all. But that doesnít harsh my buzz. I donít want a printout of the movie script. I want more of what I liked in the movie. I also want them to go as far off-topic as possible, as noted in Lord of the Rings: The Novelization.

Reading a Godzilla movie is weird. And if you read the book first, when you finally see the movie, you get a unique experience: Bryan Cranston acting out some words youíve read, while running and screaming.

After you see the movie, if you need more Godzilla 2014, which you will, this book will fill your tummy nicely.

Betrayal on Monster Earth

Given the choice of reading an anthology about giant monsters and reading an anthology about anything else, let me just state for the record that I will choose the giant monster anthology.

In this case, Betrayal on Monster Earth fulfills my directive nicely. Itís a sequel to Monster Earth, and I must say upfront that I was the copy-editor on both. So if you spot a spelling or grammar error, know that a) I meant to put it there or b) itís correct and youíve been spelling it wrong this whole time.

The first book sets the stage: The worldís countries use giant monsters instead of nuclear weapons, and the books focus on the people who encounter, work with and run from all the monsters.

All the stories in the anthology stand alone, but this time there is a recurring subplot. In the first book all the monsters are found in nature in the countries they are put to work for. In Betrayal evil scientists are trying to make their own.

When editor James Palmer first told me the deal with the books, that they would focus on the humans, I was horrified. Humans are the worst part of the giant-monster flicks that Monster Earth tributes.

But James, Jim Beard and the Monster Earth writers soothed me. The monster fights and the human melodrama is balanced. The monster fights get extensive play-by-play, as if on pay-per-view, (technically you only pay once. Itís a book.) with page after page of clawing, biting, crushing. Itís a good time.

I canít decide if I like the story with the giant spider or the Ö . Both are good choices. And you get both in the same book!

This is one time you can totally judge a book by its cover. Betrayal on Monster Earth Check that thing out. Youíll dig the stuff inside the cover, too.

World War Kaiju by Josh Finney

Given the choice of reading a graphic novel about giant monsters and reading a graphic novel about anything else, let me just state for the record that I will choose the giant monster comic book.

In this case, World War Kaiju fulfills my directive nicely. Itís a comic book / text combo platter, with comic-booky art to accompany the story. Itís violent and over the top, an 80s movie in print. One of the giant monsters looks like a guy in a monster suit, which they would have used if this had been a movie in the 80s. I jhave to give major points for that.

My favorite part is the bonus bits after the story. Posters and TV shows that exist in the World War Kaiju world are hilarious. Then they go deep, deep into the sci-fi science of the kaiju, and the diagrams and the big words are worth the price of admission.

Combine this with Monster Earth for a buffet of giant-monster fun.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm

Given the choice of reading a book with the apes from the new Planet of the Apes movies in them and reading anything else, let me just state for the record that I will choose the Planet of the Apes books.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm is not a novelization, but a prequel to the movie. Itís an in-betweenquel. In textual form It got me fired up for the movie, which I assume was the general idea. Luckily, it appears to have been made with some knowledge of the sequel, so naturally, apes that are in this book survive into the movie. Well, some of them.

You need more apes in your fiction reading. Ape reading is sparse and hard to come by, so these new movies and this book are delightful gifts from beyond the Forbidden Zone before we blew it up, damn us, damn us all to hell.

Alien: Sea of Sorrows by James A. Moore

There are zillions of licensed tie-in novels to sci-fi franchises. But Alien is not a tie-in I expected, since the key to the first movie is the visual sense of dread. Of course, writers can write scary stuff in book form. But itís difficult when you already know what the monster looks like and have seen it in 20 movies (well, Alien 3 made it seem like 20.) This one does OK in that regard, with sci-fi fightiní and shootiní and the descendant of one of the movie cast. And this line:

Vast, ovular masses rose from the ground, wreathed in a low-lying mist that had no right to exist in a mine.

Itís just a face-hugging good time.

Check out the embiggened cover to Betrayal on Monster Earth. Buy it often!

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