One of the popular concepts of kaiju storytelling that isn’t often translated when the genre crosses the Pacific is the idea of a link between monster and man. You see this in Ultraman, the 90’s Gamera trilogy, and an assortment of other tokusatsu entertainment. The closest we get to some approximation of that in Western Kaiju is the link between man and machine as seen in Pacific Rim and (the Americanized) Power Rangers. Raffael Coronelli’s Daikaiju Yuki is one of the only examples I can recall of the man/monster concept in an American kaiju tale. It’s a refreshing new take on the kaiju novel with an old school twist.
Daikaiju Yuki takes place in the distant future after our world succumbed to nuclear war and the advent of the kaiju. The world we know is something of the distant past. Now most the world is split into four warring nations, some simply looking to live in peace and others vying for superiority on a global scale. The new weapons of mass destruction are the kaiju. The nemesis nations have used their links with kaiju (a giant bear and a giant bird, in this case) to destroy armies and cities as they continue their conquest. Our heroine Yuki is sent to a temple to check on the progress of raising her nation’s kaiju, Narajin. As she sneakily inspects the temple, Yuki accidentally performs the task necessary for linking her body/mind/soul with that of the kaiju, thus waking the giant lion god from its deep slumber.
There are stumbles and self-doubt as Yuki tries to talk her way out of the enormous responsibility she has inherited. The kaiju Narajin, seen as a god to many, believes that Yuki is worthy to be sharing the fight to save the world with him. They communicate telepathically, as depicted with lots of italic text, giving Yuki (and the reader) the lowdown on how the kaiju ‘pantheon’ works and their role in the world. Yuki and the kaiju then march across the globe looking to unite others like them in preparation for the coming battle.
Daikaiju Yuki is enormous fun. It’s like an anime take on kaiju storytelling, with a big cast of characters and new details explored with each new chapter/episode. I had pleasant flashbacks to Saturday morning cartoons like Digimon and Sony’s Godzilla: The Series (the movie sucked but the cartoon was good, yo). The heroes that Yuki meets along the way are a diverse bunch, each with big personalities (there is an emphasis on diversity which I took great joy in. Yuki is a lesbian kaiju superhero badass and I love her). There’s big kaiju rumbles on a regular basis and the monsters are each original and easy to take a liking to.
The novel is a little on the short side this appears to be by design. A sequel and a spinoff are already available. I will be reading them both shortly. In a time when kaiju fiction is going through a surprise boom of popularity, many authors (myself included) have used the opportunity to tell dark tales that mainstream kaiju entertainment was reluctant to give us. Coronelli goes the other direction and embraces the fun and fantasy of kaiju spectacle. Ishiro Honda, who directed a number of the best Godzilla movies, frequently used the kaiju threat as a way to bring people together to accomplish common goals. Honda believed in the good of mankind. Daikaiju Yuki is similar in that way. Evil accomplishes much in its time on earth and even the people who mean to do good are not without their faults, but ultimately if we find a way to come together then perhaps peace will win out. I dig it.
August has been a loooong month. I released a book this month! Maybe you've heard. But I saw some damn good movies and the best of em were all 2018 releases, so that's cool. (As always, if one of these movies sounds cool to you, click the affiliate links to go to the film's Amazon page.)
FIRST REFORMED is brilliant. A masterpiece of cinema. Paul Schrader's best since AFFLICTION. It's WINTER LIGHT meets TAXI DRIVER and the combo works so much better than you'd ever think. A drama about faith, human connection, and an apocalypse of our own making. I love it.
Ethan Hawke is great, one of his best roles. I really like the dramatic actress Amanda Seyfried has become. And Cedric the Entertainer provides a solid dramatic performance.
This is the best 2018 film that I have seen thus far.
The final moments of Spike Lee's BLACKkKLANSMAN left me so emotional. I had chills. I'm sure there were tears. I felt rage... and something like hope, but not quite. The 'hope' comes with it an understanding that the ugliness continues.
It's a sad, angry film but one full of fight. Funny, too. You won't see many better movies this year. A (sadly) timely and important film for 2018.
Chloe Zhao's THE RIDER is a beautiful film. Nearly wrecked me emotionally. A drama about living beyond your dreams. Looks gorgeous, too, so it's a shame that it didn't get a Blu-ray, just DVD and streaming. Shades of Malick.
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT is fantastic. Maybe my favorite from the series -- a series which is more reliably excellent than we give it credit for. I was originally against the idea of Christopher McQuarrie returning to direct a second M:I, not because I disliked Rogue Nation (it's good!) but because I liked how each M:I movie had a new director and thus a new style. But now I'd be very happy if he stayed on to direct all future Mission movies until Tom Cruise calls it quits.
You Were Never Really Here
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE is a stylish, no bullshit crime drama about an avenger with a hammer. Dark yet full of beautiful moments. Haunting, really. I feel like watching it again already. Joaquin Phoenix is amazing.
SWEET COUNTRY is a very good Australian western about racism and white people going to great lenghts to defend a piece of shit. A beautiful looking film about some very ugly stuff. Love the cinematography and the interesting editing. The conflict constantly feels unsafe, like everything is on the edge of a knife from beginning to end.
This week over at Scriptophobic, I talk about the value of looking to international art for inspiration. Click Clint!
I am excited to announce that In the Shadow of Extinction: A Kaiju Epic is now available!
You can find it on Amazon US, Amazon UK, GooglePlay, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords today. Additional sellers like Barnes & Noble will be added shortly.
There are paperbacks available, too! The Omnibus paperback will be an Amazon exclusive for now in order to keep costs down, but Parts 1-3 paperbacks will get an expanded distribution and should begin showing up on other sites shortly (I have very little control over which websites they appear on, though). A reminder that the Omnibus collects Parts 1, 2, and 3 into one big book. If you already bought the individual volumes, then you have the full story and will find nothing new in the Omnibus.
I have been working towards this day for many years now. The book's release kept getting pushed back as my plans for it got more ambitious -- and because rewriting it took forever. I've never spent so long on a creative project before. Release day brings with it a mix of excitement, anxiety, and relief. Chances are I'm going to be buzzing on that cocktail of emotions all week.
I am enormously proud of this book, if that's an okay thing to say. I put my all into making it as good as it could be. It's a combo of my love for the kaiju genre (Monster fights! City destruction! Oh no, our fancy sci-fi weapon doesn't work!) and my personal instincts as a writer (Horror elements! Dark! Kinda political!). When I began writing it, the new kaiju boom was still young. Since that first day, we are now experiencing a crazy new wave of kaiju content. It's an awesome time to be a fan. I am happy to finally introduce my story to you all. I also think it'll appeal to readers beyond the giant monster fans, because it has some cool sci-fi, dystopian, and apocalyptic themes.
At the start of In the Shadow of Extinction, I dedicate the story to the artists who created Godzilla and, in doing so, started the kaiju genre. Right now I want to give an extra thanks to my friends and family who helped me along the way. Without your assistance, the book wouldn't be what it is today. You're the best, gang.
I'll be talking more about In the Shadow of Extinction in the days and weeks ahead. Until then, I hope you consider visiting one of the provided links and give the book a look. I really hope you dig it. Please let me know what you think after you're finished! A brief review on Amazon or wherever you bought it would mean so much.
Today I reveal the final kaiju from the In the Shadow of Extinction roundup. This here is the Kazan-ryu. Art by Gabe-TKE.
The Kazan-ryu (the name roughly means ‘Volcano Dragon’ in Japanese) slept in volcanoes around the world until being roused from their deep sleep. The Kazan-ryu is a glutton. It’s blind and it just plows through city streets, scooping up people and debris into its mouth to swallow whole. When the creature has had its fill, it digs beneath the dirt and waits for more food to pass its way like a giant ambush predator.
I wanted a four-legged kaiju because I love the classic designs of kaiju like Anguirus, Varan, Baragaon, and Barugon (no, I didn’t repeat myself – one’s a Gamera kaiju and it is awesome!). The Kazan is like a belly dragging, gluttonous Baragon with a messed up underbite. I think of the thing as a creature that evolution should've corrected but got lazy. It uses that long, pointed lower jaw to assist it in shoveling the earth as it digs underground.
For more about the Kazan-ryu, Tyrant, Ikarah, and Breeders, you’ll have to read the book!
We’re now a week away from the release of In the Shadow of Extinction: A Kaiju Epic. So, today I thought it would be cool to show you another one of the novel’s monsters and present the first chapter in which it appears.
Meet the Ikarah. Art by S. Taylor.
The Ikarah are an aquatic kaiju, inspired by paintings of the sea monsters that sailors used to think ruled the high seas. ‘Here there be monsters,’ absolutely goddamn right. Their body is like that of a giant eel. Their head is a mess of seemingly countless tentacles which blaze a glowing red in the ocean’s depths. They are not the largest kaiju of the novel but there are so many of them that they manage to make all oceanic travel a dangerous enterprise.
S. Taylor’s art doesn’t depict a scene that’s in the book but we thought it was a cool way to show the monster’s menace and size. Kinda Lovecraftian, kinda Discovery Channel special gone wrong. I dig it and hope you do, too.
As promised, here’s the chapter which introduces the Ikarah. It’s a chapter that comes about 60 pages into the novel as the monsters are slowly stepping out into our world.
I hope you enjoy! And don’t forget to pre-order!
Up next in the Kaiju Roundup is In the Shadow of Extinction’s primary villain monster, the Breeder. These are an insectoid/crustacean inspired lifeform that spawns near water and overwhelms their opponents with superior numbers. Of the book’s kaiju roster, the Breeders are definitely the easiest to kill, but in death they drop a set of fertilized eggs, thus constantly replenishing their numbers. They infest cities and eradicate all life by draining their prey’s blood through a long, black tongue.
The art of the Breeder is drawn by Danielle Fey.
I really like Danielle’s depiction of the Breeder. It's sinister and alien and weird. The legs are so detailed. Love the tongue. The Breeders have no eyes but rather just a mask-like faceplate, which opens to reveal that nasty tongue.
The Breeders start out smaller than a man and can grow to the size of a five-story building. Beyond the basic insect/crab concept, the Breeders were inspired by Alien’s Xenomorphs as well as kaiju cinema’s Destoroyah and Legion. Also, Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds played a big influence on my creative vision for the novel, and the Breeders have some stuff in common with the Tripods.
The Breeders are a vicious, thoughtless species of monsters willing to sacrifice all in order to feed. Their quick reproduction cycles make clearing them out of a kaiju occupied city nearly impossible. They are like a plague on the earth and represent a great threat to man and monster alike.
Pre-order In the Shadow of Extinction: A Kaiju Epic today!
This week over at Scriptophobic, I wrote about my favorite Godzilla series writer Shinichi Sekizawa and how he flipped the kaiju movie formula on its head, thus giving it new life. Maybe we can use Sekizawa's formula flip in other genres as well. Click the link!
Hello, everybody! In the lead up to release day of In the Shadow of Extinction on August 14, I thought it’d be cool to give a little sneak peek at the kaiju that appear in the novel and reveal some of the awesome art that will appear within the pages.
Let’s start things off with the cover art kaiju, seen here drawn by Wafalo.
This big guy is named the Tyrant. It’s the ‘hero’ kaiju of the novel in the eyes of some, but its unrivaled ability to lay waste to cities makes it just as much a threat to modern civilization as the more vicious kaiju.
Unlike a lot of kaiju cinema/fiction, where a monster is often the sole representative of its kind, I decided to go the route of representing the kaiju as different species. As such, there are many of each type of kaiju. But that doesn’t apply to the Tyrant. It is the last of its kind, a solitary monster driven by hunger and a raging temper.
The Tyrant is the ultimate giant predator, but its kaiju adversaries are dangerous in large numbers. As such, it needed to evolve for defense as well as offense, and has a back covered with sharp spines (including shoulder spikes which were influenced by the Kentrosaurus).
Here is another look at the Tyrant, this one drawn by Gabe-TKE. This art will appear within the novel.
It would be silly to suggest that the Tyrant is not influenced to some degree by Godzilla – few giant monster reptilians aren’t inspired by Godzilla in one way or another. But I go to great lengths to set the two monsters apart. Really, the Tyrant is just as much inspired by the Tyrannosaurus Rex, if we’re being honest (it’s right there in the name!). The Tyrant has no long range, fire breathing attacks either and is not meant as an allegory for the nuclear bomb. I don't want to explain my reasoning behind the intended 'symbolism' of the kaiju too much pre-release but I tend to think these kaiju represent war and occupation following war.
The best option for humanity to survive the Tyrant is to simply get out of its way. But man isn’t very good at sharing the planet, so will they recognize an unwinnable fight when they see it? Or will they doom the world in a futile attempt to force the Tyrant back into its hole? You’ll have to read the book to find out! #BUYMYBOOK
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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