Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters is a somewhat daunting read. Assembling that many authors to write about giant monsters is an awesome feat all on its own, but to do it as a Kickstarter project is just mind-boggling. Tim Marquitz & Nickolas Sharps are absolutely to be commended on pulling off something I honestly wasn't sure would work.
For me, some of the stories that worked the best were those that were already solid little tales on their own, and where the addition of giant monsters enhanced the story, rather than just being awkwardly shoehorned in - largely because of the contrast they created in themes and subjects. Big Ben and the End of the Pier Show by James Lovegrove was a perfect example, as was Monstruo by Mike MacLean, and Of the Earth, of the Sky, of the Sea by Patrick M. Tracy and Paul Genesse.
Another batch of stories that really impressed me were the ones that managed to establish a complete mythology, to tell a multi-layered tale within the very narrow confines of a short story. That's hard enough for some authors to manage in a novel, much less a short story. The Lighthouse Keeper of Kurohaka Island by Kane Gilmour illustrates this beautifully, as do The Conversion by David Annandale, Heartland by Shane Berryhill, The Banner of the Bent Cross by Peter Clines, and The Great Sea Beast by Larry Correia, albeit all in very different ways.
The final batch that I thoroughly enjoyed were the ones that embraced the concept, claimed it, owned it, blew it up, and then stomped around on its ashes. I'm talking about the over-the-top, let's just have fun with monster stories, the ones where you can feel the author's excitement. Devil’s Cap Brawl by Edward M. Erdelac was one of those, as was Dead Man’s Bones by Josh Reynolds, and the cheesy-but-awesome Big Dog by Timothy W. Long.
There were a few stories that just tried too hard, and a few that may have been entertaining enough on their own, but which suffered from being packed in such a dense collection of similar stories. With that in mind, Kaiju Rising is definitely a collection best enjoyed in small doses, a few stories at a time, lest the repetition begin to dull the overall effect. That said, those small doses are great fun, with some genuine surprises for fans new and old.
Kindle Edition, Retail Edition, 550 pages
Published February 10th 2014 by Ragnarok Publications