The Kaiju Preservation Society
© 2021 John Scalzi
I don’t know what a kaiju is, but John Scalzi’s name is on the cover so, I’m sold. At least, that’s…what I thought. Turns out John Scalzi isn’t always at his John Scalziest, or perhaps I like him better when he’s not as John Scalzi-y as he is here. We open with our narrator Jamie presenting a pitch to his or her boss (I have no idea, the main character isn’t developed…at all) and promptly being fired, because said boss is a jerk. Happily Jamie receives a mysterious job offer shortly afterward, and learns about another world — a mirror Earth dominated by huge beasts who are studied and protected (from other humans) by an organization known as KPS. However, there’s an Eeeeeeeeevil Corporation out there that wants to Do Bad Things, so the brave selfless scientists and their stalwart assistants (i.e. Jamie) have to thwart their evil plan!
The characters are nonentities: the plot is about as inspired as the Disney Star Wars sequel trilogy, and the author is all-too-eager to remind us of the early days of the pandemic, when we were made subjects of house arrest (except for the politicians!). We get lots of politics — covid policy, hand wringing over The Dreaded Orange One, and references to women as “uterus owners”. I’d make a mean joke about SF writers not knowing what women are, but Scalzi’s married with a daughter, or so his bio alleges. That said, the book still manages to be entertaining: Scalzi is good at writing fun, snarky dialogue, and the entire book is about dinosaur-like creatures the size of small mountains, who have internal nuclear reactors and who are miniature ecosystems. A lot of thought was put into their world and their bodies, and it makes the story incredibly interesting despite the fact that our main character is just there to do Things for the Plot and deliver clever rejoinders in conversations. All of the other characters are there for the same reason: the only one with any personality whatsoever is the villain, and he’s boilerplate Evil Entitled Corporate Jerk. KPS manages to be both obnoxious and fun, like a friend at a party who’s had a bit much to drink but is nonetheless making the scene more bearable through their imaginative drunken ramblings.