Out now in print and e-formats from Mechanoid Press is Monster Earth, in which my short story Mighty Nanuq vs. The Sea Wolf appears, alongside stories by I.A. Watson, Jim Beard, Fraser Sherman, James Palmer, and Nancy Hansen.
Ah look at that swell Eric Johns cover….
Every once in a while I hear about an anthology that I have to drop everything and write something for. Last year, though I was in the midst of finishing the last Merkabah Rider novel and a couple other projects, Jim Beard’s and Jim Palmer’s Monster Earth was it.
I LOVE kaiju or giant monster movies. When I was a kid in the south suburbs of Chicago there was a show called Son of Svengoolie, where local TV personality Rich Koz (in KISS-like makeup) would stand in a 70’s rock art casket telling goofy jokes and dodging rubber chickens over various classic genre movies like CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF.
The Son of Svengoolie introduced me to giant monster flicks, via THE GIANT GILA MONSTER, TARANTULA, THE DEADLY MANTIS, THEM!, and of course, dubbed Japanese fare like GAMERA VS. BARUGON, GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER, and GODZILLA VS. KING KONG.
When I was a kid bouncing around in the back of my dad’s blue Ford Bronco along country roads at night, I’d imagine the spindly legs of a giant spider dragging its horrendous bulk over the hills as we drove past, and I couldn’t simply disassemble a house of LEGOS without kicking it over and breathing imaginary atomic fire.
So when the Jims announced calls for MONSTER EARTH, an anthology of giant monster stories in a shared world, it took all my willpower not to respond, and when they contacted me personally, I caved like Osaka Castle in an Angirus and Godzilla sandwich.
The premise of MONSTER EARTH is that following World War II, the nations of planet earth became embroiled in a Cold War based not around the proliferation of nucelar arms, but giant monsters. Each country fields its own legendary giant creature discovered and harnessed (in various ways) within its borders. America has an immense sasquatch like creature, etc.
When folks were picking their countries and kaijus, I decided on Canada.
Yeah, Canada. So what?
I had always wanted to write a story about Inuit culture, and combining that with my love for old school 1950’s giant animal attack movies, I came up with Mighty Nanuq, a colossal polar bear that breathes subzero breath and has luminous blue eyes.
Now MONSTER EARTH is not entirely about monsters. To bring it down to a relatable level there’s a human element. Mine is the strained relationship between a young Inuit man of the 60’s counterculture and his uncle, an angakkuq or shaman, who came into his birthright in the 1940’s, at the height of World War II and now works for the Canadian government.
As inspiration for the 1940’s segement of the story (which the uncle relates to his wayward nephew), I used the real life Nazi U-boat landing at Martin Bay in northern Labrador in 1943, a little known incident in which the Germans actually landed in a remote part of Canada and installed a battery powered weather station to transmit radio signals the U-boats and ships of the German navy in the North Atlantic could then use in their fight against the allies. Extreme cold weather killed the station after only three days, and a sub sent out to repair the station (named Kurt after the initial mission leader Dr. Kurt Sommermeyer) was sunk. The entire event was totally unknown to history until a German engineer researching a history book in the 1970’s wrote to the Canadian government inquiring as to the status of the weather station. As the Canadian government was completely unaware of its existence, the historian provided them with its coordinates (from Sommermeyer’s original notes), and it was discovered intact and now resides in the Canadian War Museum.
Of course, in MIGHTY NANUQ VS. THE SEA WOLF, no mere weather station is going to warrant the intervention of Canadian intelligence or an enormous polar bear, so that was just a springboard I used to depict a giant kaiju battle on the icy shores of Labrador, with Nazis duking out with a Canadian commando in the background.
Another historical event I tweak in the course of the story is the 1969 occupation of Alcatraz Island by the IAT (Indians Of All Tribes), an aboriginal rights group that incuded John Trudell. At the time, Alcatraz Prison was shut down and closed to the public, so citing The Treaty Of Fort Laramie, which stated that unused federal land was to be turned over to the Native Americans, the group seized control of Alcatraz with the intent of creating an Indian cultural center on the spot, as well as meeting other native demands.
Now if Nixon had access to a giant monster, I propose there was no way he would’ve allowed a bunch of long hairs to conduct a sit-in on federal land for nineteen months.
Anyway, all of these seemingly disparate elements come together in MIGHTY NANUQ VS. THE SEAWOLF in MONSTER EARTH from Mechanoid Press.
Here’s an excerpt.
* * *
Hallauk put the field glasses to his eyes and peered to the north.
In an inlet in the rocky shoreline, a great iron boat longer than a whale floated. A yellow bearded kabloonak, almost like the kavdlunait of which his grandfather had spoken, in a black reefer jacket stained with sea salt, and a high necked white sweater and cap, stood atop a tower in the center of the boat, shouting guttural orders to a gaggle of men in dark peacoats hustling to repair a great gash rent in the starboard bow. A group of men armed with rifles stood watch. These had red armbands over their left elbows, with white circles and strange black symbols within. A trio of men in drab grey coveralls were working to erect some kind of long, slim metal apparatus fixed to the side of the tower on which the captain stood.
“They probably ran aground during the storm. As we suspected, the Nazis are using some kind of radio antenna to control their monster. They’ve only just erected it,” said LeDuc, sliding the action on his Lanchester. “Look there off that small island.”
Hallauk swung the binoculars to the indicated area, and saw a huge swell in the sea. Something was circling nearby like an orca, but bigger even than the iron boat. Its huge wake rippled white in the icy waters.
LeDuc patted his shoulder then.
“Wish me luck, my friend.”
“What do you hope to do?”
“Well, after I blow the control transceiver, there’s forty more sailors down in the belly of that U-boat. I’ve got a hundred rounds of ammunition. Maybe I can take ‘em by surprise, if they all line up, eh?”
There was a great cracking sound then.
The submarinal creature, whatever it was, had swum beneath the sheet of ice on their side of the strait, and with a flick of its great head, thrust itself up through the frozen water.
What pulled itself from the hole and onto the shore a few yards north of the U-boat, made both men shudder uncontrollably.
It was a thing of nightmares. A monstrous dripping black wolf head, the jaws lined with fangs each the size of a tall chest of drawers, between which a massive tongue lolled. Two sharp ears like the fins of airplanes protruded from its great black skull, and two unnatural, cloudy white eyes glistened in its horrible face. It looked about briefly, snuffling its black nose, then a pair of long clawed feet smashed through the ice and hooked into the shore, pulling the rest of its bulk out of the water.
The body that followed that terrible head was even more horrendous to behold. It was nearly twice as long as the U-boat, and about midway down its torso its furry canine shoulders gave way to a greenish, scaly fish body that tapered into a serpentine, finned tail. Its two rear legs were scaled and clawed, like that of a dragon in a fairy book.
The hideous monstrosity shook its great head like a wet dog and arched back its neck, eliciting a bone chilling howl loud enough to be felt beneath their feet and in their very bones. When the terrifying cry finally died off, they could hear the distant rumble of avalanches in the Torngats.
LeDuc snatched the binoculars from Hallauk and stared through them.
“It has a collar. That must be the radio receiver,” he observed.
True enough, there was a great metal collar around the creature’s neck, marked with the same bent black crosses as the arms of the German soldiers down below.
“And there’s our monstrumfuhrer on the conning tower,” said LeDuc, pointing to the U-boat as a bespectacled man with a red armband in a green uniform and black jackboots emerged from the depths of the tower. He had a complicated looking metal helmet on, and was shouting at the men adjusting the antenna.
“Wish I had a proper rifle instead of this little typewriter,” LeDuc said bitterly.
“This man thinks you will need help,” said Hallauk.
LeDuc looked at Hallauk.
“It’s good of this man to offer, but unless he’s got a giant pussycat for that thing oversized mongrel down there to chase….”
From the center of the cluster of the Torngat Mountains a funnel cloud of snow gathered and rose, as if all the cold in the area were drawn towards that faraway spot. In the middle of that maelstrom of ice and snow, a huge shape reared, indistinguishable from the whirling powder but for a faint black spot in the center of its knobby peak, a hundred meters in the air.
There came a thunderous crashing noise, rhythmic and relentless, growing in power and sound, like unimaginable footsteps that sent loose rocks tumbling down the mountainsides as if fleeing its dreadful approach….
PICK UP A COPY OF MONSTER EARTH HERE –