Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Book Review: 'The Different Kinds Of Monsters' by Seth Chambers


Chicago author Seth Chambers has worked as an army medic, mental health counselor, farm hand, wilderness guide, bike messenger, and ESL teacher. His work has appeared in F&SF, Daily SF, Fantasy Scroll, and Perihelion SF, and The 2015 Year's Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Novellas. He is the author of eighteen books - WHAT ROUGH BEASTS, LITTLE BIRD, WE HAPPY FEW, BEAUTIFUL MACHINES, DETROIT, RUSTY BOLTS, A LITTLE SLICE OF HELL, THE UNFOGIVING MINUTE, TOURIST SEASON, BLUE DEVILS, EDITORIAL LIFELINES, THIS RESTLESS NIGHT, HER RULE WOULD ALWAYS LAST, MORNING AND NIGHT, UNIVERSE IN A TEACUP, LITTLE EINSTEIN, YOU BETTER WATCH OUT, and now THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF MONSTERS. His genre is cyberpunk, fantasy, hard science fiction, and in this vein he has already gained recognition and awards.

Seth wastes no superfluous words – he gets to his character development quick and surely and leaves ample room for character development and growth – and secrets. For example, his unveiling of story is as follows – ‘For the first moments of her awareness, she struggled through the thin shell of her prison. During that brief time, she had no thoughts but freedom. When she finally succeeded, endorphins washed over neuroreceptors, and she gave forth a mighty roar, although to other ears it might've been a little squeak. But the spirit was there. She rested, tiny lungs fluttering like butterflies. Hatching is strenuous work. She needed to recover. Dark as it was in her underground nest, she sensed movement nearby: her nestlings, just starting their journeys to freedom. In her wordless way, she felt a tingle of pride: She was First! And this is how she thought of herself: First! Second was almost out of her shell. First rolled to her feet, not about to be overtaken by her sibling. The soil against her feet was a new sensation, followed by a medley of smells rushing through her nose from her own body, her siblings, and Somewhere Beyond. Driven by eons of instinct, her brain circuits scrambled to make sense of it all. Now Second was free of her shell. First sucked in her sibling's scent, and heard her panting, as she had panted shortly before. First took her first step. It was clumsy and awkward, but then again, she was mere minutes from the egg. Her second step was marginally better. With her third step, she felt the floor of the nest slope upward. Again, her brain circuits raced. Instinctively, the baby allosaurus knew there was much to learn in a very short time. With her fourth step, she toppled forward, so that her foreclaws impacted the side of the nest. Meanwhile, her burgeoning sense of smell told her that Third was now breaking free of his egg. First clawed her way upward, ragged breaths drawing damp soil into her mouth, her feet bearing into loose dirt, her thighs burning with strain. This went on for a long time. In fact, at one point the majority of her young life had been spent in this climb to the top of the underground
nest. It wasn't until she was close to blacking out from exertion that her reward finally came: a single, blinding sliver of light. Until this moment, she had no concept of sight. She screeched (no mighty roar this time), and tumbled back down the side of her nest, gasping. By the time Last finally emerged from his shell, First had already lived an eventful life.’ Eloquent and magnetic, the passage invites the reader into this strange and beautiful story.

The synopsis provides a guide map to what is ahead – ‘In the late Jurassic Period, an allosaurus lives, thrives, and rules. A hundred and fifty million years later, in a bizarre twist of fate, Dylan Armitage's life becomes entwined with this ancient predator. Over the years, this carnivore grows ever stronger, faster, and fiercer. She is a monster and she is coming for Dylan and his family. Dylan's father always said, "There are different kinds of men in this world." Turns out, there are also different kinds of monsters. The question that haunts Dylan is, what kind of monster must he become to protect everyone he loves? ’

Many levels of significant philosophy are contained in this fantasy book. Not only will fans of sci-fi fantasy be satisfied, but also readers who are sensitive to those aspects that make a child into an adult will be also well served. This is a fine little novel. Grady Harp, December 17






Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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