The other day, I had that awful feeling of standing in the middle of the dining room here at Roseholme Cottage and feeling like I had nothing to read. (Folks who have been here are chuckling at this point, because that's very much a "Water, water everywhere, nor any drop..." thing.)
I saw Bobbi's copy of Hard Magic on the shelf, and I remembered I'd told her I'd read it, so I sighed reluctantly and picked it up...
It is at this point, I must make a confession: I read and enjoyed Larry Correia's Monster Hunter books largely because I was 'in on the joke', as it were. I'm fairly certain I posted in the thread at TheHighRoad.com from which the quote on the frontispiece was taken. Hell, I know the guy who wrote that quote; I've sold him a bunch of guns over the years and last saw him at that Awerbuck carbine/pistol course... Anyhow, I read those books not because I give two rats' farts about vampires and werewolves and suchlike, but because they were part of the Lore of my Tribe, so to speak.
And they were easy to read, too. Larry Correia is a writer of remarkable competency. I don't so much mean dazzling plot complexity or artful and creative use of the language, but rather the more prosaic skills that make a book readable: The skill of keeping a plot moving along without bogging down in unnecessary detail or suddenlyhavingabunchofstuffhappen because the back cover is getting too close. The skill of writing dialog in a fashion that doesn't make you have to retrace a conversation, trying to figure out who said what.
Sure, the dialog is often anachronistic and sometimes cheesy. Sure the plots and situations may be over the top. But this is (and you can see the critics' air-quotes of derision) pulp fiction, and claims to be nothing else. Larry may write pulp, and proudly, too, but his pulp is some of the most polished and clearly-written stuff in Baen's current stable of authors this side of Lois McMaster Bujold. No mean feat considering he's been at this a relative eyeblink compared to most of them.
So, yeah, anyway, I'm not into monster books, normally. I'm also not into "fantasy", whether of the swords'n'sorcery or the newfangled "urban" type and I don't care much for the handwaving involved in 'magic'. Nor do I like "noir", or detective stories. And I don't care at all for steamdieseltechnopunk, or whatever you call those stories where everybody's flying around in blimps and wearing goggles at each other.
So to say that Hard Magic is not exactly in my literary wheelhouse would be an understatement, but I had promised, and I wasn't reading anything else at the moment...
I finished it early the next morning and immediately picked up the sequel, Spellbound, and finished that in one lick, as well.
See, Larry writes stories about people. People with complex drives and goals and motives, who don't always categorize easily into 'heroes' and 'villains'. People you care about. The fact that they're people that run around on top of a zeppelin shooting teleporting ninjas with shotguns is just a bonus.
It's a genre-defying storyline, and probably one of the more original I've read in a long time. It's got the magic thing, sure, but it's also well-researched alternate history, with a sort of superhero flavor... Imagine a prose version of The Watchmen, but with fedoras and Tommy guns, and a supporting cast that runs from Buckminster Fuller to Black Jack Pershing. And the thing with shooting the teleporting ninjas on the dirigible with shotguns, which will make you realize that, no matter how highbrow your tastes, sometimes you need to just shut up and eat your awesome.
Hurry up with the next one, Larry.