Thursday, August 11, 2011

Monster Hunter Alpha

I’m a troll, but not in the sense you’re thinking. I live under the bridge—the Mackinac Bridge. This is what Yoopers call denizens of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Yoopers? That’s what we call denizens of the Upper Peninsula. Michigan is schizo that way.

But us trolls often find an excuse to go “Up North," because the U.P. is just cool. Yeah, it’s cold, too. I’ve been to the U.P. a few times, but I generally try to include a literary pilgrimage of it. For instance, after I read Steve Hamilton’s “A Cold Day in Paradise (Alex McKnight Mysteries),” I made my way up to Paradise to get a look at the lay of the land.
And this summer, I went out of my way to visit Big Bay, MI where the events of John D. Volker’s “Anatomy of a Murder” took place.

Last time I went up to the Kewanaw peninsula I took a tour of the Quincy Mine in Hancock. I didn’t go underground, but I did see the building where they had the big steam hoist. I think this is where Larry Correia’s book “Monster Hunter Alpha” takes place. I’m not sure because Mr. Correia has set the story in Copper County, MI and the town of Copper Lake. Neither place exists. Too bad for the Hancock Chamber of Commerce.

The UP is different. It’s a little like Canada with guns, being quite far north and all. I’m told Finnish and Cornish miners settled the region. I was also told that the two major religions of the area are Lutheranism and Communism, but I don’t quite believe that. One aspect of the UP that stands out are yooper girls. You know how the Beach Boys sang about California girls? Something like that is going on. There’s a distinct, recognizable set of traits that are shared by many yooper girls I’ve met.

The best thing about Monster Hunter Alpha is the red-headed yooper girl, Detective Heather Kerkonen. Larry Correia has done a good job with this character. This is one of Mr. Correia’s strengths: limning distinctive, compelling characters. In this case, Heather is a cop who feels protective of her hometown.

The trouble in Copper County, Michigan is werewolves. Lots of werewolves. The town absolutely reeks of them. And that’s when Earl Harbinger, the red-neck who runs Monster Hunter International drives into town with a truck full of ordnance. Do you like guns? No? OK, you might want to read something with metrosexual sparkly vampires instead. But I like guns and I like stories with guns and gunplay. I liked this story.

I loved Louis L'Amour'swriting. He often followed a pattern: the gunfighter comes to town and he takes a shine to the girl. Similarly when Earl Harbinger meets Heather Kerkonen he asks her to dinner. His interest is not romantic, but she thinks so and turns him down. Earl Harbinger’s core competencies do not include seducing yooper girls. I suppose you could check out sparkly vampires for that. Earl does know how to punch out a monster, though.

Larry Correia does a nice job of capturing the character of the UP and the people who live there. I’m already sold on the Monster Hunter franchise, but putting the story in the UP was icing on the cake. Buy and read Monster Hunter Alpha so Mr. Correia can write more faster.

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