Friday, July 4, 2014


Larry Correia is the best action writer in the world. He understands guns and he understands fighting. If the dates worked and if I believed in reincarnation, I'd say he was Louis L'Amour come back.

But I don't believe in reincarnation. And that's my one gripe about Larry Correia's novel, Nemesis. I'll come back to this later.

In the preceding novels of the Monster Hunter International series, we've been introduced to the original Combat Accountant, Owen Z Pitt. Over the course of the next few novels, Pitt nukes a Lovecraftian entity (something I've always wanted to see), then introduce the Alpha werewolf (and his yooper chick girlfriend), and then he trashes Vegas baby.

I had a chance to reflect on my first review of Mr. Correia's work and I realize how far he's brought me. I used to absolutely despise the horror genre with no inclination toward anything but mocking it. There was always a lot of screaming and helpless people flailing about while someone really stupid takes forever figuring out that triffids or aliens are allergic to seawater--as opposed to well aimed hot lead at high velocity. Hurray for Larry Correia for showing us that maybe our weapons can have some effect on the monster.

The pattern of Mr. Correia's Monster Hunter books of late has been to tell an interesting foreground story and mix in a big of the backstory that answers questions about the more interesting characters. Alpha explained how Earl Harbinger became a werewolf and learned to cope with it. Nemesis is like Alpha in this way.

Nemesis turns the focus on Agent Franks of the Monster Control Bureau of the US Federal Government. In Larry Correia's universe, the story of Victor Frankenstein's creation is "based on a true story." And after bouncing around Europe for a century, Agent Franks runs into George Washington, doesn't kill him, and contracts with Benjamin Franklin to work for the US. This beats being a Hessian mercenary, but Franks has one stipulation in his contract...

Do NOT try to make any more frankenstein monsters. If you do, Franks agrees in his part of the contract to do everything in his power to destroy the project and the government who authorized it.

So, this leaves you one guess about what the inciting incident of Nemesis is. Yup, the government and the shadowy Special Task Force Unicorn (STFU) decide to create a bunch of weaponized frankenstein monsters. Not that the original is not already a formidable weapon...

Lots of action ensues.

Is there gunplay?

Yes. Lots of gunplay.

Are there fistfights, knife fights, sword fights, and heavy blunt object fights?

Yes. All of the above.

Is it a lot of exciting fun?


When the STFU, led by the evil albino named Stricken, realize they've bit off more than they can chew, they call in monster hunters from all over the world. Leading to some dandy firefights in unsavory parts of Washington DC and exurban Virginia.

Of note are the Vatican monster hunters who want to know if Franks is still abiding by the terms of "The Deal." What's most intriguing about the Vatican hunters is summed up in two words: combat exorcists. Yes, I want to hear more about these guys.

This brings us to that bit about Nemesis and reincarnation. I've tried to avoid spoilers to this point, but if you want to read the book before you read the following paragraphs, I'll wait.


Still waiting...

No, it's OK, I'll be here when you get done...

Spoilers ahead...

When asked what Agent Franks is, he always says, "Classified." But he ends up telling his bosses at the government this is classified. He gets away with it until he says that to the Archangel Michael, with whom he fought when he fell with Lucifer and one third of the angels in heaven.

Yes, that Archangel Michael.

Let's back up a bit. Have you ever wondered what a soul is? I know I have.

You see, according to Mr. Correia's cosmology, every human soul is an angel who's been granted permission to inhabit a human body. When any baby is born, some angel who's on a waiting list gets the green-light to take up residence. Somehow, only approved angels get the chance, and when they do get the chance, they forget everything that went before. This leaves the fallen angels imprisoned in Hell, but sometimes they find a way to escape Hell, whereupon they wander Earth influencing humans to do evil.

This is quite similar to the scheme C. S. Lewis put in his novel "That Hideous Strength." However, instead of reanimating a dead human brain to serve as a fallen angel's presence in this world, Mr. Correia posits that when you make an empty human shell, like a frankenstein monster, then any fallen angel can "possess" the body. This is consistent with the bible stories wherein the Savior casts out demons.

The notion is that a human body is a sort of receptacle that can house a soul. This is a dualistic schema wherein body and soul are completely different sorts of stuff. You can see this is where the reincarnation folks are coming from. A soul may be victimized and murdered in the first reel of a Bollywood movie, and be reincarnated in the 2nd reel to exact his revenge two decades later in the 3rd reel. This was going on in Babylon 5 when the Minbari noticed that some of their best souls were missing and had been getting reincarnated into Humans.

I think it is a Mormon notion that souls of men are all unfallen angels put here on Earth for a reason a Mormon might explain better than I could. This drives the backstory of Agent Franks, a fallen angel of some distinction who escapes Hell, comes to Earth, and inhabits a body of corpse parts enervated by alchemical means sometime in the 17th century.

This is a cool idea even if I don't believe in it. I think a soul is an emergent property of a sufficiently advanced neural network. But my idea doesn't matter as far as Mr. Correia's story is concerned, it's just a quibble. It doesn't hurt the story, it just serves as a distraction to the philosophically minded who will step outside the story for a bit to contemplate the transmigration of the soul. (I'm not suggesting Mormonism believe in reincarnation. It's different from that.)

The debate about where and how the soul comes about is a lot older than anyone reading this. If it is a matter of Mormon doctrine, no argument will suffice to change a Mormon's mind. Nor would I want to argue to this end.

I don't think it is possible, but if Nemesis could be written in such a way that the reader was not distracted by metaphysical considerations. In a story with the supernatural as the main source of conflict, I suppose metaphysical considerations are a necessary component.

How many stars? 5 well earned stars.

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