Target Rich Environment – Larry Correia
This is a collection of previously-published stories, including several from Correia’s Monster Hunter International universe, the Grimnoire universe, and the gonzo Stranger & Stranger Interdimensional Insurance Agents cycle. Like all Correia lit, these run the gamut from, “I can’t believe this stupidity is this amusing,” to “I don’t fetishize guns/RPGs/vidya! This is boring–wait, did he just put emotional depth and characterization there in a throwaway line?”
– Tanya: Princess of Elves – elves are actually redneck trailer trash. I actually kind of feel bad about finding this story amusing. Nevertheless…
– Dead Waits Dreaming – the dread and fear of Great Cthulhu reaches beyond Earth unto even the stars. Thanks, I hate it.
– Sweothi City – BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRT BANG BANG BANG SLASH RRRRRARRRRR I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Let’s steal from bad guys.
–The Bridge – This is based on an RPG game called Aetaltis, for whatever good that’s worth (which is to me, nothing). Nevertheless, it’s a nice little story about a guy who has to guard a bridge, and a monk-warrior who has to cross it. No, it’s not nearly in the same league as Troll Bridge, but given that Baen Books has recently put out an anthology of stories by authors named David (no, really), I wouldn’t hesitate in including this story along with Pratchett’s, in an anthology about bridges. And that’s kind of high praise, really.
– Detroit Christmas – The annoying thing about Correia’s writing is how often he writes stuff that sucks you in despite every indication that it’s going to be trash and your not wanting to get sucked in to reading stupid trash about some magical private eye dude tracking down a missing husband the day before Christmas…
– Murder on the Orient Elite – This is a brief sequel to the main Grimnoir trilogy, sketching out some of what would be the stakes and enemy forces in the sequel. As such, it’s just a sketch, and more remains in doubt than is actually revealed. Let’s just say that Otto Skorzeny is involved.
– Father’s Day – My favorite in the collection. Correia’s forward states that he wanted to write the ultimate tearjerker: a story about a father powerless to save his child from a horrible fate. He succeeded. But Correia also knows his audience: no one wants to see a child actually endure a horrible fate. No one likes it. Everyone wants a happy ending. But how to get a happy ending without compromising the emotional catharsis factor of a tearjerking story? By very clever strategy, that’s how: in this case, the gut-punch isn’t lessened, but it is mitigated. Because the little girl who is being recruited to fight monsters? Knows she is walking into the line of fire—to become a superhero.
– Destiny of a Bullet – Also an RPG fic….and I didn’t read it.
– Bubba Shackleford’s Professional Monster Killers – It’s an MHI fic. So your mileage will vary tremendously in whether or not you like it. I actually don’t like the MHI books very much, although it is interesting to chart Correia’s improvement as an author as the books continue. I will say that there are several factors in this story’s favor: it does not star Owen Zastava Author-Insert Pitt, and it does have a clever resolution. And anyone named Plague of Crows is automatically badass, even if they are deceased. SPOILER:
“Count coup” = Awesome.
– Blood on Water – This is the companion story to the previous, from the point of view of not-so-much-a-lady sharpshooter Hannah Stone; it’s written by Ms. Hinkley Correia. Eh.
– The Losing Side – MIL-SF isn’t my thing, especially the kind where rooms get cleared aggressively every three pages and/or anything involving tanks. So this is a story which gets a particularly hard meh from me.
– The Great Sea Beast – It’s about a Japanese guy who has a vendetta against the kaiju which destroyed his village. It ain’t half bad.
– Force Multiplier – Can vampires co-exist with humans? (No.) Should humans wipe out vampires? (they can try.) What about when the vampires fight back? What about when the vampires used to be very highly decorated Special Forces veterans who wrote the book on infiltrations, guerilla tactics, weaponry, and insurrection?
“oh shit,” that’s what.
– The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent – OK, any story in which the great Libertarian Cowboy Space Opera TV show ran for five seasons and which resulted in Adam Baldwin being elected President of the United States (SecDef: R. Lee Ermey….yup), has got to be good. The really endearing part of this story is hearing Correia giggling happily to himself as he writes it.
Rated: Two CorreiaTech Combat Wombats out of five (which is still enough to blow up the planet and possibly a chunk of the multiverse)…