John Scalzi’s Self-Conservation Book: The Kaiju Preservation Society

John Scalzi is a fun dude. Listen to him talk (or follow him on twitter) and you can immediately tell that he’s also a smart dude, and often thoughtful/deep.

He has many facets.

For Kaiju Preservation Society, we’re firmly in the facet that does fun. Anyone who’s a fan of Red Shirts or Miniatures will probably enjoy this book a great deal, although I don’t think the humor (or strangeness) of Miniatures is on display here, nor is the wit or genre savvy which made Redshirts (or even way back, Old Man’s War).

In a lot of ways, we get what we expect from a Scalzi novel, a slightly nerdy (but almost wishfulfilingly smooth) protagonist who (imho) should not be able to save the day, but inevitably does. Oh and giant monsters . . .

I think my favorite parts of this book were definitely it’s cast of characters. I was impressed by — for someone who probably hasn’t been in college for a long time (googled: Bachelor’s in 1991) — how MUCH these characters felt like modern postgrads. Honestly, I probably would have just read an entire book of them ribbing each other but alas that’s not how good writers write books.

Also worth noting, this lovable group was pretty diverse which was refreshing.

But obviously, the hook for this book is the kaiju. If you love giant monsters (which I do), it’s just gonna pull you in regardless of anything else. I thought Scalzi did an amazing job coming up with reasons for WHY and HOW kaiju could work, or at the very least, explaining away things like the Square-Cube Law which would cause kaiju NOT to work. I’ll be honest though, my knowledge of actual physics is not terribly deep, mostly things I picked up from reading other science fiction. Given all the pop culture references, I believe Scalzi knows this and is writing for his audience.

As much as I loved the kaiju, I also thought they were one of the novel’s weakest elements. In Alex Hormann’s BOOK REVIEW: The Kaiju Preservation Society, by John Scalzi, he notes that:

“There’s very little description. I couldn’t even tell you what a kaiju looks like beyond ‘dragon Godzilla’ …”

I felt this the entire time I was reading. For someone who was hoping to learn something regarding how describe giant monsters (as any good dinosaur writer would), I was sorely disappointed.

After this, my only other gripe was with some of the meta humor. I actually hurt myself rolling my eyes when one of the characters lampshades what lampshading is. I think younger me would have come to a book like this looking for that sort of thing . . . I guess now I’m old.

Self-Conservation Book?

So I didn’t want to write ‘preservation’ twice in the title, so I settled on self-conservation instead. What I mean is, I think the real story of this book is not any kaiju who were saved, but the John Scalzi who was preserved by writing it. COVID has been ROUGH on EVERYONE. It was encouraging to read that this applies to authors too, especially for kai– ahem monsters of the industry like John Scalzi (we can’t all just write 4 books like Brandon Sanderson haha).

Also, I’m totally curious what book he stopped writing to write this one . . . But will be totally fine if we never see it.

So . . . Give this one a read?

Yea. I’d say so. Despite the gripes mentioned above, this was one of the few books recently that I was excited to start, excited to keep reading, and satisfied when it was over.

Has anyone read this one? What were your thoughts? Who are your favorite kaiju? From this book? From all the monster movies of times past? Leave your answer in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s