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I haven't been a big fan of the fantasy genre since high school. Back then, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was still fresh in everyone's minds (the movies, not the books. I'm not THAT old) and I enjoyed the works of RA Salvatore and his dark elf protagonist Drizzt. But with time came a change in taste. I began to closely follow politics, in particular the military and counter-terrorism operations around the globe fighting the great evil of our age. I began to look more toward action-adventure writers like Clive Cussler and Brad Thor for inspiration and entertainment. I still have many of my old fantasy novels on the shelves, but they lack the same draw they presented for my teenage years. Harry Potter doesn't thrill me the way it does so many others of my generation. Winter may be coming on Game of Thrones, but I can't find it within myself to care. The real world is full of intrigue, suspense, and danger. I didn't need to escape to a faux-medieval world of cottages and castles to find my heroes.
But there is still something to the idea that the world is more full of magic and terror than we know. I had been looking at the world of flesh and blood, but in my heart I knew the struggle against "the rulers of the darkness of this world" went far beyond stopping car bombings in Baghdad. So I returned to more fantastical works of fiction to find that as I had matured, the genre had, as well. Two series, in particular, stand out as my favorites: Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files (which will be getting at least one entry in "Stuff I Like" in the future) and Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International. Both of these series did a great job of blending the ideas of fantasy and folklore with the real world to make stories about dragons and fairies and wizards feel as authentic as a Tom Clancy novel.
Monster Hunter International kind of straddles the line between "urban fantasy" and "action horror" with its clever twisting of the monster stories we all know into something unique and exciting. If the title doesn't make it obvious, the series is about a mercenary company that is in the business of hunting and killing the deadliest horrors from your nightmares. Monster Hunting is a deadly but lucrative business, thanks to a secret government slush fund called the Perpetual Unearthly Forces Fund. The government has its own agents to handle monster outbreaks, but the Monster Control Bureau cares more about keeping the supernatural a secret than in saving innocent lives.
Owen Pitt hates his accounting job, and it only gets worse when his boss becomes a werewolf and tries to chew him out in a very literal fashion. Barely surviving the encounter, Owen is introduced to the world of Monster Hunter International. But he also discovers that a ghostly presence has begun to haunt his dreams. Dark things are stirring in the corners of the world, and they have a plan for the world. With visions of an apocalypse looming, Owen must face devious vampires, dark magic, and a cosmic force beyond reality. But he isn't alone. He's got friends, and they've got guns. The forces of evil will never know what hit them.
What makes the series stand out is the fact that Larry Correia is not your stereotypical fantasy writer. Much like his protagonist Owen Pitt, Correia was an accountant before stepping into the exciting world of monsters and mayhem. But what really sets Correia apart is his political conservatism and extensive background with firearms (he owned a gun store and worked as a firearms instructor for years). The way that he writes the government agents and the often cold, uncaring attitude they have toward their own citizens reflects a definite libertarian streak. The existence of monsters and the radical reality shift that presents to previously unsuspecting people is similar to the wake-up call America received on 9/11. When danger looms and loved ones are imperiled, there is no substitute for smart, capable citizens who know their way around guns and can weather any crisis. The heroes of Monster Hunter International are who we should aspire to be as American citizens: tough, self-reliant, and ready to sacrifice for each other. It may be fantasy, but it speaks to a deep reality. And that's stuff I like.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of "Stuff I Like." If you have a suggestion for something you think I would like, be sure to send me an e-mail at email@example.com. Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends. If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for the mailing list so you can get my blog posts sent directly to your inbox and stay caught up on all the exciting developments on TheBenSchafer.com.