We are finally to Project Hyperion, the most recent book in Robinson’s Kaiju series. This book had me excited; the other books within the series had been pretty good for the most part and this one has a giant robot on the cover so now we are getting some mecha action along with our giant monsters. Overall, Project Hyperion was not that great. The key issue was that Robinson tried to do way too much in a single story. On top of that, the “over the top” sci-fi action and logic (or lack thereof) was even more outrageous than normal. We are not talking like…Sharknado territory, but still well within the realm of a SyFy original film.
First off, the monsters (and robot) featured in the book. Nemesis is obviously back and there is not much to say about her. Due to the events of the last book, she is a bit more on the side of “protect humanity” as opposed to “kill other monsters, collateral damage be damned”. Aside from that, Nemesis is Nemesis. Two other new monsters also debut; a creature inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s work and a creature that looks like the monsters from the Alien films (xenomorphs). Within the book itself, characters reference the connection between these two monsters and their resemblance to Lovecraft/Alien. It seemed lazy for Robinson to blatantly rip off other monsters from other works. Furthermore, it makes the book a lot duller. If you have read Lovecraft and/or seen Alien, these monsters bring nothing new to the table. Designing original monsters would have been better, despite the half-hearted explanation the characters give about how humanity has been influenced to fear and hate fictional monsters that will probably look like the real ones that invade.
This story also introduces Hyperion, the book’s namesake and the first giant robot of the series. Giant robots have long been a staple in kaiju films (looking at you, MechaGodzilla) and Hyperion was one of the few things done well in this story. The robot was not too overpowered, it provided some nifty backstory, and it finally gives the human characters a way to directly fight monsters, instead of just knocking them down with bombs that cannot injure them until Nemesis shows up to finish the job.
SPOILERS IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE PREVIOUS BOOK
Throwing Ferox/Aeros war storyline into the Kaiju series was not a good move. Just having aliens is fine; they are a staple in kaiju films just as much as giant robots are. But you have these two sides, one seeing humanity as a threat and the other seeing them as cannon fodder, and as Earth is about to be caught up in this massive war that has been raging for untold thousands of years, Hudson and the other characters are just like, “We’ll get ready for war and fight them off.” Why are these people making all the decisions against a legitimate alien invasion? Where are the various leaders of the world’s nations and their militaries? If it was just random aliens invading Earth, it would be a lot easier to roll with the punches here.
PROJECT HYPERION-RELATED SPOILERS AHEAD
But this book establishes that there are also alternate realities and that the Aeros are trying to conquer them all. How do these other realities even work? Is it like Transformers where there are a set number of universes? Or are there infinite realities based on minute decisions like “the difference between Realities A and B is that in A you had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead of egg salad for lunch on February 3, 1987”?
ALL SPOILERS END HERE
Overall, this book feels more like an intermediary story. The purpose of Project Hyperion was more to set things up for the fifth book than to tell a story of its own, and almost any book that does that is not going to be amazing. Also, at the end of this book, Robinson retcons one of his older books, Nazi Hunter Atlantis (also called I Am Cowboy), into the Kaiju storyline. Just like he did with Raising the Past at the end of Project 731. Considering how horrible Raising the Past was, the Cowboy-Nazi book seems iffy.
Next week we will step away from the world of giant monsters as I begin to review Disney’s new Star Wars Expanded Universe, starting with the young adult book Lost Stars.