Darwyn Cooke’s third full-length Parker adaptation, The Score, arrives in May. The above promo poster (I don’t know if they’re actually making a printed promo poster or if it’s only an Internet poster) was just released.
And that’s all the news I have on the project so far. And since that makes for a mighty short blog post, albeit one with really good news and a really sweet image, I’ll use that as an excuse to veer off on a complete tangent.
Well, not a complete tangent. Last night, I finished Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Alpha, and was looking for an excuse to review it even though it’s pretty far off-topic for this site. The only excuse I could come up with was that the book that it reminded me the most of was…The Score.
That tagline at the top of the poster? “What kind of man tries to knock off a whole town?” You could use that same line for Monster Hunter Alpha, although the meanings of “knock off” are a bit different. (Also, “man” might not be the right word.)
In The Score, a group of thieves attempts to knock off a whole rural town. In Monster Hunter Alpha, it’s an army of werewolves led by the “Alpha” of the title who are laying siege to the town.
The Score takes place in Copper Canyon. MHA, in Copper Lake.
Old mines are significant in both.
There may be more–it’s been a long time since I read The Score (it was already next on my Parker revisit list, happily just in time for the comic). But I don’t think MHA was inspired by The Score. In fact, I’m quite confident it wasn’t. Why? I’ll tell you in a minute. First let me write a little bit more about Monster Hunter Alpha.
This is the third in Correia’s Monster Hunter International series, and the first I’ve read. I started it thinking it was the first (the “alpha” part fooled me) and by the time I realized my error, I was too far in to stop and start over with the first two, so I just plowed ahead. This was a problem at times, although a fairly minor one. Correia doesn’t spend a lot of time rehashing the events of the first two novels but you get enough to get the gist. It probably helps that (I think) the first two have a different primary character.
MHA takes place in a universe where monsters exist, ranging from your garden variety ghouls and zombies to Cthulhu mythos stuff. Governments worldwide need to suppress this knowledge from the general public, and also need to suppress the monsters. They can’t do this on their own, so there are freelance groups who hunt monsters for bounty. Monster Hunter International is the best and most prestigious of these.
Earl Harbinger is the owner of MHI. He is also a werewolf. He goes to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at the behest of his former commanding officer from Vietnam because an old foe, a Russian werewolf named Nikolai, has suddenly appeared up there.
That can’t be good news, and it isn’t. Earl arrives just as a major werewolf outbreak is beginning. Earl teams up with tough local deputy Heather Kerkonen, both to save the good folk of Copper Lake from an ever-growing pack of werewolves and other horrors and to figure out why this is happening, which relates to a secret buried deep in the abandoned mines of the Copper Country and some secrets in the past of Earl Harbinger.
Monster Hunter Alpha is a two-fisted (plus claws and fangs) against-all-odds adventure story that’s a hell of a lot more fun than most of the crap they’re passing off as action movies at the multiplex these days. It’s got terrific characters, pulse-pounding thrills, and a great deal of heart. Also, a shit-ton of werewolves and geysers of blood. If it’s got a flaw, it’s that it could be trimmed of a few action scenes (there are a lot), but the filler is fairly early, so the second half slams. I’m really looking forward to reading the first two entries in the series, plus number four when it comes out later this year.
But, yes, quite off topic for this site. But the reason I was looking for an excuse to write about it anyway is the same reason I’m sure that it has nothing to do with The Score.
I wanted to write about it because I grew up where Monster Hunter Alpha takes place, on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. There aren’t very many people there. Except for some small-press books by local writers (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), I can’t think of a single novel that takes place up there.
I love where I grew up. I love the people, I love the country, I love Lake Superior, and I love the history embodied by the remnants of those old mines. Such a place grabs hold of a precious part of certain people, and I’m one of them. Some Texans likely understand, and some folks from other places. But there are plenty of books about Texas.
I didn’t know the book took place in my precious motherland when I cracked it open, so my surprise and happiness was great. And the Copper Country isn’t just used as backdrop. It’s fictionalized, to be sure, but the spirit is right. The area’s Finnish heritage is an important element of the novel, and the people’s toughness and sense of community are captured with the eye of someone with a great deal of affection and admiration for the odd but wonderful folk who live by the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.
That’s how I know that Monster Hunter Alpha, despite some surface similarities, was not inspired by The Score. It was inspired by Michigan’s Copper Country, its history, and its people. My Copper Country. My people. And it’s the only novel I know of that was.
And that’s why I wanted to write about it.
(The Monster Hunter International series and other Baen Books titles are available as e-books exclusively from the publisher.)