Larry Correia has successfully built up the Monster Hunter brand to the point where other authors like John Ringo and Sarah Hoyt have now penned volumes of the series. I have not previously read any of these non-Correia additions to the MHI world but I wasn’t worried about continuity problems when I picked up the Monster Hunter Files short story collection. After all, when you let other authors share in your fictional world you are assuming that their writing style will be different and that they will be interested in different aspects of that world or at least emphasize things differently.
And this is definitely the case for the authors and stories in this collection. In some cases, authors with established characters are embedding these known quantities into the MHI world. When that happens the fans of that author will be the ones who can best judge if the character was faithfully transplanted into the MHI universe. But Larry’s fans are the ones who will decide if the fit is successful. There are seventeen stories in the collection with writers as well-known as Jim Butcher, John Wright, John Ringo and Jonathan Maberry. And there are authors that are less well known. But the success of the stories also depends on whether the author’s take on the material fits well with the MHI style. And finally, the individual reader will provide the most important component of what is a good or bad story, namely his individual tastes.
And indeed, that is the case for me. Regardless of the skill of the author or even my taste for that author’s work, the primary consideration is whether the story is entertaining. And that will be a continuum. Some stories are enjoyable on several levels and can be easily identified as the stand outs. Others may be okay and don’t rate top billing. And some just plain don’t work for me. Relevant to that is the interesting situation that the one Larry Correia story is not actually my favorite story in the collection. I have to assume it’s not because the other stories are more genuinely MHI than his. That would be hard to argue. It’s just because they happen to be better stories by my criteria. And this is the beauty of the multi-author anthology. You discover new authors whose work you find you like. My personal favorites:
1) “The Manticore Sanction” by John C. Wright
2) “The Gift” by Steve Diamond
Plenty of the other stories are good and were enjoyed but these two were the best for my tastes.
I would say the story collection is a success. In fact, I see no reason why additional volumes couldn’t be published. One idea that I think would be interesting is a volume of stories entirely from the point of view of the monsters. This is actually sort of the case in the story “Huffman Strikes Back” by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Julie Frost. The stories in such a volume would have to be handled carefully to make it interesting but it would be a departure and provides totally different points of view on the familiar characters and situations from the conventional monster hunting narratives. After all there are a number of important monsters including some of the Shacklefords. Highlighting their points of view in the stories would be entertaining and could provide insights that can’t be easily obtained from the conventional perspective.