Pros: These stories are addictive
Rating: 5 out of 5
William Meikle’s Bug Eyed Monsters: A Creature Feature Collection is an anthology that covers a wide array of creepy, rampaging beasties.
One story in particular (Into the Valley of Death) is highly reminiscent of the S-Squad series: military-versus-monsters fun. This story is set a bit earlier in time, and deals with giant, carnivorous beetles. Another story (Discontinuity) is clearly related to the S-Squad novel Infestation, with its giant, carnivorous Isopods. There are some other similar military-vs-monsters stories, such as one that pits giant crabs against giant scorpions as they rampage across the countryside. Meikle even manages to make giant houseflies creepy and scary. I’d say roughly half of the book consists of fighting against giant monsters of one kind or another, and it’s really fun. I keep finding that I can’t get enough of Meikle’s monster tales.
The rest of the book has some really interesting things going on as well. There are multiple Lovecraft references, including two stories with Shoggoths. A story that takes place in a post-apocalyptic zoo (Staying Alive Among the Beasts) is one of my favorites. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say it really tickled me and it had a very different air than the rest of the stories. There’s even a lifeform in one story that seems to be evolving to eat plastic–but you know it won’t stay that benign!
A number of time periods are represented. There are multiple stories that take place in the 1950s, and one that takes place in 2126 (Habitat). That one involves the ISS and giant spiders.
I love the fact that the protagonists don’t always win, don’t always lose, and often end with a temporary fix in place rather than the certainty of success. So you never really know how things will end. Some authors have very predictable types of endings, which can get boring after a while, so I appreciate this.
All in all I really had fun reading this collection, and look forward to reading even more by this author!