MENACE OF THE MONSTER / EDITOR: MIKE ASHLEY / PUBLISHER: BRITISH LIBRARY / RELEASE DATE: 12TH SEPTEMBER
Folklore, myths and legends have always had a place for monsters, aliens and other unexplainable creatures. The British Library’s Classic Science Fiction series brings us another collection, under the editorial watch of Mike Ashley, which showcases a diverse range of tales from a diverse range of authors.
Menace of the Monster opens with an abridged version of one of Britain’s enduring contributions to the creature story: H.G Wells’ The War Of The Worlds, which documents a Martian invasion of late Victorian England, with chilling results. It also includes Dagon from genre legend H.P. Lovecraft, in which a suicidal man recounts a chance confrontation with a bizarre creature. There’s also Dell and Wallace’s treatment of legendary primate King Kong, as well as Idris Seabright’s Personal Monster, in which a child keeps a rather peculiar pet without the knowledge of her family. And finally, a tale unlike any other from British author Eric Frank Russell: The Witness, where a literal illegal alien is put on trial for the whole world to see!
Rather than going for the more grandiose tales of monsters with epic battles all over the place, the focus of this collection is directed towards tales that actually have more mundane settings. This way, they stoke more fear and chills in the reader - imagine your child keeping what turned out to be a hideous creature as a pet, or developing a pregnancy that you really can't explain! As is standard with previous collections from the British Library, the stories come with biographies of their respective authors and notes about where these particular tales sit in history. It’s interesting how stories about monsters and invasions have grown out of eras such as the threat of World Wars or the paranoia of the Cold War. That said, with all the effort that has gone in, it feels a bit of a cheat to include an abridged version of War Of The Worlds (but we are nit-picking!). Overall, a good effort indeed.