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Below: Kong deals with a pesky pteradon

Chris Barnes
Q & A
Daikaiju! story: "Big Day "

When did your interest in daikaiju and other giant monsters begin? What inspired it?

I remember encountering giant monsters in comics and TV movies when I was a kid – Godzilla, King Kong, all those classics. It was all part of my early fascination with SF and fantasy – that glimpse into other worlds. But with Daikaiju in particular there was not just the thrill of the giant beasts, but also the whole Japanese movie experience – the different-looking people, the weird dubbing, the strange dialogue. It was a whole package deal of alien culture and was utterly enthralling.

Perhaps you can tell us something of your career to date.

I've had three short stories published (including "Big Day" in this anthology). That's not a lot, but then I've only been writing for three years. I went to the Clarion South workshop in 2004, which was a fantastic experience. Also, one of my stories, "The Glass Flower", was a finalist in the 2004 Aurealis Awards. That was very pleasing.

How many giant monsters stories have you written/had published?

This is my first and only one!

What would you consider your major work to be?

I guess "The Glass Flower" has been my most notable story so far, but I'm also writing an SF novel (currently in what I hope is its final draft), which would have to count as major – at least in terms of effort involved.

Where does your fascination for giant monsters come from (if you have one)?

I wouldn't say I have a fascination for giant monsters, but it's interesting how they've become such a recognised and distinct genre within SF. Plus they're just plain fun! Roaring, stomping, trashing cities; who wouldn't go for that? Seems like a pretty good way to spend a vacation.

Different people have different ideas as to why the giant monster genre holds such power? What is your take on it?

The sheer fun factor, like I said above, has to be a big part of it. Plus the vicarious thrill of fear that most of us enjoy – the monsters are so huge and unstoppable that they'd be quite terrifying in real life.

What is your favourite giant monster film? Why that one?

The original King Kong. It's such an impressive work; a good script and marvellous effects. It must have been quite mind-blowing for 1930s audiences. Even today, while we can smile at the quaint stop-motion animation, we can't help feeling sympathy for the big ape at his tragic end.

Are there any written stories or novels featuring giant monsters that you would particularly recommend?

Howard Waldrop's "Strange Monsters Of The Recent Past" is a good example, in which all the movie monsters begin to appear for real. Robert Hood's story "Line Of Sight" (Agog! Fantastic Fiction) is another. There don't seem to be many giant monster stories out there in print; that's why I thought Daikaiju! was such a good idea. Giant monsters are usually seen only in context of movies or comic books, not short stories or novels, so this book is something different.

What lies ahead for you?

More short stories, plus I'll be trying to sell the novel, and I've got another novel to start work on too. No more giant monsters for the moment, though. But who knows? I rather like the Big Fella in my Daikaiju! story… maybe he'll come stomping back into another story some day.

Can you tell us how you came to write your story for the DAIKAIJU! anthology? What thoughts lay behind it?

Tokyo has been trashed by Godzilla and friends on a regular basis for decades. I wondered how it would be to live in a city -- any city --  that was attacked so regularly that the monster's visitations became a predictable calendar event. What customs and routines would build up around that day? What would make people stay  there? From that thought came "Big Day".

The daikaiju genre (such as it is) has been very film-focussed to date. Did this prove a problem when you came to writing your story?

Not at all. It made visualising my story scenes all the easier, with all those movie tropes to draw on.

What would you say to those new to the idea of daikaiju films and stories?

Umm… "Where have you been for the last 50 years?" And also "Have fun!"

February 2005



The anthology is published by Agog! Press.

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