Check out the original guidelines

Below: Jessica Lang being disrobed by the lecherous 1976 King Kong

And then there's the Attack of the Giant Breast (from Woody Allen's Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Sex...)

Andrew Sullivan
Q & A

Daikaiju! story:
"Notes Concerning Events at the Ray Harryhausen
Memorial Home for Retired Actors "

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

My interest in giant monsters began, like everyone else's I suppose, at the movies. There is nothing like seeing raw unbridled power and wide-spread destruction and carnage on the big (or even little) screen. One could argue that the only good scenes in movies like Independence Day or The Day After Tomorrow are when things are being blown up or destroyed in fascinating ways. Giant monsters just provide an excuse for doing that sort of thing with (hopefully) a half-reasonable storyline.

To tell you the truth, I hadn't even heard of the word 'daikaiju' until I discovered the proposed anthology and its guidelines. But since then, I've discovered that there's a little bit of daikaiju in lots of things.

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

My writing career has been very ad hoc, to say the least. I've had a handful of stories published in mostly amateur/semi-pro magazines. "Notes Concerning Events..." is my first sale to an anthology. I have had one novel, A Sunburnt Country, published by Canberran small press Ginninderra Press. I also have several other novels in various stages of development, as well as a short film screenplay completed and two feature-length screenplays in draft form.

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

Only the one at this stage, but considering how much fun it was to write, I'm certain there will be more.

What would you consider your major work to be?

It would have to be A Sunburnt Country. The first draft of this novel was written in a total of three months, but those three months were spread over a period of about 7 years. It's set in a near-future Australia suffering through a drought that has lasted over 30 years and in that time the very fabric of Australian society and culture as we know it has been torn to shreds under the pressure just to survive. The States have seceded from the Commonwealth, the federal government has been dissolved, and the capital cities have become autonomous city-states struggling to survive.  It's a novel about power -- in all its forms: political, economic, social, psychological, physical -- and the gaining of it, the giving of it, and the abuse of it. 

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

I suppose, as you might see from the previous paragraph, it comes from the study of power. Giant monsters are power incarnate. There is very little they cannot do and who's going to stop them?

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

Again, it is the power thing and the need to see things destroyed for no reason whatsoever. But there also appears to be some ingrained human need to see things that are bigger -- and I mean much bigger -- than ourselves. Take, for instance, that favourite of all tourist attractions, the Big-whatever -- the Big Pineapple, Big Banana, Big Marino, Big Lobster, etc. People seem to need to see big things, and this translates quite nicely, I think, into the giant monster genre.

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

I don't think I could name an absolute favourite.  As a child I enjoyed TV repeats of the likes of Charles Schneer's The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts but I probably would have to say the one that had the biggest impact on me was the first one I ever saw on the big screen and that was the 1976 remake of King Kong. My Dad took my brother and I to see it at the cinema and as a 7-year-old I thought it was the bee's knees. My only gripe was that all the lobby posters had Kong standing on the World Trade Center in daylight swatting at jet planes and the movie had him standing there at night swatting helicopters. What gives?

As an adult, however, my favourite giant monster movie would have to be Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex...But Were Too Afraid To Ask.  You know the scene...

What lies ahead for you?

Currently doing a PhD in theoretical physics, which means any recreational writing I do will be done in LaTeX.

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

In trying to follow the very detailed Daikaiju! guidelines, I was determined to try to do something original with a different slant on the genre. However, it was hard to ignore the fact that (as the next question states) it has been a very film-related genre. So I incorporated that into the story.  Why not make the characters actors from daikaiju movies? Also I wanted to see what happens to monsters when they grow old and have to wear false teeth and carry colostomy bags. The name of the monster that transgresses into our heroes' sedentary lifestyle came from one of my daughter's first words (after "No", that is): Zy-zor.  Where on earth did she get that from? I also wanted to pay homage to Ray Harryhausen who brought me so much pleasure with his detailed stop-motion special effects in so many daikaiju movies.

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?

See above.

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

Sit down, shut up, and hold on tight.  Life as you know it will never be the same again.

February 2005



The anthology is published by Agog! Press.

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