In early March of 2020, Jamie Gray is unceremoniously demoted from marketing executive to “deliverator” at füdmüd, an internet startup company in New York City. As the COVID pandemic worsens, Jamie struggles to get by until a chance delivery happens to be to Tom Stevens. Tom tells Jamie that he works for an “animal rights organization” and currently is in need of a last minute replacement for an upcoming field assignment. The position will require Jamie to “lift things” and is equally as glamorous as food delivery, but in a much more interesting locale and with much better pay and benefits. What Tom doesn’t explain is that the field assignment is in a different dimension and that the animals being “protected” are Kaiju (think Godzilla, or the creatures from Cloverfield, or Pacific Rim).
In his first novel since the conclusion of The Interdependence Trilogy (The Collapsing Empire, The Consuming Fire, & The Last Emperox), Scalzi offers up a dose of much-needed fun. In his Author’s Note at the end of the book, he himself describes The Kaiju Preservation Society as:
“a pop song. It’s meant to be light and catchy, with three minutes of hooks and choruses for you to sing along with, and then you’re done and you go on with your day, hopefully with a smile on your face. I had fun writing this, and I needed to have fun writing this. We all need a pop song from time to time, particularly after a stretch of darkness.”
And The Kaiju Preservation Society is fun! But it is fun liberally spiced with some harsh social commentary. Scalzi comments directly on how the previous Presidential administration bungled completely the early days of the COVID pandemic, and their steadfast refusal to rely on science, or listen to the scientists and their recommendations when creating policy. He also illustrates the dangers of tech-billionaires running rampant, using science when it suits them, ignoring it when it doesn’t, and using their riches to do things because they can, never questioning if they actually should.
This harshness, however, is seamlessly blended into a novel that is fun! There are great characters, snappy dialogue, and, above all else, almost literally, skyscraper-sized kaiju that actually do need protecting! This is Scalzi’s most fun book since 2012’s Redshirts and who couldn’t use a “pop-song” of a novel right about now?