“The word was out,” writes author Neil Riebe in his new kaiju thriller Vistakill. Once again Japan had a huge problem to worry about. Oshima-Kojima was rumbling and academics and government officials were concerned that a volcano eruption of this magnitude would trigger a catastrophe on scale with the Permian-Triassic extinction event.
It wasn’t just Japan’s problem, however. NATO declared the impending volcanic blast to be a present danger to the entire world. The intergovernmental organization was correct. When the colossus peak eventually exploded, witnesses described it as primeval. “It was the type of geologic violence one imagined happened at the Earth’s formation,” says Riebe.
The volcano’s eruption wasn’t a natural occurrence, however—no tectonic plate action, no gaseous pressure buildup. In fact, there was no science or logic to the phenomenon at all. Instead, it was the result of a Precambrian demoness waking up from her prehistoric nap.
In short: 251 million years ago, an immortal “wild spirit” named Bisutakiru (pronounced Vistakill in English) was imprisoned in endless slumber for her bad behavior. As a result of Gen Z inattention (darn those zoomers!), the ancient deity was now awake and very, very angry.
Riebe assembles a fractious band of kaiju monsters to battle Bisutakiru and her lava-powered minions. As you’d expect, the interspecies squad of mutants and dinosaurs don’t make an easy alliance. It was up to a gigantic super pterosaur named Brown Scale to keep everyone committed to the endgame. “He slouched under the weight of the world,” says the author. “It was up to him to win the unwinnable fight.”
But there was a twist—or, more accurately, an alternative way to contain Bisutakiru. Just like in his previous novel I Shall Not Mate (see my review here), Riebe threads a compelling moral dilemma throughout his story that “twists” everything in knots.
Even though the resolution of this spiritual war is at the core of the book, the author never skimps on kaiju action. Bisutakiru and a handful of giant monsters streak across the Japanese skyline threatening the safety of anyone caught in their wake.
To counterbalance the unrelenting carnage, the author pauses regularly to remind readers of the situation on the ground. A profound example of this occurs near the end of the novel when two reunited lovers are caught in a confluence of gunfire, sirens and beastly roars. With everything falling apart, they embrace each other like they are the last couple on Earth. Their message to Bisutakiru, Brown Scale and the rest of the quarrelling monsters: “Where there is love there is life.”
[Vistakill / By Neil Riebe / First Printing: February 2021 / ISBN: 9781953221780]