Edward LearStill reading and reviewing to vote for the Hugo Awards. This story was published in The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books.

A monster kaiju (think Godzilla) the size of a mountain is devastating Japan, and a single samurai manages to cling to it. As the kaiju monster rampages on, the samurai climbs upward, meaning to find some way to kill it. As he travels, he reminisces about swords, honor, the hara-kiri suicide of his father. He battles minor monsters and is severely injured but finds a cave that allows access to the kaiju’s brain. Inspired by his father’s words, he strikes at the brain with one sword and commits hara-kiri suicide with the other, knowing this will kill the monster.

I didn’t quite follow this one. It had a lot of potential in the set up, and the conclusion is very dramatic, but I just don’t understand the metaphysical suicide thing. I gather the man’s death will be transmitted through the sword to the kaiju’s brain so it understands death, but this hasn’t been sufficiently discussed/foreshadowed elsewhere in the story to make me think it’s a reasonable way to kill the monster. If this is symbolic in some way, I can’t see that, either. I generally like samurai stories, but this one just doesn’t supply the logic I need. It comes across as a deus ex machina, a.k.a. a plot device where an unsolvable problem is suddenly solved by a magical event. The story also contains somewhat too vivid descriptions of mayhem and minor grammatical errors. One star.