Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Long Zombie Nightmare

Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead, edited by John Skipp (2010) containing the following stories:

* ? Lazarus (1906) by Leonid Andreyev,
* ". . . Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields"(1929) by William B. Seabrook,
* The Return of Timmy Baterman (1983) by Stephen King,
* ? The Emissary (1947) by Ray Bradbury,
? A Case of the Stubborns (1976) by Robert Bloch,
* ? It (1940) by Theodore Sturgeon,
* Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed (2007) by Steve Duffy,
Bitter Grounds (2003) by Neil Gaiman,
* ? Sea Oak (1998) by George Saunders,
* The Late Shift (1980) by Dennis Etchison,
A Zombie's Lament (2010) by S. G. Browne,
Best Served Cold (2010) by Justine Musk,
The Dead Gather on the Bridge to Seattle (2010) by Adam Golaski
The Quarantine Act (2010) by Mehitobel Wilson
The Good Parts (1989) by Les Daniels,
Bodies and Heads (1989) by Steve Rasnic Tem,
* On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks (1989) by Joe R. Lansdale,
* Like Pavlov's Dogs (1989) by Steven R. Boyett,
* Jerry's Kids Meet Wormboy (1989) by David J. Schow,
The Visitor (1998) by Jack Ketchum,
The Prince of Nox (1992) by Kathe Koja,
Call Me Doctor by Eric Shapiro,
* The Great Wall: A Story from the Zombie War (2007) by Max Brooks,
Calcutta, Lord of Nerves (1992) by Poppy Z. Brite,
God Save the Queen (2006) by John Skipp and Marc Levinthal,
Eat Me (1989) by Robert R. McCammon,
We Will Rebuild (2010) by Cody Goodfellow,
Sparks Fly Upward (2005) by Lisa Morton,
Lemon Knives 'N' Cockroaches (2010) by Carlton Mellick III,
* Zaambi (2006) by Terry Morgan and Christopher Morgan,
The Zombies of Madison County (1997) by Douglas E. Winter,
Dead Like Me (2000) by Adam-Troy Castro.

Six months later and I'm finally finished this anthology. Now I know how the survivors of a zombie apocalypse feel. There are a number of good and/or historically relevant stories here. I starred them. There are a number of stories that I wouldn't classify as zonbie stories because while they feature dead people walking, I wouldn't classify 'dead people walking' as the sole determinant of zombieism. I question-marked those.

The rest run the gamut from perfectly OK to dreadful, but being a nice fellow, I didn't indicate which ones are which. I must say, I'm exhausted by boundary-pushing hyperviolence, especially when it's linked to sex. I just don't care and I'm not scared. There's a surprisingly low 'fun' level here. Zombies are serious business. So serious that I don't remember what half these stories were about. They've all vanished into the eternal slurry of the walking dead, of what the walking dead leave behind.

But you know what? Zombies aren't a horror trope that can support all that much seriousness or social commentary. I think George Romero's Dawn of the Dead beautifully shows how much heavy lifting the zombie can do, and how much that heavy lifting must be leavened with humour and pathos. Not recommended except for the zombie obsessive.

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