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Zombiesque, by Stephen L. Antczak Book Review | SFReader.com
Zombiesque, by Stephen L. Antczak Genre: Zombies Publisher: DAW Published: 2011 Review Posted: 10/13/2013 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
Zombiesque, by Stephen L. Antczak
Book Review by Joshua Palmatier
Have you read this book?
The main theme of this anthology is to have stories written from the zombie
point of view, what it's like to actually be a zombie and how the zombies fit
into society . . . or perhaps change society into something completely
different. There's a wide range of stories here, from the straight forward I'm
in the mindless zombie's head as it attacks story, to ones in which the
zombies have taken over the world and reformed it in their own image. What was
also interesting was the diverse way in which some of the authors explained
where the zombies came from--a disease, rage, nanos, allergic reactions, etc.
Overall a solid anthology with some tongue-in-cheek stories... and also some
stories that pushed my disgusting button perhaps a little too hard. I've bolded
the titles of the two stories I enjoyed the most, but which ones you like will
probably depend a lot on your own taste.
At First Only Darkness by Nancy A. Collins: A fairly short introduction
to the anthology that's good at getting you into the mindset of the stories to
come, putting you inside the head of someone who has been turned, from the
moment the new zombie consciousness takes over and beyond. No information on
how the zombies came about here.
The Immortal Part by Charles Pinion: The zombie in this one has most of
his cognitive powers left, and uses them to hunt his prey... and to escape
the notice of those hunting the zombies. I liked the back story of the main
character here, and liked the character overall, even if he does eat flesh. The
zombie apocalypse came about as a disease here.
Do No Harm by Tim Waggoner: Here's an interesting take on the way
zombies interact with each other after they've been turned, with groups forming
around a king or queen like a hive. The group takes on the traits of their king
or queen, which presents a problem when the queen is a doctor who has vowed to
do no harm to other humans or her fellow zombies. The zombie plague here comes
from nanos, essentially.
Zombie Camp by Richard Lee Byers: Another interesting take on zombies
here, with people going on vacations where they can take a pill that makes them
zombies temporarily, allowing them to relax and experience what it would be
like, while changing back to normal later. A clever twist on the anthology
theme, with a good character story as well.
Into That Good Night by Robert Sommers: Once again we begin with the
zombie awakening. Here, he appears to be halfway between human and zombie, with
hints that the zombies could be more than mindless creatures bent on hunger.
How the apocalypse comes about isn't really explained (just some flashing
lights), but the focus is on the main character and his drive to get home to
Gimme a Z! by Seanan McGuire: This was a fun little tongue-in-cheek
look at a cheerleader who unexpectedly rises from the dead and tries to get
back onto the squad. But it turns out her rising wasn't an accident... nor
the rising of some others. This is the first story to use ritual and human
intent on raising the dead, rather than some form of accidental zombie
apocalypse. And quite a bit of attention was paid to the little details, such
as how embalming would help with the whole flesh falling off the body thing.
You Always Hurt the One You Love by G.K. Hayes: Here, the main character
is desperately trying to control the onset of his zombie urges, now that he's
caught the disease and turned, and live as normal in the real world. But he
discovers that he's more connected to the world than he originally thought?what
with work and girlfriends and that the zombie urges are more powerful than
perhaps even he can handle.
In the Line of Duty by Jim C. Hines: In this story, an attempt has been
made to integrate the zombies into society. They're pitied, and attempts are
being made to cure them, but they've come up with nutrient bars they can use in
place of human brains and so our main character is part of a specialized
enforcement team that handles touchy situations that non-zombies would find too
dangerous or impossible. It was a unique take on the theme, with a good
character story as well as an interesting set-up and plot.
Posthumous by Sean Taylor: Here, the main character Lucy is a writer who
died and is now back and continues to write posthumously, with her husband
publishing the books as if they were found trunk novels. But Lucy wants more
from her living husband than just a career, so when she discovers there's another woman... well, the zombie in Lucy lets loose. This was a personal
story, not really about the zombification itself, so no real explanation for
why Lucy became a zombie and (as far as I can tell) no zombie apocalypse hereod story though.
The Warlock's Run by Jean Rabe: Chris died in a drag race when he was
seventeen . . . but that hasn't stopped him. His parents paid to zombify him
and since then he's been racing his entire life on the NASCAR circuit. Now
he's made it to the Daytona 500, and he intends to win no matter what. A good
story, but a little heavy on the NASCAR details facts and such about the races,
etc. I'm not into NASCAR though, so they didn't mean much to me. I'm guessing
NASCAR fans would be all over it though.
But None Shall Sing For Me by Gregory Nicoll: This one is set in the
Caribbean, with an emphasis on voodoo zombies. Carrefour was created ages ago
but doesn't remember much about his life before. But when he sees some of the
drama being played out between a plantation owner, his zombified wife, and his
brother, some things begin seeping back into his consciousness and in the end
he helps resolve the current strife and finds a way to help himself in the
process. A little rough in spots and I thought the parallels between
Carrefour's life and what was happening now could have been expanded.
Zero by Del Stone Jr.: Zero is the name given to those who become
zombies in this story, and they are hunted and killed or studied here. So when
Jenn becomes a Zero, she flees and finds a new life on the streets. But she
craves something more, that sense of feeling that she had when she was alive,
and she finds she can get it by eating certain people's flesh and blood. Her
search for this burn brings her to some realizations about her life and her new
existence. Oh, and the Zeros are created by an allergic reaction to genetically
engineered foods in this story.
A Distant Sound of Hammers by S. Boyd Taylor: This story pushed my
boundary for disgusting a little bit. In the new zombie world, zombie control
everything and normal humans are simply cattle. Jody is one of those zombies,
but discovers he wants to be human again. He runs into his still human sister
in one of the cattle pens, freshly caught but part of the human resistance. She
offers him a chance to become human, but in return wants to become a zombie. I
liked this interplay between the two characters and viewpoints, but I have to
wonder if the story ended in the right place.
The Confession by Laszlo Xalieri: Here we have a zombie confessing is
crimes to the man who has been investigating and trying to find him. There's an
interesting take on what the zombie actually is here, and what the zombies
really crave and why, but this story again pushed my disgusting button. This
one was more discomforting in that area than the previous story. The twist of
the confession in the end was great though.
Zombie Zero by Nancy Holder: Another zombie story with a zero, but in
this case the zero represents the first zombie, the zero vector of the
infection. It happens to be the wife of a famous actor who killed herself out
of anger and rage over her life. And rage is what creates the zombies in this
story. It has a slew of religious overtones, the zombie apocalypse essentially
becoming its own religion with the human survivors embracing it or controlling
their own emotions to escape it. Zombie Zero becomes the focal point, the
zombie savior so to speak, for this religion. Certainly an interesting take
on the apocalypse.
In the Quiet of Spring by Wendy Webb: The final story in the anthology
is a quiet story about a woman who retreats from society and the world,
embracing nature and herbs and the environment in an attempt to completely
remove herself from any reliance on anything from our world. But she can't work
her farm and such alone. She needs help, just a few extra pairs of hands around
the house. She uses her knowledge of nature to concoct a potion to get that
help . . . very compliant, uncomplaining help. A good way to end the anthology,
I thought, with a quiet story full of lots of atmosphere.
Click here to buy Zombiesque, by Stephen L. Antczak on Amazon