Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Zombie Five: “Less than Zombie”, “Sparks Fly Upward” ,“Meathouse Man”,“Deadman’s Road”,“The Skull-Faced Boy”

“Less than Zombie” by Douglas E. Winter: This is the only story so far that I couldn’t finish at all and didn’t like. I don’t usually do that. I don’t skip. I don’t neglect and yet I was bored or rather impatient with the long winded sentences that trailed into the nothing, simulating the feeling of being high and at the same going nowhere in my opinion. There were merits, since giving credibility to a high profile junkie is rather hard, so kudos there, but unexciting as whole.

“Sparks Fly Upward” by Lisa Morton: A little charmer this one, written as consecutive diary entries by a woman in a new colony amidst the zombie apocalypse. The story revolves around abortion as the woman has to travel to the nearest town to use the equipment in a small hospital to do an abortion. There are zombies though the main focus here is on the matter of abortion. Is it murder or not? The answer depends on whether or not the fetus will resurrect or not, but I am so keeping that to myself. Another interesting bit is that this is the first story ever, in which I find survivors, who have reacted like the ingenious species I know humans ought to be, and have built a fort colony in the wilderness up North with person ratio and government. Good job Miss Morton for giving back humans their pride.

“Meathouse Man” by George R.R Martin: Reading this story hurt on an emotional level, since zombies and death although are as much of a physical aspect and masterfully engineered world building decisions, they are also rooted deep into the symbology and message Martin has installed in his work. The plot follows the life of Trager, a corpse handler, who earns his living by manipulating corpses via special technology. Unlike most of the other people, who he feels are dead, he strives for love and the hope that he is worth something to someone and we see his travels from planet to planet and job to job and his series of heartache. We see a cycle starting from being dead to being alive and then dying again all inside. It was a privilege to read such an emotional and personal piece of work, which grows in power with every page turned and leaves the reader in silent devastation once the end comes in sight. A very strong number.

“Deadman’s Road” by Joe R. Lansdale: I never thought that westerns can mix that well with horror, but now I am proved wrong. I think I even rediscovered my long lost love for the genre as a whole. Lansdale tells the story of Reverend Jebidiah Rains, who is the local demon hunter in the wild west and God’s executor, who has to fight everything that is evil. Chance meeting at the cabin of Old Timer leads to the discovery of Deadman’s Road, where a ghastly corpse hunts down any traveler at night. Naturally the Reverend has to hunt it down and he is not especially happy about it. Slaughter, graphic and well described, with chilling visual description, great handle over suspense and you get a thrill ride, which is always to love.

“The Skull-Faced Boy” by David Barr Kirtley: Another interesting story to read about, which is emotional as well as pure joy to read due to the world building decisions. According to Kirtley newly deceased of natural causes and incidents come back as zombies, who are intelligent, but also with no hunger. This however is not the case with those dead for a longer period of time or already munched on. The main protagonists are Jack and Dustin, who die in a car crash the night zombies decide to rise and while has an intact humanity and moral compass, while Dustin raises an army of dead and decides to conquer the living in America. Fun, huh? But not for Jack, who has to be an outsider and treated with hate by the living and feel not in place with the other intelligent dead. I can really connect with this story since it is largely about those people, the minorities, the misfits, who are usually looked down on and mistreated for being different.

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