Monday, April 20, 2009

Zombie Five: “Malthusian’s Zombie”, “Beautiful Stuff”,“Sex, Death and Starshine”, “Stockholm Syndrom”, “Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead”

I tried something awhile back with the way I reviewed anthologies and seems that going for the one by one approach might work better for serial killers rather than serial reviews, so I am going for a different approach. I am determined to get done with “The Living Dead” anthology this week, so I will group five stories into one review. Ingenious? I sure hope so, because I really want to do justice to all stories featured an anthology, but also manage it in under four months such as the case is.

“Malthusian’s Zombie” by Jeffrey Ford: Perhaps this story is one of the more imaginative in the whole anthology, but also one of the more bizarre and harder to comprehend stories as well. I enjoyed the concept that human kind has the technology to create a living brain washed zombie, which can do anything in the power of the human organism by simply voicing the wish, such as ‘learn French’. It’s creepy. It’s frightening and I don’t envy the protagonist in the story, who has to take care of the zombie left him by the crazy scientist Malthusian. Even though the family eases to the idea of having a helping hand around the house, which never poses a threat or causes a conflict, the fear of dealing with the government is skillfully interwoven within the story telling as a subtle note. But no matter the skill of the writer and Jeffrey Ford is a big name on the fantasy scene, I couldn’t get the ending, which leaves you kind of questioning whether you read the story correct or not. If anybody gets it, please explain it to me.

“Beautiful Stuff” by Susan Palwick: I recently read an article about Death Tourism, which apparently markets places of tragedy as interesting travel destinations and it seems exploiting death has become even more popular despite the moral repercussions. In the world, where reviving the dead through technology and the dead being the perfect tabula rasa, existentially pure and innocent, Susan Palwick makes a take on the topic of making money on the back of those, who have died. Death ends a cycle. What a person was is no more and the main character Rusty tries to do the right thing and teach the living about the value of what they have in their lives. The thing about Rusty is that he was never a good guy back in his living days and for me that is the message of the story. That there is no more need for causing pain and that we can still reform, should we choose to. Of course showing us this with zombies is very clever, so I won’t spoil the actual situation.

“Sex, Death and Starshine” by Clive Barker: Certainly this short story is rather tame for the writer and director of the Hellraiser saga, but also has an interesting point to make. You have heard that great art lives on forever and can transcend even death and so is the case here, but with a minor twist. It’s not only the art, which survives death, it’s also its vessels, in this case the actors. When the final play for the Elysium Theatre “Twelfth Night” looms to be a disaster unlike any other the woman wordy to play Viola, who is also dead comes to save the day. Her admirers also attend the play and needless to say they are dead as well. There is not much of a deeper meaning to the story, but the entertainment value is top notch, which makes it a very suitable gothic read.

“Stockholm Syndrom” by David Tallerman: Gruesome. This is the word that can describe it at best and also the reason I claim it as a favorite so far. As a reader I prefer and enjoy when the author chooses to break the rules, play with some taboos and leaves the provocation to work up some messed up reaction. Mixing the psychological effects of having to survive a zombie army, isolation and waking everyday in suspense with an intelligent child zombie Tallerman offers a first seat ride to the whole process of losing sanity. In this tale the survivor, who remains unnamed only to show that anyone can be in his shoes, having secured his safe fortress with canned food and unnoticeable spot for zombies, observes the behavior of zombies only to draw some similarities between humans and their dead version. By the end I saw the thwart in the prime human values and shuddered. This story is a bliss for the lovers of the genre.

“Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead” by Joe Hill: This is definitely harmless and can be viewed as very weird mainstream, considering that the only zombies are the ones make-up for Romero’s original “Dawn of the Dead”. The story itself is the chance meeting between two former lovers with a difficult past and both with snarky senses of humor, who meet at the set of “Dawn of the Dead” as none other than zombies. Past sparks and irritable friction occur, since Bobby Connor failed in his dream to become a popular comedian and Harriett Rutherford is married, something Bobby doesn’t particularly warms up to. But in the end they reconcile and in its essence this tale is sort of romance, but as Joe Hill states his short story is all about his love towards the Romero movies. And what I make of it is that zombies bring people together.

2 comments:

T.D. Newton said...

Sounds very interesting. I will probably check it out, but after two times failing to read World War Z, I don't know if zombies are really my thing at the moment.

daydream said...

I love zombies, so I can never have this problem, but I get your problem. Perhaps zombies go best witb shorter works. :)

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