Book The Fifty-Second

Zombie by Various

Short fiction about the Cadillac of horror genres, the zombie. All chosen to be slightly non-traditional takes on the shambling undead, by-and-large the stories deliver as promised. (Even if they slightly stretch the interpretation of zombie story to do so: Joe R Landsdale’s otherwise brilliant ‘Shooting Pool’ ended without a single brain eaten before I realised that the take on being-haunted-by-the-dead in this story was the guilt over having witnessed a death. Which is all very noble, but I’m fairly low class, so when I buy a book of zombie stories, I want dismemberment on every page, dammit!)

I was familiar with many of the authors in this anthology, and they all presented pretty typical examples of their work: Stephen Bissette’s ‘Copper’ was an interesting take on the genre that would have fit in with early Vertigo comics (or even earlier EC works); Mike Carey’s ‘Second Wind’ was a solidly entertaining if not world-shaking parable of yuppie greed; Max Brooks (the father of modern zombie prose) provided a story from his World War Z milieu; David Wellington’s ‘Weaponised’ was a typically interesting and fresh idea about zombies, which I’m pleased to say wasn’t bogged down by the problems that beset his ‘Monster’ trilogy; and Joe Hill’s superb ‘Twittering from the circus of the dead’ rounds out the anthology on a high note. For my money, it is the best story in the book, and probably the best zombie thing I’ve read in a long time.

Of the writers with whom I was less familiar, the one who stood out from the rest was Aimee Bender, whose work I’ll be keeping an eye out for, as her story ‘Among Us’ made a real impact.

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