Book: The New Dead – a zombie anthology

This was another zombie book that I got in the mail and that, again, I failed to review for a few months. On the bright side, I read it right away, I just couldn’t get motivated to post about it. I’m not sure how that makes me feel better, but it does.

Now, brace yourself for a shocking confession. While it is true that I am a voracious reader (reading mainly Hugo and Nebula award winners), I believe this is the first zombie book that I had ever read. This is especially weird considering that I have easily seen over 100 zombie-themed movies. I’m not sure why I was keeping each of the genres separate in their own mediums. I’m sure if you mucked around in my brain you’d figure out that it has something to do with my childhood…. or possibly penises? Anyway, back on track.

The New Dead is a collection of zombie short stories (and one story that doesn’t have anything to do with zombies at all, for some reason). There are 19 stories in the collection and over-all I would say the quality of the stories is above-average. Sure, there are some real clunkers in there (don’t even get me started about “The Zombie Who Fell From the Sky”), but I think there are more winners than clunkers.

For me, some of the real highlights were “Lazarus” by John Connolly and “Closure, Limited” by Max Brooks (you know, the Zombie Survival Guide guy). Probably the biggest surprise was that I actually enjoyed a story by Joe Hill, “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead”, that was actually written in the format of a string of tweets. It sounds goofy, but it was actually pretty entertaining.

Anyway, since I’ve read this anthology, I’ve read Autumn and Dog Blood by David Moody (or maybe I read Dog Blood first?). So, while I might not have an extensive zombie library to compare this to, I’d say it’s a strong zombie book and I enjoyed reading it. Now, where do I find the literary equivalent of Zombie Lord of the Rings? or Zombie Ender’s Game?

Book: Autumn by David Moody

I actually got an advance copy of David Moody‘s Autumn. But, I guess I can’t really brag about that when it took me a few months to post something about it. I’m lazy. We all know it. Let’s move on. I was pretty excited to start this new David Moody adventure because I really enjoyed Dog Blood.

Like Dog Blood, Autumn was a really quick read. You could easily finish it in a day and you will probably want to. However, also like Dog Blood it feels more like a TV show pilot than something meant to stand on its own. It’s definitely a unique take on the classic zombie apocalypse (for example, I don’t believe the word “zombie” ever makes an appearance in the book), but when you finish the book you feel like you just got through setting up all of the characters and the story. Autumn is definitely going to be the start of a series, and I’m sure I’ll give the next book in the series a read. But, I’m hoping that the second installment brings more.

Autumn was sort of like Back to the Future 2. You finish it and then you are sort of unfulfilled because the story never really resolved. You know there is going to be a “part 3”. Hopefully the “Back to the Future 3” equivalent of Autumn won’t have anything to do with the Wild West though. I’m crossing my fingers.

Book: How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It

You know the drill, you watch enough post-apocalyptic movies and suddenly you are seeing signs of the apocalypse everywhere. Next thing you know, you are planning alternate escape routes, building bomb shelters and hoarding like a mother effer. At least, that’s how it works with them. Another side effect of my rampant consumption of post-apocalyptic movies is that I end up buying all sorts of crazy survivalist books. So far I’ve bought books on how to forage wild mushrooms, how to butcher any animal, how to tan animal hides, etc. The downside of this is that I now have far too many books to pack quickly when I need to escape the pending robot zombie invasion. What I really need is just one book to help me live through the coming years of burning chaos. Well, thankfully Amazon recently recommended “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times” to me.

Their supercomputer was probably monitoring all my purchases and finally said, “Sheesh, I’m going to save this nutjob some time”.  Anyway, I ordered the book today, I’ll letcha know how it reads.  It has pretty decent ratings though, so I’m expecting good things.

New Book Review: Dog Blood by David Moody

Woah ho ho!  Drunken Goon must be moving up in the world.  Either that or someone didn’t really read my blog too closely and maybe decided I was a “real” reviewer.

See, I got sent an Advance Readers’ Edition of Dog Blood by David Moody in the hopes that I’d review it.  For some reason, though, this made me instantly not want to read the book.  Not because I didn’t think it was going to be good, but because it now became “something I needed to do”.  I think that’s just something weird in my brain though.  As soon as I schedule anything I almost instantly don’t want to do it.  Hell, it could be a trip to the naked lady brewery but as soon as I put it on my calendar, I start to dread it.

But, I found myself traveling a lot in May and June so I had lots of time for reading.  I sucked it up and dove into Dog Blood.  Turns out it is a sequel to a book called Hater.  It was easy enough to pick up the story in the middle, though.  I realized a few things as soon as I started reading this book:

  1. Despite the fact that I’ve read buckets of sci-fi in my day (Probably at least 90% of all Hugo award winners for starts) I don’t think I’ve ever read a zombie book before
  2. This book is not your run-of-the-mill zombie book

Realization #2 didn’t happen right away, though.  It seems like the first chapter is set up in a way to make you think this is going to read like a screen play for your standard zombie movie.  Then the book shifts a little bit and you realize that the chapters alternate between the normal human’s perspective and the “zombies” perspective.

Yup, that’s right, the zombies are smart.  In fact, it isn’t really fair to call them zombies.  The book calls them haters and the premise is that “something” happened to randomly change normal people into haters.  Haters are pretty much like you and me, except they can’t resist the urge to kill non-haters.  They can also sense the difference between haters and non-haters (something that normal human’s can’t do).  I guess, imagine smart rage zombies and you are halfway there.

I really want to read the first book, Hater, to get more background on the actual change process and what happened during those first few weeks/months.  Many of the haters suddenly found themselves attacking/killing their own families.  Children killing parents, etc.

Anyway, back to Dog Blood.  It was a lot of fun to read and it definitely kept my interest.  I think I stayed up late two nights and polished her off.  My one bitch is that I didn’t really dig the ending.  It seems like Moody is setting the stage for a series of these books and I don’t know if that’s such a great idea.  It was sort of like Back to the Future 2 when it ends and you know that there has to be a sequel.  This had the same feel.  Almost like the pilot episode of the TV series.  Regardless, I’m still going to go back and read Hater and I’ll probably read whatever the next installment is.  We’ll have to see how far I take it after that.

P.S. I was just peaking at the back cover of Dog Blood and there is some high praise from Guillermo Del Toro for Hater.  So, maybe we can expect a movie soon?

$4 Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse

Until 10 minutes ago, I knew nothing of this book. Now, all I know is that I can’t spend my $4 fast enough. From the description it looks to be a sort of tongue-in-cheek version of Left Behind or something. I like the sound of that.

After watching Victorian Farm for the past few nights (note: I’m addicted), I’d been searching Amazon for practical homesteading, survival and farming books. It was pretty much by accident that I stumbled onto the Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse. Sure, I was looking for practical guides to survival and whatnot, but, all work and no play makes Homer something something… so it seems like I’d be remiss if I didn’t get something fun to read and joke around with when the end days come and I’m up to my neck in goats and chickens and manual labor.

Besides, what the hell else can you buy with $4? Go see 1/3 of a movie at the theater.  Pshaw!

Just finished “City” by Clifford D. Simak…

… and it rules!  I have a real soft spot for far future sci-fi books that were written in the 40s and 50s.  It seems like the author’s really have to dig deep into their imagination to predict what life is going to be like 50+ years away.  In the case of City those predictions are way out there, but it it makes for great reading.  At times City seems to be more fantasy or fairy tale than science fiction, but at other times it has the weight of legend or epic poem or something.  Also, there is a real cynicism about humanity that seems to come through.  I enjoy that.  I’m not certain you could call City post-apocalyptic, but I’m going to allow it.  I mean, it describes an earth that is void of humanity so I think I’m justified here.

Anyway, if you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend it.  It won the Hugo after all.  That seems like quite a feat when you consider that it was originally written as a series for the pulp magazine Astounding Science Fiction.  I honestly don’t know much more about Clifford D. Simak, but I’m going to dig around.  City is so unique that there must be other great books written by him.

Ha!  I just did a quick check and I’ve already read Way Station by him.  Guess what?  It’s also won the Hugo.  That does it.  He’s been elevated to Vernor Vinge status in my book.  I’m going to have to track down all of his stuff now.  If you’ve read any other Simak books that I should start with, please let me know.

City (Hardcover)
City (Hardcover)

Finished the Road, on to Wastelands?

Well, the same day that I posted, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, I finished the book.  I stayed up till 2am because I couldn’t stop reading.  Also, it too me a little longer than it normally would have because I kept having to get up to check on my two sons.  Not because they were restless but because the relationship between the father and the son, in The Road,  got to me that much.  This book might be one of the most realistic portrayals of the apocalypse that has even been written (or filmed, for that matter).  And, that realism hurts.  The tension and foreboding never let up and I found myself having to pause and take a breath.

I won’t give anything away (surprise, surprise, I used to be the spoiler king!), but if you have children, expect The Road to really get to you.   Next thing you know, you’ll be building bomb shelters and protective force fields in your backyard.  Just because you will never want to have your children to have to go through any of that nightmare.

Ugh.  So, now I need some post-apocalyptic, but somehow more light-hearted.  I did a brief look around and found Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse.  Has anyone read this collection?

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse (Paperback)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Ok.  So, I realize that in my post Oryx and Crake (maybe I should start reading?) I somewhat promised to start on Oryx and Crake as my next book (hopefully becoming a string on post-apocalyptic books to be consumed by yours truly).  Well, here’s what happened.  I’ve been traveling for a few days (nothing fun, just stupid work) and I was without a book the entire time.  So, when I got home on Saturday, I devoured the rest of Blue Mars and suddently found myself without a book.  I read just about every night and whenever I can throughout the day, so to be without a book is something I couldn’t tolerate, especially because I’d spent 3 days traveling in just such a predicament.

Well, Oryx and Crake was going to have to wait (because I haven’t gotten it yet) but I didn’t want to let down my post-apocalyptic buddies by starting another Hugo-award-winning sci-fi book.  Then I found a copy of “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy that someone must have given to me as a gift.  I’ve been pretty excited to see this film ever since I first got a glimpse of the trailer.

So, I picked up my copy and hopped in the bath.  An hour later I was shivering in barely lukewarm water and I didn’t want to go anywhere.  So far, I love The Road.  As you know, I’m a drunken goofball who loves shoddy movies, but I do appreciate a well-written book.  McCarthy’s style is reminiscent of Hemingway, if you ask me.  It’s very terse and it moves along very quickly.  However, when he does go into some narrative detail, he does so very well.  (describing a creature’s eyes as “as blindless as spider’s eggs” is a good example)

Anyway, has anyone seen the movie yet?  How does it compare?  I don’t mind if it can’t capture the book (people need to quit bitching about that, it’s virtually impossible anyway).  But, does it stand up on its own?

The Road (Movie Tie-in Edition 2009)
The Road (Movie Tie-in Edition 2009)