Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review: After the World

After the World: Killable Hours (Clay Blakehills) / After the World: Gravesend (Jason Fischer), Black House Comics, 2009

'Life on Earth has changed since the dead stopped dying...'

After the World is an ongoing series of self-contained novellas set against a 'shared-world' backdrop of a zombie apocalypse, published by Australian small press Black House Comics in a 'pulp'-style magazine format (although, as in the case of fellow 'pulp' magazine Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, the publication truly is far too well-produced to truly qualify as pulp).

In Clay Blakehill's Killable Hours, protagonist Terry finds himself stuck in a skyscraper full of dead lawyers who won't stay dead, and - together with a small entourage of fellow survivors - must negotiate his way through the building in order to escape to whatever remains of the world outside. Can the group work together in order to survive, or will human nature (and flesh-eating senior associates) doom them all?

In Jason Fischer's Gravesend, life goes on (more or less) in the titular barricaded English village - school, politics, neighbourhood squabbles. It's just your everyday small town, albeit with an army of undead cannibals waiting to get in. And when a transmission from America sends ripples through the close-knit community, it may only be a matter of time before the walking dead get their chance.

The first two installments of this series are great fun to read. As with the bulk of apocalyptic zombie fiction there's (understandably) not a vast amount of innovation here, but both Blakehill and Fischer provide sufficiently original set-ups and characterisation to make these novellas compelling reading for the zombie afficianado. The differing ways in which the two authors approach this shared world, with regards to style, tone and focus, also gives each installment a fresh and unique feel, and bodes well for future installments by other writers.

Killable Hours is currently available from newsagencies for a mere AUD$5.00 (and soon via Black House Comics' online store), with Gravesend, and at least two further installments, due out in subsequent months. Go and hassle your local newsagent to stock this publication immeditely, and enjoy the zombie apocalypse in tasty, bite-sized servings.

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