Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pop Culture: Ford Launches World's First Zombie-Proof Car

Ford is cashing in on the popularity of zombies with this neat ad...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

News: Brisbane Zombie Walk set for October

This year's Brisbane Zombie Walk will be held on October 24.

Last year, up to 5,000 zombies shambled through the CBD. It was a hell of a day.

Organisers hope this year's walk will be just as popular, and that as many participants as possible chip in some dough for the Brain Foundation.

Check out coverage of last year's lurch here and here, then head on over to the Brisbane Zombie Walk site to register.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: The Living Dead 2

Ed. John Joseph Adams, 2010, Night Shade Books

About a year back, I reviewed Night Shade's The Living Dead, and proclaimed it the best zombie anthology I'd ever read (HorrorScope review here). Well, there's a new anthology due in September that actually surpasses The Living Dead - and it's The Living Dead 2!

I just want to take a moment to emphasise what an amazing achievement this is: where the original anthology comprised reprints of classic zombie tales, thereby guaranteeing a top-quality publication, The Living Dead 2 includes only original and recently-published work. Editor John Joseph Adams (who also compiled The Living Dead) demonstrates a brilliant understanding of exactly what makes a damn fine zombie tale, and deserves major kudos for the same.

As with its predecessor, TLD2 includes contributions from a veritable Who's Who of zombie fiction, including Robert Kirkman, Cherie Priest, Mira Grant, David Wellington, Jonathan Maberry, Carrie Ryan and John Skipp, among many, many others. The tales cover a range of themes, with plenty of new takes on familiar tropes, and all are of a standard that prevents me from singling out any particular favourites.

Having said that, I must make mention of one particular tale - S. G. Browne's 'Zombie Gigolo' - which, in a subgenre that has become progressively darker and more serious over the past few years, provides a joyfully disgusting reminder that zombies can sometimes just be fun. A warning, though: this story is far, far sicker than it sounds.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that The Living Dead 2, and all who contributed to her, will be be well-represented across the various genre literature awards over the next year. In the meantime, zombie afficianados should place this publication at the very top of their Want List, above firearms, bottled water, and chainsaws.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: How to be a Zombie

Serena Valentino, Scribo Australia, 2010

So, you've just been zombified, huh? Finding yourself slowing down? Beginning to smell ripe? Craving brains?

Here, then, is the book for you: How to be a Zombie seeks to inform and educate the newly undead on the peculiarities of their condition (in much the same way as David P. Murphy's excellent Zombies for Zombies). There are entries on the many different types of zombie (as depicted in numerous movies), zombie anatomy and behaviour, and causes of zombification, as well as handy tips on 'alternative' foods, makeup (for both zombies wanting to pass as human, and humans wanting to pass as zombies), social etiquette, holidays, music, must-read books, and the pros and cons of zombifying your pets.

Despite mostly taking a tongue-in-cheek approach, How to be a Zombie is nonetheless a genuinely valuable resource for any biotically-challenged individual trying to make their way in the world (or even for living folk with zombie obsessions). Fun, highly detailed, and lavishly (and gorily) illustrated throughout, How to be a Zombie is a book that dead people and zombie survivalists alike should read, if not own.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review: We're Alive

‘We’re Alive’ is a zombie survival podcast drama. The first season is 12 episodes long, most separated into 3 parts. It follows the story of Michael, a former sergeant in the US army, with what is left of his unit: Angel, an officer with no combat experience, and Saul, a man who is more than he seems.

It begins with a strange riot and a call to meet up at the base. By the time the characters get there, they know something is up. After a close encounter with the zombs, they decide to find a place to create a sustainable defence and look for survivors.

From the first episodes, your breath catches in your throat. The drama is intensified by both the action and the immediacy of the medium. While the plot would be captivating in any type of text, the first person voice acting makes it all so much closer.

Part of its effectiveness comes from the high quality of production, including sound effects and actors. There are quite a range of voice actors, all in control of the tone and effect of their voice to have the maximum impact. Without any visual or descriptions, the voices are all we have for connecting to the character, and the cast of ‘We’re Alive’ do this perfectly.

Apart from the dialogue, there are also character asides which help to create the setting.

There is so much more within the plot than simple survival. The twists and turns have you constantly guessing, and there is more than death to worry about. The final episodes are horribly shocking and completely irresistible. There is not a second of the podcast you should miss.

Of all the zombie stories, of all the various mediums available for narrative, this is one of the best and most effective. Every tremble in sound for something you can’t see is a moment of terror. ‘We’re Alive’ is beyond clich├ęs, and a thrilling ride through the zombie apocalypse.

'We’re Alive' can be download on Zune, iTunes, and for download or streaming at the website. You can also have it sent directly to your iPhone or BlackBerry.
The second season is coming out in August 2010.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zombies

Nathan Robert Brown, Penguin Australia, 2010

Information manuals of the type published under both the Complete Idiot's Guide and For Dummies imprints tend to be a mixed bag. The best of these guides typically assume that the reader knows exactly nothing about the topic, and therefore cover in great detail every last snippet of information pertaining to that subject. This is obviously a boon for readers who genuinely know little about the topic, but is ideally also of interest to those with more expertise, as the encyclopedic nature of the guide ensures that any minor gaps in the expert's knowledge will be filled. Unfortunately, there are also guides that merely provide the most basic overview of a given topic, which means those with expertise will find little of interest therein, while those with patchy knowledge gain little than a passing insight into the topic, requiring them to seek out further references should they wish to gain a fuller understanding.

Unfortunately, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zombies largely falls into the latter category. While the guide certainly scores points for attempting to document all aspects of the zombie phenomenon - from their origins in folklore and evolution through cinema, to their wholesale takeover of popular culture via comics, books, gaming and toys - the size of the publication (a mere 230-odd pages in A5 format) restricts the author to a fairly cursory examination of any of these aspects. To be fair, this guide does delve into several areas of zombie culture that I've not seen discussed in other 'serious' zombie references - such as the Zombie Survivalist movement - which in my book does make this guide worth reading. However, for a far more complete and satisfying examination of much of the material listed in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zombies, I'd point enthusiasts to David Flint's Zombie Holocaust, Jonathan Maberry's Zombie CSU, or Bob Curran's Zombies: A Field Guide to the Walking Dead.

I should also mention that my intellectual investment in the guide was seriously undermined when, in the chapter entitled 'Zombies in Recent Literature', the author listed his own little-known (as far as I'm aware) series of zombie novels alongside a mere half-dozen other examples of zombie fiction, the other books listed all being seminal cult and/or blockbuster titles.

In a nutshell, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zombies is worth a flick-through for obsessive fans of the walking dead, and - at around only AU$20 - is, at least, unlikely to leave too many readers feeling as though they've not received value for money.