Tuesday, November 30, 2010

News: Dymocks Southland Bestselling Zombie Titles for November 2010

1. The Walking Dead Vol 1 (Graphic Novel) - Robert Kirkman
2. The Dead (The Enemy #2) - Charlie Higson
3. Dead City - Joe McKinney
4. Feed - Mira Grant
5. Night of the Living Trekkies - Anderson / Stall
6. The Zombie Survival Guide - Max Brooks
7. Alone (Chasers #1) - James Phelan
8. Ex-Heroes - Peter Clines
9. Xombies: Apocalypticon - Walter Greatshell
10. The Enemy - Charlie Higson

One of the most exciting new arrivals in store this month, aside from the new edition of Joe McKinney's classic Dead City, is John Russo's Undead, an omnibus publication comprising Russo's original 1974 novelisation of Night of the Living Dead, and his 1978 novel, Return of the Living Dead, which later became the basis for the movie of the same title. It goes without saying that NecroScope will have a review up of Russo's collection sooner rather than later.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Shakespeare Undead

Lori Handeland, 2010, St Martin's Griffin

Zombies are stalking the streets of Elizabethan London, and celebrated playwright William Shakespeare is on the hunt. But where are the undead coming from? What is the true identity of the strangely-alluring boy now assisting Shakespeare in his quest? And how will Shakespeare's one true love react when she discovers that her lover is himself a necromancer...and a vampire?

Shakespeare Undead is a zombie novel falling more into the realm of paranormal romance than dark fantasy or horror, and with the focus accordingly upon romantic interactions between the two main protagonists. 'Fun and fluffy' just about sums up the contents; the central plot is so thin as to be almost nonexistent, and the action might just as well be taking place in modern-day downtown Sydney for all the sense of Elizabethan London conjured by the author, but the character-driven 'padding' and bouts of (admittedly somewhat self-indulgent) silliness make for pleasant enough, if not overly satisfying, reading. Think of it as providing downtime for your brain before the next Mira Grant novel comes along.

(Shakespeare Undead is distributed in Australia by Macmillan).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: The Loving Dead

Amelia Beamer, 2010, Night Shade Books

Kate and Michael, twenty-something housemates working at the same Trader Joe's supermarket, find themselves thoroughly screwed when their friends start turning into zombies, infected by an STD that transforms sufferers into shambling, horny, undead killers. Thrust into extremes by the unfolding tragedy, Kate and Michael are forced to confront decisions they've made and fears of commitment - but can they stay alive, or even human, long enough to benefit from such insights?

There's been a great deal of hype over the sexualising of zombies in The Loving Dead, with many people describing the novel as zombie erotica; I was a little surprised, therefore, to find that Beamer's novel really only contains about as much erotic content as the average Mills & Boon - very little of which directly involves the undead - and certainly far less than the average paranormal romance novel. That's not to say there isn't a focus upon sex in the novel; the zombie virus, after all, is sexually transmitted. But full-blown erotica? Not so much. I can only assume that the presence of any erotica whatsoever in a zombie novel provides a convenient point of difference to market.

That said, The Loving Dead is a rather brilliant piece of work; a slow-burn creepfest that examines in uncomfortable detail exactly what motivates people during a crisis. Beamer's highly-realistic, post-modern, Romero-savvy characters don't run for the hills upon realising that the zombie apocalypse is coming, but instead take short-term steps to minimise the personal inconvenience the disaster poses. As might be expected, such behaviour does as much to drive the plot as the unfolding epidemic, and Beamer additionally cultivates a real sense of impending doom that nicely contrasts the self-centred and largely ineffectual behaviour of her characters.

Joining a growing list of recent zombie novels that focus more upon analysis of the human condition than upon gore-for-gore's-sake, The Loving Dead is an engrossing and memorable read, and one that any zomlit fan who delights in the continually-expanding boundaries of the subgenre should devour.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fashion: Zombie T-Shirts from Redbubble

At NecroScope, we pride ourselves on our fashion-sense; no rotting vestments here, only the best in undead couture! We were extremely pleased, therefore, to hear about Redbubble Art & Design, a company with offices in both Melbourne, Australia, and San Francisco, USA, that offers a great range of zombie-themed t-shirts, prints, stickers, and other items. Check out the link above, and advertise your zobsession wherever you go!

We'd be remiss if we didn't make specific mention of the Redbubble t-shirt designed by NecroScope contributor Gary Kemble (above): classy, simple, and - above all - pithy (linked here).

Pop Culture: io9: A History of Zombies in America

The early success of the AMC series The Walking Dead confirms it: though zombies have been hot for a while, they are now officially the new vampires. Why do Americans love zombies, and what does it say about us?
Read on at io9...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Review: Parade of the Dead

Dir. Richard Coburn, 2010, Golden Era

In 2010 a virus spread throughout the world population, killing millions and resurrecting the dead as flesh-hungry zombies. Around the same time, Adelaide-based hip-hop group Hilltop Hoods were due to shoot a DVD to promote their new album, State of the Art. Civilisation collapsed. People died in the streets. And the 'Hoods went ahead and made their DVD anyway...

Parade of the Dead is an unusual addition to the ranks of zombie cinema: part music-video, part zombie flick, part spoof, it doesn't include quite enough material on any of these three fronts to be labelled as one or the other, or to fully satisfy on that basis. That said, there's a great deal to like about Parade of the Dead; some great songs and energetic gig footage for fans of the 'Hoods; gore and zombie mayhem for the deadheads, not to mention some interesting and dark world-building; even much of the (admittedly fairly broad) comedy content - evident mostly during the faux-interview scenes supposedly being shot for the promotional DVD - works surprisingly well, with the 'Hoods amusingly casting themselves as amiable, if self-obsessed, morons.

All in all, Parade of the Dead is certainly worth viewing. Buy it for the music, enjoy the zombie content as an added bonus.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

News: What's Coming Up at NecroScope

Hi there, Shamblers! Greetings from NecroScope's Keeper of the Dead!

For the information of all you zomlit fans who have visited us - and continue to visit us - since NecroScope's official disinternment just four short months ago, there's likely to be something of a lull in our review schedule over the next month or so, due to the recent addition of a brand new li'l flesheater to the Keeper's own corpse collective.

Fear not, though: NecroScope will continue to bring you all manner of good things in the lead-up to Christmas - our output will merely switch (temporararily) from Fast Zombie pace to Slow Zombie pace. Stick with us, though, and in no time at all we'll be back to our usual speedy selves.

So, in the meantime, what can NecroScope Shamblers look forward to?

* Upcoming reviews for Amelia Beamer's The Loving Dead, Bob Fingerman's Pariah, and Joe Schrieber's Star Wars: Death Troopers, among others.

* Your chance to win a pack of zombie-related goodies, just by signing up as a NecroScope Shambler (if you're not one already) and entering our Christmas draw.

* An exclusive, original short story - to be published here on Christmas Eve - by Australia's own award-winning zombiemeister, Jason Fischer!

Plus all the usual news and views. Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. NecroScope: temporarily slower, but no less dangerous...

Review: Biomega

Tsutomu Mihei, 2007, Madman Entertainment

The NSS virus has swept across the Earth, turning much of the population into zombie-like drones. Zoichi Kange, an agent of Toa Heavy Industry, must brave the depths of island city 9JO in search of Eon Green - a girl with the power to transmute the virus.  But a unit of Public Health Service Execution Agents are also looking for Eon, and unless Zoichi can find her first, nothing can stop the zombie apocalypse...

Biomega is a unique and pleasing fusion of dystopian Manga cyberpunk and good old-fashioned zombie action. The plot screams along at somewhat dizzying speed, leaving the reader to catch up as best they can, and the dark-and-dirty illustrations, together with the lean dialogue, create an atmosphere of pervasive gloom and dread that suits this tale right down to the ground.

If you enjoy graphic novels that swing to the dark side, Biomega will certainly appeal. Volume one of this series is currently available in Australia through Madman Entertainment.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: Wetwork

Philip Nutman, 1993 (TP reissue 2007), Overlook Connection Press

Black Ops agent Dominic Corvino is not having a good day. His latest mission has gone horribly wrong, with several members of his team dead and another suspiciously AWOL Plus, Corvino's just killed an enemy agent who appears to have already been dead. But then, there's a lot of that going around at the moment, as across the globe the hungry dead begin to rise...

One of the great things about the current massive popularity of zomfic is that many older, somewhat neglected classics of the genre are being given a second chance at finding the readership they deserve, and Wetwork certainly falls into this category. The darkly satirical plot, which reads as a savage indictment of the government, military, and society in general, follows the developing apocalyptic crisis through the eyes of various central characters, as well as through a series of stand-alone vignettes. Nutman's prose is almost poetic in places, an absolute joy to read, and additionally serves to contrast - and highlight - the extreme violence, brutality and gore that regularly punctuates the tale. His characters live and breathe (although generally not all the way through the novel!), and his take on zombies provides a major point of difference from other zompocalyptic tales, the risen dead portrayed as sentient flesh eaters, as damaged psychologically as they are physically; some anguished by what they have become, some revelling in their new found blood lust, others left subtly brain-damaged by their 'transition' - and if you think this makes them any less scary than the more traditional mindless cannibals, you're very, very wrong.

Wetwork is a bleak and nihilistic, yet thoroughly enjoyable novel that every serious fan of zomfic should read, and is available to purchase through Amazon.   

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: Xombies: Apocalypse Blues & Xombies: Apocalypticon

Walter Greatshell, 2010, Ace Books

Lulu Pangloss has problems. She has no friends, her mom is difficult, and her absentee father is a deadbeat. Things can hardly get any worse...or so she thinks. Then the world comes to an end. It starts with Agent X, a plague that turns women into raving, demonic predators - Xombies - who then hunt down and infect anyone they can catch. Guns are useless; armies are helpless. With civilization collapsing all around her, Lulu hitches a ride with a crew of wary male refugees, and together they flee for the last place on Earth rumored to be safe. But what they find is as unexpected, and as terrifying, as the hell they've left behind.

A quick history lesson: back in 2004, with 28 Days Later making a major splash in cinemas around the world, and Shaun of the Dead generating pre-release buzz, Berkley Books quietly released a novel entitled simply Xombies, written by Walter Greatshell. To hardcore zombie fans, who were yet to enjoy the current and ongoing boom in zomfic that we all now take for granted, Xombies was a truly exciting publication; not just a proper zombie novel, albeit one in which the titlar monsters had more in common with the infected of 28 Days Later than with rotting corpses of George A. Romero, but a really good zombie novel, released through a mainstream publisher (Berkley being a division of the Penguin Group). Barely a year later, of course, Max Brooks' World War Z hit the bestseller list with the force of a speeding train, and was forever more (along with 28 Days Later) largely credited with kicking off the zombie boom. Yet it's worth noting (I feel, as a big fan of Xombies) that Walter Greatshell's work - along with a handful of other pre-Brooks zombie authors - contributed very strongly to the current mainstream popularity of the genre.

So, for myself, and on behalf of anyone who's read and enjoyed a zombie-related publication over the past few years: Walter Greatshell, thanks so much.

So - on to the review proper.

There's not much to be said about the plot of Xombies (retitled Xombies: Apocalypse Blues for the 2010 re-release) that isn't covered in the blurb above; at least, not without giving away some major, fascinating plot-points. The action rolls along at an unforgiving pace, aided by some wonderful (and often severely-flawed) characters. The Xombies of the piece, also, are suitably terrifying - viral psychotics (blue-skinned, due to cyanosis), that remain animated after death; a convincing amalgam of Rage zombies and the more traditional walking dead. Greatshell has been quoted as saying (to paraphrase) that he wrote Xombies as a sort of reverse-Romero take on the genre, and the conclusion to the novel (again, without giving too much away) certainly offers the mother of all reversals of the usual zompocalyptic tale. Brilliant, brilliant stuff.

Xombies: Apocalypticon -  a direct sequel to X:AB - shares all the strengths of the first book, and more than that I simply cannot say, as doing so would give away the ending of X:AB. Suffice to say, it's a nasty, gritty, and wholly engrossing read.

Both books are currently available in Australia through Penguin Books. Buy them. Read them, back-to-back. Enjoy two of the most solid contributions to the zombie genre as it exists today.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Competition: Die in a Jonathan Maberry Zombie Novel!

Zombiemeister Jonathan Maberry is currently holding a competition, via his Facebook page, to find folks to kill...

...in his new zombie novel, Dead of Night, that is. Simply visit the link below, tell Jonathan how you'd like to be killed by the walking dead, and your name could make it into the book as a zombie fatality.


The competition closes soon, so you'll need to be quick.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

News: Dymocks Southland Bestselling Zombie Titles for October 2010

Unsurprisingly - due to the increasing interest in Halloween in Australia, the major expansion and repositioning of our Paranormal Fiction display, and our well-attended October 31st 'Halloween HorrorCon' signing (featuring five local horror authors) - this month proved a bumper month for sales of dark fiction, and especially of zombie-themed publications. For this reason, the usual 'Top 10' of bestselling zombie titles for the month has been extended to 20 titles! Yep - we have that many zombie titles currently in store (plus many more that didn't quite make the list).

1. The Dead (The Enemy #2) - Charlie Higson
2. Alone (Chasers #1) - James Phelan
3. The Loving Dead - Amelia Beamer
4. The Zen of Zombie - Scott Kenemore
5. Z - Michael Thomas Ford
6. Patient Zero - Jonathan Maberry
7. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies - Austen / Graeme-Smith
8. The Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies - Mac Montandon
9. The Zombie Survival Guide - Max Brooks
10. Breathers - S. G. Browne
11. Monster Island (Complete Trilogy) - David Wellington
12. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (Graphic Novel)
13. Dog Blood (Hater #2) - David Moody
14. The Zombie Combat Manual - Roger Ma
15. Passing Strange (Generation Dead #3) - Daniel Waters
16. Soulless - Christopher Golden
17. Handling the Undead - John Ajvide Lindqvist
18. Ex-Heroes - Peter Clines
19. The Zombie Handbook - Rob Sacchetto
20. Wetwork - Philip Nutman

Recent arrivals in-store include Shakespeare Undead (Lori Handeland), Zombiewood Weekly (Rob Sacchetto), Ten Little Zombies (Andy Rash), Pariah (Thomas Fingerman), and Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever (Joe Kane).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever

Joe Kane, 2010, Citadel Press

To begin this review on a major tangent (but stick with me - there's a point to be made)...

It may surprise many to know that I am not, in fact, a particular fan of the iconic zombie flick, Night of the Living Dead. That's not to say I don't appreciate the movie - NotLD did, after all, set the template for the bulk of zombie media to follow. I certainly regard the movie as culturally, historically and socially important, in much the same way as I regard The Buzzcocks as being important to the development of punk music, or Renoir as important to the acceptance of Impressionism (that is, from a purely academic point of view). And I'm a huge fan of all of Romero's other 'Dead' films, But I've never really enjoyed NotLD.

I ascribe this major personal shortcoming to two things: firstly, that by the time I watched this movie for the first time (as a teenager, on VHS, in 1988 or thereabouts), I'd already seen so many cruddy rip-offs of NotLD on late-night TV that everything about this movie seemed old and tired. Secondly, to a teenager living in Melbourne, Australia, in the late 1980s, any '60s/U.S.-centric social or political commentary underpinning the movie simply didn't register. It's only as an adult that I've come to truly appreciate and understand all that Night of the Living Dead represents - but sadly, again, any genuine enjoyment of the movie purely as a piece of dark entertainment seems beyond my grasp.

So, what has any of this to do with my review of Joe Kane's behind-the-scenes look at Night of the Living Dead?

Just this: given that a non-fan of NotLD like myself was virtually unable to put down this fascinating tome - I devoured it in a single sitting, in fact - I have no hesitation in recommending Kane's book not only to zombie fans in general, but to anyone who simply enjoys a truly engrossing non-fiction read.

The book certainly seems to have been exhaustively researched, and Kane effortlessly infects the reader with his own obvious passion for NotLD without intruding overly upon the narrative. The author also strikes a near-perfect balance - often difficult to achieve in such guides - between detailing the production details of NotLD (as well as those of co-creators Romero's and Russo's subsequent movies), and delving into the personal development and lives of those responsible for the finished product, as well as clarifying some of the issues surrounding the movie that had previously drifted somewhat into the realm of urban legend (such as the matter of the 'lost copyright' of NotLD, and the nature of the wrangle between Romero and Russo over ownership of the 'living dead' moniker).

In short, Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever is an important, engrossing work, and one which informs and -  I'm happy to say - entertains on many levels. A must-read publication, available internationally through Amazon.com.

Review: Zombiewood Weekly

Rob Sacchetto, 2010, Ulysses Press

'Justin Timberlake: Hot Corpse Couture!'
'Britney Spears: Brit Snacks on Fans!'
'Lindsay Lohan: Career Rises from the grave!'

Hot on the heels of his brilliant Zombie Handbook comes Rob Sacchetto's Zombiewood Weekly: The Celebrity Dead Exposed, an amusing little exercise in satirical gore. Presented as an issue of a gossip mag, ZW is packed full of 'zombified' celebrity portraiture - from Elvis, to George W. Bush, to O.J. Simpson - complete with news snippets (penned by co-contributor Jeremy Wash), and even advertisements aimed at an undead readership. Sacchetto's ability to produce clearly-identifiable likenesses of famous faces, even through layers of advanced decay, is uncanny, and has deservedly earned him a character role in Jonathan Maberry's latest zombie novel, Rot & Ruin.

ZW is a fun publication certain to appeal to that section of zombie fandom who enjoy their zomcoms and zombie walks. And gossip mags.

(ZW is distributed in Australia by Scribo).