Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

A Look at the History and Influence of Zombies on Popular Culture

Ed. Christopher Wortzenspeigel, 2011

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse is something of an oddity: a book on zombies composed entirely of articles, links and references taken from Wikipedia, presented almost exactly as they would appear online. This obviously results in a fair amount of repetition of information (as certain articles reference the same sources), which - in a publication of a mere 125 pages - doesn't exactly scream 'value for money'. Additionally, the lack of any major effort to reformat and expand the information for print, in order to more obviously justify republishing free web content in a physical, comparatively expensive format, does beg the question of whether doing so has any real point.

This is not to suggest that online content can't make for a great printed book, as evidenced by the works of David Wellington, Madeleine Roux, and others. However, there's a world of difference between reading a self-contained piece of fiction in book form, even one that has been wholly transposed from the Internet, and reading a piece of non-fiction containing references and links that the reader is incapable of immediately accessing (or, if they own a mobile device of some sort, fully access...which again begs the question of why the book was needed in the first place).

At the end of the day, Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse certainly contains some intelligent and fascinating information...but ultimately there seems little point in purchasing what amounts to a hard-copy printout of a bunch of Wikipedia articles. I'd suggest that even the publishers are aware of this shortcoming, as the back-cover blurb fails to mention zombies at all, instead waxing lyrical over the 'convenience and utility' of a 'real book' that 'utilizes the unique characteristics of the Internet - relying on web infrastructure and collaborative tools to share and use resources in keeping with the characteristics of the medium'.


Review: Field Combat Manual For Zombie Slayers

Marc Sherman, 2011, Rebecca J. Vickery (publisher)

Field Combat Manual For Zombie Slayers is a slim volume falling into the 'survivalist' subgenre of zomfic, and which leans more to the serious side of the market, containing bona fide advice on survivalist techniques with genuine everyday applications. While there is a background story provided against which the necessity for zombie-slaying info is set, this background is not explored in any great depth. There's also a fair bit of authorial intrusion, as the 'character' of the author often mentions personal experiences that support specific pieces of advice, and also tends to sermonise at length (with religious fervour) on the destiny of humanity to reclaim civilisation, etc. Ultimately, the book fails to satisfyingly balance the fictional and non-fictional aspects, although there is certainly entertainment value here.

In a nutshell, Field Combat Manual For Zombie Slayers is one for the die-hard survivalist types only. For a more inventive, entertaining and in-depth take on similar topics, stick with Roger Ma's The Zombie Combat Manual.

Reminder: Subscription Drive Ends Soon!

Just a reminder to all our loyal (and new) Shamblers that our 'anniversary' subscription drive ends very soon! Only eleven days are left in which to sign up 50 new subscribers (or else forfeit a fantastic prize-pack), and thus far we're well shy of that number! Remember: all you have to do is convince your friends, family, colleagues, enemies, and so on, to sign up, and you'll automatically be in the running to win a heap of goodies, so get to it, folks!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: The Zombie Handbook

An Essential Guide to Zombies and, More Importantly, How to Avoid Them

Dr. Robert Curran, 2011, Barrons

The Zombie Handbook is a handsomely-bound 'zombie primer' aimed squarely at readers with only a basic knowledge of the subject matter, but which should nonetheless be of interest to more serious collectors of zombie lore. Focusing almost exclusively upon traditional voodoo zombies - as well as mummies, golems, and revenants from various folklores - this volume provides some fascinating information on the subject, although it must be said that most of the material herein is explored in greater depth and detail in Curran's earlier publication, Zombies: a Field Guide to the Walking Dead. Nonetheless, The Zombie Handbook is a lovely publication in its own right - hardbacked, and beautifully illustrated - and certainly worth both reading and owning.

Review: The Gathering Dead

Stephen Knight, 2011, Severed Press

The zombie Apocalypse has begun, and Major Cordell McDaniels is given the most important mission of his career: lead a Special Forces team into New York to rescue the one man who can cure the reanimation virus. But as a violent storm renders airborne extraction impossible, the team finds itself trapped and facing not merely a growing horde of undead citizens, but also the zombified members of another Special Ops. team...who appear to have retained their military skills...

The Gathering Dead is a full-blown military action/horror novel that hits the ground running from page one, and doesn't let up for a moment. While there's perhaps not as much attention paid to individual characterisation as in other recent, similarly-themed novels (such as Tooth & Nail), Knight does a terrific job of balancing action and tight plotting against a vast amount of military detail and terminology, which - in less competent hands - could well have disrupted the flow of the tale. Some nicely original touches - such as the possibility of 'muscle memory' being retained by certain individuals after zombification - further contribute to a highly engrossing and enjoyable narrative that should please most fans of the zombie/military subgenre.   

Monday, September 5, 2011

News: Subscription Competition! Win Stuff!

To celebrate our thirteen-month 'anniversary', NecroScope is holding a subscription drive, with one fabulous prize-pack to be won!

The drive will run from now until September 30, 12pm EST, with one lucky Shambler chosen at random, as our winner, by The Pointing Finger of Death. All Shamblers will be eligible to win, whether you are an existing subscriber or have signed up during the drive, and regardless of whether you live in Australia or overseas.

In other words, the only thing you have to do in order to be eligible to win is to sign up as, or continue being, a NecroScope Shambler (either here on the home blog or on Facebook - see the menu on the right hand side of this page).

'Too easy!' we hear you cry. And you're right. There is a catch. And that catch is, we require a minimum of 50 new Shamblers by the end of the drive; if we don't get 50 new Shamblers, no prize. Simple as that. Oh yeah - we're tough! What this means, of course, is that if you're already a NecroScope Shambler, you need to urge all of your zomfanatical friends and family to sign up to NecroScope in order to be in with a chance of winning that fabulous prize pack.

And what exactly does this fabulous prize pack comprise? We're so glad you asked...

* A beautiful hardback edition of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead Book #1 (collating issues #1-12 of the cult graphic novel series)

* Copies of the 'modern classic' zombie novels Day by Day Armageddon (J. L. Bourne), The Forest of Hands & Teeth (Carrie Ryan), and The Enemy (Charlie Higson).

* Copies of Zombies For Zombies: The Play & Werk Buk (David P. Murphy) and How to be a Zombie (Serena Valentino), for the biotically-challenged amongst you.

* A copy of Real Zombies: The Living Dead and Creatures of the Apocalypse (Brad Steiger).

* For the movie buffs, copies of Chanbara Beauty and Zombie Honeymoon.

A pretty damn good haul, we think you'll agree!

So: at the time of posting this item, the NecroScope blog boasts 48 Shamblers, with 69 subscribers on Facebook. Time to get busy, fellow zomfans! 'Cos we'd hate to have to keep all of those zombolicious prizes for ourselves...

News: Dymocks Southland Bestselling Zombie Titles for August 2011

In the lead-up to Fathers' Day (Australia), zombie titles sold extremely well (what this says about the sort of people raising the next generation is possibly an issue best ignored). Thusly, this month we present our Top 15 bestselling titles, rather than the usual Top 10.

1. Chasers (Alone #1) - James Phelan
2. Dog Blood (Hater #2) - David Moody
3. Survivor (Alone #2) - James Phelan
4. The Dead (The Enemy #2) - Charlie Higson
5. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies - Austen / Graeme-Smith
6. Breathers - S. G. Browne
7. World War Z - Max Brooks
8. Cell - Stephen King
9. Deadline (Newsflesh #2) - Mira Grant
10. The Walking Dead Compendium - Robert Kirkman
11. The Reapers are the Angels - Alden Bell
12. Zombie Apocalypse! - ed. Stephen Jones
13. Rot & Ruin - Jonathan Maberry
14. Pet Sematary - Stephen King
15. The Zombie Autopsies - Steven C. Schlozman, MD

Recent zom-flavoured arrivals in-store include (takes a deep breath) The Zombie Handbook (Dr. Robert Curran), Gruesomely Grimm Zombie Tales (Grimm/Brown), Generation Zombie (ed. Stephanie Boluk & Wylie Lenz), Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse (ed. Christopher Wortzenspeigel), My Life as a White Trash Zombie (Diana Rowland), Alice in Zombieland (Carroll/Cook), Field Combat Manual for Zombie Slayers (Marc Sherman), Working Stiff (Rachel Caine), A Zombie's History of the United States (Dr. Worm Miller), Play Dead (Ryan Brown), Zombie, Ohio (Scott Kenemore), Zombie Pulp (Tim Curran), and Zombie Christmas Carol (Dickens/Thomas).

Nope. Still no sign of that zomfic bubble bursting...