Sunday, May 15, 2011

Review: Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology

Ed. Michelle McCrary & Joe McKinney, 2010, 23 House Publishing

We were once a race seven billion strong. But today, our world has become a wasteland overrun by the living dead. Rivers of zombies flood the streets. They never rest. They never relent. Their hunger for the living is insatiable. And with every careless mistake we make, their numbers swell.

Dead Set comprises twenty original tales of the zompocalypse, the running order of which loosely charts the event from origin to end. As with many zombie anthologies currently available (apart from a few notable exceptions) the quality of the individual tales is a little mixed. Specifically, a number of offerings felt more like vignettes from some larger work than stories in their own right, lacking the punch of a strong central plot or conclusion; not terrible, by any means, but somewhat unsatisfying.

That said, there were certainly some gems also: 'Biting the Hand that Feeds You' by Calie Voorhis vividly takes the reader into the mind of a 'turning' zombie, as does David Dunwoody's 'Ruminations from the Tri-Omega House'; Joe McKinney's own offering, 'Survivors', deals effectively with the theme of survivors' guilt; 'Recovery' by Boyd E. Harris uncomfortably poses the question of whether the rehabilitation of zombies is necessarily of benefit to anyone; Nate Southard's 'In the Middle of Poplar Street' delivers an original take on the 'man's inhumanity to man' theme; 'Inside Where It's Warm' by Lee Thomas is another emotive tale from (ultimately) the zombie's POV; and Mark Onspaugh's 'Good Neighbour Sam' reminds us that there's still a place for a world overrun by the living dead.

Overall, Dead Set is an extremely worthwhile anthology, and a fine addition to the genre. Definitely one to add to the home library.

Music: Feral Familiar

With International Zombie Awareness Month well underway, Ace Elliott has alerted us to the following recent musical celebration of the zombie in popular culture. The clip for Enough Blood to Keep 'Em Coming comes courtesy of Andrew Jackson's Feral Familiar. Enjoy!

News: The Australian Speculative Fiction Blog Carnival May 2011

NecroScope is extremely proud to present this month's Australian Speculative Fiction Blog Carnival, an ongoing initiative of the Australian Science Fiction Writers' Association. Zombie-related news from the land down-under was relatively thin this past month, but there were plenty of other developments across the local specfic community...

A great article on the Australian Voice in Fiction

Fangoria Magazine reports on Sydney's 'Night of Horror'.

The ABC report on the death of actor Elisabeth Sladen, who was best-known for playing fan-favourite Doctor Who companion, Sarah-Jane Smith:

...with related postings by various Australian specfic authors who grew up watching Sladen on TV:

Alan Baxter
Jon Blum
Lee Battersby
Chuck McKenzie

Christopher Green's fantastic online serialised zombie novel, Arizona Afterwards just keeps getting better and better. And more and more disturbing...

And still on zombie-related news, Scott Wilson reported that the April issue of The Fringe Magazine is now out, featuring stories by MJ Wesolowski, Darrin Albert, Michael Casey, Kevin Bennett, and Chris Edwards, plus interviews with authors, Madeline Roux and Jessica Shirvington.

And I'd be remiss not to mention the Dymocks Southland Zombie Jamboree, being held on May 28th. Authors Bob Franklin, Kirstyn McDermott and James Phelan will be signing books, while an in-store Zombie Shuffle will be held from 1-2pm, with a prize pack for best-dressed zombie.

Gillian Pollack on Annoying Categorisations in Speculative Fiction.

Tansy Rayner Roberts reports on, well...The Festival of Tansy!

A round-up of Swancon 36 reports by Fablecroft Publishing.

And in sad news for the local specfic publishing community, a veritable flurry of closures...

The closure of Eneit Press was reported back in March. Close upon the heels of this announcement came the following rally-cry from author Mary Victoria, urging folks to support the small-press publisher however they can. Old news, but worth repeating.

This month, Brimstone Press - the publisher behind NecroScope's parent site, HorrorScope - also closed their doors. This report from author Martin Livings. Sadly, the closure has also necessitated the closure of the HorrorScope site, which provided an invaluable resource for fans of dark fiction over the past five years.

And finally, Terra Incognita Speculative Fiction posted its final podcast today. Visit the site to download or stream any of the 30 excellent podcasts available.

In happier news, Talie Helene announced the line-up for the forthcoming The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, due soon from Ticonderoga Publications.

And the winners of the 2010 Australian Shadows Awards were announced.

As were the winners of this year's Ditmar Awards.

Plus the finalists in this year's Aurealis Awards, the winners of which will be announced on May 21st.

The Emerging Writers’ Festival in Melbourne will be presenting Get Into Genre: SpecFic on May 31st. It’s an opportunity to hear from our speculative fiction writers and industry professionals.