Edited by Christopher Golden
Published by Piatkus, 2010.
Zombies, don’t you just hate them. They are everywhere at the moment films, TV, magazines and books, lots and lots of books. You can’t get ten yards these days without bumping into the undead so it’s going to take something pretty special to impress me. Luckily this book is pretty special.
This book takes a tired old trope, gives it to a select brand of writers and manages to come up with an incredibly diverse selection of zombie tales. Everything from biblical beginnings to the Twitter revolution is included, gore, pathos and humour are all here. Time to dive in.
Christopher Golden offers an illuminating introduction which tries to dissect the popularity of our festering friends. “Nothing is as terrifying as death come calling” he tells us and then it’s on to the nineteen stories. Here are some of my highlights.
Lazarus by John Connolly starts the collection with the story of the first zombie, Lazarus. This is also the first of many of the stories in the collection which show the zombie as victim and it’s told in fine style.
What Maisie Knew by David Liss also uses zombies as victims but this time the concept that zombies may be able to identify their killers keeps things fresh. David Liss is a writer I have not encountered before but this is an excellent tale.
Tim Lebbon never disappoints, or rather if he does I have yet to read it. In The Dust, the tale of a Welsh plague, is a suitably magnificent piece full of his trademark dark imagery and rich prose.
Jonathan Mayberry brings us Family Business one of the longest stories and also one of the most satisfying. We follow the Imura brothers in an emotionally charged journey through an apocalyptic landscape.
Ghost Trap by Rick Hautala is a more traditional story but great characters and action coupled with a claustrophobic diving sequence lift it above the norm.
Kids And Their Toys by James A. Moore takes into the lives of a group of young boys who decide to keep a zombie as a toy. It’s a chilling, gory and emotional tale.
Twittering from The Circus Of the Dead by Joe Hill shows what a talented writer Hill is. It’s a bold experiment told through the medium of twitter speak but it works very well.
That’s just a few of the highlights, there are many other great stories in this collection as well as a couple that for me didn’t quite work. It’s great to see a group of talented writers apply themselves to a subject this way and it’s fascinating to see the variety of results that come out. It appears that as far as the Zombie genre is concerned, there’s life in the old thing yet. Potential purchasers should be aware that this is the same collection as The New Dead which is available on amazon.co.uk (here) and was published by St Martins Press. The edition I bought is available here, no I don’t understand either.
Rating 4out of 5