by Adam Baker
Published by Hodder & Stoughton, 2011
Does the world need yet another post-apocalyptic zombie thriller? Adam Baker thinks so and has delivered one with Outpost, his first novel.
The crew of the Kasker Rampart refinery platform are stuck in the arctic ocean waiting for supplies when they fear that things may not be going well back home. It becomes apparent that there has been an event (a global pandemic) and although all they can hear is “panic and rumour” it’s also clear they are on their own.
The characters set about planning a possible escape by exploring the surrounding snowy wastes and contacting other ships and platforms in the area. Soon, however, they meet some survivors and it’s clear they have more to worry about than they initially thought as what started as a fight for survival becomes all out war.
Okay, this isn’t technically a zombie novel but the ‘creatures’ (who have been subject to some kind of infection with sees them sprouting metal), are effectively zombies in every other sense so lets not be pedantic. It is a post apocalyptic novel, but the true nature of the event is never revealed. The oil platform and ensuing sense of confusion was reminiscent of the start of Conrad William’s One.
It’s a pretty good stab at doing something new with a frankly tired sub-genre. While ramping up the tension and confusion, Adam Baker also ramps up the action and despite the limited canvas of the snowy Arctic waste, manages to devise an impressive variety of situations for the characters to be placed in. The characters themselves are perhaps the strongest feature of the book, from Jane the faithless, suicidal vicar, to Punch the laid back and heroic chef there’s a nice range of conflicting personalities.
There are also some interesting themes lurking in the background. Jane’s loss of faith, the contrast between the castle like oil refinery and the sweeping panorama of the Arctic landscape as well as an ever present ecological undercurrent. These are all kept fairly low key allowing the pace to be maintained and it is a pacy book, with plenty of short, snappy action scenes to keep things moving.
So the world probably doesn’t need another post apocalyptic zombie novel but if we are going to get one then at least Outpost manages to satisfy with it’s entertaining mix of well drawn characters and action.
Rating 3.5 out of 5