The Reaper Virus By Nathan Barnes

Ashton Kutcher once said the only reason he works out is in case the zombie apocalypse happens and he needs to save his loved ones. Far too many zombie story protagonists seem prepared for it. While the main character in The Reaper Virus does have some resources that give him an advantage for survival, he isn’t one of those people. In Walking Dead terms, he has more in common with Eugene than Rick or Darryl, but the truth is he’s just an ordinary guy who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances, a classic setup.

The story begins with a preface from Nathan, the main character who shares the author’s name. In this preface, the story presents one of the coolest promises I’ve ever read:

“I ask that you judge me for who I am and what I fought for, not what I’ve done.” Continue reading

The Walking Dead Season 7 Mid-Season Premiere

The Walking Dead’s mid-season premiere just aired, and I’m seeing a lot of criticism of the show’s first half of season seven. I endured this criticism through November, but now I feel like it’s getting a bit tired. While I acknowledge the purpose of television is to entertain, I think these critics miss the point of what The Walking Dead is doing and, therefore, can’t appreciate it.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course. I think the show is still great, and if you’re interested in why I think that, please read on.

(This is fairly spoiler free, but if you’ve been under a rock and don’t have any idea what happens at the end of season six/beginning of season seven, you might want to turn away.)

Isn’t that redundant? Can one rise down? Whatever. Looks awesome. Carry on.

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On The Walking Dead Season 6 Finale

the_walking_dead_128567I love The Walking Dead. The TV series is perhaps my favorite of all time. Everything about it resonates with me. I love it so much, in fact, that I go to places just to hear people talk about it.

Among super fans, I am not a super fan, because that kind of love takes a special kind of attention that I just can’t devote to anything that isn’t my wife, my work, or my dog. But in the scheme of things I’m a fan of, The Walking Dead is near the top.

This past Sunday, April 3, AMC aired The Walking Dead’s season six finale. I was more amped for it than any TV event in my life. For the first 89 minutes of the 90-minute (minus lots of advertising) episode, it was a 10 out of 10, one of the best episodes the series had ever created. But something happens in the final seconds that completely undermines everything the show had done in the second half of season six, and it’s a terrible shame.

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Walking Dead Panel in D.C.

IMG_1003The Walking Dead is a dramatic post-apocalyptic television series in which zombies have risen and taken over the world and a band of survivors have to seek refuge at every turn as they continually battle the dead and the living for safety.

Just for all of you folks who have recently emerged from your underground bunkers where you weathered a nuclear holocaust that didn’t happen. Thanks for joining us!

Everyone knows about this show. It’s kind of a big deal. It exploded at the height of the zombie genre’s popularity, and for years, its success has been used as a kind of barometer for the market of such stories. Oh, what’s this? The Walking Dead’s ratings ticked down a bit!? Zombies must be dead.

[Warning: Spoilers for the show follow. If you aren’t caught up through the first half of season 6, go away.]

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Don’t Worry; Fear the Walking Dead is Still Getting Better

Fear the Walking Dead Maddy at WindowAfter last night’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, I’ve read a fair bit about how it wasn’t as good as last week’s episode, about how it took a wrong turn, about how it’s boring.

I couldn’t disagree more. Last night’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead was a turning point for the show, and one that it desperately needed.

Heads up. Major season one, episode four spoilers below. I’m going into depth. If you haven’t seen it, go away. Go away, and watch it. This is your final warning. You sure you want to continue? You sure? Confirm your decision to continue: [yes] no

All right, then.

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The King of Clayfield by Shane Gregory

The King of ClayfieldIt’s been almost a month since I put The King of Clayfield by Shane Gregory down, and it’s lingered with me all this time. I don’t attribute its staying power to any raw emotional experience I had with it, nor do I find its relentless grip in any particular shock or horror. The King of Clayfield sticks with me to this day because I’ve yet to be able to truly pin it down. Certain stories fall clearly within a genre, adhering to established guidelines and rules. The King of Clayfield is somewhat unique in that it flows naturally, as if it were grounded in reality instead of someone’s imagination.

Of course, The King of Clayfield has many imaginative and creative elements, but while it isn’t strictly an epistolary, it reads almost like a journal. Shane’s prose is no-nonsense, written in natural language. At times, it may be reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy. He steps out of the way and lets his character tell the story. What’s notable here is that, in my experience with first-person narratives, I’ve found many writers tend to overdo this. They adopt certain tendencies to attempt to force the voice through. Shane doesn’t. The difference is he seems to trust his story and his characters to be interesting rather than trying to make or contrive intrigue. Continue reading

Trailer for Jeremiah Israel’s March The Damned

In support of his novel, March The Damned, Jeremiah Israel is working on a short film. Here’s a trailer for the short film he’s calling “March.” It’s a neat little promo piece that gives you a some details about the novel. I’m looking forward to the full-length version. I’m also looking forward to the novel, which is in my to-read pile at home.

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Review: Tankbread by Paul Mannering

tankbread-by-paul-manneringFor a post-apocalyptic zombie novel that is set after the zombies have won and humanity isn’t just trying to survive but salvage some kind of lower existence, Tankbread would seem to present a story with nowhere left to go but into a bleak future; humanity has no existence left to fill except to serve the upper class, now comprised of zombies that have managed to sustain themselves and elevate their intelligence to near full capacity by feeding regularly on human stem cells. In this vein, Tankbread presents an interesting comment on class in our present, not-yet-apocalyptic society.

The story begins with a courier that remains unnamed throughout. He is being patronized by an evol, one of the upper class of zombies that is intelligent enough to lead. The courier’s charge is to go to the Sydney Opera House, where some of the last of humanity have set up a protected community, and pick up a package. There we learn the secrets of Tankbread and the morally questionable pact humanity has made with the evols for survival. Essentially, Tankbread are human clones the surviving humans create to feed the evols in exchange for an agreement that they will leave the humans in the protected communities alone. As the courier is learning all of this, feeling safe in this Australian landmark, the Opera House is attacked, but the courier escapes with a Tankbread he later names Else and a charge to get her to a research facility across the country.

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Review: The Killing Floor by Craig DiLouie

killing_floor_craig_dilouieLike most sequels, it’s difficult to discuss Craig DiLouie’s The Killing Floor without at least mentioning its predecessor, The Infection. Unlike most sequels, however, DiLouie makes it easy to focus on this work by surpassing the original in almost every way.

The Killing Floor picks up right where The Infection leaves us, bringing back all of the characters who survive the first story, even one special character whom we think is doomed when we leave The Infection, and introducing many new characters. Like Infection, itself, DiLouie allows his zombie mythology to evolve and adapt, and therein he finds the central plot of The Killing Floor. It threatens to become hackneyed, but DiLouie jumps in with both feet and develops it enough so that it feels legitimate, natural, and unique.

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