||[May. 13th, 2008|10:02 pm]
I've done a bit of reading of late. Here are some key points. If I missed one you're interested in, let me know, and I'll try to remember it for next time.|
The Zombie Survival Guide
This book is amazing. It's title says it all; it's a guide for surviving a zombie epidemic. Though you'll find it in your bookseller's humor section, this book, were zombies a real threat to humanity, would work just as well in the section of the bookstore reserved for survival guides.
Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks, former writer for shows such as SNL, introduces us to a world parallel to our own, or maybe even our own, with an ever-present zombie plague. It features helpful hints to avoid, confront, or even withstand an onslaught of the living dead. It also features an abbreviated history of zombie sightings throughout history.
I cannot wait to read his follow-up piece, World War Z.
Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy
This tome, comprised of three complete novels, is a beast to read. The pages are many, and the print is small, but the prose is, well, good.
The story follows the life of Merlin, as told by himself. Born the bastard son of a Welsh princess, he must survive attempts on his life from his wicked uncle, who suspects a great king may be his father. Turns out, yeah.
Merlin of this book is the "real" Merlin, and those Arturian legends are just what happens when peasants try to explain concepts beyond their reckoning. The only supernatural quality to Stewart's Merlin is his gift of Sight, both a foresight and an ability to see things happening in other parts of the land. The rest is due to his skill in engineering, herbology, music, and such.
The first book leads him from Wales to the court of Ambrosious, his true father. The next puts him under the rule of his uncle, Uther Pendragon, and leaves him with the charge of a young baby named Arthur, who he must hide from those who wish to usurp Uther's throne. The third book chronicles Arthur's ascention to the throne, and the subsequent fall of Merlin. There's a fourth book, which I haven't read, but I suppose from that, you may infer that the fall of Merlin does not entail his death.
Stewart's work weaves a tale that is interesting, well written, and more or less believable. Oddly enough: some of her influence from the first book comes from an (admittedly) discredited source.
If you're up for a lengthy good read (It took me a day shy of six weeks, but there were days during which I didn't read, due to time constraints), I'd suggest Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy. It's not the most amazing thing you'll ever read, but you'll dig it if you dig Arthurian Legend, and maybe even if you don't.
The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye
Rick Grimes is a police officer in a small Kentucky town. He and Shane, his partner, are in a shootout with a crazy man (who may be foreshadowing future events), and Rick is shot. Later, he wakes up in a surprisingly empty hospital.
What is it about zombie media and the main character waking up in a hospital? I suppose it's a device to gloss over the gradual spread of the zombie plague and introduce the main character to it after it's hit its stride. But I digress.
The hospital is not as empty as it seems, though. Opening the cafeteria door reveals a room full of zombies. Managing to escape the zombies, he meets Morgan and his son Duane (and his head meets the backside of Duane's shovel), who are squatting in his neighbor's house. Morgan fills him in on what's been going on, and that the radios said for everyone to get to Atlanta, the nearest big city. Rick bids them farewell, travelling to Atlanta, in hopes of finding his wife Lori and son Carl.
His cruiser runs out of gas, but he manages to find a horse to ride the rest of the way. At long last, he gets to Atlanta, which has now been overrun by Zombies. His poor horse meets the zombies first, and while they're busy with him Rick is saved by Glenn, a young man who knows the city well enough to traverse it regularly in order to get supplies for his outpost.
Back at the outpost, just outside of the city, Rick is reunited with Lori and Carl, as well as Shane. Shane watches Rick with a hint of jealousy as he embraces his family, and tensions slowly build after Rick suggests they move their encampment further away from the city. Shane thinks this is a bad idea, as if they're in the middle of nowhere, the government won't be able to find them once they get everything under control.
The rest of the volume deals with life in the outpost, trying to cope with losing their loved ones and their ways of life. It ends with the outpost losing three of its members.
The Walking Dead is more a social drama than it is a horror story, and it does this remarkably. Drawn and shaded in black and white, you see the bleak existence of the outpost. You see the zombies, and they're gross, but not as much as if they were in color. In here, they're just scary. They're sad. Whoever decided to make this black and white made a wonderful decision, as it does not cause the zombies to detract from the actual story.
Coming up next? My review of F&SF June 2008, and then (gasp) July 2008. Yes. I'm one of those bloggers.
Crossposted in The Eventide Knave and The Gangster of L'Oeuf.