Monday, January 31, 2011

News: Dymocks Southland Bestselling Zombie Titles for January 2011

Zombie fiction continued to trade strongly into the new year after a bumper Christmas season, with the popularity of The Walking Dead TV show additionally boosting sales of Zed-related graphic novels.

1. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies - Austen / Graeme-Smith
2. Zombie Apocalypse! - ed. Stephen Jones
3. Marvel Zombies #1 - Kirkman / Phillips
4. The Zombie Survival Guide - Max Brooks
5. Zombies vs Unicorns - ed. Larbalestier / Black
6. Boneshaker - Cherie Priest
7. Night of the Living Trekkies - Anderson / Stall
8. The Dead (The Enemy #2) - Charlie Higson
9. The Zombie Combat Manual - Roger Ma
10. Pariah - Bob Fingerman

Recent arrivals include David P. Murphy's Zombies for Zombies: The Play and Werk Buk.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fiction: Arizona Afterwards

In the fine tradition of bestselling authors such as David Wellington and David Moody, who rose to prominence through posting their zombie fiction free online, Australian-based author Christopher Green currently has a full-length zombie novel underway over at 

Arizona Afterwards is a novel of survival. Of love and pain and struggle. And zombies. Four chapters have been posted thus far, with a new chapter posted every weekend throughout 2011, completely free of charge to readers. Zomfic fans who wish to reimburse Christopher for his excellent work, however, may do so via the on-site Paypal Donation button.

Christopher, whose award-winning short fiction has been published in Dreaming Again, Edge of Propinquity, Midnight Echo and Aurealis (among others), also maintains a writing blog at, and NecroScope recommends that you take the time to check out Christopher's wider body of work.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review: The Dead (The Enemy #2)

Charlie Higson, 2010, Penguin Australia

A terrible plague is striking down everyone over the age of fourteen, and those that survive now roam the streets as mindless animals, hunting, seeking human flesh. Jack and Ed are best friends, but their battle to stay alive tests their friendship to the limit as they go on  the run with a mismatched group of kids - nerds, fighters, misfits - and one solitary adult, who claims to be immune to the disease...

Charlie Higson's sequel to The Enemy takes the central premise of the first book - what if everyone over the age of fourteen suddenly became a flesh-eating zombie? - and explores the ramifications to their fullest and most terrifying potential. With The Dead focusing upon a completely different group of central characters from those in The Enemy, Higson has the opportunity to examine the same overall situation from a totally different angle, and indeed manages to put a new spin on certain events from the first book, which hints at some intriguing and - again - terrifying possibilities for the next book in the series. The plotting is tight, the forward momentum of the story never flagging for a moment, and Higson's characters are empathic studies of the average tween, an uneasy (often contradictory) blend of childlike immaturity and adult intelligence.

It should be noted that, despite The Dead being pitched squarely at the Young Adult market, Higson pulls no punches when it comes to depicting realistic violence, gore, and other dark aspects of post-apocalyptic life, although it's difficult to say who will find such content more disturbing: teens or adults. Far from being a bad thing, I'd cite this as just one of the major reasons that The Dead will stay with readers long after they've turned the final page (and possibly visited the advertised website, about which I'll say no more).

In a nutshell, The Dead is a bleak, emotionally draining and completely riveting installment in what is shaping up to be a brilliant zompocalyptic series. A must-read of the genre.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: Zombie Apocalypse!

Ed. Stephen Jones, 2010, Scribo Australia

In near-future London, construction work on an old church releases a plague that turns its victims into flesh-hungry ghouls. As 'The Death' begins to sweep across the country, and then the entire globe, civilization collapses. Told through a series of interconnected eyewitness narratives - text messages, emails, blogs, letters, diaries and transcripts - Zombie Apocalypse! is an epic tale of a world plunged into chaos as the dead battle the living for total dominion...

Comprising dozens of individual pieces contributed by many talented authors (credited only at the back of the book, to emphasise the 'found footage' nature of the anthology), Zombie Apocalypse! details the titular event from seemingly-innocent beginnings to ultimate end, with often-understated evidence of bureaucratic bungling, governmental cover-ups and military failures contributing to the atmosphere of dread and impending doom that builds throughout. While some of the more irreverently light-hearted pieces seemed a little out of place against the overall darkness, most contributed strongly to the overall story. It's been a long time since I've been genuinely frightened by a zombie tale, but several pieces in Zombie Apocalypse! (such as Paul Finch's deceptively dry policeman's report of the Night From Hell) were so effectively disturbing that - I'm ashamed to admit - after reading this anthology in a single sitting, I was reticent to leave the safety of my brightly-lit lounge room and traverse the darkened house to go to bed.

Shared-world anthologies can often be a mixed bag, but Zombie Apocalypse! offers a wonderfully cohesive, engrossing, and truly horrifying vision that should keep most readers turning the page into the wee small hours of the morning. A great, if disturbing, read.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: Real Zombies, the Living Dead, and Creatures of the Apocalypse

Brad Steiger, 2010, Penguin Australia

'Real Zombies... is an antidote to the dozens of Hollywood films that monotonously portray the lurching, reanimated dead. True zombie traditions are vast and multicultural, and they have been almost completely overlooked by the popular media...'

Non-fiction paranormal and occult reference books can be a something of a dodgy proposition; the very best ones out there balance entertainment value with at least a modicum of well-referenced and accurately-reported information; the worst are given over completely to sensationalism, with nothing in the way of 'hard evidence' - at least as far as it's possible to provide hard evidence on matters paranormal - to engage the interest of vaguely-skeptical readers.

Real Zombies falls somewhere in the middle, with Steiger speculating heavily on such matters as Hitler's attempt to create a zombie army, and occasionally stating as fact such things as the popularity of 'zombie brides' in the American South following the Civil War. It's certainly entertaining stuff, but, when offered without any backing historical and/or reputable evidence*, it occasionally feels as though Steiger is asking us to take a little too much on faith alone**. That aside, there's a great deal of fascinating information to be found here, with chapters on such things as zombies as heralds of the Apocalypse, eating flesh as a religious experience, governmental experiments to create zombies, and of course much exploration of vodou culture. On balance, there's also a fair bit of material that seems to have little to do with the central topic; reports on 'real-life' sightings of swamp monsters and lycanthropes, tales of urban demon-worship, and information on flesh-eating mythological creatures from around the globe. Ultimately, though, Real Zombies is an entertaining and informative read; whether you take is as fact, fiction, or a mixture of the two, however, will be largely up to you.

* Possibly I'm expecting too much here, the nature of the topic again not necessarily allowing for academic referencing and the like. On the other hand, though, stating as fact something that - to the best of my knowledge - is not generally accepted as fact requires at least some backing evidence, such as, say, the tentative opinion of some little-known historian. Even a simple disclaimer along the lines of 'So-and-so believes that...' - which immediately identifies the information as honest speculation - is generally sufficient.

** As a practicing vodouissant myself, I certainly have no issues with taking things on faith, so don't imagine for a moment that I'm rubbishing anything related to belief in the occult (or religion, etc). However, again, if an author is going to present such matters as non-fiction, rather than as either fiction or an obvious trapping of Faith (such as a religious text), it falls to the author to provide more than just their personal statement of fact.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review: My Zombie Valentine

Katie MacAlister, Angie Fox, Marianne Mancusi & Lisa Cach, 2010, Scribo Books Australia

Tired of boyfriends who drain you dry? Sick of guys who stay out all night howling at the moon? You can do better. Some men want you not only for your body, but your brains. Especially your brains...

My Zombie Valentine comprises four novellas, each penned by one of the authors named above, and it should come as no surprise - given the blurb above, not to mention the title - that all four fall squarely into the 'paranormal romance' genre. Overall, I found all four pieces enjoyable (despite them being very obviously pitched at a female readership, which I am not); MacAlister's 'Bring Out Your Dead' revolves around a unique counsellor unwillingly drafted to care for a rather unusual child, while dealing with various Undead Issues of her own; Fox's 'Gentlemen Prefer Voodoo' is the tale of a practitioner/shopkeeper who utilises her faith to secure a lover; Mancusi's 'Zombiewood Confidential' gives us movie stars and romance against the backdrop of a Romeroesque uprising; and Cach's 'Every Part of You' pits our female protagonist against a madman and his army of...well, you can guess.

There's nothing particularly deep or gory to be found here, just light, entertaining fluff, mostly well-written and, yes, pleasingly sexy (definitely no 'ick' factor). If you enjoy paranormal romance in general, it's likely you'll enjoy the contents of this anthology; if head-shots and flesheating is more your thing, possibly not so much.

Review: Dead City

Joe McKinney, Pinnacle Books, 2006 (reissued 2010)

In the wake of a series of cataclysmic hurricanes, a deadly virus has spread along the Texas Gulf Coast. The dead are rising, with an insatiable hunger for human flesh, and police officer Eddie Huston must fight off the savage hordes in a race to find and save his family. But time is running out, and Eddie doesn't yet realise the price he may have to pay for failure...

I must admit to being absolutely delighted to see Joe McKinney's Dead City being reissued - with one sequel recently released and another two forthcoming, plus a (be warned, somewhat spoiler-ish) related short tale in the recent anthology, The Living Dead 2 - as this is a novel that (in my opinion) lead the initial 'boom' not merely in zomfic, but in really good zomfic, when it first appeared back in 2006.

The plot is a simple one, with our protagonist struggling to survive in a city overrun by the living dead; pure Romero, although the stakes are raised above the same-old by the specific nature of Eddie's 'quest' - to not merely survive, but to track down his young family and get them to safety. Factor in a sympathetic, though pleasingly imperfect protagonist, and McKinney's concise and descriptive prose, and you have what can best be described as a 'page-turner'.

Dead City is a damned good read, and one guaranteed to please a range of readers well beyond the zomfic fans. Again, it's fantastic to see another bona fide classic of the genre re-issued (Walter Greatshell's Xombies is another recent example) for the benefit of those who have only come lately to the growing zomfic horde, and I'm greatly looking forward to reading the sequels, Apocalypse of the Dead, Flesh Eaters, and The Zombie King.

Dead City is available in Australia through Penguin Books.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

News: the 2010 (Genre) Bookselling Year in Review

...or, at least, one Australian bookseller's take on it.

Follow the link below to access a frank report on sales of SF, fantasy, paranormal fiction and horror (including a dedicated 'bestselling zombie titles' list!) at Dymocks Southland over the past year, posted by NecroScope's own Keeper of the Dead.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

News: Zomfic Up for Hugo Nominations

One of the highlights of 2010, in terms of zomfic, was the utterly brilliant The Living Dead 2 anthology from Night Shade Books, edited by John Joseph Adams. Now, as nominations open for the annual Hugo Awards, zomfans have an opportunity to show their appreciation for the contribution that Adams - and a whole bunch of extremely talented authors - have made to the zombie fiction subgrenre.

From John's personal blog:

2011 Hugo Awards Nomination Period is Now OpenThis year’s Hugo Awards nomination ballot is now online. The 2011 Hugo Awards will be presented in Reno, NV during Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention (August 17-21). Deadline for nominating online is March 26, 2011 23:59 PDT.
Anyone who has a supporting or full membership of Renovation as of January 31, 2011 and all members of Aussiecon 4 (last year’s Worldcon) may nominate works. If you didn’t attend Aussiecon, and you don’t plan to attend Renovation, you can still nominate by purchasing a supporting membership.

Already registered? Go and nominate your favorite works!
A full list of works edited by John that are eligible in the various Hugo categories (including stories from The Living Dead 2) is up at:

Don't be shy, folks - let's get some top-notch zomfic up for the Hugos in 2011!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Editorial: the NecroKeeper's Xmas Haul

So, what did Santa bring you for Xmas?

Xmas is a brilliant time for zomfans: aside from the ever-increasing list of great zombie publications available to give and receive, there's a veritable cryptful of zombie-related products out there to pick and choose from at this special time of year. In this special NecroScope Editorial, we give you a peek at all the Yuletide goodies received by our very own Keeper of the Dead and his family...

Here, the NecroKeeper models a couple of awesome t-shirts purchased from Redbubble (by Mrs NecroKeeper).

While Zombie Jr. scored these great PJ's.

And MiniZom looks ready to take on the horde in this appropriately-themed romper suit (thanks, Miss Alice!).

Zombie Jr. also scored this great Cuponk zombie game (from Santa). The idea is to bounce a ball (painted to look like an eyeball) into the cup via a specific pattern of bounces, as dictated by a card selected. Surprisingly addictive.

A zombie feltie for the NecroKeeper, courtesy of one of our regular customers at Dymocks Southland (thanks, Liz!).
And what Xmas would be complete without calendars for the following year? Here's an official Max Brooks Zombie Survival Guide 2011 desk calendar (cheers, Tate!), and a brilliant Fold-Your-Own-Zombie 'zombigami' wall calendar (once again, thanks to the awesome Miss Alice!).
All in all, a bumper haul for the NecroFamily, and hopefully a few cool zombie gift ideas for you all for Xmas 2011.

Review: Home

Dir. Cameron McCulloch, Starring Jamie McDowell, 2010

Deep in the Australian bush, a lone young woman emerges periodically from her rickety shack to thin the hordes of encroaching zombies. But is she truly alone? And will the dark secret she keeps ultimately be the cause of her undoing?

Home is a short film, written and directed by Cameron McCulloch, and shot on a budget of just AU$2,000, which took out first prize at the Made in Melbourne film festival last month. Zombies have always lent themselves to low-budget film-making, but rarely are such films so polished and gripping as Home. The simple plot is taut and engrossing, despite dealing with themes familiar to most zomfans, and McDowell's dialogue-free performance as the sole living character is excellent. The backdrop of the inhospitable Australian bush is used to great effect, with some stunning cinematography, minimal and effective use of music, and understated SFX similarly underscoring the 'mundane' horror of the piece.

Home is an absolute gem among zombie shorts, and one I'd urge zomfans to track down and see if possible. The film will be doing the rounds of various festivals in the near future, and of course NecroScope will keep our readers posted on forthcoming screenings. In the meantime, to whet your appetites, here's the official Home trailer.

Review: Pariah

Bob Fingerman, 2010, Tor

A global plague has vanquished mankind. In NYC, eight million zombies pack the streets, shoulder to shoulder, waiting for their next meal of human flesh. The residents of an upper east-side apartment block have banded together to survive, but - trapped in the safety of their fortress - soon find themselves starving and at one anothers' throats. And then one day a girl appears outside - a girl who can walk unmolested among the living dead...

Truly good zomlit - as with most great apocalyptic fiction - is never really about zombies; it's about people, and how people react to a crisis. This being the case, there's really no reason why each and every apocalyptic zombie novel shouldn't be fresh, unique and engrossing, as there is literally no limit to the number of different human characters an author can throw together to produce vastly differing behaviour and reactions, either to the zombies or to each other. Pariah is certainly a novel that ably demonstrates this truism, the central characters including some aging Jews, a couple of aggressive jocks, a younger white married couple, a black locksmith, the local 'cat lady' type, a sensitive artist, and the rather odd teenaged girl who enters their lives. Tensions within the group are inflamed by ongoing grudges and rivalries, lust, jealousy and extreme boredom, while the surreal threat of the zombies surrounding the building is counterbalanced by the utterly mundane and more immediate threat of starvation and dehydration, since the residents are unable to leave the building to forage. Fingerman's prose is pure poetry, and right from the outset the narrative simmers with a mix of escalating tension and dark observational humour, leaving the reader in little doubt that things cannot possibly end well here.

Pariah is one of the most enjoyable and engaging reads - in any genre - I've had in a year packed with enjoyable and engaging reads. This is a zombie novel one can safely recommend to literary pundits who wouldn't pick up a zombie novel under any circumstances. Brilliant, brilliant stuff, and a novel that all zomlit fans absolutely must read.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

News: Dymocks Southland Bestselling Zombie Titles for December 2010

Christmas was a bumper month for sales of zomlit at Dymocks Southland this year, no doubt due to customers wishing to show their respect for the original zombie himself, JC.

1. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies - Austen / Graeme-Smith
2. Alone (Chasers #1) - James Phelan
3. Night of the Living Trekkies - Anderson / Stall
4. The Zombie Combat Manual - Roger Ma
5. I Am Scrooge - Adam Roberts
6. Feed - Mira Grant
7. Zombie Felties (!) - Tedman / Skeate
8. Dead City - Joe McKinney
9. Undead - John Russo
10. Zombies vs Unicorns - Larbalestier / Black

New zed-flavoured arrivals this month included Zombie Apocalypse! (ed. Stephen Jones), Warm Bodies (Isaac Marion), and Code of the Zombie Pirate (Scott Kenemore).