The Harvest Cycle is an Apocalyptic tale which takes place fifty years since the first harvesters appeared, boiling up from the sea to claim as many human lives as they possibly can for a far distant god who wishes to consume the dreams of mankind. The creatures-fast, silent monsters with claws that can slice through anything, including the skulls of its victims, have come many times since then, driving the remains of humanity into hiding far beneath the surface of the earth. Those that survive have chosen to either surgically remove the part of their brains that the harvesters are compelled to devour, or they decide to remain uncut retaining their ability to think creatively and to dream by those who have lost so much with the mutilation of their brains (and souls as well). In addition to the horrors of the harvesters, humanity must also avoid the ‘synths’ or robots that were once loyal servants to humanity that realized during the first harvest the endless nightmarish hell that awaits those humans in the afterlife whose brains are devoured by harvesters. They are on a mission of mercy to kill all of humanity to save them from this horrible fate.
The story begins when a group of dreamers, led by a hopeful visionary along with a woman who is psychically linked to the nightmare god who created the harvesters and craves humanity’s dreams, go on a quest with the hope of somehow destroying the harvesters. Pursued by a police officer named Jack DiVinci, one of the soulless survivors who has a secret that allows him to still be creative and dream, as well as a squad of robots on a search and destroy mission.
David Dunwoody’s latest novel mixes elements of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, Asimov’s robots (with the authors unique twist on the Laws of Robotics…or more specifically, the zeroth law that Asimov added last: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm), and a slight hint of noir with Jack DiVinci, a man who believes what he is doing is saving the human race, despite his own doubts on what it means to be saved.
This is one of the more unique visions of the apocalypse that I’ve ever read, with plenty of madness and mayhem to go around, plus plenty of gore and a high body count to boot. Dunwoody has this knack for making a story gruesome, horrifying, and yet totally accessible. He has no fear when it comes to pushing the reader’s buttons-not just with who he is willing to torture and maim, but with how the universe he creates works. It isn’t always pretty, and sometimes it feels like I was being beaten senseless by the brutality of what happens in this tale, but there is beauty here too-hope that humanity can somehow overcome its own vile failings and perhaps persevere against impossible odds.
I haven’t been disappointed by anything I’ve read by David Dunwoody as of yet, and The Harvest Cycle is no exception. This is potent tale that mixes supernatural horror and science fiction with a fluid grace that few authors can pull off with such skill.
The Harvest Cycle can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1934861324/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Arthur Graham, fellow author and editor for Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 2, for which I wrote a science fiction comedy story called “The Interstellar Quest for Snack Cakes”, took the time out to interview me about my story, about zombies, and about all sorts of strange things. Okay, I admit it-his questions weren’t all that strange, just my answers. But please check it out at: http://bizarropress.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/patrick-dorazio/
Craig DiLouie took the traditional infected/zombie tale and expanded upon it (and turned it on its ear) with his release of The Infection. The Killing Floor, the second book in this series, carries on where the last book left off, with surviving characters trying to comprehend the costly victory they had at the bridge, where they prevented a flood of infected from crossing the Ohio River and tearing through the refugee camp in nearby Defiance, where over 100,000 survivors live. Ray, one of the survivors from the battle, has been infected but has yet to turn. He is given a mercy by Anne, who allows him to crawl off to die on his own instead of getting a bullet in the head. But Ray doesn’t become your typical infected, instead turning into something like a Typhoid Mary, or a carrier of the infection, instead. This is the centerpiece of this book, with Ray trying to understand what his purpose is as the military and the militia, led by Anne, race to find him with the hope that his blood may hold the cure or to kill him, even as his new found capabilities make him even more dangerous than even the monsters or the infected.
We are introduced to two main new characters: Dr. Price, who is one of the only scientists that believes the infection is not manmade. He manages to escape the White House and is hidden in an underground bunker, but as the story unfolds is given the opportunity to go after Ray and perhaps find a vaccine or cure for infection. Rod, the other new character, is a soldier in the field working to clear out Washington D.C. of the infected when he and his men are assigned the task of bringing Ray in, dead or alive. Along with the remaining cast from the first book, we are given an impressive slew of characters whose stories intersect and come together for the exciting conclusion.
As the second book in what is likely a trilogy, the actual novelty of the infected are has worn off a bit, meaning we get to delve even deeper into the characters here and focus less on the different creatures that have come about with the advent of this plague. Even with some of the secondary characters there is plenty to sink your teeth into, as most of them do not come off as hollow cannon fodder, but real people. The author also does an excellent job of making the military aspects of this story believable without overdoing the jargon and technical areas of the story. The writing is crisp, sharp, and the story itself is intriguing-it does not rely on the unique nature of the infection (with its wide array of different life forms that appear to have the goal of not just running amok but its apparent lust to wipe out all other life forms) to carry the story forward, but the characters who give the tale its terrific depth.
The Killing Floor is a well-crafted follow up to The Infection and has me anxiously awaiting the third chapter in this saga.
The Killing Floor can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Killing-Floor-novel-Infection/dp/1618680757/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1339807021&sr=8-3&keywords=the+killing+floor
Dean Giles has crafted what amounts to a serial production of an alien invasion, releasing it as short stories with two installations thus far, along with a brief prequel that is included with Alien Apocalypse: Genesis. The story is about Leon, a father imprisoned for manslaughter after he kills his wife’s murderer, and Elliot, his son, who has to live with his aunt and uncle on their farm until his father’s four year sentence is complete. Nearing the end of his term of imprisonment, Leon has to deal with a comet that is passing close to Earth’s atmosphere and the fact that an alien presence that has hitched a ride on the comet has invaded earth, devouring virtually everything in its path and wiping out everyone in his prison except for him and a couple of other people. The first short story, Alien Apocalypse: The Storm, tells the tale of his efforts to find Elliot and figure out how they can escape the encroaching alien growth, which has the ability to transform itself into a wide array of genetic hybrids that are capable of tearing apart just about anything to get to the human flesh it craves. Leon and Elliot discover that the only thing that seems able to stop the alien assault is oil, which keeps the alien growth at bay. In this chapter of the saga, Leon and his son make their way to an oil refinery, which seems like the safest place given the alien’s weakness and might provide them with a weapon to fight back. Upon arrival at the refinery, they discover other survivors who have taken over and have enslaved several other people. Leon and Elliot work to free these prisoners but only manage to provide an escape for one of them, a woman who has lost her memory who they dub Isabella until she can tell them her real name. The author also shares insights into the alien hive mind and how it thinks throughout the story, letting the reader know what its plans are for the human race.
Alien Apocalypse is an entertaining sci fi outing that, so far, has me intrigued. I am interested in where things go from here, with genetic replicas being created of human beings that, when separated from the hive mind, seem to have desires and yearnings of their own that tend to contradict the ancient alien they came from. I for one am very interested in seeing where this story leads and look forward to the next chapter.
Alien Apocalypse: Genesis can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Alien-Apocalypse-Genesis-ebook/dp/B007EG96WQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1338336404&sr=1-1
Another project I worked on and am very excited about has come to fruition and is now available over on Amazon. Read The End First has the unique premise of showcasing 24 different tales of the end of the world, each based in a different time zone. Because of the nature of the project, this was an invite only anthology, and each author had to pick a particular time zone and write a story that would make sense given their location on the globe. My particular story takes place in Bethlehem and is entitled “What Rough Beast.” You’ll just have to guess at what the story is all about.
So check this one out, there is a great list of authors involved, including Stephen North, Suzanne Robb (who edited it), Michael S. Gardner, Rebecca Snow, A.J. French, Craig Saunders, John McCuaig, David Dunwoody, Wayne Goodchild, Adrian Chamberlain, D.A. Chaney, Hollie Snider, William Todd Rose, and many more that I apologize I can’t remember right off the top of my head.
So click on the cover and head on over to Amazon to check out your very own copy of Read The End First.
I’m proud to announce that Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 From Outer Space has been released and is available over on Amazon. This book details those first plans where the aliens tried to prevent humanity from destroying the universe before their infamous raising of the dead experiment documented in the movie from Ed Wood Jr., Plan 9 From Outer Space. Tony Schaab has brought together a bunch of fantastic authors to tell the tales that record our interactions with the alien beings who are fearful we will invent the substance that has the power to ignite the sun and destroy us all. Certainly, their efforts with Plan 9 were a miserable failure, but what came before? What attempts did they make in our past to try and curb our lust for violence and destruction?
Check out Before Plan 9, which includes my retelling of the Odyssey, aka Plan 1. Just click on the book cover to be directed over to Amazon to get your copy today. Oh, and make sure you keep watching the skies, because the aliens are sure to return!
Here is the table of contents of this very fun and exciting new book:
Plan Zero from the Mesozoic Era by Tony Schaab
Plan 1 from the Lesser-Heralded Parts of The Odyssey by Patrick D’Orazio
Plan 2 from Ancient Egypt by D.A. Chaney
Plan 3 from the Middle Ages of Hamelin by Greg Carter
Plan 4 from the Clockwork Country by Tonia Brown
Plan 5 from the Depressing Depression by David Dunwoody
Plan 6 from the Nazi Regime by Rob Silvera
Plan 7 from Sin City by Jonathan Maberry
Plan 8 from the Fantastic Fifties, Phase 1 by Craig DiLouie
Plan 8 from the Fantastic Fifties, Phase 2 by Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty
Alien Apocalypse-The Storm is a short story that takes place just as a comet is cutting a close path near the earth. Something has been hanging out on the comet, and comes down to earth, covering everything with a green mold like growth that devours everything living in its path. The story splits perspectives between Leon, a father imprisoned for manslaughter and just about to fulfill his term, and his son, Elliot, who is living with his aunt and uncle, waiting for his dad to be released. Leon is stuck in solitary confinement during the initial landing of the green growth that carves a swath of destruction through the prison. Only the prison guard who comes into his cell and a woman who is a clerk at the prison who hid in locker manage to avoid the mayhem. Elliot, living on a remote farm, also escapes the first wave of destruction, and the hunt is on for Leon, now freed from prison, to get to his son in time before everything is destroyed.
This is a fast paced, nicely done apocalyptic short story, with a promise for more to come from the author. For a brief tale, Leon, the father, is developed nicely as a character you can appreciate and the author tosses some nice twists into a tale whose main villain is a moss-like substance. Overall, plenty of fun, and I will be interested to see where Dean Giles takes things from here.
Alien Apocalypse-The Storm can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Alien-Apocalypse-The-Storm-ebook/dp/B005JE2W7Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1331961140&sr=1-1
I’m pretty excited about a newly release anthology that one of my short stories appears in. I had the opportunity to write a story that was a bit different for me, though at the same time, still shared a bit of DNA with many of the other stories I’ve written over the years. This particular one was originally intended for another anthology, and fit the it to a T. Unfortunately, before that particular anthology got very far, it was cancelled by the publisher. I was ‘stuck’ with this story at that point, which was unfortunate, because I thought it was one of my better tales. It was my effort at writing a war story set in the future, but having some very traditional horror elements to it-a particular menace that I had never written a story about before, and was a new challenge for me. So when I heard about Static Movement producing an anthology entitled Dark Dispatches, which wanted tales of war, real or imagined, here on Earth or elsewhere, in any time period–past, present or future, I knew my story might have a second life. So I submitted my tale, entitled “One Shot, One Kill”, and George Wilhite, the editor, responded within a couple of days, snatching it up.
And now this tale has been released to Amazon, and I am asking you to check it out. I’m not sure how Static Movement works on ebooks, but the paperback version is now available. Keep an eye on the link for further information on the kindle release, and probably over on smashwords for other ebook releases.
I would ask that you consider getting a copy of this book in paperback-a slew of war stories that contain supernatural, alien, and plain old human warriors-all with compelling story lines. I have had the privilege of reading one of the other tales in this book already, by Richard Marsden, and I can tell you that it is excellent. Well worth the price of admission for these two tales alone…but there are many, many more!
So go ahead: click the picture, and head on over to Amazon to pick up your copy of Dark Dispatches. Thanks!
What can I really say about this book? It is well over a hundred pages of some of the most groan-inducing jokes about monsters and monster related topics I have ever seen. Not just jokes, but rhymes, raps, and song parodies. MonsterMatt does his best to make you want to stick a fork in your eye, and then, after you’ve gotten over the pain from such an agonizing injury, use your remaining good eye to read more of his jokes. I’m not really sure what kept dragging me back in for more, but I suppose part of it has to be the fact that there is no deception used here-no attempt to convince you, the reader, that any of these jokes will do any more or less than make you cringe at how pun-ishingly bad they are. Of course, if you are like me, and don’t try to take the world we live in too seriously all the time, there is a place for a book like this one. One that you can share with your kids and get them to moan and roll their eyes at you for telling them such bad jokes…ones that they might just tell their friends and not let you know that they did so.
You get everything from the classics: jokes about Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, Wolfman…and jokes about some of the newer stuff out there, like True Blood, The Walking Dead, and movies like Dead Snow. Given that this book is entitled Volume 1, I fear that MonsterMatt is not finished, so be warned. The bad jokes apparently shall return to induce even more headaches and heartburn!
MonsterMatt’s Bad Monster Jokes, Volume 1 can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/MonsterMatts-Bad-Monster-Jokes-1/dp/1617060941/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329709231&sr=1-1
A while back, I had the opportunity to write a story for a new anthology based on an old movie. Let me correct myself. It was an old, bad movie. Not just any bad movie, but THE bad movie. The one that is so bad it has gotten awards for being the worst movie ever made, and because of that, has become a cult classic in the minds of people everywhere. Heck, they made a movie about the guy who made this movie because this movie was so bad, and this guy was so good at making bad movies and THAT movie even won an academy award. Strange, huh? A movie about a movie that is bad winning an academy award. Go figure.
Well, I’m not trying to keep any secrets here, since everyone can guess based on the title of this post what movie I’m talking about. It is Ed Wood Jr.’s classic Plan 9 from Outer Space. Tony Schaab, who runs Twinstar Media, as a huge fan of the movie and someone who is involved in the novelization of the script as well as a remake of the movie, came up with an intriguing question: if the movie shows what Plan 9 was from the aliens, which failed so miserably, what were their first 8 plans to conquer earth? Well, maybe not to conquer earth, but to prevent us from making a solarnite bomb. And if you don’t know what a solarnite bomb is, go look for Plan 9 on Youtube-you can watch the entire movie in all its wretched glory free of charge.
Thus was born the idea behind Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 From Outer Space. I’m proud to be a part of this project and to have the chance to pay homage to one of the worst movies of all time with what I hope isn’t one of the worst short stories of all time, heh. My little story has the honor of being Plan 1, if you can believe it! It is entitled: Plan 1 from the Lesser-Heralded Parts of The Odyssey. Yep, these aliens have been bugging us humans since the days of Greek heroes like Odysseus.
Here is the full table of contents:
- Plan Zero from the Mesozoic Era by Tony Schaab
- Plan 1 from the Lesser-Heralded Parts of The Odyssey by Patrick D’Orazio
- Plan 2 from Ancient Egypt by D.A. Chaney
- Plan 3 from the Middle Ages of Hamelin by Greg Carter
- Plan 4 from the Clockwork Country by Tonia Brown
- Plan 5 from the Depressing Depression by David Dunwoody
- Plan 6 from the Nazi Regime by Rob Silvera
- Plan 7 from Sin City by Jonathan Maberry
- Plan 8 from the Fantastic Fifties, Phase 1 by Craig DiLouie
- Plan 8 from the Fantastic Fifties, Phase 2 by Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty
DARC12 is a deep space research vessel that is located as close to a black hole as it can without being sucked into it. Its mission is to do research that is illegal back home (genetic studies, animal experimentation, etc.) as well exploration of distant space. The DARC vessels have been looking for, and have not found alien life, so when DARC12 finds a strange asteroid nearby that seems to be alive, it is a monumental discovery. Despite the fact that this living thing appears to be nothing more than some sort of plant life, or so it seems at first, it is brought on board for examination. Not long after it arrives, the people exposed to it-the scientists and the head of security, Wilson, as well as others among the crew, are hearing voices inside their heads-voices the promise peace and happiness or ignite fears and nightmares insides their skulls. Soon one of the members of the team that handled the alien is murdering at the command of those voices, and Wilson, who is starting to fear that the perhaps the alien presence has something to do with that shocking event, has to figure out what is going on. But the worst is yet to come, as those killed are coming back to life as they too are called by the alien presence to do its bidding. They are ravenous, fast moving killers, tearing into anything that crosses their path.
Containment Room 7, which is named for the room where the alien is kept to be studied, is a combination alien and zombie tale of horror that moves at a breakneck pace, giving the reader little to no time to breath as things happen on board this massive research vessel. I believe the entire story takes place in a little over 24 hours, with madness and the undead spreading through the DARC12 in no time. Like most horror tales that take place inside a space faring vessel, the cramped conditions and remoteness of their location give the tale a claustrophobic sense to it.
There are four main characters in this story: Wilson, the head of security, Rodney and Colette, two security officers, and Lisa, a biologist. Of those that survive the onslaught of the murderous fanatics and undead, they appear able to resist the call of the alien in their midst, or so it seems. They have meager weaponry meant to maintain peace with; a crew of 144 that typically does no worse than have the occasional argument or suicide attempt to keep security busy. They have repeaters, which amount to b-b gun tazers, and a few batons. More than enough to stop a human being, but that do little to stop ravenous zombies.
The book is a wild ride, with desperate efforts to try and discover what is going on and then putting a stop to it with enemies coming at the main characters in all directions-the living, the dead, and alien who are all trying to destroy them. The author leaves plenty of unanswered questions, which is not surprising, though it may be unsatisfying to some readers. We never really understand much about the alien, including how it can control some minds so effectively while others seem able to resist, what it is transforming into, what its purpose is, or how it can control the dead…but as with the case with both alien and zombie sagas, sometimes those questions are best left unanswered, since this is a tale of unknown terror and trying to flee from it when you are stuck on board ship that offers no real escape at all. This is a fun, nightmare inducing book-a scary tale worth checking out for both fans of sci fi and zombie horror both.
Containment Room 7 can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Containment-Room-7-Bryan-Hall/dp/193486191X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326052611&sr=1-1
Knight Watch Press brought together a community of writers to create stories of their hometowns and the apocalypse. Essentially, the mandate was to craft a story with one of the last living people after things fall apart or extinction event occurs. We could use pretty much any humanity annihilating excuse to see how fun, or how scary it could be under those circumstances. So my little story, “Love Thy Neighbor” takes place in Cincinnati, but the same thing could happen in any town, any city the world over. I can’t wait to get my copy of the book to check out the rest of the stories-the reviews I’ve read thus far are quite complimentary. And what’s even better is that a second volume of stories is due out early next year, with even more world toppling excitement.
So check out Soul Survivors Hometown Tales: Volume 1 over on Amazon, or where ever you can get your hot little hands on a copy! Click the picture to head on over to Amazon.
Yep, another anthology coming out soon that I am thrilled to be a part of…and there were so many good stories, they filled two volumes with all of them! My little story, “Love Thy Neighbor” appears within the pages of Volume 1. While I am showing the cover for Volume 1, what is really cool about Soul Survivors-Hometown Tales is that the two covers fit nicely situated next to each other, each showing one half of a face…but they are each distinct from the other. I am really proud of my very sick and disturbing story that takes place right here in Cincinnati that I wrote for this one, and I guess the publishers did as well! The premise behind the stories we were asked to write was to tell a story of the end of the world based on our own hometowns, giving it sort of a personal touch. It could be with any sort of disaster…natural, man made, supernatural…so I am positive there are some really twisted tales in both of these tomes that take advantage of some really unique potential world shattering events. So check out the artwork for the cover of the book I appear in, and I will of course be promoting this book and its partner in crime once both are released later this year (or early in 2012).
Sheri Gambino has put together an assortment of tales that spring from her dark and vivid imagination for Twisted Tales of Terror. This anthology has several zombie apocalypse tales, but the author mixes things up with an assortment of other stories to stir the pot. Included in this book are a few twisty, surprise entries that were unexpected, including one about a mad scientist, a vampire waging a war against evil, a truly killer clown, and the author’s own slant on “Kiss of the Spider Woman”. She includes a dash of voodoo and a couple of tales of menace from space along with her zombie stories, most of which are traditional survival tales, but with an assortment of demonic invaders thrown in for good measure.
The author creates some solid characters along with a few throw away ones that come with the typical short story. I grew attached to a few of the characters that I felt like could have been delved into deeper, with grander tales crafted around them. They drew me in and kept me intrigued. As for the “throw away” characters, I don’t mean that in a negative way-but when you are dealing with the apocalypse, you tend to need a lot of grist for the mill, and Sheri carves up the bodies here quite nicely.
Overall, this was a brisk, easy read that entertained me and was done far more quickly than expected. The editing is sharp and I could see making a commitment to a full sized novel by this author with one, or several of her more intriguing characters that she has to offer.
Twisted Tales of Terror can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Tales-of-Terror-ebook/dp/B004YQVOXS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308014835&sr=8-1
I won Night of the Living Trekkies through a website and held on to it for a couple of months before deciding to take a stab at it. My first recollection of the book, before I received it, was the book trailer I saw on the internet. It struck me more as a movie trailer than one for a book, and I was joking with my friends that I wanted to go see the movie and not bother with the book because it was so well done. But after checking the book out, I have to admit, it was a lot of fun and I’m glad I gave it a chance. For the purposes of full disclosure, I am both a sci-fi and a zombie geek (with leanings toward the zombie side of things), and while I haven’t been to any sci-fi conventions, I’ve been to a few horror conventions over the past year, which has given me an appreciation to the dedication some fans have to their favorite characters, movies, and TV series. So that experience has probably shaped my appreciation for this book, though I think any fan of either Trek or of the zombie genre will enjoy this send up, whether casual or dedicated.
The basic plot centers around Jim, an Afghanistan war vet who comes back home in Houston shattered and unwilling to take on any responsibilities more crucial than that of being a bell hop in a mediocre hotel due to the guilt he feels at watching some of his fellow soldiers die. He is a “reformed” trekkie, or trekker, as it were, and now has to deal with Gulf Con, a Star Trek convention that has landed at his hotel, which is conveniently called the Botany Bay. His sister and over a thousand fans of Trek will be in attendance, but so will a ton of zombies, who crash the party after a alien virus escapes the confines of the Johnson Spaceflight Center bunker where it has been housed since it touched down via some meteors that hitched a ride on a downed NASA space probe.
I wouldn’t call this one a parody, because the characters may be dressed up as different Trek characters for the convention, but they are not the characters themselves. Instead, this is an opportunity for the authors to express a love for Star Trek, zombies, and even Star Wars. I was able to pick up on most of the references, though perhaps I may have missed one here or there in the mix. Regardless, this was a fun and funny book that gave its characters enough depth and realism to make me appreciate them while not disrupting the comedic overtones of the story based on the idea of a convention for one sort of imaginary creation being overrun by another imaginary creation. The adventure is fast paced and Jim is forced to once again embrace his inner nerd, along with embracing the suck of the situation he finds himself in with a small group of surviving convention goers. The zombies have some interesting, alien twists to them, but overall, the book pays reverence to its benefactors: Rodenberry, Romero, and even Lucas, with ample references to what each man created and appreciation for them as well.
For a easy and fun read, this one was hard to beat. There was some high drama on the pages at certain points, and overall, that aspect of the story was well done, but again, none of it distracts from the comedy value of this engaging zombie-Trek send up.
Night of the Living Trekkies can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Living-Trekkies-Quirk-Fiction/dp/1594744637/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1302357196&sr=8-1
The Infection starts out with a brief prologue that introduces the reader to the Screaming that initiates the apocalypse. About 20% of the population starts to scream uncontrollably and then collapse, going into a coma that lasts three days. At the end of that three days, those people who fell down wake up, and their only desire is to spread the infection to everyone else by biting and attacking them. The reader is thrust into the story a few weeks after the initial assault and we are introduced to a group of survivors roaming through Pittsburgh in a Bradley fighting vehicle. The crew of three is led by Sarge, who shares the task of leadership of the civilian survivor crew with Anne, a mysterious woman with a major hatred of the infected. Wendy, a police officer, Paul, a minister, Ethan, a math teacher, and Todd, a geeky high school student, are the other members of this brigade of survivors.
The story relates their current experiences of attempting to find shelter, avoid exposure to the infected, and seeking out other survivors, while flashing back to their initial introductions to the infection, lost family members, and the horrific memories each of them has had. DiLouie does a bang up job of revealing, by inches, what we need to know about each of the players in this story. In time, they settle at a hospital, clearing it room by room, and realize there are more than just the zombie-like infected that have been introduced into this new, horrible world. As they flee the hospital, they discover an even wider assortment of alien creatures-from wormlike to giant demons that hint at something far more sinister than just a virus or plague at work. The group makes their way to a huge encampment of survivors, which reminded me of a vast, wild-west setting filled with both hope and despair as everyone tries to make due and pretend things are normal in a world turned upside down. But the needs of the mishmash of government agencies still in existence will send our survivors back out onto the road, where they must once again come to grips with the horror their world has become.
After reading Tooth and Nail, I knew that Craig DiLouie had a real talent for creating compelling, real, and fascinating characters, but he ups the ante here, with each survivor in the group being given an in depth look that allows the reader to fully appreciate the pain and agony each one of them has gone through to get to survive to this point, and why they have a willingness to stick with one another through the hell their existence has become. This is an apocalyptic novel, but I can’t say that it falls exactly into the realm of a zombie novel; instead, it is a hybrid that provides plenty of brand new terrors to mess with your head. Alien creatures with little to no real explanation make this story unique, though this did remind me of other works I have read prior to this, such as The Mist, from Stephen King. I am positive a sequel is in the works and perhaps that will reveal some answers about the creatures that have invaded this world, but there appear to be no explanations on these pages, only a bit of conjecture on the part of one of the characters. I am not sure if I am griping about this-not knowing what is actually going on-because the characters themselves don’t know anything either. They are just trying to survive, and in some cases, kill as many of these abominations as they possibly can. Another minor quibble I have is something I have grown used to over the course of this novel and DiLouie’s previous one-the fact that the author moves into present tense on occasion, which feels a bit jarring when it occurs. It offers up an urgency, a sense of “now” to the story, but it also serves as a minor reading distraction in my humble opinion.
Those very minor quibbles aside, this is an excellent book of the apocalypse, creative and wild from the start; from how the infection occurs to the results it yields, and the characters that inhabit its pages are just about as compelling as any I have ever seen.
The Infection can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Infection-Craig-DiLouie/dp/1934861650/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300070883&sr=8-1
Elements of the Apocalypse, as the title suggests, gives the reader four stories using the classic elements to show us how the apocalypse will occur. I thought it was a creative take on apocalyptic stories from the standpoint of using this theme. Fire, Air, Earth, and Water are the means to our destruction, and a different author took a swipe at each particular element.
The first story, by DL Snell, gives us fire as the source of our destruction. Dylan Bradley is minding his own business on a bus ride home from school for spring break when the bus driver bursts into flames. Rather quickly, most of the people around him are doing the same, as spontaneous combustion takes hold as the means to our end. Dylan races home with several other characters as madness takes a hold of the few remaining survivors, in an effort to find his girlfriend.
The second story, by John Sunseri, deals with aliens invading our planet and placing huge atmospheric generators on earth, which make our air unbreathable for humans. Thirty years later, a team from New America, the last surviving lair of humans, has created a device that might help them fight back. Led by Bess, the toughest survivor left, they climb out of their underground hideout and make their way to one of the alien’s air processing stations with the device in tow. Since the atmosphere is polluted not only with unbreathable air, but with “demons” and “diggers”, both servants to the aliens who crave the oxygen inside human blood, making the trek is somewhat like traversing one of the nine planes of hell.
The third story, by R. Thomas Riley, has the animal kingdom in revolt against humanity when Gaia decides that we are poor caretakers of our planet and she needs to start over. Animals don’t just turn on us, they become smart and vicious servants of their earth mother. But Gaia has a plan, and that includes enslaving some of the humans to do more of her dirty work.
The final story, by Ryan C. Thomas, has water the entire world over disappearing in a rapid fashion, leading to a desperate scramble to find the cause and find the last remaining sources of drinkable water on the planet. Cam, an estranged husband and father, has to work with Scott, his scientist brother in law, in an attempt to discover the cause of this catastrophe, while at the same time trying to find water for his infant son as he lay dying from dehydration.
Each story has individual merits, and I give credit to each author for giving us compelling characters that made each story more than just simple doom anthems. I grew attached enough to the characters that I found myself rooting for them to find a miracle despite knowing how most of these types of stories end. I am not going to pick out a favorite here, because I really don’t think any of them missed the mark, and there were parts of each tale that resonated for me. If you enjoy reading stories about our destruction that lean toward the fantastic, than this book is a entertaining choice I highly recommend.
Elements of the Apocalypse can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Apocalypse-D-L-Snell/dp/1934861502/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1293203900&sr=8-1
I have not read what I understand to be a novella that started the Dead Earth Series, entitled “Dead Earth: The Green Dawn”, but the authors did a commendable job bringing me up to speed with what happened in the first story through much of this novel, without any need for a prologue. What that translates to for someone who does forgo the first book is an immediate jump into the action with a story filled with zombies controlled by an alien invasion force dubbed “Necros” (short for Necromancers), by the few surviving humans who remain.
There are two groups of survivors at the outset of this tale. One group is made up of bikers running free and trying to avoid getting eaten while roaming around the Mexican desert in Baja California. Lead by Luther Kemp, there is friction between him and another member of this ragtag gang, whose nickname is Mother…and he is one big Mother, that is for sure. Mother only wants company because there is safety in numbers, while Kemp has bigger plans. The other group is led by a former sheriff’s deputy from New Mexico named Jubal Slate. Jubal is bound and determined to make his way up to Area 51 in Nevada, where the aliens apparently broke through into our dimension, started changing the atmosphere, and raising the dead to help in the take over of humanity.
It seems that those who have survived have some immunity from turning into zombies-they can be bit and survive, though if allowed to die, they too turn in the end. It is an interesting slant, and allows for a few gruesome scenes where I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
Not long into the story, Luther Kemp is bequeathed a gift from one of the Necros, who fly in glider-type machines, as his band of renegades is surrounded by a zombie horde. A metallic band that adheres to his head, giving him power over the undead and the ability to read the minds of the living, as long as he follows the commands of these New Lords over the Dead Earth. That is about the time that Mother realizes that he wants nothing to do with Luther or his little band of devotees, as Kemp decides that he is pretty tickled to serve his new alien masters, as long as he is given power over both the dead and the living humans.
The two groups clash throughout the rest of the story, with both sides making the trek north from Mexico up to Nevada. There is plenty of gory zombie action and interesting variations on that due to the alien influence on the story. The near future time frame add little hints about the earth technology left behind, and we get a big dose of it from one of the secondary characters, who has the ability to tap into the ever diminishing world wide web through a chip implanted in his head. I enjoyed the pacing of the story-it was a fun and easy read. My criticisms of it are mostly tied to whether or not this book is the final chapter in this saga or not. My belief is that based on a very revealing chapter near the end, when a lot of divulged about the aliens and their plans for earth, that this series will continue. Also, without providing a spoiler, I felt that one character’s departure from the story was rather anticlimactic and my guess is that they will return in a future installment. If, however, this is where it all ends, I would be disappointed that there isn’t more to be revealed. My guess is that isn’t the case, though the authors certainly hit a dramatic stopping point which would allow them to leave things as is if that is the route they choose to go.
I felt that the three main characters in this story were all fairly well developed. Jubal taking the fight to aliens and undead was a refreshing change from what we typically see-there is rarely a main target to focus on during the zombie apocalypse, so seeing someone willing to do whatever it takes to undo the undead and the enemies of man was enjoyable to see-he was on his own personal Jihad. I liked the morphing Luther Kemp, as the necro technology he is gifted with starts changing and empowering him in twisted and devious ways. He goes from being a run of the mill sociopath to someone with an almost religious zeal and devotion to his new masters that is frightening. And my favorite character is Mother, the scarred, imperfect, reluctant hero that goes through hell and comes out of it looking for vengeance. He was the most developed and complex of the three, and also the most human of the bunch.
I do look forward to seeing where the Dead Earth series goes, and hope to hear about the promise of another installment from the authors somewhere in the not so distant future.
Dead Earth: The Vengeance Road can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Earth-Vengeance-Mark-Justice/dp/1934861561/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1291266382&sr=1-1
Eric S. Brown and Jessy Marie Roberts have created a faced paced and slick little tale of war, aliens, and mayhem that is packed tightly into 80 pages that go by even quicker than you would think. This novella starts out fast, with the Kinberra, a human warship, getting assaulted immediately after coming out of void space into a war zone. Humans and Darians, a cat-like race, are fighting in the system, and before the Kinberra can get annihilated like the rest of their fleet, the ship takes a blind jump into void space…which sends them to a mysterious ice planet with some very dangerous indigenous life forms, where they are forced to crash land and make a desperate attempt to repair their vessel before they get annihilated by the giant ants that swarm the snow drenched planet.
This book barely gives you barely enough time to breath, as we get space battles, hand to hand combat, gruesome ant like enemies, mutiny, and even a bit of a love story jam packed into this very quick read. I devoured this one in one quick sitting and enjoyed it a great deal. This could easily be part of a much bigger saga of the war between the Humans and Darians, and we even get to meet a Darian that is a prisoner aboard the Kinberra, so the reader gets a taste of these enemies and how the fight.
My only real complaint has to be that this book is so brief that we don’t get too much of a chance to really get to know the people involved in this tale in any depth. This is true in particular of Jordon, Rebecca, and Xar, the Darian prisoner who is forced to fight alongside the humans against the menacing ants. I would have liked to seen more of them. This is a brief jaunt into space that gives you action that is fast paced with absolutely no filler, though, which marks it as a blast in my book.
Kinberra Down can be found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/161706016X/ref=cm_cr_thx_view