Writer of Horror Fiction

Archive for June, 2012

Review of Gerald Dean Rice’s “The Zombie Show”

The Zombie Show is Gerald Dean Rice’s newest novella swipe at the zombie genre, and as was the case with Fleshbags, he has crafted a zombie that is a diversion from the traditional.

In this tale, we are introduced to Cole Green, an undercover agent trying to find a Mexican Cartel baddy by the name of Mazatlan.  The zombie apocalypse is over and humanity won, though there are still zombies out there.  Naturally, criminal minds think of criminal ways of using them when the law is to shoot the undead on sight.  And these zombies are, as I mentioned, a bit different.  Not only do they regain a small amount of cognitive ability when they devour flesh, they also have another basic urge that goes along with their insatiable hunger.  The urge for sex remains, at least in the male undead, and this serves the purpose of Mazatlan and other criminals who like to put on illegal sex shows south of the border for bored, jaded American college kids.  While many of the shows put on end up being some guy in zombie makeup, Mazatlan, with a science background, has managed to concoct a drug that creates new zombies, though these hybrids are a bit different than the regular undead.

This story has a lot of elements to it.  Uncover action, zombie horror, surprising twists and turns, plus a zombie name Jose that shares the spotlight with Mazatlan and Cole as a main character who was perhaps the most interesting character of them all.  The author likes to give his zombies a bit of humanity despite their monstrous nature, and in both this tale and Fleshbags before it, and he delves just deep enough into their minds to give his audience an appreciation of what they’re going through and perhaps forces us to have some sympathy for them, even as they’re tearing into their latest victim.  This story also had a Dusk Till Dawn flavor to it, with zombies replacing vampires in the club setting where the story takes place.  Certainly, the place turns into carnage central before the story is resolved.

The author has a flare for taking traditional horror monsters and turning them into something new and intriguing, while also crafting some well done traditional scary tales as well.  I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen so far from Gerald Dean Rice, and The Zombie Show is no exception.

The Zombie Show can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Show-Gerald-Dean-Rice/dp/0983854718/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340893572&sr=1-1&keywords=the+zombie+show

Review of D.L. Snell and Thom Brannan’s “Pavlov’s Dogs”

Pavlov’s Dogs jumps right into things, starting out several weeks after the zombie apocalypse has gotten into full swing and most of the human race has been wiped out or turned.  We are immediately introduced to a group of what looks to be werewolves as they save a couple of humans running out of time and options as the undead close in on them.  At first, the reader isn’t given much more to go on about these wolves as the story flips back in time to the day the zombie attacks began, where we are introduce to Ken and Jorge, friends who work together in construction and are driving down the highway when everything rapidly falls apart all around them.  There are a few more time shifts in the story as we are given a more proper introduction to the wolves and the scientists who created them.  They are genetically enhanced Special Forces troops who have had microchips implanted in their brains, allowing them to transform into a human-wolf hybrid with superior combat skills, strength, and healing capabilities.  The experiments on these men have been taking place on a small island off the coast and the advent of the zombie apocalypse seems like the ideal opportunity to test the ‘dogs’ under combat-like conditions when they are sent in to save the few remaining survivors on the mainland.  Or so it seems.

Pavlov’s Dogs moves quickly, serving up plenty of human (and werewolf) conflict that makes the story an interesting read.  Zombies don’t play as major a role as they do in most zompoc tales, but that works just fine here.  We all know who the real bad guys are anyway, and in this case, we not only have human baddies but some werewolf ones as well, and they keep things intriguing from start to finish.  Though this tale has plenty of dark moments, the authors keep things light with the occasional injection of welcome humor.  Ken is easily the most in depth and likable character, along with his pal Jorge, who likes cracking jokes regardless of how grim the situation becomes.  Some of the dogs, like Mac and Kaiser, were also well detailed and it was easy to see their human sides, even when they were in full wolf form.

If I have a criticism here, it would lay with another couple of characters.  Drs. Crispin and Donovan, the two main scientists on the island, are reasonably well detailed but at the same time there seems to be hints at more depth to each of them, in particular Donovan.  As an example, a significant detail about Crispin is discovered during the plot and yet it goes unexplored, even though it could have led the story down a very intriguing path.  Donovan’s motivations also seem to be a bit forced.  He is an interesting character, but one that I feel could have been further developed, which may have given me a better appreciation for his transformation as a character throughout the story.

Even with these minor quibbles, I enjoyed this story a great deal.  The science takes a back seat to the action-we aren’t given highly detailed explanation of how or why the wolves transform and I doubt the story would have been enhanced further if we had gotten such an overview.  Instead, we get to see werewolves dive into battle with zombies and with each other, which should satisfy most of the action/gore fans out there.  In addition, we get to see what happens when a werewolf gets bitten by a zombie, which was something that does not disappoint.  Overall, this zombie-werewolf hybrid tale is fun, unique, and definitely worth checking out.

Pavlov’s Dogs can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Pavlovs-Dogs-D-L-Snell/dp/1618680218/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340772653&sr=1-1&keywords=pavlov%27s+dogs

The revised versions of the Dark Trilogy have been shipped over to Permuted Press

Not too long ago, I mentioned that my trilogy, Comes The DarkInto The Dark, and Beyond The Dark were being re-released by Permuted Press in 2013.   Since I had agreed to do this, I have been working to reconfigure the manuscripts of each book.  Each will be much larger than the books released by The Library of the Living Dead Press, with the Dark Stories I originally removed returning to their rightful place in each volume.  There will be revisions and some new stories, in particular in the final book of the trilogy.  One story comes from an anthology called Eye Witness: Zombie from May December Publications that stands alone, but happens in the same world as the rest of the saga.  Another story will be about Lydia, a character that appears in the second and third books and is one of my favorites.  At the suggestion of one of the folks who reviewed the trilogy, along with the Dark Stories that appeared in the e-book omnibus (you know who you are!), Lydia is getting her day, and the story I am relating takes place several weeks before the events of the trilogy.  Lydia is someone who was influenced by my mother and sister, who both passed away in 2011.  Much like Megan, she is a strong, loving character who will do anything for those she cares for.  I think this new story will demonstrate that even more than what occurs in the trilogy.

Since it is all in the hands of Permuted and my new editor, I will be focusing my writing efforts on the fourth book.  The initial chapter is a tricky one, and I have been over thinking it for some time, but it, along with the rest of the story, is coming together and I look forward to sharing bits and pieces of it with you as time goes on.  More to come, so stay tuned!

Review of Gerald Dean Rice’s “The 5000 Fingers of Bob”

The 5000 Fingers of Bob is a strange and creepy tale set in south during the Great Depression and tells the story of five men plotting the death of a local man they’ve dubbed Bob, even though they don’t know his real name.  They call him Bob because that’s what he calls everyone around town.  He is a man-child, a mentally handicapped man who is huge, eerie, but appears to be harmless on the surface.  But when one of the men finds him leaning over his daughter’s bed one night and throws Bob outside, only to find giant back inside, he suggests to his friends that they kill Bob, or do something else to (at the very least) dissuade him from doing any other disturbing things.  There are other rumors of Bob showing up in one place and then disappearing, and of things happening around him that are horrific, like the death of someone’s dog that is graphic and grotesque.

Things go wrong as the men continue to hatch their plot to put a stop to Bob and as they carry it out.  While the truth is somewhat muddled, it is clear that there is more to Bob than meets the eye.  This is a short story, and as such the author leaves out details that might reveal more about the nature of Bob and the supernatural shadowing effect that seems to surround him.  That serves the purpose of keeping things a mystery, even as more is revealed about the man who seems to be everywhere and nowhere at once.

A good, creative short story.  I do wish there were more details laid out there, but the author’s ability to set a scene and pull you into it as a reader gives this little tale a potent punch.

The 5000 Fingers of Bob can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/The-5000-Fingers-Bob-ebook/dp/B007FYBBQG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340113984&sr=8-1&keywords=the+5000+fingers+of+bob

Review of Pat Douglas’s “Epidemic of the Undead”

Chris Commons is a folk rock singer on the way to a gig in Beaumont, Texas with his cousin Mark and friend Steve, who are the other members of his band.  The venue they’re supposed to play in appears to be abandoned when they show up a few short hours before the show and it looks like their concert has been cancelled on them.  But when they head over to a nearby coffee house and see what’s on the television, they discover that the abandoned venue is the least of their worries.  The boys have landed in the middle of the zombie outbreak on the road with nowhere to go as the undead begin showing up in droves outside.  Cut off from their van, they do their best to find safety with the coffee house clerk in tow, but soon discover that there isn’t any place left that’ll protect them from the undead.

Epidemic of the Undead is a bare-bones no nonsense zombie apocalypse thriller with a passion for blood, guts, and a high body count.  The reader is given no explanation of how the plague got started and no explanation is needed as we role through the first few hours and days after the dead have risen.  This is all about the action, gore, and the characters efforts to come to grips with the fact that everyone is turning up dead (and undead) all around them.  The zombies are traditional slow movers with all the regular strengths and weaknesses.  The story sticks to Chris’s perspective throughout and his goals are simple: don’t get bitten, stay alive long enough to get back to see his parents in Tennessee, and perhaps discover if Stephanie, the coffee house clerk, is more interested in him than Steve, the lothario of the band.

The story moves at a fast clip and while I had some issues with some of the dialog being a bit stilted in places and the fact that there were some typos along the way, the action and gore were more than up to snuff, with some of the descriptive details of the trauma the undead had suffered leaving me a bit queasy (which is a good thing for the zombie fan).  I was rooting for Chris and his chances with Stephanie-the author didn’t overdo the romance angle given the type of story this was, but it was a nice touch, and added a bit of normality to the insanity of the world crumbling around him.  Chris isn’t any sort of hero, just another guy trying to survive, which made him someone I could identify with.  Just a regular guy trying to figure out how to use a gun for the first time and make sure all his friends don’t end up dead.  Pick this one up if you’re looking for a fun undead escape with plenty of gruesome action.

Epidemic of the Undead  can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Epidemic-Undead-Zombie-Novel-ebook/dp/B0088KAWN4/ref=la_B006XWFXBU_1_4_title_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1338856202&sr=1-4&fb_source=message

My article over at Indie Inside has gone live!

I’d mentioned that I’d written a brief article for Pat Douglas, a fellow author, over on his website, http://indie-inside.com.  It has gone live now, and I hope you’ll click on the full link and head on over there: http://indie-inside.com/the-joys-of-the-other-stuff-guest-blog-w-patrick-dorazio/.  For anyone who has become a writer and believes that when they get published that they can just sit back and bask in the glory of being famous, this article is for you.  It’s also for anyone else who ever wonders how you can get the word out on a writing project.  Whether you self-publish, get with a smaller publisher, or manage to swing for the fences and get with one of the big publishers out of New York, much of the promotional work responsibility is in your own hands.  There is tons you can do to help promote your stuff, and my article goes over just a small smidgen of that.  So pleased check it out…it might make you cringe, but perhaps it will bring a smile to your face…because I tried to be funny (just a little bit-probably failed, but give me a B for effort).

Cover to “Zombies Gone Wild” Anthology released!

I’ve wanted to show off this wacky cover for some time, but it just became official.  I don’t really have a good explanation for this anthology, as far as all the types of stories it includes, but I know that my story, “What’s Eating You?” is a pretty twisted and darkly comedic zombie tale not for the faint of heart or squeamish.  So my guess is that since the publisher indicated that my tale was just the type they were looking for that this book is filled with a plethora of twisted and darkly comedic zombie tales.  Well, you can look at the cover and see that much, right?

More details to come, as the table of contents should be released fairly soon for Zombies Gone Wild.


Review of Craig DiLouie’s “The Killing Floor”

Craig DiLouie took the traditional infected/zombie tale and expanded upon it (and turned it on its ear) with his release of The InfectionThe 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

A cool website to check out.

Just a quick note here on a website a friend and fellow author, Pat Douglas, has put together.  He gets a lot of traffic there because he puts up interesting articles and all kinds of cool stuff, along with promoting his own writing, naturally.  An article I wrote will be appearing there tomorrow, and I hope any new or aspiring writers find it interesting.  Just a few thoughts on the writing world in general and promotion in particular.  You can check out articles from plenty of different folks in the writing world there.  Just hit the link and mark it as one of your favorites: http://indie-inside.com/

Review of David Houchins and Scot Thomas’ Zombie Apocalypse Preparation: How to Survive in an Undead World and Have Fun Doing It!

Zombie Apocalypse Preparation: How to Survive in an Undead World and Have Fun Doing It! is sort of the goofy alter ego of Max Brook’s Zombie Survival Guide, which kept a straight face throughout its overview of weaponry, tactics, location scouting, and other related areas of interest when dealing with the inevitable outbreak of zombie mayhem.  These days, with people getting their faces eaten off, children rising up out of their coffins, and a veritable cornucopia of other events happening that hint at a possible zombie apocalypse, checking out a guide or two on undead preparedness is not a bad idea.  ZAP, as this guide is called for short, provides an amusing approach to taking the steps necessary to insure you survive the end of the world not only with the goal of making it through alive, but making it through alive in style and with a smile on your face.

Parts of this book are fairly routine survivors fare, covering the topics of weapons, shelters, locations, vehicles, etc.  But the author’s snappy commentary adds entertainment value to the routine evaluations of different options you have available.  Pop culture references abound and while not all of them will resonate with everyone in their audience, many of them brought a smile to my face.

One of the key elements of this book that does stand out as different is the final section, where the authors have come up with a wide array of zombie-related games to pass the time for those bored with the everyday routine of survival during the undead apocalypse.  The detailed drawings add punch to the outrageous descriptions given.  I won’t spoil the fun by listing out these different pastimes, but suffice it to say that they take traditional games and some new and unique ideas for games and make versions that will keep you on your toes…with risk to that part of your anatomy as well as many others if you decide to play them with actual zombies.

Overall, this is an entertaining survival guide.  I thought the comedy was a little light in certain sections, and the use of some references got a little redundant after a while, but overall, a well done, fun read for the dedicated and not-so-dedicated zombie fan alike.

Zombie Apocalypse Preparation: How to Survive in an Undead World and Have Fun Doing It!  can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Apocalypse-Preparation-Survive-Undead/dp/1618680269/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339221769&sr=1-1

Review of Patrick and Chris William’s “Dead Meat”

Dead Meat is a zombie apocalypse tale told from the perspective of Gavin, a young man living in River’s Edge when an outbreak of what the media claims is rabies spread by rats has already overtaken the town.  The military has been called in and at the start of the story it’s clear that this is no normal case of rabies.  Gavin meets Benny, who is hiding out on the roof of a convenience store, a couple of days into the mess the ‘bees’ (what Gavin dubs the undead/biters, because they tend to swarm together when they attack) have created.  Together, they try to make their way to Gavin’s sister and parents who live in another town, but naturally there are a tremendous amount of obstacles in their way, including the military, who are exterminating the living along with the undead with extreme prejudice in an attempt to control the plague.

While this story is in the traditional Romero mold with slow moving undead, this first person, present tense tale takes a different tact than many stories I’ve seen.  You would expect this story to be about survival, which it is, and about dealing with human drama, which it also is about, but it really burrows down deep into issues of trust and how being a survivor changes a person much more than most.  We go deep into Gavin’s paranoia and trust issues, as well as how tortured he is by what he is forced to witness and do to stay alive.  While the story is about Gavin, it is Benny’s tale too, along with Rickett, an old recluse they happen upon, and Henry (Henrietta) a girl they also find during their trip.  But the dynamic between Gavin and Benny is the highlight here-how difficult and ugly it is for them to gain one another’s trust and yet still not trust each other, how it seems that they’re at each other’s throats most of the time while still having to rely upon one another.  It is a complex relationship and one that I was intrigued by from start to finish.  The key element with this story is how each of the characters feels real, not limiting stereotypes with no depth, or even a meager attempt at giving them depth.  Gavin is the main character but that doesn’t make him extremely the hero of the tale-his paranoia tends to get annoying at points, as does his mistrust of almost everyone around him.  Benny seems to be an unapologetic sociopath at times, while at other times it’s clear that he hasn’t lost his humanity despite all the inhumane things he has been forced to do and seems to revel in.  This story is as much a character study of these two as it is a saga of the zombie apocalypse.  We see it all through Gavin’s eyes and so the outside elements are limited-we know nothing of the military except for his limited perspective, nothing about what is going on outside of narrow sphere of his experiences, and as such a lot of minor details slip to the wayside while the dynamics of his relationship with Benny, Rickett, and Henry are explored in tremendous detail.

Since I tend to favor zombie tales that devote most of their energy to the human relationships in them and how people are twisted and changed in a survivor tale, I found this story to be a highly entertaining entry into the zombieverse.  It also has plenty of violence and action to spread around, making this something for pretty much all zombie fans to enjoy.

Dead Meat can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Meat-Patrick-Williams/dp/1618680242/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339033247&sr=8-1