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Zombies: More Recent Dead by Paula Guran

Zombies: More Recent Dead

by Paula Guran (Editor)

Other authors: Joanne Anderton (Contributor), Michael A. Arnzen (Contributor), Marie Brennan (Contributor), Mike Carey (Contributor), Jacques L. Condor (Contributor)31 more, Neil Gaiman (Contributor), Roxane Gay (Contributor), Ron Goulart (Contributor), Eric Gregory (Contributor), William Jablonsky (Contributor), Shaun Jeffrey (Contributor), Matthew Johnson (Contributor), Stephen Graham Jones (Contributor), Joy Kennedy-O'Neill (Contributor), Caitlin R. Kiernan (Contributor), Nicole Kornher-Stace (Contributor), Joe R. Lansdale (Contributor), Shira Lipkin (Contributor), David Liss (Contributor), Jonathan Maberry (Contributor), Alex Dally MacFarlane (Contributor), Lisa Mannetti (Contributor), Maureen F. McHugh (Contributor), Joe McKinney (Contributor), Tamsyn Muir (Contributor), Holly Newstein (Contributor), Cat Rambo (Contributor), Carrie Ryan (Contributor), Marge Simon (Contributor), Maggie Slater (Contributor), Simon Strantzas (Contributor), Charles Stross (Contributor), Genevieve Valentine (Contributor), Carrie Vaughn (Contributor), Don Webb (Contributor), Jay Wilburn (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 3 of 3
More zombie stories here than you can shake a gnawed leg bone at. Every zombie fan is bound to find something to their taste here. Let this anthology entertain your braaaiiinnns.....

**** Matthew Johnson, “The Afflicted”
Well, we're looking for zombies here, and this is a very good zombie story. Here, the elderly persons who were first infested with the zombie virus were packed off to FEMA quarantine camps - along with the healthy care workers assigned to look after them. To stay alive, one nurse has become a bad-ass survivor. And then, one day, she finds a little girl wandering alone in the wilderness...

** Jay Wilburn, “Dead Song”
Hmm,I wasn't much for this one. A voice-over actor narrates a script for a musicology documentary on the topic of the subgenres of performance styles that sprang up after the zombie apocalypse. Some creepy hints of doom both past and impending are thrown in, but overall I felt like it thought it was more clever than it was.

**** Mike Carey, “Iphigenia in Aulis”
Interesting! (If a little bit misleading to those who were expecting a new Mike Carey zombie story.) This is, apparently, the 'first draft' of the opening of Carey's 'Girl With All the Gifts.' Having read that novel (and loved it), it was interesting to read this and see how Carey's ideas developed and changed. For what it's worth, I like the later, expanded version better. But this is still pretty darn good.

*** Don Webb, “Pollution”
A geeky young man, obsessed with all things Japanese, is fascinated by the custom, which has become very popular in Japan, of creating zombies to use as servants and menial laborers. I very much liked the author's history regarding how and why this situation came to pass - but I found the use of pop culture tropes unconvincing. Some 'trends' of today are mentioned as being very out-of-date, but others are presented as if they're 'new' and 'cool' in this future. (I suspect that future generations of teenagers are not actually going to be obsessed with japanime.)

*** Shira Lipkin, “Becca at the End of the World”
This piece would've been more effective, I feel, if it were longer. It's only a couple of pages, and I didn't feel emotionally invested enough.
A mother records the last moments of her zombie-bitten daughter's life, for posterity...

*****Maureen McHugh, “The Naturalist”
I've read this one twice before, in McHugh's 'After The Apocalypse' and in Strahan’s ‘Best SF&F of the year #5.’ As I said last time I read it: A good, nasty zombie story, with shades of 'Escape From New York.' You can read this for free, online: http://subterraneanpress.com/magazine.

*** Alex Dally MacFarlane, “Selected Sources for the Babylonian Plague of the Dead (572-571 BCE)”
The translated text of Babylonian clay tablets gives an insight into a zombie plague of antiquity. Not bad, I give it points for the unusual setting - but it lacked urgency.

**** David Liss, “What Maisie Knew”
Disturbing, unpleasant, and very well done. The narrator here assures us, repeatedly, that he's really quite a nice guy. His actions, as described by himself, tell a different story. Why, after all, does he have a secret apartment with a black-market reanimate (zombie) in it?
Excellent writing, with gradual reveals leading up to a sickening climax.
I'm not sure if this story has any connection to the Henry James classic of the same title - I haven't read it.

** Stephen Graham Jones, “Rocket Man”
Zombie baseball. I'm just not that much for sports stories or teenage crushes.

*** Joe McKinney, “The Day the Music Died”
Rock star goes zombie, and his greedy manager tries to cover it up. (I just watched Episode 5 of The Strain last night, and there were some definite echoes...)

** Marge Simon, “The Children’s Hour” (poem)
Poetry is hard to judge objectively, but this didn't feel focused enough, to me.

*** Holly Newstein, “Delice”
This one reminded me a lot of American Horror Story: Coven. A voodoo priestess (I was seeing Angela Bassett) brings a girl back from the dead to wreak revenge on the slaveowning mistress (seeing Kathy Bates) who victimized her - and many others.
Oh hey! This is actually based on the same true story. I actually had no idea that AHS based these plot points on actual events: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphine_LaLaurie The Internet knows all.

** Joanne Anderton, “Trail of Dead”
I liked the atmosphere here (not sure why, but it reminded me a little of Stephen King's Dark Tower series). However, this story of an apprentice learning to kill zombies while hunting down the Necromancer who is animating them didn't grab me. It felt a little unfocused, and I didn't find it memorable.

*** William Jablonsky, “The Death and Life of Bob”
A tragicomic tale of office politics, taken to an extreme. It's a quick, seemingly light read, but what it has to say about human nature (nothing particularly good) will linger with you.

*** Simon Strantzas, “Stemming the Tide”
A weird mood suffuses this piece. An odd couple travels to the tourist attraction of the Bay of Fundy, known for its quickly-rising tides. But these two, filled with ambivalence and contradiction, are here for more than gawking at natural scenery... for not only tides, but the dead, shall rise...

*** Jacques L. Condor (Mak a Tai Meh), “Those Beneath the Bog”
A group of modern Native Americans on a hunting trip encounter more than moose, when they ignore an elder's warnings about an ancient curse. Sometimes, it pays to listen to an old wives' tale... Not bad; I felt the folksiness was a little overdone.

* Marie Brennan, “What Still Abides"
Parody, I felt this was. In truth, "A Dark And Stormy Night" the tortuous language of this pseudo-Scandinavian tale outdoes. Beowulf, this is not, although forsooth, wishes it so. Also, no zombie tale this. Indeed, so might one notice a vampire yet, if untangled the subjects and verbs might be. Came the end of this story not too soon.

**** Jonathan Maberry, “Jack & Jill”
It's hard to imagine terminal cancer becoming the least of a child's worries - but here, a zombie apocalypse and a perfect storm combine to do just that. A very, very dark YA story with a classic zombie scenario.

**** Caitlín R. Kiernan, “In The Dreamtime of Lady Resurrection”
Beautifully written, very disturbing piece. Power, suicide, and the ethics of experimentation are all here - along with the plain old creepy and supernatural, in this tale of a resurrectee who was... touched... by something during her time on the 'other side.' (Not really a zombie story, but I loved it anyway.)

** Michael Arnzen, “Rigormarole” (poem)
The kernel of the idea here would be nice fleshed out into a full story, but the poem itself didn't do much for me.

** Carrie Vaughn, “Kitty’s Zombie New Year”
I know Vaughn's Kitty Norville series is very popular, but I don't really see the attraction. The writing is no more than serviceable, and this is a very slight story. Kitty attends a New Year's party, a zombie shows up at the door, and Kitty's friends call upon her to solve the mystery, which takes her all of 10 minutes. The end.

**** Genevieve Valentine, “The Gravedigger of Konstan Spring”
Available for free online: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-gravedigger-of-konstan-spring/
A dark fable, full of 'Oh no they didn't!' moments. A remote Alaskan town has discovered the fountain of youth. It's not quite clear why such a place would insist on advertising to hire a gravedigger, but the opening line explains: "There was something more civilized about a town that could bury its dead, if they stayed dead," so hire a gravedigger they do. Of course, then the townspeople need something for him to do... it's not right for a man to be unable to ply his trade, is it? Clever and disturbing.

**** Tamsyn Muir, “Chew”
I can't really say I 'liked' this story. It's deeply unpleasant and unhappy. But it's also extremely powerful. Set at the end of WWII, it's a tale of a boy to young to understand what he sees, a soldier, a young woman - and revenge. It's not just about the evil associated with war, but about blindness to evil.

*** Shaun Jeffrey, “Til Death Do Us Part”
This one felt very familiar to me. It's a theme I've encountered in more than one horror story. A wife returns from the dead, and her family hides her decaying animated corpse, pretending that all is normal...

*** Roxane Gay, “There is No ‘E’ in Zombi Which Means There Can Be No You Or We”
Traditional Haitian Zombis here... An obsessed young woman resorts to magic to capture the handsome playboy whose heart she fails to win through her own allure.

*** Carrie Ryan, “What We Once Feared”
Another dark YA piece. A group of teenagers are on a school trip to 'Discovery Place' when the zombie apocalypse hits. They hole up in an apartment building's penthouse, and the real discoveries they make are about who they truly are, and what makes a survivor. Quite bleak.

*** Eric Gregory, “The Harrowers”
A young man hires a guide who specializes in illegally taking people out to the wilderness to hunt zombies. But this young man says he just wants to find his dad... Of course, things go pear-shaped.

*** Lisa Mannetti, “Resurgam”
When a med student has the cadaver he's working on shockingly come back to life and attack, he does some research and uncovers a 19th-century journal in which a 'resurrection man' talks about a strange occurrence that he experienced when stealing bodies for research purposes. Is it all fiction, drug hallucination, or unpleasant truth? Ok, but I didn't think the two stories meshed well enough...

** Ron Goulart, “I Waltzed with a Zombie”
There are a great number of these stories set in old-timey, B-movie Hollywood, with horror elements. And I really just don't like any of them. Here, a hack screenwriter thinks he can use his real-life encounter with a zombie to boost his concept of a big-budget zombie musical. Eh, I'm sure some people out there will find it quite amusing.

*** Joy Kennedy-O’Neill , “Aftermath”
Begins a bit shaky (I thought), but develops into a solid story with an intriguing focus. Here, the zombie plague has been cured. Those zombies not too horribly damaged in the apocalypse which wiped out a third of the population have come back to themselves. This piece explores the social aspects of how people deal with that (or fail to...)

*** Maggie Slater, “A Shepherd of the Valley”
A weird, religious man lives alone with nothing and no one but his flock of robotically-controlled zombies surrounding him. When a young woman happens upon his hideout, she's the first living person he's spoken to in years...

*** Neil Gaiman, “The Day the Saucers Came” (poem)
A re-read. It's a bit clever.

**** Cat Rambo, “Love, Resurrected”
Fantasy tale of a resurrected military general and the sorcerer/lover who has kept her re-animated to plan his campaigns and fight his battles, alongside other grotesque undead and chimerical creations. Although her flesh is decaying from her bones, she finds her imagination captured by her chief opponent...

*** Nicole Kornher-Stace, “Present”
Teen mom and baby go on the run during a zombie apocalypse. Classic zombie genre.

*** Joe R. Lansdale, “The Hunt: Before and The Aftermath”
Well-written but deeply unpleasant story... Yes, it's a zombie story, but it's more about a marriage on the rocks, mid-life crisis, and the often-befuddling vagaries of human psychology and desire.

*** Charles Stross, “Bit Rot”
On a far-future spaceship with a post-human crew, an unexpected radiation exposure sparks a disaster that looks an awful lot like your typical zombie apocalypse. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
In "Zombies: More Recent Dead," we get a proof positive that the zombie apocalypse phenomenon isn’t close to jumping the shark.

Several of these stories were noteworthy, but far and away the best was Mike Carey’s “Iphigenia in Aulis,” a haunting tale of a young girl with the “virus” who is kept in a cell. It is one of those rare stories that makes the “zombie” the hero; in this case, it’s difficult to guess who really are the monsters. Apparently, this was an early draft for what became "The Girl With All the Gifts"; expect a review of that book soon.

Among the other intriguing tales where:

8Matthew Johnson’s “The Afflicted,” in which zombism was a virus activated by age—a deadlier, grosser version of dementia—that is told through the eyes of a geriatric nurse who tries to care for the elderly.

*"Pollution" by Don Webb, in which zombies are converted to the ultimate high-end robots in Japan—and in which a total Japanese fanboy American struggles with his desire to be Japanese.

*Joe McKinney’s “The Day the Music Died,” in which we’re offered a view of an undead rock star. Yeah, those of us who still miss Elvis wouldn’t go this far. Seriously.

*And, you won’t want to miss stories from Neil Gaiman, Maureen F. McHugh, and Roxane Gay.

If "The Walking Dead" mid-season hiatus is leaving your zombie-jones unfixed, this is just the ticket. Frankly, the storytelling is much, much better. ( )
  KelMunger | Dec 4, 2014 |
My first impression of this book: 36? Thirty-six? That’s a vast amount of stories for an anthology! Even 20 would have been pretty big

My second impression: No, really, 36? Seriously?

My third impression: wait, 36 stories and it’s only 480 pages long? How does that work?

Simply, a lot of it doesn’t – we have some frankly weird, surreal, barely related and generally random filler fluff pieces some of which defy me even commenting on them because I have no idea why they’re there other than to pad an already hugely stuffed book – so The Day the Saucers Came is just some randomness that barely covers two pages and is only, at best, tangentially related to the theme (or any theme for that matter), The Children’s Hour is a poem and not a particularly good one. Rigormarole feels like a tiny scrap that was edited out of a longer book and is kind of lost and pointless without the rest

But then we get down to the inherent problem of zombies and short stories. Now, I know I’ve said before that I’m generally not a huge fan of short stories anyway – and I hold on to that. A short story is usually too short to establish characters, world or a decent plot line, so often it relies on lots of info dump and no plot, lots of short cuts or relies on a lot of prior knowledge of a longer series. Then we get to zombies – there’s actually not a lot you can do with zombies. Oh, you can switch around the origin and nature and properties of zombies but, ultimately, a zombie is generally a rapacious killing machine with low intellect and (usually) both spreads rapidly and is made up of our former loved ones. Most zombie stories actually focus less on zombies and more on the characters reacting to grief, shock, horror, struggling to survive, etc etc – look at most zombies stories out there: from The Walking Dead to World War Z, most of the time zombie stories are about the people in an apocalypse

Which is damn hard to do in a short story – because you have a few short words in which to make me care enough about this person and the situation they’re in. Worse, you have a few short words to make me care enough about this person and the situation we’re in while 30+ other stories have already tried to convince me about their person in, basically, the same situation. It’s hard not to reach story 30 and not think “can you just be eaten already so I can get to the next one?”

So a lot of these stories rely on the emotional horror of loss in a dystopian. Some work and some not so much. Becca at the End of the World manages a very real emotional impact with a mother facing her 16 year old daughter turning in front of her, but it also feels heavy handed. I mean, we have a mother watching her child turn zombie – you’d have to be a horrendously awful writer not to make that emotional. I found it both very impactful but also kind of lazy – the easy route. I also thought Jack and Jill with its comparisons of zombiehood to terminal illness (and presenting someone with cancer – and in remission no less - as being, effectively, the living dead) both problematic and, again, a way of forcing emotional impact by hammering it in. Shepherd of the Valley was a man in a zombie apocalypse with a rather unique way of dealing with things but the story primarily centred around his sadness for his daughter which just wasn’t that well conveyed- lots of moping with an odd setting. Which also kind of describes Love Resurrected; it’s a fantasy setting with the twist of a “zombie” point of view – but there was too much distraction from character development to get any real emotion out of the character

I found Present much more effective, the story of a teenaged mother struggling to survive with her toddler, her doubts, her fears, her drive to keep moving and her tragedy were much more impactful for me. What Once we Feared was even better – the psychological collapse of a group of survivors into gradual despair and the toll that took – beyond zombies attacking, beyond fighting for survival – just the despair of the helplessness, the hopelessness of it slowly eating away at them. That was powerful.

While many authors tried to hinge on the emotional impact of the survivors, others tried to move away from the whole “the world is falling apart and we are surviving” zombie apocalypse scenario and did so to various degrees of effectiveness.

Delice returns more to the roots of zombiedom (or one of the roots – voodoo) in a way – but it’s a story I’ve seen before several times – the brutal story of Delphine LaLaurie (with names changed, but basically the same story including the slave jumping off the roof, the attic and the name Delphine) which, as I’ve said before, I’m uncomfortable with being appropriated for fiction – and equally how the idea of persecuted groups having woo-woo with which to exact revenge is a nice fantasy but it draws a veil over a very often unanswered injustice.

Chew explored the idea of a zombie rising up in revenge – it was a different setting (post World War 2 Germany) but I think the urge to show a different viewpoint distracted too far from the story.

Kitty’s Zombie New Year is a story I’ve already read in Kitty’s Greatest Hits, I liked it not just because it was fun but because it hailed back even more to one of the origins of zombiehood – zombiehood as a way of drugging a living person. The same applies to the extremely creepy and twist ending of There is No “E” in Zombi Which Mean there Can Be No You or We: zombiehood as a way of controlling people. It seems odd to say returning to one of the origins is a nice twist – but it is.

Other stories that managed to be truly original were Those Beneath the Bog drawing on the legends of First Nations Canadians in a viewpoint we very very rarely see in the genre; it was well done, fascinating, creepy and bringing in a wonderful nuanced conflict of still holding old traditions but also being, for example, Catholic. It was definitely one of the good ones.

As was What Still Abides for style is nothing else – the whole saga style of writing really worked without being repetitive or contrived – and the legend of the wight cursing the land is definitely a different take on the undead – though a bit of a stretch on the word “zombie.” It was definitely worth it though

I don’t think Bit Rot worked for me – it’s zombies in space. Changing what makes zombies – whether it’s a virus or a curse or nanites or androids or whatever, doesn’t really fundamentally change the nature of zombie stories. This has just kind of taken a pretty standard zombie story and moved it to space; the different reasons don’t change the same plot. What is much more interesting is the backstory before the zombies get involved; the idea of a rich woman creating clones to live vicariously through – give me more of that story and drop the zombies! Similarly Resurgam tries to draw on Victorian era body-stealing but with shifting time lines and really dodgy characterisation I think it failed both to bring anything original and even to be that coherent a story.

The different setting works better with Selected Sources for the Babylonian Plague of the Dead (572-571 BCE) but more because of the way it’s told – the historic setting, archaeological finds and letters between the sisters that add originality even while the base story is very expected.

For me, the truly original stories in this book were the ones that delved more into the societal and cultural implications of a zombie apocalypse – because that’s not something I’ve seen very often outside of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series – and these were generally very well done. Such as The Afflicted – the idea of not knowing exactly what causes the undead, or having the whole population infected and ready to rise is a topic we’ve seen a few times; but rarely have we seen the full consequences of that. This story explores some of those worrisome consequences as the population persecutes and ostracises the elderly, driving them out into camps away from civilisation because they are prone to zombie-dom. In a genre full of complete societal collapse, it’s intriguing to see a world where we don’t have complete collapse – but we do have brutal, even horrific responses to a major crisis (which is not ahistorical – internment, persecution and scapegoating run rampant when there’s a crisis).

Dead Song goes even further – delving into the cultural ramifications of a zombie apocalypse. It’s an amazing story told after the recovery and has a real fascinating idea about social changes after the apocalypse, particularly through music. Survivor communities forcing disparate groups to live together, isolated for extended periods of time creating a whole new culture and musical styles out of it. I loved it, the concept is both so original and so excellently true – the idea of basic cultural shifts like this after a zombie apocalypse is so rarely explored. Exploring our own cultural conflicts we also have Iphigenia in Aulis taking the current push of anti-choice politics and applying it to unborn zombie foetus. It’s a complex and really quite beautifully tragic story of self-aware, gentle, sweet, but dangerous children and questions about their humanity. But the prize for this has to go to Aftermath – the story of a world that has recovered from a zombie apocalypse. A world where zombies have been cured, where everything is being out back together – and the survivors have live with their trauma, their PTSD – and the knowledge that some of the people around them were once cannibalistic zombies who killed their loved ones. That was a very good one

We did have a few stories that explored the idea of zombies as non-threatening to various degrees of success. ‘Til Death Do us Part is a quietly tragic tale of the recently bereaved having their lost loved one returning to them – as an insensible, ambulatory corpse. What do you do with that? How do you deal with that?

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  FangsfortheFantasy | Sep 27, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guran, PaulaEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anderton, JoanneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arnzen, Michael A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brennan, MarieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carey, MikeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Condor, Jacques L.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gay, RoxaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goulart, RonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gregory, EricContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jablonsky, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jeffrey, ShaunContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, MatthewContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones, Stephen GrahamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kennedy-O'Neill, JoyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kiernan, Caitlin R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kornher-Stace, NicoleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lansdale, Joe R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lipkin, ShiraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Liss, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Maberry, JonathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
MacFarlane, Alex DallyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mannetti, LisaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McHugh, Maureen F.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McKinney, JoeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Muir, TamsynContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Newstein, HollyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rambo, CatContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ryan, CarrieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simon, MargeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Slater, MaggieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Strantzas, SimonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stross, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Valentine, GenevieveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vaughn, CarrieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Webb, DonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilburn, JayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Balaz, SzaboCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nicole, SherinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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