Review: 21st Century Dead

21st century deadEdited by Christopher Golden

Piatkus, out now

A collection of zombie tales – with a lot of twists…

Chris Golden has brought together a very varied set of writers for this follow-up to the Zombie collection, who for the most part offer a refreshingly different take on the subject matter – in some cases, with nary a walking corpse in sight.

Mark Morris’ ‘Biters’ kicks things off in style: it feels like a vignette from a much larger work, and it would be great to see more of the sufferers of the R1 virus. If you liked the TV series In the Flesh, then this should work for you – and vice versa for American readers who have yet to see the show. At the other end comes Daniel H. Wilson’s ‘Parasite’ set in the Robopocalypse universe – a neat point of view reversal that adds another colour to that story.

Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter’s story is in an unconventional format which makes you want to go back and reread it immediately; the only disappointment is Orson Scott Card’s pretentious ‘Carousel’.

There’s a lot of black humour – Chelsea Cain’s fable, S.G. Browne’s pitch meeting, and Crawford & Swiercynski’s tale particularly – and more than one story (which I won’t give away) where the nature of the Walking Dead isn’t quite what you expect.

The violence and horror you expect from a zombie story are present and correct – Jonathan Maberry’s ‘Jack and Jill’ and John McIlveen’s ‘A Mother’s Love’ have moments to make you turn away from the page, but which you return to because you need to know what happens next.

Verdict: A well-crafted anthology which may open your eyes to new writers in the field. 8/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order 21st Century Dead from Amazon.co.uk

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