Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Scotsman Abroad | Starburst Rising

Zombies, eh? Who'd have 'em?

Short answer: Starburst Magazine!

In the past couple of weeks, not one, not two - actually, yes, two - two of my reviews have gone live on Starburst, and it just so happens (hand to God I hadn't planned it) that they're both reviews of books with zombies in. Curiously, or not, both books are, as per their titles, concerned with the rising... but not The Rising.

The first, of Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory - which I read not least because of a recommendation from the comments here on TSS that I take note of the aforementioned author - begins thus:

"99.4% of all zombie stories cast the undead as nothing more thoughtful or interesting or involving than cannon fodder.

"That's cold, hard science there, and you can't argue with science -- unless, I guess, you've got God in your corner.

"As to how the good lord would feel about Stony Mayhall, well... you'd have to ask Him yourself. But science - and this much I can assert with some certainty - would hate him, because just as nature abhors a vacuum, science abhors the inexplicable, and Stony Mayhall is a walking, talking impossibility: a contradiction in terms from the moment Wanda Mayhall and her three daughters find him."

Raising Stony Mayhall might just be the sweetest, funniest zombie novel I've ever read, and I would in turn advise you, as I myself was advised - thanks for that - to check out Daryl Gregory at your first convenience. I enjoyed Raising Stony Mayhall so much I've gone and bought his other books: The Devil's Alphabet and Pandemonium.

Meanwhile, you might say The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor surprised the living dead out of me... by being pretty damn fine, as it transpires:

"Philip Blake is all things to all people. First and foremost, he's a father to Penny, the apple of his eye, and the wind beneath his wings, but Philip is also a little brother to Brian, who makes up in brains what he lacks in brawn, not to mention balls. He's a widower, in addition. but not because the zombies ate his wife, as zombies are wont to do to those nearest and dearest to our hearts; rather a tragic car crash, fully three years before Z-day, put paid to that part of his life.

"When the walking dead come to town, Philip finds that he is a survivor, too – as are Penny and Brian, luckily enough, as well as Philip's high school friends Nick and Bobby – and not only that: he is a leader. And this motley crew needs a leader like a zombie needs a hole in the head, which is to say gravely. So he takes charge. He takes them from their quiet countryside hometown to Atlanta, where they've heard tell of some safe haven. Fans of the comic book and/or AMC's lamentably inconsistent adaptation should have a fair idea how that's likely to work out.

"In any event, what Philip is is nothing next to what he will become. Because Rise of the Governor is of course about the fan-favourite character from the comics: a sadistic monster of a man who leaves quite the impression on the group of survivors The Walking Dead follows, when they come to Woodbury. Not coincidentally, Woodbury is where Rise of the Governor culminates, with an alarming body-count and an almighty twist.

"But if you think you know how this story ends, think again."

I don't know that I had the highest of hopes for The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor going in, and though there are elements of this first collaboration between series creator Robert Kirkman and thriller writer Jay Bonansinga that could have been better - probably would have been better if the authors had had a little more time with their manuscript - my time was so well spent with Philip Blake that I'll be pretty pumped to see the second book in the series.

Same time, same place next year, shall we say? :)

Last but not least, in other news - of a third rising of a sort - a little birdie tells me Starburst Magazine might have some very exciting news to announce in the not-too-distant future.

I'll leave the rest to your imagination... but do stay tuned.

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