Thursday, February 12, 2009

Monster Island
by David Wellington
p. 288

Dekalb has a problem. He's a newly single father in a world that teeters on the edge of ruin as a tidal wave of walked dead threaten to wash across every corner of the Earth.

The story opens in a rather unusual setting. Prior to the corpse party, Deklab was a UN weapons inspector in Africa. As zombies begin to occupy the continent, he finds himself and his daughter taking refuge with a band of female, Somali fighters. Having nothing of value other than his life, Deklab must find something to exhange for his daughters safety and to that end he's provided a quest: return to America and procure drugs. It seems the leader of the horde he's tagging along with is rapidly running out of AZT to keep her HIV infection in check. In exchange for this duty, they promise him citizen ship within their tribe and protection of his daughter even if he does not return. And with that Dekalb sets off to cross the Atlantic and take a wild crapshoot that he'll be able to find, obtain and return with the drugs.

Along the way the run into a peculiar creature, Gary. It dawned upon Gary that if you bite the bullet, you'll come back as a zombie, but the mindless, glazed eye effect was the destruction of intelligence though lack of oxygen to the brain. So, he begins a crazed idea: Killself, but while hooked up to the aid of life suppot, and it works! He returns as essentially, a zombie, but possessing his full mental capacities.

Monster Island is a great read, that throws a little bit of everything at you. Barricaded suvivors, intelligent undead, mummies and hordes and hordes of ravenous, goo dripping creatures.

If you'd like to sample the book, Mr. Wellington originally created it as a serial novel and has it posted at: Do yourself a favor however and pick up the hard cover novel, it's well worth it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Resident Evil 5 & Dead Rising 2

In case you've been hunkering down in a bomb shelter for the past year, RE5 is set to release in March on the PS3 and Xbox 360.

I got a chance to download the demo last night and the pictures I've seen so far really don't do the graphics of the game justice. The look and feel are very similar to RE4 and it looks like the Garonos are back for a repeat performance.

My one quip so far is the weapon swapping. It's a bit cumbersome to press the Y button, manually select the weapon with the D pad and then click, then chose equip. There might be a hot swap method I'm not aware off, but trying to pull this feat off while you're being swapped by a dozen zombies is a bit tricky to say the least.

RE5, so far, plays essentially the same in terms of targeting and shooting, to RE4 and if you're comfortable with the latter, you'll have few problems with the former.

Capcom confirmed Dead Rising 2. There are few details at this moment but there are a couple screen shots. So far all we know is that the story will take place in a casino and Frank will not be making a repeat performance.

Hopefully this time they strip out the picture gimmick and the time forced story, both elements that I feel detracted from the first game. It would have been better off as a free for all sandbox time game that allowed you to work through it at your own pace.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Rising

The Rising
by Brian Keene
p. 317

Immediately on the heels of Mr Remic's novel Biohell, I was treated to another novel that would undoubtedly be classified as adult leaning, "The Rising" by Brian Keene.

The Rising picks up as the plague is in progress, opening the story on a central character Jim who wants nothing more than to be reunited with his estranged child, the only problem of course being that his son Danny is no where close to his current hide out, and there is a particular problem of vast hordes of blood thirsty zombies clogging the roads that lead to reunion. Joining forces with a preacher and an ex-hooker, they struggle to survive the bleak new reality.

One thing I want to make blatant: This novel (and others by Mr. Keene) are not for the faint of heart or the slightly squeemish. They're raw, they're graphic at at points you'll be left wondering if you should not call the authorities to preemptively commit Brian Keene to the closest mental institute.

I try not to reveal too much of the story (it's about zombies: Killing people and being killed) but I try to pick out a few elements from novels I find interesting. In this novel it's particularly both the origin of the zombies and how they interact.

In "The Rising" (and its sequel City of the Dead) the zombies are a manifestation of demons allowed into this world through a rending of the dimensional fabric. Every living entity that leaves this existence, allows in another demonic power to possess the empty husk (that must be a seriously large deli ticket machine to determine which creature gets to go in first). Brian has set up an interesting pathos that explains why this occurs, but the unusual part is how it lends intelligence to the zombies. They use tools, they speaks and they taunt their opponents. It creates a palpable level of dislike for the zombies; not only are they the desecration of your friends and loved ones, they now mock you before tearing out your intestines.

Most of the zombie novels I've read, of course make the undead to be the enemy. Lending them speech and motivation provides another level of evil. Most zombies we get. They're hungry, hell, I'm hungry now, and they want nothing more than a steaming bowl of guts. It's a base instinct we can all relate too and at times it shifts the perception of the zombies to almost an animal like parallel; we begin to view them more as just 'wild things' and new predators on the top of the food chain; dangers to be sure, but ultimately lesser creatures. The addition of speech and scheming however creates a whole new level of insidious threat (and conversely vindictive glee when they're obliterated.); they're not longer wild things, but vile, evil creatures intent on your death and desecration and they love their work.

If you like your zombie novels dead and dirty, you won't be disappointed with this book.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

by Andy Remic
p. 400


Before you crack open this novel you should ask yourself: Do I enjoy violent sci-fi coupled with disgusting mutants and a creatively forged universe setting? If you can check: "Positive!" to any of those qualifiers I highly recommend checking out Andy Remic's novel "Biohell". If your reading tendencies trend towards cuddly creatures that hug out their emotions, steer well clear of this book.

The novel opens with a focus on Franco Haggis, a retired member of an elite combat unit known as Combat K. Franco resides on a massive world known as "The City" which is an interesting soup of sex, drugs and technology, where anything goes and everything is for sale. Nano tech bio-mods have permeated the world and allow the populace to alter their flesh shells at will, but somewhere a cog slips, the machine breaks down, and the human and alien forms that dot the landscape begin to quite literally break down. The book follows Franco, Keenan and some other.. interesting characters.. as they battle their way across the monster riddled City.

The book refers to the mutations of the creatures as zombies but I never really felt in reading the zombie they were zombies in the classic sense. They definitely fulfill a sufficient goo factor, but they are more along the lines tech driven mutations than the traditional 'zombie' you might picture. Biohell was an interesting novel for me because it combined elements of science fiction, with elements of horror and manages to combine for a story that's depicts its setting well, while not getting too bogged down in a sea of tech descriptions that seem to plague some sci-fi novels. One, memorable scene comes to mind when the party gets its hands on a bio-tech war machine that was constructed in a humanoid form and contains an access ramp positioned in a rather uncomfortable place.

The novel was written well, the characters were interesting and the scenery was clearly explaining.
Biohell was a good blend of sci-fi tech, monster, horror and some light comedy that all melts together for a very good read, and I look forward to exploring future Combat K novels.

Resident Evil 5 Demo

A 2 level demo for RE5 looks like it's set to hit January 26, 2009 for the xbox (Heard 2/5/2009 for the PS3).

I enjoyed RE4 even if it was a departure from previously Resident Evil games. The "Ganados" were not really traditional zombies per se, but parasitically control creatures that moved much quicker than previous iterations of RE baddies and utilized weapons and from what I've seen of RE5, the creatures will be similar.

RE4 had more of an action feel that earlier incarnations in the series and it definitely pulled away from the ammo conservation game, but the play and feel were a solid fit. I expect that Resident Evil 5 will be similar to the its prior game in terms of feel and play but will still sit solid in the series.

The addition of co-op play is just the gooey icing on the brain cake.

Undead Entertainment

I've recently been playing Left 4 Dead on the xbox 360 and it game me the inclination to begin a post of good old fashioned, general zombie mayhem.

Starting off with flash: has a slew of games. Some you've probably seen before if you frequent many flash games sites, but you'd be hard pressed to find a single site that collects this maybe brain bursting games into one collection.
Of the ones I've played, Zombie Rampage is the one I personally feel is the most 'interactive' With multiple modes, varied weapons and a top down view, the production values are well done. I wish the creator would port this flash game over to the XBLA arcade games and offer it for download. If they could figure a way to incorporate multi-player and utilize a controller, it would cause far less wear and tear on my mouse.

Zombie Horde was well done and I also enjoyed The Last Stand. A few of the games are a touch mediocre and obvious re-skins of other flash games you might have played, but all in all the site has a slew of point and click corpse extermination to keep you busy for hours on end.

This site is a good way to spend some time exterminating undead while you await the impending zombie apocalypse, but most of the applets on the site are not 'lunch' friendly games due to the staggering amount of clicking required. I can't be held responsible if you're huddled down in your cubicle madly mashing on your mouse keys to hold of the wave of stumbling, bloated bodies and your officer manager queries why you're abusing your mouse.

In case this does occur, do not reply with a roll of your eyes and: "Saving your ass from the zombies" this is not likely to score you points with your boss (or any other rational person in your office.) Utilize the time honored excuse of a frozen computer and you're getting frustrated.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

After Twilight: Walking with the Dead

After Twilight: Walking with the Dead
by Travis Adkins
p. 284


To date I've not read a Permuted Press book that I disliked and "After Twilight: Walking with the Dead", continued an excellent run of books that should be accessible to both long time, and newly formed zombie fans.

Without revealing overly much, the book follows the a fortified city of Eastpointe, whose residents have managed to carve out a safe niche on the east coast of a ruined United States.

The denizens of this town are privy to a lifestyle most survivors of a zombie fiasco could only hope to have: access to electricity, a local saloon and even an internally created currency designed to take the place of the defunct US dollar. An elite team of combatants is sent into the surrounding decay to scavenge supplies and a nefarious shadow government has begun to form in the recesses of the city.

At first I felt a bit disjointed, like I was missing portions of the book, or there were segments not clearly explained. I did not realize until after the fact that this novel was actually a continuation of a prior book Twilight of the Dead. You don't have to read the first novel to thoroughly enjoy the second but it may help flesh out some of the missing jigsaw pieces.

After Twilight is an interesting depiction of society reforming itself after the initial shock and awe with not much time is spent on the initial outbreak(which I'm assuming is covered in the initial novel) and a large focus on the reforming of people afterwards. It seems like more time is spent on character development, their lives and interactions with fellow humans than on the zombie action itself, but there is enough undead violence to sufficiently satisfy most.

I look forward to picking up the first, and hopefully soon, third novels in this promising series.