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.