Review of 21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology

September 27, 2012
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

21st Century Dead21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology
Edited by Christopher Golden; Read by Scott Brick, Cassandra Campbell, Bernadette Dunne, Paul Michael Garcia, Kirby Heyborne, Malcolm Hillgartner, Chris Patton, John Pruden, Renée Raudman, Stefan Rudnicki, Sean Runnette, Simon Vance, and Tom Weiner.
12.5 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 9781455160532
Themes: / zombies / flesh-eating babies / post-modernism / post-apocalypse / virus /

Publisher summary:

The Stoker Award–winning author of the acclaimed, eclectic anthology The New Dead returns with 21st Century Dead and an all-new lineup of authors from every corner of the fiction world, shining a dark light on our fascination with tales of death and resurrection—and with zombies! The stellar stories in this volume include a tale set in the world of Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse , the first published fiction by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter, and a tale of love, family, and resurrection from the legendary Orson Scott Card. This new volume also includes stories from other award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors, such as Simon R. Green, Chelsea Cain, Jonathan Maberry, Duane Swiercyznski, Caitlin Kittredge, Brian Keene, Amber Benson, John Skipp, S. G. Browne, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Hollywood screenwriter Stephen Susco, National Book Award nominee Dan Chaon, and others.

Contents:

“Zombies Are Good for You: An Introduction” by Christopher Golden.
“Biters” by Mark Morris.
“Why Mothers Let Their Babies Watch Television: A Just-So Horror Story” by Chelsea Cain
“Carousel” by Orson Scott Card.
“Reality Bites” by S. G. Browne.
“The Drop” by Stephen Susco.
“Antiparallelogram” by Amber Benson.
“How We Escaped Our Certain Fate” by Dan Chaon.
“A Mother’s Love” by John M. McIlveen.
“Down and Out in Dead Town” by Simon R. Green.
“Devil Dust” by Caitlin Kittredge.
“The Dead of Dromore” by Ken Bruen.
“All the Comforts of Home: A Beacon Story” by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow.
“Ghost Dog & Pup: Stay” by Thomas E. Sniegoski.
“Tic Boom: A Slice of Love” by Kurt Sutter
“Jack and Jill” by Jonathan Maberry.
“Tender as Teeth” by Stephanie Crawford and Duane Swierczynski.
“Couch Potato” by Brian Keene.
“The Happy Bird and Other Tales” by Rio Youers.
“Parasite” by Daniel H. Wilson.

What would zombies look like in the 21st century?  Instead of hiding them or destroying them, could we normalize them?  Teach our children how to live in a zombie-occupied world?  Watch for signs of infection the way we watch for sneezes and fever?  The stories in this anthology of recent zombie fiction ask these questions and more.

A few highlights and remarks:

Biters, by Mark Morris, has young children bringing baby zombies home for a school project.  I think I’d prefer the baby wets-a-lot or a sack of flour over a “child” that ate rotten flesh.

Why Mothers Let Their Babies Watch Television: A Just-So Horror Story, by Chelsea Cain, may be the shortest story in the anthology but packs a punch.  Also, I’m seriously never having children.

Ghost Dog & Pup was way too long and hardly about zombies, probably my least favorite!

Jack & Jill by Jonathan Mayberry had this line, making an existential crisis out of becoming a self-aware zombie:
“The need to not be devoured, even though you already are.”

Tic Boom is the first published fiction from the writer of Sons of Anarchy, so that will definitely be a curiosity for fans of that show.

Parasite is set in Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse world, highly recommended for fans!

ETA: Many of the narrators will be familiar to frequent audiobook listeners.  Without going back and specifically listening to the starting tracks of each story, there is not an easy way to access who read each story, however overall the variety makes the stories more vibrant.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

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