Roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine…

I am reading collected Archie comics while listening to Mumford and Sons and realize their album is just too perfect as a lead into today’s blog. Maybe not the composers intended meaning, but look carefully at the lyrics of half the songs on “Sigh No More”, and hey, totally the soundtrack to discuss some radical Zombie literature longing to bite into your imagination. Forget watching Walking Dead reruns, crack open a book and let your brain do the devouring of these unexpected zombies.

First up is the collected “Afterlife with Archie,” replete with all the classic Archie comic’s tropes and conflicts while incorporating a new closeted lesbian couple, the out but not yet completely accepted gay Kevin, a little V.C. Andrews style brotherly love, comments on class conflict and lots of great action, this is artistic and storyline perfection brought to us Eisner winning artist Fransesco Francavilla and Harvey award winner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Volume one crushes it, volumes 2 and 3 are also available.

My second favorite is a little harder but not impossible to find out of print 2005 Holiday book by Christopher Moore, “The Stupidest Angel.” The humorous and heartwarming tale of terror, like Archie’s apocalypse, begins with a misbegotten act of kindness for a little boy by the same Angel that brought us Moore’s masterpiece “Lamb.” I know, I know, Christmas is dead, it’s January, resurrect it for a moment just for this novel and you won’t regret it.

My third undead recommendation is also the third in the entertaining alternate history, steam punk style Clockwork Century series by Cherie Priest. “Dreadnought”, is my favorite book in the series and stands well on its own. Part mystery, we travel with Mercy, a civil war nurse with ties to both sides of the conflict.  If you are a completest start with the Seattle-based “Boneshaker” and just know the story gets better and better. Atypical zombie origins and an impeccable storytelling make these books hard to put down, so maybe you will want to snag the Audible recordings, masterfully narrated by Wil Wheaton and keep the story going on your commute.

My fourth and final book feast is a series you have seen orbiting the science fiction circuit in 2015 due to its recent adaptation by the SyFy channel. “Leviathan” is the fist novel in the Expanse series. Like the Clockwork Century novels, the zombies of James S. A. Corey’s universe are just one cog in an intricate machine of terror, mystery, betrayals and unexpected heroism.

Try any or all of these cold, creepy corpse crawlers this January.  Snuggled up in your bed or favorite chair with a steaming cocoa, a tempting toddy, or a spot of hot, sweet tea, let the dark month of January crowd and scratch outside your windows, after all, they are just stories and you are still safe.

Aren’t you?

 

The Agony and the Ecstasy: or a patriotic review of “Redshirts” and “Sacre Bleu” written by a white girl.

I have read every book that John Scalzi and Christopher Moore have ever published, and own many in hardcover (not all were ever released that way).  Part of these author’s charm for me may be my egotistic pleasure in discovering and acknowledging the genius of both before they were popular.  I discovered Scalzi with his shareware “Agent to the Stars,” and one of my few life regrets is not being in a financial position to purchase the Subterranean Press edition in 2005. I look forward to someday meeting him, hearing him speak and getting him to sign one of his “Rough Guides” at PHX Comicon.  Christopher Moore entered my life through possibly an ARC of Practical Demonkeeping in the early 90’s (based on who published that review), the details are fuzzy but I’m sure Moore has a Wiki entry if  the dates matter to you, I just know it was between 1989 and 1993. Moore’s love of Vonnegut, yet distinct style and voice made me giddy, and his humor made me guffaw. Both Moore and Scalzi have been read and recommended repeatedly.  Recently I read both authors latest releases in hardcover, “Red Shirts” and “Sacre Bleu” and being a patriotic American, knew combining them in a review would make a perfect July entry.

I took it so personally  when Moore’s 2009 “Fool” was an unpalatable read that I did not pre-order “Sacre Bleu” in April, and would have waited for the paperback release except my book club chose it for June’s selection.  I bought it, I read it, it was agony to finish. The premise of a female “blue” Muse being the source of much that is great and tragic associated with visual arts (mostly painting) was lovingly arranged in a well researched, and Vonnegut worthy, mishmash of surrealistic facts and believable fictions associated with Paris and Impressionism. I really wanted to like this book, just like I really wanted to like “Fool”. I own and hang Impressionist Art posters and prints on my walls. I performed Shakespeare. I preach the genius of Christopher Moore to unsuspecting strangers in bookstores. Unfortunately I didn’t.  It was truly more flat beige than inspiring blue. I did not laugh out loud a single time.  Still 11 out of 13 of his books are so funny that they are embarrassing to read in public, they are books I will gladly read again and still give as presents. This is not really what I would call a bad record for an author guy, all in all. If you don’t know who he is check him out here. http://www.chrismoore.com/, he is well worth your time to read.

Where the “Bleu” left me cold, Scalzi’s “Redshirts” made me sizzle. I bought it release day, read it all by that night, and then re-read it again. I subsequently purchased the Audible version, read by Wil Wheaton it is as if it were written for his voice.  I can’t tell you much more about the plot than the cover precis as I don’t believe in spoilers, but the book is manna to Trekkies sandwiched between layers of meta-magic, and is just plain quantum fun to those less familiar with the source of the pop-culture concept of the Redshirt.  It is so funny it is painful. It even blipped onto the NYT bestseller list where both authors have done a bit of time, although not enough to reduce them to literary punditry like John Grisham or Danielle Steel. But his best writing is not even this book, it his blog, which I have also followed faithfully through many of my own online incarnations. So here is that link, http://whatever.scalzi.com/.

And now I promise, I will not mention either book again. Unless maybe I run into you someday in a bookstore and you are handling the latest grey lit clone and I’ll will be forced to ask you, “Have you ever read this guy, unlike the book in your hand, this guy is really good.”

P.S. Comments are always welcome.