Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Written by Eric A. Brown
Published by Library of the Living Dead
When I got the review copy of Unabridged, Unabashed and Undead, my first thoughts were “Ooo, Zombies!” and “Who the hell is Eric S. Brown?” I did a little research and discovered that Mr. Brown is well versed in all things shambling and rotted and was quoted as an expert on walking corpses in the book Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead. So I was looking forward to reading this collection of short stories, and I was not disappointed.
This collection contains a whopping forty-three short stories, all dealing with some angle of the undead apocalypse, and dealing with every type of zombies imagined as well as a few that most would never think of. Slow zombies, fast zombies, animal zombies, self-hating zombies and zombie love are all covered in this collection. While forty-plus stories seems impossible to contain within a mere 232 page, Brown accomplishes the fete by including not only multipage tales, but also flash fiction and micro fiction as well.
The first story, “A Bad Day at Work,” is a surreal tale that sets the right tone for the whole collection, about a man who works in a factory that cleans up the walking dead for resale. From there, readers get soldiers in action, zombie animals, and people just trying to survive. Among the best stories are “As We All Break Down,” about a man stuck on a boat in the middle of nowhere when the zombie uprising begins; “Dr. Pus,” an homage to the book’s publisher; and “Night Shopping,” about the first wave of looters to hit when society collapses. Also worth mentioning are “Unnatural Endings,” in which a pair of dying soldiers avoid zombification; “Ghost,” about what happens when even the undead die; and “Coming Home,” about picking up the pieces once things begin settling down. While the longer stories do have more of a chance to develop the plot and characters, Brown demonstrates a real ability to develop both in just a page or two, getting the most emotional bang for the reader’s buck.
If there is any complaint about this collection, it is a product of the sheer number of stories. While the number itself isn’t bad, it does lend itself to the author repeating the names of characters throughout the book. It is occasionally distracting to read about two characters with the same names, and having to remind yourself that they’re not the same character. Of course, such a problem is minor at the most, and is easily solved by taking the time to savor every blood-soaked page before going on to the next story.
Eric S. Brown knows his zombies, as is evidenced in this collection. Whether he is detailing the life of a person after the zombies have been conquered, or describing people running for their lives, his stories contain the right spark to make them memorable and enjoyable. If you haven’t heard of him, seek his work out.
4 out of 5
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