(2014) Stephen Jones (creator & editor), Robinson, £8.99, pbk, 544pp, ISBN 978-1-472-10642-1
As Jim Morrison used to sing...'This is the end, beautiful friend, the end.' Although if we are going to use a quote then perhaps it should be from a well known horror film of the 1970s: 'Who will survive and what will be left of them?'
If you are just catching up then here we go: Human Reanimation Virus (HRV) has spread around the globe and most of the major cities have fallen or been destroyed. As a new race of intelligent zombies rise to power, the remaining pockets of human resistance make a last, desperate stand in the ruins of a world on the brink of unimaginable change. With the final pieces of the epic puzzle falling into place, a centuries-old Endgame is revealed through a series of interconnected documents - emails, articles, reports, diaries and eyewitness accounts - as past and future hang in the balance. In this third and final volume of the original best-selling 'Zombie Apocalypse!' trilogy, Thomas Moreby's plan for world domination is finally revealed in all its mad glory, as the very fabric of time and space is ripped apart and history itself is about to be changed forever.
We have had the Zombie Apocalypse and the Zombie Apocalypse: Fightback, but now it is the Endgame. Created by multi-award winning horror maestro, Stephen Jones, his series has manifested itself in three anthologies and novels (so far) by Mark Morris (Zombie Apocalypse: Horror Hospital (and you thought the NHS was bad!)) and by Lisa Morton (Zombie Apocalypse: Washington Deceased) with two more by Alison Littlewood and John Llewellyn Probert on the way, and who knows, maybe more after that, after all, you can't keep a good zombie scenario down; or bad zombies either.
Like the previous two anthologies this one consists of a variety of source material, adding up to almost forty different contributions, and they are not just stories but emails, hand-written letters, texts, reports, interview transcripts, even factual articles, or opinion, which combine to give the book an authentic, just happening, feel to the proceedings. I have always been a bit of sucker for a good zombie tale, although I prefer the early scenes in Romero's Dawn of the Dead when the world is on a knife edge and things are on the cusp before sliding into darkness. Here, as the title suggest we are the end of the proceedings as far away from the dawn of a bad new world as possible.
Short story collections are inevitably a mixed bag, with some stories better than others, or so the reader thinks and at least this collection through the ever-mutating Human Reanimation Virus offers us more than the bog-standard shambling dead that want to take a bite out of anyone nearby, as the zombie evolves and mutates just like the virus that drives it.
Stephen Baxter crops up a lot here, giving us glimpses of the master plan of Thomas Moreby who appears again and again through the centuries in different guises. There are some nice plays on familiar titles, therefore we have 'He Is Legend' or 'Sympathy for the Deathless' or 'Kevin Needs to Talk About Us', even one story called 'Rocky III' and a 'Title Song' courtesy of Kim Newman. Look out for his contribution and those by some of my favourite writers like: Michael Marshall Smith, Angela Slatter, Pete Atkins, Conrad Williams and Thana Niveau, and let's not forget the great cover, though it's not all about Nazi zombies, you'll be relieved to hear.
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