Archive for January, 2013

Now, obviously as someone who names her blog The Girl Who Loved Zombies, you might imagine I have an unreserved loved for AMC’s television adaptation of The Walking Dead. Not untrue. However, like many, I have complicated feelings about the show. I’ve never had a problem rooting for the zombies in any undead entertainment, but The Walking Dead has often taken my frustrations with survivors to new, never-before-experienced levels of hair-tearing. And the show is problematic in many other respects, not in the least from a racial and feminist perspective.

That all said, I think season 3 is a marked improvement from its predecessor and may, depending on its second half, surpass even the first season. I was glad to see the show improved after the novelty of zombies on  television wore off and the writing sank into a miasma-like sophomore slump. With the mid-season premiere just a few short weeks away, it seems worthwhile to break my No Zombies rule and discuss the strengths and questions of season 3.

It should go without saying that this post contains spoilers. But there. I’m also saying it.

Probably the number one thing season 3 has going for it is momentum. There’s a lot going on from episode to episode and the focus doesn’t linger too consistently in one place. I think we’re much benefited by the change of scenery. It helps that prisons are already terrifying places, but the the dark tunnels and real possibility of getting well and truly lost, it makes for a creepy as hell setting. I loved it. This is in sharp contrast to the seemingly idyllic town of Woodbury, where the Governor reigns. Although the clean streets and plethora of amenities make Woodbury seem like the ideal post-apocalyptic settlement, there’s an unease about it that is not unlike the unease of the prison.

I think we also see a lot of momentum in this season because of the mortality rate. Key characters have died; others come to replace them. In one instance, we have a secondary character who has returned to have a far greater role. Like many, I was more than okay with Lori’s exit and I appreciated the opportunity for the character’s redemption. I’m still upset about T-Dog. I will probably always be upset about T-Dog, especially because he was just starting to get awesome. And, in a way, his death felt gratuitous because the showrunners had yet to put the time and energy into really developing him.

I’ve never really been on Team Rick (like all sensible Walking Dead fans, I am 100% Team Daryl), but I am fascinated by where they’ve taken his character this season — his brittleness, followed by a complete breakdown in the wake of Lori’s death. It’s interesting, too, how the leadership role he shared with Shane has now dispersed between the other members of the group, primarily Glenn (who has also seen some fabulous character development), Hershel, and Daryl. I think this shift in dynamic has helped tremendously. Love triangles are never that interesting to me, even if one point is a batshit crazy Jon Bernthal.

Obviously the introduction of new characters always adds complications and breathes new life into a show. Based on my knowledge of the comic, I was excited to see Tyreese’s group. And there’s the Governor, of course, who makes an interesting if somewhat difficult villain (I’m still waiting for the full of extent of his crazy to come out, although the zombie heads in the aquariums were pretty fantastic). And Michonne. You could easily watch this season just for Michonne and Daryl. In fact, just as I wanted T-Dog and Dale to start their own peaceful post-apocalyptic collective in a spin-off series I like to call Of Walkers and Turnips, I want Michonne and Daryl to ride off into the sunset (as comprades!) and have awesome zombie-slaying adventures and terse, monosyllablic conversations about life, love, and weapons.

Is it a perfect season? Not at all. Is it a great step in the right direction? Definitely. The pacing still often feels weird to me and I’m not sure how all the plotlines are going to play out, but I’m invested enough to stay along for the ride.

What are your Walking Dead season 3 thoughts? Who do you think is going to bite it in the second half? And what is your ideal spin-off series?

Usually, I’m pretty terrible about keeping up with the hot new fiction, especially genre fiction. E.g. I just read Poppy Z. Brite’s darkly fantastic Drawing Blood and that came out in 1994.

But this fall I did manage to read a handful of exciting recent releases, so I thought I would share my impressions in another round of mini-reviews.

1. This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It by David Wong: As it happens, John Dies At The End is one of my favorite sci-horror books ever. I love Dave and John and Amy. I love the near-poetic level of profanity. I love the bizarre, blitzed-out Lovecraftian backdrop. This Book occupies a slightly different space tonally and topically, but I enjoyed it almost as much as the original. (I mean, zombies-but-not-zombies? YES PLEASE.) And I thought it was a worthy development of Dave and John as heroes and hetero lifemates. If there’s a next chapter to their saga, I’m definitely looking forward to it.

2. The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest: The fifth installment in Priest’s Clockwork Century series, The Inexplicables might be my favorite story yet. Priest always makes wonderful character choices, but I was especially intrigued by her choice of Rector “Wreck ’em” Sherman as her protagonist here. He seems like the most anti-hero style character Priest has gone with and I think it brought a new dimension to the zombies and airships and daring ladies of the previous books. The Inexplicables returns us to Blight-infested Seattle for the first time since Boneshaker, where many familiar faces from the series are trying maintain law and order. And there’s a mysterious new creature lurking in the crumbling city…

3. Familiar by J. Robert Lennon: I acquired this book, which was put out by indie superstar Graywolf Press, in the Unstuck kickstarter way back — and I’m so glad I did! Lennon’s work occupies a space between genres in a way I really admire. Yes, this is a story which is possibly about parallel universes. But it is also very much a novel about family and parenthood and the ways in which our choices shape our lives and the people around us. Of course, it helps Lennon is a dynamic prose stylist and the book itself is just an impressively put-together object.

4. Red Rain by R.L. Stine: That’s right, the horror master of our youth has written a book for adults. If you were a Goosebumps fan growing up, this book is absolutely for you — Stine’s using all of his best tricks here. Moreover, I thought Red Rain was an fascinating insight into what the situations in Goosebumps and Fear Street must have seemed like from an adult perspective: childhood, utterly out of control. And like FamiliarRed Rain is an examination of parenthood and how it can make us shortsighted about the world. It’s also a classic “creepy kid” story, a personal favorite of mine.

5. Son by Lois Lowry: I had no idea Lowry had written more in The Giver universe until this fall when I attended National Bookfest and heard her read from the fourth and final book, Son. As you guys know, I adore The Giver. It remains, I think, one of the best examples of dystopian literature. And Son lives up to it. Forget the young adult/children’s designation, Lowry is simply a master storyteller. Mind you, this is a very different kind of novel from The Giver. In fact, Son is the story of someone much less remarkable within Jonah’s Community: one of the birthmothers. And somehow, through satisfying our curiosity, Lowry manages to ask more questions about the nature of life and love and motherhood.

It’s time for this month’s double feature: the first episode of the hilarious web series “Space Janitors” and a fantastic short film on Vimeo: “D.”

 

 

Project: Fearful Symmetries: An Anthology of Horror

End Date: January 10, 12:00pm EST.

Prizes: E-books, print books, proofs and ARCs signed by Ellen Datlow, creepy framed photographs, a free pass out of ChiZine Publications’ slush pile, handmade faux entrails (!), writing/publishing Q&As with Ellen Datlow or Brett Savory, signed manuscripts, short story critiques, artwork, fictional appearances in various short stories in the anthology, Dark Tower pencil sketches by Alan M. Clark.

Current Goal: $25,000

Current Number of Backers: 307

Current Pledges: $11,850

Why they deserve your support: Because Ellen Datlow is a brilliant editor. Seriously, you’re talking to someone who spent a decent chunk of her adolescence devouring anthologies Datlow edited or co-edited. This is just about guaranteed to be a fantastic anthology. Plus, an open reading period for pro-rate anthologies like this one is an incredibly rare thing, so you’re not only putting established writers into print, you’re helping unknown — possibly young unpublished — writers. And doesn’t that fit with Kickstarter’s indie mindset? Moreover, horror needs more champions. Moreover, I think one of the ways small(er) presses can succeed in the e-book revolution is by undertaking projects just like this one. Let’s encourage them, shall we?

Also, handmade faux entrails. Seriously.

Did I give: Darn right I did!