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21st Century Dead    edited by Christopher Golden order for
21st Century Dead
by Christopher Golden
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2012 (2012)
Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

In his introduction, Golden says that in this collection 'you'll find nineteen brilliant tales of death and resurrection. Some are down-and-dirty zombie stories, excellent examples of the form, whose intent is a punch in the gut, to entertain, to horrify ... or perhaps all three. Others have a different purpose, helping us to examine and process our fears about a variety of issues, from drugs to religion to reality television. They explore the dark futures, the dark hearts, plumbing the depths of love, loss, and neglect. And some even give us hope'.

A couple of the stories didn't really fit the zombie mould in my opinion - Why Mothers Let Their Babies Watch Television by Chelsea Cain, which I thought a bit too cutesie; Orson Scott Card's Carousel, a story that seemed to discuss what constitutes life rather than the undead; and Daniel H. Wilson's Parasite, which read more like a snippet from his excellent SF novel, Robopocalypse. As a whole though, Golden has put together a sturdy collection that's thought provoking, exciting, and since we're talking zombies, often wonderfully creepy.

My top three picks are: Ghost Dog and Pup: Stay by Thomas E. Sniegoski, a touching tale of a little boy who doesn't want to say goodbye to his faithful dog; The Happy Bird and Other Tales by Rio Youers, a violent yet emotionally touching tale of a war ravaged land and one man's struggle to come to grips with the slaughter of his family and destruction of his country; and last but not least, Jack and Jill by Jonathan Maberry, one of those down-and-dirty stories Golden refers to in his introduction - a perfect nuance of character, atmosphere, and extreme zombie mayhem.

If you feel the sudden and unstoppable urge to sink your teeth into a nice meaty zombie anthology, then 21st Century Dead makes a fine entrée.

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