by David Moody
If there is such a thing as “a nice little zombie story” then Moody’s Autumn is it. It sticks fairly close to Romero zombie canon right down to the survivors barricading themselves in a farmhouse. What I did enjoy tremendously was Moody’s slow build. Some have found it annoying and dull – I was actually grooving it. First everyone drops dead – shock, horror! Then a third of the corpses gets up and begins to walk again. WTF!!!??? Holy Moses on a crutch!
Then as if you aren’t PTSD’ing enough, the brainless, wandering, dumb-like-cattle corpses suddenly start to be attracted to noise, to light and finally to YOU. They’re slow, they’re stupid, but they’re determined and now seem to have a single-minded purpose. To grab at you. To pull at you. One of them coming at you is laughable. Twenty a bit upsetting. These zombies aren’t biting yet, gutting you and pulling out your insides, but a hundred can smother you. A thousand will crush you. Where do you go? How do you keep them away from you? And is such a world really worth fighting to survive?
The zombies are never called zombies of course. I’m hard-pressed to think of a zombie apocalypse in fiction where the creatures already existed in popular culture when the real thing comes along. The only example that comes to mind is the classic, not-to-be-missed horror/comedy Return of the Living Dead. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, what the hell are you waiting for??? An actual zombie apocalypse? In it, the dead come to life and start lurching around screaming for brains and correct me if I’m wrong zombie-lovers, but this may be the first time ever on film that we get the now famous imagery of zombies hungering for brains. I think the whole “brains and zombies” thing definitely started with this movie. What’s more, the characters first try to kill a zombie by putting a pick-axe through its skull and then when that doesn’t work, chopping its head off, which still doesn’t work prompting the following memorable dialogue:
Burt: I thought you said if we destroyed the brain, it’d die!
Frank: It worked in the movie!
Burt: Well, it ain’t working now, Frank!
Freddy: You mean the movie lied?
Yes! The movie lied. But I digress.
Overall, there’s nothing hugely original or compelling in Moody’s little zombie tale, but I still had a great time reading it. The prose is a little rough (too many adverbs! and as Stephen King will tell you in his short, indispensable gem On Writing, the road to Hell is paved with adverbs). I could rant about the irresponsibility and lack of professionalism showed by a publishing company that ripped this off the net in its pure unpublished form, and didn’t do a goddamn thing to edit it … but I won’t.
Let this be a lesson to all the kiddies out there: when you find yourself writing – “I’m sorry” she said apologetically” – don’t … just don’t.
I will definitely be reading on in this series, because despite my annoyance over his overuse of adverbs I really am a Moody fan. If you haven’t already, you must check out his Hater trilogy. Recommended for zombie lovers and apocalypse junkies everywhere!