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Dead Can Walk: Flesh-Eating Stories [Paperback]

Stephen Jones

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Book Description

7 Jan 2010
This is a wonderful anthology of Zombie fiction with a wide variety of stories from brain splatter gore to tale that explore the dark side of human existence via the zombie / human relationship. Of all the monstrous threats to humanity, zombies are the most horrific. That's because they are not uncommon or alien - they're human. (Or more correctly, were human.) Anywhere that there are humans, there are zombies, and they can never be completely annihilated because by breeding more humans we breed more zombies. In "The Ultimate Book of Zombies", these decomposing monsters are demolished, decapitated, and destroyed. The gore flows as humans and zombies dispatch each other in blood-curdling battles fought in big-city alleys, high school playgrounds, and even suburban living rooms. In addition, the living dead are fully deconstructed in these wide-ranging and fascinating stories. More than just brain-eating assaults and acid-bath retaliations, the tales in this book explore all elements of zombie existence and their interaction with the humans they live among.

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About the Author

Stephen Jones lives in London.

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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dead That Walk anthology 14 Jun 2011
By Travis Eisenbrandt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Dead That Walk was released November 2009 and published by Ulysses Press. There are twenty-four short stories written by Richard Matheson & Richard Christian Matheson, Yvonne Navarro, Michael Marshall Smith, Mark Samuels, Joe Hill, Weston Ochse, David J. Schow, Nancy Holder, H. P. Lovecraft, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Morton, Brian Keene, Gary McMahon, Joe R. Lansdale, Kelly Dunn, Clive Barker, Christopher Fowler, Robert E. Howard, Stephen Woodworth, Harlan Ellison, Robert Shearman, Kim Newman, Scott Edelman, and Stephen King. Before each short story, there's a brief biography of that story's author as well as listing some of their previous works and experience with writing about zombies. The Dead That Walk focuses on zombie short stories.

"Introduction: Shoot 'em in the Brain" by Stephen Jones
This was an interesting look into how zombies and zombie culture has made its way into the mainstream, along with giving the history of zombies. This is just a neat history lesson and a great way to begin an anthology.

"Where There's a Will" by Richard Matheson & Richard Christian Matheson
A man is buried alive and is seeking a way to free himself. However, what he learns makes him wish he were still buried.
Overall: 5/5
Thoughts:
"Where There's a Will" is a very short story done right. There is a real claustrophobic feeling to the story and what the main character is going through. Then you have the twist at the end, which was just fantastic.

"For the Good of All" by Yvonne Navarro
Father Stane arrives to the home of a woman named Fida, in hopes that those who live with Fida can be saved by faith and belief.
Overall: 5/5
Thoughts:
"For the Good of All" is a good story with a get premise. The dark tone is played off well enough that the story doesn't feel dark until the end. After that point, the entire story really comes off as dark. Along with the interesting idea that the undead can be 'saved', this short story is wonderful.

"The Things He Said" by Michael Marshall Smith
A man living off a mountain tells of the advice his father gave him, along with his daily schedule.
Overall: 3/5
Thoughts:
"The Things He Said" isn't a bad story, but its way too slow. There are quite a few interesting and great moments, but in the long run it's just a man telling us of his daily schedule. It's simple, and that was good, but it felt like it needed more.

"The Last Resort" by Mark Samuels
After a zombie outbreak, Davies finds his rural home surrounded by the undead. Armed with only a shotgun, he has to survive, or use it as a last resort.
Overall: 2/5
Thoughts:
"The Last Resort" isn't a bad story, but it doesn't add anything new. It's predictable and you would get a feeling that you've seen this story before. Thankfully, the rural setting does give the story something unique about it and did remind me a bit of Night of the Living Dead.

"Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead" by Joe Hill
On the set of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, Bobby Conroy spots his former love in Harriet Rutherford, zombie make-up and all.
Overall: 4/5
Thoughts:
"Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead" was a unique and fun story. The ending felt kind of weak, but it still was a funny and cute short story that I wouldn't have minded if it was longer.

"The Crossing of Aldo Ray" by Weston Ochse
Aldo Ray has to get into the United States to save his son and the only way to cross the Mexican-American border is to go across with los muertos, the undead. Things don't go as planned.
Overall: 4/5
Thoughts:
"The Crossing of Aldo Ray" is an interesting take on illegal immigration, just with zombies. There are a few flashbacks that appear in the story that don't really add anything that important to the plot. There are a few surprises that to pop up.

"Obsequy" by David J. Schow
Doug has to get out of Triple Pines. He has to leave the city. However, before he is able to, the dead come back, alive. After the love of his life returns from the beyond, can he leave?
Overall: 3/5
Thoughts:
"Obsequy" is a good story hampered by one problem; its characters. No one aside from the main character seems to be developed enough for the reader to really care about them. Even with the main character, I had a hard time getting into. It seems like the character development was second or third to explaining the story. Thankfully, "Obsequy" has an interesting take on zombies. In the story, they are living, non-brain eating beings who just happened to have been dead. In fact, they seemed more like vampires, feeding off the livings heat. It's an interesting take.

"Zombonia" by Nancy Holder
Survivors of a zombie apocalypse find a refuge in the desert, but as the party goes on, it becomes clear that it'll never end.
Overall: 3/5
Thoughts:
"Zombonia" may leave you annoyed by the prose. It's annoying and headache inducing, if you don't like that "valley-girl" accent. Thankfully, at barely four pages long, it's a quick enough read that you almost overlook it.

"Cool Air" by H. P. Lovecraft
A New York writer finds a new place to live. After finding the place and learning of the other tenants, a heart attack seizes him. Thankfully, one of the tenants is a doctor and the writer goes to him for aid. However, there isn't something quite right about the doctor.
Overall: 5/5
Thoughts:
"Cool Air" is a wonderfully suspenseful and terrifying story. The build-up and the pay off were just fantastic. There was a distinct sense of the unknown and of dread that really came off well.

"Call First" by Ramsey Campbell
An older man continues to use a phone in the library. Same time, everyday. The librarian at the desk finds this particular activity odd and goes off to find out who he is calling, but learns that it may have been best to not investigate.
Overall: 4/5
Thoughts:
"Call First" is a very suspenseful story. The beginning did come off as slightly confusing because you don't understand his reasoning why he becomes so obsessed with finding out who the older man is talking to. It just felt forced. However, the ending and the build up in suspense was just great.

"Joe and Abel in the Field of Rest" by Lisa Morton
Joe lives alone in a farmhouse that him and his father owned. A year after his father's death, Joe has been alone. Thankfully, his loneliness is saved by an unlikely source.
Overall: 3/5
Thoughts:
"Joe and Abel in the Field of Rest" is a good story that could have been something more. The only problem is with the mentions of Joe's father, which never seemed to amount to anything. The story is simple enough to allow you to get into it quickly and is just as enjoyable.

"Midnight at the Body Farm" by Brian Keene
Hector Bolivar isn't alone with the dead bodies in the body farm.
Overall: 3/5
Thoughts:
"Midnight at the Body Farm" is a short, but good story. The shortness of it does make it feel quick, but it's still fun and exciting. There is a slight feeling of continuity concerning this short story and Brian Keene's novel titled Dead Sea, but it's only slight. All in all, this short story is very quick and to the point, but could have been slightly longer.

"Dead to the World" by Gary McMahon
A man and his wife are surviving in a zombie ravaged England, but one can't escape their past and the other just needs to survive.
Overall: 4/5
Thoughts:
"Dead to the World" is a cold, distant, but good story. The story really felt depressing and almost lifeless, but it still worked. The relationship between the two main characters was something different and unexpected. The ending was just satisfying and different, which is the best way to sum up this story.

"The Long Dead Day" by Joe R. Lansdale
A family is living in a walled off homestead in a zombie infested world, but tragedy strikes as the daughter is bitten by a "dog".
Overall: 3/5
Thoughts:
"The Long Dead Day" is an average story due to its short length. There was no room for character development and the characters relationships really seemed to be direct and to the point. However, the story does play tragedy well.

"A Call to Temple" by Kelly Dunn
A mother tries to live with an infected son, unwilling to end his life.
Overall: 4/5
Thoughts:
"A Call to Temple" is a fairly good story. The ending was weak and didn't have the poignancy that it was trying for. The relationship between Hannah and Sam really did feel like a mother and son relationship. You can see Hannah going to the lengths she goes through for her son. Also, the non-apocalyptic, subtle zombie infested world felt different and unique. This give the zombie attacks feel more shocking and disturbing.

"Haeckel's Tale" by Clive Barker
A group of friends are exchanging stories and gossip when one brings up a past experience with a necromancer.
Overall: 5/5
Thoughts:
"Haeckel's Tale" is a twisted story. The atmosphere really does help with the twisted and deranged feeling. This is one story that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.

"The Rulebook" by Christopher Fowler
Young Paul spread a rumor about his neighbor, Mr. Hill, killing his wife. But when Paul and his mother are offered to stay at his home due to a leaky roof and Mr. Hill going to the hospital for minor surgery, Paul discovers that you shouldn't tell rumors.
Overall: 5/5
Thoughts:
"The Rulebook" really stands out in this anthology. Not only was it entertaining, but it had a very different feel to it. It was a lot lighter and not as depressing as the rest of the stories, thus far. Also the viewpoint of what a young child would see and image was written very believably.

"Black Canaan" by Robert E. Howard
In the swamps of Louisiana in the early Twentieth Century, an uprising is about to occur led by voodoo magic and it's up to Kirby Buckner to stop it. However, he is put under a spell by a voodoo witch and is slowly pulled towards his death.
Overall: 3/5
Thoughts:
"Black Canaan" is a different, good story that may turn off some readers due to certain words. It may seem racist, but it never felt racist and if you take into consideration that it was written in 1936, it's more understandable. However, the side characters really take away from the overall experience. It just felt like they were there just to die and had almost no development that it caused me not to really care about them. Thankfully, the voodoo aspect of the story is fantastic. It seems like the voodoo zombie is forgotten now-a-days and it's great to see a story bringing them up. It made the story feel different and unique. Also, the building suspense is wonderful. You really don't know what is going to happen to Kirby until the last few pages.

"The Silent Majority" by Stephen Woodworth
Richard Nixon returns from the dead to prevent the Apocalypse of the undead kind.
Overall: 1/5
Thoughts:
"The Silent Majority" is not the kind of story I like. While the idea, having a zombie return to deliver a warning, was interesting, everything else I didn't enjoy. the story had this cheesy, odd feeling throughout. It wasn't the 'campy' kind of cheesy, but something more annoying. It was hard to take this story seriously. This is a political based story and I honestly dislike stories that rely on it. I'm just not a political person and I like having politics generally ignored in stories. However, if you like party politics or Richard Nixon, then it could be enjoyable.

"Sensible City" by Harlan Ellison
A corrupt police lieutenant named Gropp and his deputy are going to be sentenced to death, but escape the trial only to find themselves lost on the run.
Overall: 4/5
Thoughts:
"Sensible City" is a good and different kind of story. It may seem a little finicky and jumpy while reading, but that's the only issue with the story. Everything else is just great. It was wonderful to have a main character that actually uses their brains and common sense, which just makes the ending all the better.

"Granny's Grinning" by Robert Shearman
The hot, new Christmas gift for children allows them to become movie monsters. But after Sarah's grandfather passes away, her family is going to make this Christmas 'special' for her grandmother.
Overall: 4/5
Thoughts:
"Granny's Grinning" is a morbid and disturbing story that won't leave my mind for a while. Aside from the crucial missing piece of exposition about how the costumes work, the rest of the story is memorable and shocking. The idea that the costumes can do this is interesting and it's very easy to see this being further explored. Then you have an ending that you would never expect that just leaves you disturbed by strangely satisfied.

"Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue or: Children of Marx and Coca Cola" by Kim Newman
A soldier turned experiment helper, Chirkov, is assigned to the Spa, a place where American tourists turned zombies are dissected and looked at. But there's something else going on in the Spa.
Overall: 2/5
Thoughts:
"Amerikanski Dead" has a lot of things common with its long title, long winded and makes little sense. The story is unfocused and confusing. The sentences have this "jumping effect" where it jumps off topic rapidly. It almost felt like this should have been a longer story, but was condensed down. The ending also came off as sudden and silly. It didn't fit with anything else in the story and just felt jammed in. But at least one character did make this story enjoyable for his brash actions and humor, Tulbeyev. This is just an unfocused mess of a story.

"Tell Me Like You Done Before" by Scott Edelman
After killing his best friend, Lenny, George is horrified to see that Lenny is still alive and tries to run from his best friend. After understanding that he'll never escape, George knows he must confront his undead friend.
Overall: 5/5
Thoughts:
"Tell Me Like You Done Before" is Of Mice and Men and Zombies, and it's wonderful. The story really adds to the original in ways that just surprised me. The ending really echoes the original, but gives it a disturbing and twisted ending that just fits. I didn't expect it to have anything to do with John Steinbeck's novel, but after reading it, I am glad it did.

"Home Delivery" by Stephen King
A newly wed and pregnant woman named Maddie just lost her husband due to a lobster fishing accident. Alone and pregnant may be a scary thing, but it becomes even more terrifying when the dead come back.
Overall: 2/5
Thoughts:
"Home Delivery" didn't really deliver and was one of the more boring, unexciting stories in the anthology. It seemed like nothing went on and the only thing that was really reinforced was who this person was and what they did. The ending was a cliffhanger and didn't really finish the story. Nothing was really resolved and it feels like there should have been more. There was a genuinely creepy moment concerning a transmission that did give the story a slightly creepy feel, but it didn't hold true for the rest of the story.

OVERALL AVERAGED ANTHOLOGY RATING: 4/5
Final Thoughts:
The Dead That Walk is an good anthology that gives you a lot of different takes on zombies. There really is something for everyone, zombie fan and zombie hater alike. If there is one disappointing thing about The Dead That Walk is that there is just too many stories and you can become easily distracted. But do to the amount of stories, it really does give you a vast amount of authors to check out. IF you're a zombie fan or just like good horror stories, this is definitely worth a pick up.

Stories Worth Reading:
1) "Where There's a Will" by Richard Matheson & Richard Christian Matheson
2) "For the Good of All" by Yvonne Navarro
3) "Cool Air" by H. P. Lovecraft
4) "Haeckel's Tale" by Clive Barker
5) "The Rulebook" by Christopher Fowler
6) "Tell Me Like You Done Before" by Scott Edelman

Stories to Avoid
1) "The Silent Majority" by Stephen Woodworth
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Non-Mammoth Book of Pretty OK Zombie Tales 3 Nov 2009
By Severian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jones published a zombie anthology back in the 90s which was quite voluminous and which had a good mix of stories in it with varying tones and moods. In his intro to this anthology, he asks the hypothetical question of why he is editing a second anthology. His given answer is that he wants to redefine the role of the zombie in horror fiction. That answer is bogus; he wants to make money by capitalizing on the suddenly hot zombie fic craze (see recent works by Adams and Skipp for instance.) Jones evidently couldn't get his publisher to spring for a second Mammoth book, so he instead produced this comparatively slim volume (300 pages versus the 500-600 pages that most Mammoth books have.)

Is there anything exceptional here to "redefine the role of the zombie in horror"? Nah, not really. Of the 24 stories here, we have 13 Romeroesque zombie plague tales. The other 11 are a mixed bag, featuring "localized" incidents of reanimants.

In terms of quality, we have a mixed bag. About 15 of the stories are reprints, and many of these are worthy, especially the Barker and Newman pieces. Some of the reprints are overly familiar (Lovecraft) and two of them are annoying to me at least- the New Yorker style Hill film-set romance pieces that has no actual zombies in it and the flimsy silly King "Home Delivery" that is making its undeserved third appearance in a zombie anthology. (Big mass of space worms shoots wee tiny corpse reanimating worms down through atmosphere. Mighty tough worms there...) Schow's "Obsequy" is frustrating but interesting as it appears to be an unfinished story that could have benefited by being either shorter or longer.

Besides the reprints, we have a few originally commissioned pieces. These are more of a mixed bag - some are clever new takes on some aspects of zombie lore (Ochse's zombies as illegal immigrants one and Woodworth's Zombie Nixon are my faves). However, Jones is also a bit overly chummy as an editor and lets the bar droop pretty low for some brief and pointless pieces by Holder and Keene. Even the Ellison and Lansdale pieces, while not terrible are below the normal quality of their past output.

Jones' basic problem as an editor is that if he likes a given author, personally or on the basis of past work, he is likely to accept a below par piece from them for a given anthology. This has marred many of his year's best horror collections, and this tendency is in direct contrast to Ellen Datlow, who (IMO) is the best horror anthologist now working in the field because she insists that every piece appearing in a book edited by her has to be at a fairly high quality level.

Anyway, this is an OK collection, some good original stuff and a good assortment of reprints. It is a tad skimpy on the page count and when we deduct the lame stuff and some overly familiar reprints, we have a collection that appeals mainly to die-hard completists who like to have every zombie fic collection out there. The recent Skipp anthology ("Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead" ) is far superior, and even the mixed bag Adams "Living Dead" collection offers more consistently good pieces, even though they are almost all reprints and even with the tedious civics lessons mixed in there. Either of these alternates is a superior choice to this Jones book, but this is not by any means a terrible collection.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely loved reading this (and I'm not a big fan of reading) ! 30 Aug 2010
By Andrea Greco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I love zombies and zombie movies. A friend got me this book and I decided to flip right to the story by Clive Barker. That was all it took to get me hooked. Then I read each story from the beginning and the book ends with a Stephen King story. Some of the stories are really riveting. There are different perspectives of people affected by zombies or who become zombies themselves. This book is nice because you can sit down and just read one story. As somebody who struggles to keep interest in reading a whole book - take my word for it that if you like zombies, you'll love this book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In response to C. Kelleher's review 3 Dec 2009
By Karma - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
While questions of quality are entirely subjective, I'm writing this review to address the statement, "so he instead produced this comparatively slim volume (300 pages versus the 500-600 pages that most Mammoth books have.)"

As someone who works in publishing, I can tell you that trim size is a very tricky beast. Narrow margins, typesetting, font, and line spacing can easily add or subtract several hundred pages to the book.

The Mammoth book of Zombies has 26 to Dead That Walk's 24 stories. However, Dead That Walk also includes much lengthier introductions to the authors' works. I personally found the intros quite interesting, as it sometimes included the author's motivations for writing each story or what got them interested in zombies, or other tid-bits specific to this anthology. With the comprehensive introductions, I highly doubt that there is more content in the Mammoth Book than in Dead That Walk, page count notwithstanding.

Personally, though I'm not a zombie fanatic, I enjoyed this book a great deal. Full disclosure, I work for the publisher, but I don't review all our books! Some of my favorites from this anthology: "The Crossing of Aldo Ray" (Weston Ochse), which combines the horrors of zombies with the horror of illegal border crossings! "The Things He Said" (Michael Marshal Smith) dotes on small details that highlight the impact of any kind of apocalypse/dystopia. "Obsequy" (David J. Schow) is a very well-constructed short story that departs from the traditional expectation of what a zombie is. "A Call To Temple" by Kelly Dunn really captures what people are willing to do for love. I also loved "For the Good of All" by Yvonne Navarro. It combines zombie apocalypse with religious fervor.

Overall, I enjoyed the quality of the writing of these stories and the wide variety of ways that the zombie concept was approached.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it! 18 Aug 2010
By Loncey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is short but sweet! I also enjoy the introductions before the stories. They give some insight and background for the authors. Being fairly new to the genre I found this helpful. I have loaned out my copy and recommended it to friends who also enjoyed it. Four solid stars.
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