John Birmingham, $0.99, ISBN 978-1311903174
Horror, 2016 (Reissue)
This edition of Here Be Monsters has been revised from its original 2008 version, and after paying $0.99 for this thing and sitting down to read it, the first few pages inform me that I can get a free copy by signing up to John Birmingham’s newsletter. Hmm, so I guess folks wanting to read this while saving a dollar can give their personal information to the author instead.
This one is a maritime horror story of sorts, and I have a fondness for that kind of stuff because it combines my favorite two things ever: hot guys in uniform and horrible, ghastly things happening to these hot men. Okay, this one is fiction, so there are no hot men on screen to distract me with the pretty, so this one has a lot more to do in order to win me over.
Presented as a first person account of a momentous occasion of sorts, to put it mildly, this one sees Lieutenant-General Sir Watkin Tench, of Charlotte, one of the ships of the First Fleet headed to Australia in the late 18th century. Somehow, they end up in present day Sydney instead, which would be great if it weren’t for the fact that the folks they come across are of the shambling walking dead sort. Of course the zombies come from Australia, the land of all kinds of dangerous beasts—is anyone shocked by this?
This is a short story, a bit shorter than most short stories out there that are going by $0.99, but that’s fine. The whole thing starts out slow, building up tension and setting the scene just the way I like my horror to be, and then the zombies come and it’s pretty nice. People getting chewed and rising up as shambling brain-hungry things to chew more people.
You know, I’ve been watching and reading zombie stories for ages, and no one ever told me how a chewed-up corpse, when rising up again as a zombie, would still be able to move around. We typically see someone getting… well, everything ripped apart when they become zombie chow, but the next time they rise up as zombies, their limbs are intact again. How does that happen? It’s not like their fellow zombies take time to stitch them back or something.
And then, just as more people are getting chewed up… it’s over. Really, it’s over. Now, I know this story is set in Australia and Crowded House is an Australian band and those blokes said don’t dream it’s over, but yeah, it’s over. No wonder the author is giving this away as a freebie. The build-up is good, the action is good, but then it’s over before I know it. What is this? Some kind of OnlyFans teaser where one has to shell out more money to see the real thing?
Seriously, it’s not nice to leave a lady high and dry like this! I’m taking one oogie away out of spite.