You could probably build a pretty decent fortress against zombies or flying piranhas or most other forms of apocalyptic shift in the order of things with all the literature on the subject of the “End of the World.” Of course, most of these are simply the end of the status quo or at worst the end of humanity, but a big ol’ asteroid slamming into the Earth might just be a hard reset for all life on this mud ball. Enter the Apocalypse is a collection of over thirty tales of “The End.” More particularly, this book will cover the beginning of the end. Subsequent books will cover the time of surviving the apocalypse while the characters’ world’s crumbles, and the time of rebuilding for those who survive.
Below is a guest blog post regarding one of my fellow authors’ views on the subject.
Rachel Verkade learned everything from George Romero, Stephen King, John Landis, and Joe Lansdale. She’s currently living in England with her husband, a trio of cats, and a parrot who still thinks she’s a dinosaur. No pigs (yet). Her stories have been featured in Under the Bed, On the Premises, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and Pseudopod, and she writes regular book reviews for The Future Fire.
“I see a guy with his arm hanging off and one of his eyes eaten out and his skin gone all blue, I know I’m looking at a dead man.” – The Other White Meat, Rachel Verkade
There’s a song by The Sprites about the apocalypse, and the chorus goes “I know all I need to know; I learned everything from George Romero, Dario Argento, maybe Tom Savini, Stuart Gordon, and Sam Raimi.” That pretty much sums up my experience as well (though I’m honestly not sure what Stuart Gordon’s name is doing there…did John Carpenter not scan?). The apocalypse was going to come in the form of either some virulent plague, or at the hands and jaws of the walking dead. Preferably (at least to my teenage brain) the latter. I think for a lot of lonely, alienated kids like me, the idea of society breaking down an being able to live as and how we choose was a very attractive one, no matter what the risks involved. There’s a childish appeal to it; instead of a clubhouse in the woods we build a zombie-proof base in a shopping mall, replacing the classmates and relatives we hate with our best friends. After the apocalypse we wouldn’t need to worry about the school bullies, about getting into the best college, about hiding our sexualities or justifying our tastes in music and clothes. Compared to all of that, dodging zombies and mutants seems simple.
I guess we all outgrow that phase sooner or later, but the idea does still linger in the brain and the consciousness, and I retained a lot of affection for the zombie apocalypse story. But one of the things that bothered me the most about these stories and movies was that very few of them thought to use animals. To me, animals like saddlehorses and trained dogs would be an incredible asset in such circumstances, especially when the alternative is struggling with unreliable sources of gasoline and blocked roadways, the latter of which were also where the hostile motorcycle gangs and rogue soldiers would be traveling as well. When animals did show up in zombie apocalypse stories, they were a plot point or a piece of set dressing. I wanted to remedy this, particularly with regard to horses, but I really couldn’t think of a new angle.
And then I re-watched “Snatch”. And it hit me that pigs who had become accustomed to eating corpses might be one heck of an asset when the zombies came knocking.
But if Romero was one side of my story’s heritage, the other half is Joe Lansdale. The tale didn’t really come into its own until I found the main character’s voice, and that came straight from Lansdale’s blue collar, Texan ramblings (and I use that word in the most affectionate and respectful way possible). Lansdale was the one who brought the pulp and ultra-violent asthetic of horror back into my viewpoint, and Dieufort and Felicity Freebird would be quite at home in any of his stories or settings, complete with Gouge and Hamstring on chain leashes. And that idea from my childhood held true when I was writing about them; the alienated people making it through the apocalypse by finding each other, and by sticking together, and finding their own way together as the world crumbled around them. Dieufort says at one point, “Neither of us had all that many friends, so we stuck together pretty tight. So that’s why when it all happened, Felicity’s the first person I went looking for. Who else did I have, anyway?” That idea, that fantasy, if you will, held true throughout the entire writing process. And I have to say, I have a lot of affection for these two and their flesh-eating porkers, and I rather hope I can revisit them in the future.
So, the idea originally came from my adolescence, from the tales of survivors huddled in shopping malls and farmhouses, and it was told in the voice of Texas raconteurs and working class joes, a voice I only began to hear in my adulthood.
Thanks George, and Joe too.
Consider coming to hang out at the event linked in both of the above images, hear from some of the authors and the editor who put this whole thing together on April 20, 2017, a week from this post. And of course, don’t be afraid to share this post, the event and buy the book when it comes out. Not only will that help support the horde of starving artists involved, but also the next two books in the series.