Friday Book Review: The Tilian Virus

http://www.amazon.com/Tilian-Virus-Pandemic-Sequence-Book-ebook/dp/B005QRPRBY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397868221&sr=8-1&keywords=the+tilian+virus

Tom Calen’s The Tilian Virus (The Pandemic Sequence Book 1) tells the tale of Mike Allard, former newbie school teacher now leader of a band of survivors of the Tilian virus. The virus, which turns its victims into flesh-eating predators, quickly wipes out the majority of the world’s population and leaves the survivors to fight off the infected as well as other uninfected survivors competing for limited resources. The narrative switches back and forth in time from the early days of the pandemic to seven years later and allows the reader to watch Mike and his former high school students grow up and mature in a world gone bad. Refreshingly, they remain decent people, even when it is to their detriment.

Mike transitions from a twenty-something inexperienced teacher, whose greatest worry is bus duty, to a solid leader who keeps hope alive in a seemingly hopeless world. He is not a man of steel, a ninja, or Jack Reacher. He’s a regular guy making do with what he has. A thoughtful, hard worker, he allows his former students to use their strengths to assist in their shared survival. He doesn’t always make the best decisions, but when he makes mistakes he takes responsibility and does the dirty work to correct them. Definitely someone I’d put on my pandemic survival team.

The story moves along at a brisk pace and though there is plenty of bloodshed and killing, there is more relationship building and maturity than found in many books in this genre. I won’t spoil the ending of this most excellent novel, but it is rare I am reduced to a sobbing mess at the end of one as I was when I finished this. The Tilian Virus has one of the strongest, most evocative endings I’ve read recently and though it filled me with deep sadness, it also made me want to continue the journey into Books 2 and 3.  Get yourself a copy of The Tilian Virus and a box of kleenex and email me when you’re done to tell me what you think. I’m dying to talk about it!

Get your copy at Amazon or check out other offerings at Permuted Press because they really do enjoy the apocalypse.

http://www.amazon.com/Tilian-Virus-Pandemic-Sequence-Book-ebook/dp/B005QRPRBY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397914561&sr=8-1&keywords=the+tilian+virus

http://www.amazon.com/Tilian-Effect-Pandemic-Sequence-Book-ebook/dp/B007DZHS4G/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1397914561&sr=8-2&keywords=the+tilian+virus

http://www.amazon.com/Tilian-Cure-Pandemic-Sequence-Book-ebook/dp/B00HZ4PE9Q/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1397914561&sr=8-3&keywords=the+tilian+virus

http://permutedpress.com/books/the-tilian-virus-the-pandemic-sequence-book-1#.U1J8nVfkpvA

 

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You Have Questions, We Have Answers

Our mailbox overflows with questions from people curious about specific aspects of the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization. Today, we will answer some of those questions.

Question Mark Graffiti
Question Mark Graffiti (Photo credit: Bilal Kamoon)

From George in Idaho: Why do you feed the children cow brains and how many brains do you go through on a yearly basis?

Dennis,  please refer to this link: http://feedthezombiechildren.org/2012/10/30/i-feed-zombies-so-you-dont-have-to/ for the full story on how we came to our decision to use cow brains. As far as how many we go through on an annual basis, each full-grown cow brain is a little shy of 1 pound. Our nutritionists have carefully calculated that zombie children need approximately 1/2 pound of brain per day to keep them active and healthy. Therefore the amount of brains depends on how many children we have on-site. With 200 zombie kids, we need approximately 36,500 pounds annually or 16 1/2 metric tons.

From Caroline in Seattle: Are there any plans to make your zombie kid restraint devices available to the general public? It seems they would come in handy for people who are keeping their zombie kids at home.

Caroline, handling zombie children is best left to professionals. Our team of zombie happiness engineers work to ensure each restraint is as humane and pain-free as possible. Unfortunately we feel making them available to people without the proper training and support would only result in tragedy. On the advice of our legal team, there are no plans to market our devices.

Restraint Chairs
Restraint Chairs (Photo credit: j_bary)

Rex from the Florida Panhandle: In my area, many people die while waiting for organ transplants. Can’t the zombies be put to use for spare parts?

Rex, ethically we can’t condone using zombies as “spare parts.” Additionally, zombies exist in a chronic state of decomposition. Transplanting a zombie organ into a live human wouldn’t help the human as they’d now have a totally non-working organ which would hasten the death of the recipient.

English: Dr. Ehtuish Preforming An Organ Trans...
English: Dr. Ehtuish Preforming An Organ Transplant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scott from Cincinnati: Are there any plans to open up your zombie preserve for hunting opportunities?

Scott, if you can look at the faces of our kids and want to shoot them, there is too much wrong with you to address in this post. Please contact a mental health professional and get the help you so desperately need.

Delilah from New Hampshire: I’ve heard airlines are planning a rule change to prohibit transport of zombies. Are you opening up additional havens for zombie kids in the Midwest and West Coast?

Deliliah, we’ve been in contact with airline executives about this troubling rule change. Our preferred method of transport is through our underground zombie railroad (read the post at http://feedthezombiechildren.org/2012/10/15/the-zombie-underground-railroad/), but in some cases we’ve been forced to rely on air transport. Currently we can fly zombie kids in hardcover golf club cases as checked baggage for a reasonable fee. If this practice is stopped, it will negatively impact our ability to take zombie kids from the West Coast. Though we have no plans to open any additional facilities, we’ve recently added a Washington lobbyist to our staff and hope he can resolve this issue to our satisfaction.

Carousel 4
Carousel 4 (Photo credit: gloom)

Sandra from South Carolina: I’ve heard that zombies eat fire ants. Can I rent a zombie to make my yard a fire ant-free zone?

Sandra, yes, we have discovered that zombie are naturally attracted to fire ant nests. Researchers at our preserve estimate one zombie can clear a half-acre of fire ant nests in one day. Currently we are sponsoring a study to find out why zombies are impervious to the bites and venom of fire ants.  As far as renting a zombie to clean your yard of fire ants, the answer is no. These are children, decomposing children, but children nonetheless. We do not rent them out.

And our last question is from Jacques in Montreal: Since your move to South Carolina, have you noticed the warmer weather hastens the children’s decomposition or retards it?

Excellent question, Jacques. Our patented brining process keeps our zombie children in good shape by preserving, or curing, their skin. Unfortunately proper curing must take place in a narrow temperature range to be effective. Too cold or too warm will result in improperly cured skin and lead to quicker decomposition. We’ve adjusted by creating a curing room which is kept at a steady 38 degrees and holds ten children. Ask for a tour next time you visit our zombie habitat!

Do you have a question? Send it to us at feedthezombiechildren@gmail. com for an answer. Remember, we feed the zombie kids so you won’t have to.

Zombie Emergency Rescue Organization

Book Review: Dead Tide by Stephen North

Dead Tide, by Stephen A. North, provides an up close and personal look at the zombie apocalypse through a varied cast that includes a cab driver, a cop, a stripper, a street thug, a neighborhood activist, and a janitor.  Each character lends a unique point of view to the chaos as it unfolds.  Each struggles to figure out what’s happening, then how to escape it.

As expected, safety is hard to come by and self-preservation at a premium. There is a stark contrast between the good guys and those who seek to profit from a zombie apocalypse. In particular, the police and military are portrayed as part of the problem rather than part of the solution. This perpetuates the popular belief that in times of crisis the authorities will be busier protecting themselves than protecting the populace.

Overall the story was an entertaining take on the zombie apocalypse, but the myriad characters became distracting at times. The short chapters and point of view change in each chapter made it hard to get to know the characters at first and I found myself flipping back and forth, trying to reorient myself. Some of the characters veered into cliché land (bad cop, exotic dancer with a heart of gold) and others left me wanting more (Bronte in particular). The rapidity with which society devolved also came as a shock. The story takes place over several days, but within hours people are already raping, looting, and indiscriminately killing one another. This seemed a little premature to me, but I’m an optimist.

Personally I would have appreciated a smaller cast of characters and longer chapters, call it adult ADD but I struggled to keep up at first. Even so, the writing is good and the story moves along briskly. If you’re not daunted by a large cast and swift and frequent point of view changes, Dead Tide may be just what you’re looking for.  I liked it enough to plan to read Dead Tide Rising, North’s second installment in this series.

You can purchase either Dead Tide at Amazon and Permuted Press.

Five Ways to Raise Your Zombie Child at Home Without Alarming the Neighbors

Set free by parents who couldn't control him or an escapee from a poorly reinforced safe room? Either way, he is now at the mercy of whoever finds him.

Set free by parents who couldn’t control him or an escapee from a poorly reinforced safe room? Either way, he’s now at the mercy of whoever finds him.

So you want to keep your zombie child at home, but you don’t want the neighbors defacing your house with graffiti or attempting to burn it down with your zombie child inside? Follow these five simple steps to keep your child at home without alarming the neighbors.

1. Order your reinforcing supplies from multiple, out of area, online vendors.

If the Home Depot truck pulls up and starts offloading chicken wire, steel window bars, and acoustic tiles for soundproofing, some nosy Gladys Kravitz type will be on the phone to the neighborhood watch before the supplies cross your threshold. Order your supplies online and all your neighbors will know is that you’re getting a lot of packages.  If they do question the deliveries, make vague comments about Rottweiler puppies, precious metals, or strange sexual practices and let your neighbor fill in the blanks.

An alarm on the outside of the bedroom door guarantees you'll be warned if the inner security is breached.

An alarm on the outside of the bedroom door guarantees you’ll be warned if the inner security is breached.

2. Buy your brains from vendors that disguise the package.

If you purchase brains at the butcher, expect a visit from curious neighbors or the police. No one in their right mind eats them, so buying them marks you as either insane or as someone harboring a zombie. Cow-Brains-R-Us packs their brains in triple layer, leak-proof containers and marks their insulated boxes as prescription drugs. You can choose to pass off the boxes as deliveries of insulin, birth control rings, or glaucoma eye drops – all items needing refrigeration. And, since the brains are fresh frozen and vacuum sealed, they smell good, too.

zombie apocalypse, cow brains, ZERO

The days of walking down the street with a bucket of cow brains are long gone if you don’t want your home overrun by an angry mob.

3. Clean up inside.

Zombie kids are messy. Clumps of blood, hair, stray fingers and toes can make a mess of their clothing and smear all over your protective gear. Taking your helmet with face mask outside to hose it off will attract the neighborhood dogs and cats and get tongues wagging. Install a large industrial sink and indoor clothes line in a walled off part of your cellar to keep things clean, hygienic, and private.

Preventing accidental bites starts with the right protective gear. Don't forget to protect the neck.

Preventing accidental bites starts with the right protective gear. Don’t forget to protect the neck.

4. Plan trips out of the house under cover of night or costume.

Nothing alarms a neighbor more than looking out the window and seeing a muzzled zombie kid on the end of a hook. If you can’t wait until a moonless night to move your child, some proven techniques include placing the zombie kid’s head through the rungs of a ladder and resting it on their shoulders while you do the same. Onlookers will see two people carrying a ladder. You can also set up a catch stick on the middle of a kayak or canoe and have the zombie kid’s head inside the middle of the boat while you and another adult carry the front and back. Add authenticity by bragging about your midnight fish haul!

Mount one of these on the bottom of a ladder or kayak for a quick disguise when you need to get your kid out of the house.

Mount one of these on the bottom of a ladder or kayak for a quick disguise when you need to get your kid out of the house.

5. Decorate your house with anti zombie propaganda.

Yes, it’s hard when your loved one is a zombie to jump on the hate bandwagon, but it’s easy enough to keep the propaganda out of your house and away from your child. Try small, discreet yard signs near your shrubs, license plate holders, and small window decals to proclaim your hatred of all things zombie. Occasionally hinting that a neighbor is acting suspiciously also keeps the focus off you. If anyone should question you, racking a large shotgun while proclaiming you’d kill your mother if she turned into a zombie is usually enough to deter even the most annoying neighbors.

Even if it's a replica, the crisp realistic sound of a shotgun being loaded gets attention.

Even if it’s a replica, the crisp realistic sound of a shotgun being loaded gets attention.

Following these steps will make it less likely your secret is discovered, but the only guaranteed method to keep your child safe is to enroll them in a certified zombie preserve, such as the one we operate at Lake Keowee. Our preserve has all the safety and security features of a Supermax prison combined with the warmth and coziness of home. If nosy neighbors threaten your child, give the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization a call.

Remember, we feed the zombie children so you won’t have to.

2013 Year in Review at Feed the Zombie Children

English: Fireworks over Edinburgh on New Year'...

English: Fireworks over Edinburgh on New Year’s Eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2013 was a busy year for the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization. For those of you just joining us, as well as those who want to remember the year that was, here is 2013 in review.

January 2013: Our call for surgeons and seamstresses to help maintain and repair our zombie kids is  met with overwhelming success. Over twenty-five board certified surgeons and thirty-two seamstresses answer our call and set up teams for both routine skin repairs and emergencies. The program comes to the attention of New England‘s premier academic medical center and they generously offer to use our facility as an internship location for surgical residents. The influx of students leads to the publication of several academic papers including “Tensile Strength in Zombie Skin: Implications for Plastic Surgeons” and “Microbial Pathogenesis in Undead Tissue.”

February 2013: After the government of Canada declares their opposition to sheltering zombies, we offer haven to orphaned Canadian zombie kids. What starts as a trickle, turns into a flood as Canadian parents and relatives that had been sheltering zombies cross the border to New Hampshire. Our population doubles in February, but the kind-hearted people of Canada donate money, clothing, and chain link fencing to help us accommodate the new arrivals.

March 2013: A New Hampshire state representative reveals his son as a zombie on the House floor. In the ensuing chaos, New Hampshire legislators begin drafting bills to either protect, or remove, the rights of zombie kids. Numerous candle light vigils and inflammatory blog posts illuminate the issue while the Legislature debates amending the state motto from “Live Free or Die” to the original toast it was derived from, “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of all evils.”

April 2013: We share our preservation method, brining, with the world. We turn down invitations to appear on “The View,” “The Daily Show,” and “The Talk.” After much coaxing, we reluctantly agree to appear on “The Tonight Show,” but the appearance never happens after an unfortunate incident with a curious audience member and one of our charges.

May 2013: We start construction on a second preserve at Lake Keowee South Carolina. Construction is slow, and the weather warm and we inadvertently discover that fire ants die after biting our zombie kids. Scientists convene to see if our kids have the solution to one of the South’s most vexing problems. Our preserve is the only fire ant free zone in South Carolina.

Fire ant nest

Fire ant nest (Photo credit: Martin LaBar (going on hiatus))

June 2013: A hot spell and lack of air conditioning result in the discovery that zombies slow down in prolonged heat, entering a hibernation-like state. Biologists from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources arrive to investigate. Their conclusion? Even zombies have the sense not to work too hard in hot weather.

July 2013: Our New Hampshire facility gets dragged into a PETA demonstration. Misguided activists attempt to jump the fences and free the zombie kids. Our fences hold until the New Hampshire National Guard arrives. No zombie kids, or activists, are hurt.

August 2013: The Sea Shepherd arrives at Lake Keowee with plans to harass our zombie preserve by water and pitch a new show idea to the Discovery Channel. Helpful South Carolinians quickly assemble a flotilla of boats, kayaks, and rubber rafts to protect our shore. We provide cases of beer for the thirsty sailors and a sound system capable of being heard all the way to the ocean. Captain Paul Watson accepts defeat, and a cold Natty Light, before leaving the state.

September 2013: With construction complete at the end of September, we offer our New Hampshire staff members the opportunity to transfer to our South Carolina location. Unfortunately all of them decide to transfer and we make the sad decision to close our New Hampshire preserve and relocate all of our kids to South Carolina. The resulting savings in property taxes enables us to start construction on a second site on Lake Hartwell.

October 2013: A joyful month capped off by the marriage of our public relations director, Sarah Carpenter. Using our beautiful preserve as a backdrop, guests drank, ate, and played into the wee hours. Local celebrity, Tiny Dancer Josh, made a rare public appearance.

The bride and groom got in the spirit at a zombie themed Jack and Jill party pre-wedding

The bride and groom got in the spirit at a zombie themed Jack and Jill party pre-wedding

November 2013: We gave thanks in November by allowing our older kids to serve at several Oconee County homeless shelter Thanksgiving dinners. Dressed in turkey outfits, complete with masks, guests were kept safe and no spare body parts ended up in the stuffing.

December 2013: A peaceful moonlight Christmas Eve service at our lakeside retreat attracted over 200 community members to pray with us. Truly, we are in God’s land here.

We look forward to returning to regular posting in 2014, including our Friday Book Review feature. Upcoming book reviews include BREW by Bill Braddock and DEAD TIDE by Stephen North. Looking for something to read in the meantime? Below are a few of the books we reviewed in 2013.

Happy New Year from your friends at the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization.

The Undead Situationlast bastion of the living

Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law. She ate the sheriff, but she did not eat the deputy.

Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law. She ate the sheriff, but she did not eat the deputy.

kill the deaddead livingdouble deadpay me in flesh

Book Review Friday: Tankbread by Paul Mannering

Tankbread

Tankbread

I was browsing through my Kindle the other night when I saw the title, Tankbread. Having no recollection of downloading it, and not even sure what it might be about, I clicked on it and was rewarded with a cool, fast-paced zombie tale that should be made into a movie. Not to say reading this book wasn’t enjoyable. It was. I stayed up into the wee hours to finish it in one night and kept thinking about it the next day. Still, a movie version would be cool. You know, for people who don’t like to read.
The narrator of Tankbread is a hero on par with Riddick in the movie “Pitch Black” and Clint Eastwood‘s the Man with No Name. In fact, I don’t think narrator ever reveals his name. He’s called “bad dog,” by the zombie who hires him to pick up a package and the “courier” by the scientists who make synthetic humans as zombie food. This is one twisted post apocalyptic world.

Right off the bat, the reader knows the narrator has been there, done that, and stole the t-shirt. Surviving in a world essentially run by zombies is tough. For once, instead of the humans being the real threat to mankind, semi-intelligent zombies are kicking their ass. Sure, there’s cowardly, craven humans kowtowing to the the zombies, including making their food, but there’s also plenty of humans who are banding together and trying to eke out more than a sustenance lifestyle. The real menace in this tale are zombies who can think and plan. They’re definitely not as swift on the uptake as humans, but with their sheer numbers, they don’t have to be.

Still, there are plenty of feral zombies who exhibit traditional zombie behavior, but the dangerous zombies are capable of thinking of more than eating brains. Luckily scientists have produced human clones, called Tankbread, to feed the zombie hordes. Perhaps we should call them the zombie overlords. If the humans continue to produce Tankbread, the zombies won’t eat them. Appeasement on a grand scale.

The novel follows the journey of our reluctant hero from the zombie slums to human settlements and back again. His journey fuels this story and kept me glued to the page. The author squeezes in plenty of gore and fighting and death, but he keeps hope alive in this bleak world. At the end, I felt surprisingly good about the outcome. Sure, the zombie apocalypse is going to suck, but imagine if it turned out to be mankind’s finest hour, rather than an excuse for power-hungry psychopaths to fulfill their sickest desires.

If you’re looking for something new in the zombie genre, check out Tankbread. I think you’ll be glad you did.  Click here for Amazon link for kindle book or paperback.