Thursday, September 16, 2010

Aaron's Story Recommendation of the Week :: Lost Canyon of the Dead by Brian Keene

cover of The Living Dead 2Two words: zombie dinosaur.

Our first ever zombie dinosaur story recommendation of the week is "Lost Canyon of the Dead" by Brian Keene, from the anthology The Living Dead 2, edited by John Joseph Adams. Even without the zombie dinosaur, I would recommend "Lost Canyon of the Dead" for its terrific voice, simultaneously funny and frightening and nostalgic for the Old West, right from the opening lines:
The desert smelled like dead folks.

The sun hung over our heads, fat and swollen like that Polish whore back in Red Creek. It made me sweat, just like she had. It felt like we were breathing soup. The heat made the stench worse. Our dirty handkerchiefs, crusted with sand and blood, were useless. They stank almost as bad as the desert. Course, it wasn't the desert that stank. It was the things chasing us.

We'd been fleeing through the desert for days. None of us had a clue where we were. Leppo knew the terrain and had acted as our guide, but he died of heatstroke on the second day, and we shot him in the head before he got back up again.
Zombie fiction is all the rage right now, and in "Lost Canyon of the Dead," Brian Keene does it awfully well.

The Living Dead 2 is John Joseph Adams' second big zombie anthology, which might have been overkill except that this volume has a different focus. The first Living Dead was a reprint anthology, collecting Adams' favorite zombie tales from over the years. The Living Dead 2 is predominantly comprised of original fiction, and even the reprints are mostly from the last two years. So this book is a great way to sample some of today's best zombie stories, written at the height of the fad.

The past decade has seen Brian Keene emerge as one of the top names of horror fiction. He has made a closet industry of zombie stories, with a trio of zombie novels beginning with Stoker Award-winning first novel The Rising, stories in no fewer than five recent zombie anthologies, and The Last Zombie comics. Collectors out there may want to grab a copy of his latest book, A Gathering of Crows, since it was published by Leisure Books just before Leisure killed its mass-market line, so copies may soon become scarce.

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