by Jay Wilburn
Sure, there are a few zombie anthologies out there. Some of them are good. We’ll let that statement stand without getting into the rest of them. Middletown Apocalypse falls into this some of them are good category, I think.
I believe so because it is unique in its construction. It involves eleven authors that have done enough work to prove their chops in the zombie sub genre. They were each given the same story skeleton. They were each given a common character to weave into the stories. They were not asked to write stories within a shared universe, but rather were tasked with retelling the story within the parameters given. They put the meat on the skeleton to each create their own unique monsters that all stood side by side proving that eleven talented Doctor Frankensteins could create completely different stories from the same concept. In a way, this anthology serves to prove that the basic concept of the zombie story is potentially limitless.
In a way, I feel like this anthology challenges me to do more with the zombie. I feel compelled to rise to that challenge to search out those distant edges and move beyond them. If this land truly is borderless as this little experiment in the Middletown Apocalypse seems to support, the sub genre deserves some explorers.
I don’t think I could write exactly the same story or style that each of these other guys created. I don’t think I’m supposed to. I think this anthology offers up the possibility that there are enough unique voices out there using the zombie to weave compelling stories that we can in fact blaze our own trails. Not only can we, but we should be.
In the uneven history of zombie story telling in the written medium, there was a time period when the landscape was barren. There was a time where certain masters of the craft of storytelling including Joe McKinney, Jonathan Maberry, Brian Kenne, Kim Paffenroth, and others took on the zombie apocalypse to create stories worth reading. There was a time where the field was glutted with endless poorly written works. While that trend may never fully end, I think Middletown Apocalypse makes the argument that a strong wave of talented authors are not replacing earlier masters, but joining them in telling new and different tales with the same tools of the sub genre. There are only eleven authors in Middletown Apocalypse, but there are many other authors in this wave whose work I have come across through Armand Rosamilia’s Summer of Zombie and Winter of Zombie blog tours over the past few years.
The talent is there and working. I present Middletown Apocalypse as a small piece of evidence toward that argument and as one of the great zombie anthologies out there.
Get your copy of Middletown Apocalypse here.