Goodbye old year, hello… end of the world?

Well, it is the end of 2011. We are now at that point where time-honored tradition demands that we stop and reflect on the old and make resolutions and set goals for the new. Or else, we all have to buy new fitness equipmentand promise to exercise.

And, normally, that would be true. But since the new year that we are ringing in is 2012, I think a slightly different set of rules applies, don’t you? After all, we have it on good authority (based on things like the Mayan Calendar coming to an end, the predictions of Edgar Cayce and Nostradamus, etc.) that the world as we know it is coming to an end. Possible events range from pole shifts, floods, tsunamis, an ice age,  and The Rapture to an impending zombie apocalypse. Who knows, maybe even the end of football.  It is going to be rough.

Since we are all going to have to do our best to survive, I thought it would be fun this week to take the first few blog posts of 2012 and talk about some of the interesting dystopian and post-apocalyptic scenarios, past and present. I am reasonably sure there will probably be at least a few zombies. And maybe a super volcano and an earthquake or two.

Consider it emergency preparedness planning. You just never know.

The Essential Zombie Book List

There is so much new, good zombie literature out there right now, keeping this a list to a managable length is tough. Because there are so many full length books available, I am concentrating on  them, which means no comics and no anthologies on the list. My sincere apologies to The Walking Dead fans!

I am also skipping books like Zombie Haiku: Good Poetry For Your…Brains by Ryan Mecum.  While I agree that there is a certain symmetry to zombies and haiku (zombies are notoriously “in” the moment), I must reject for this list books that have no real survival skill teaching value. (This book not available for the Kindle)

I am also rejecting books that are too advanced for this introductory study guide series like Jonathan Mayberry’s Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead. Although, I have to say that that since I am a big forensics fan, zombie forensics really sound intriguing!  (Unfortunately, this book is not available for the Kindle,  either)

Since there are such a large number of these books that are so good, I can’t, in all fairness, give them a ranking.  Therefore, I am listing the authors in alphabetical order.

J.L. Bourne:

J. L. Bourne is actually a military officer and his books are extremely survival oriented.  The first book started out self published on the web and developed a following from there.  The books have their own unique take on the zombie phenomenon and really strongly focus on survival methods and weapons. That means you are more likely to read a detailed description of an MRE or field stripping a weapon than gory descriptions of pus-filled zombies. But Bourne’s books are compelling, delicious reads.

And honestly, don’t you want to know whether an M-4, an MP5 or an M-16 is more effective at killing zombies? I thought so….

Day by Day Armageddon

Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile

Available for the Kindle.

Max Brooks:

Max brooks has become quite the zombie expert. The Zombie Survival Guide has sold over a million copies. It is not unusual to see Max Brooks’ World War Z listed at the top of any top zombie books list. And, it is being made into a movie staring Brad Pitt. Funny? Yes. Poignant? Yes. A must read? Absolutely!

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War 

Both are available for the Kindle.

Bonus Tool: The Zombie Survival Guide Deck: Complete Protection from the Living Dead.  These are flashcards to use with the Zombie Survival Guide.

S.G. Brown:

Civil rights for zombies? Yep!

This is a very different kind of zombie story. Imagine your child died. Then, he reanimates as a zombie. And, to keep him in your home, you have to have a license. And, he has to go to therapy. And, if he’s out after curfew, he gets picked up by animal control. And, you have to pay a fine to get him back. And, did I mention that they have absolutely no rights? This is an extremely thought provoking look that makes you see things from an unusual point of view.

Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament 

Available for the Kindle.

David Dunwoody:

Empire is a different kind of zombie novel, with its own twists and turns. The book has been hailed as “A macabre masterpiece of post-apocalyptic zombie goodness.”  In an unusual move, the book is set 100 years after the zombie outbreak begins. The reasons for the outbreak have a different explanation.  There are several kinds of zombies and they range from slow to fast.  The appearance of the grim reaper add an interesting twist to the novels, as does an antagonist who wants to use an army of the undead to create an empire. According to the reviews, this book tends to polarizing; people wither love it or hate it..

Empire (Zombie Novels)

Available for the Kindle.

Rhiannon Frater:

This series started out self published. Just a few pages in, I was absolutely hooked. This book has really interesting  women characters and I would love to do a feminist critique on these books! It is another one of those books that takes you from laughing hysterically to helplessly sobbing and back to laughter again. Plus, I learned so many new ways to kill zombies! 

As The World Dies: The First Days: A Zombie Trilogy

As The World Dies: Fighting To Survive: A Zombie Trilogy (Volume 2)

As The World Dies: Siege: A Zombie Trilogy

Currently available for the Kindle. Note that these books will soon be published by Tor.

Additional Untold Tales are available on the forum at the author’s website.

Seth Grahame-Smith:

This was the first of the now many literary mashups. Grahame-Smith has admirably truly captured Jane Austen’s “voice.”  The zombies are actually a nice addition to the story. This book spawned a large number of mashup adding zombies to classic works of fiction.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

   There is also a prequel available by Steve Hockensmith: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, but I haven’t read it yet.

Available for the Kindle.

Brian Keene:

Another very different take on the zombie story, both for the nature of the zombies and the origins of the outbreak.   Zombie bunnies?  Zombie goldfish? And, fast moving, thinking zombies?  Definitely thought provoking.  This is a series that, like David Dunwoody’s Empire, people either love it or hate it. 

The Rising

City Of The Dead

Available for the Kindle.

David Moody:

These books were originally self published. In fact, the author gave the first one away for free on his website to build a following for the book.  While not your typical Romero-esque zombies, these books are interesting and I feel are an important addition to the zombie canon. The series will be reissued by St. Martin’s Griffin starting in October, 2010


Autumn: The City

Autumn: Purification

Autumn: The Human Condition

At least the first in the series is planned in a Kindle edition.

And of course, I have a  To be read zombie list that includes the following:

Monster Island: A Zombie Novel (Available for the Kindle.)

Plague of the Dead: The Morningstar Saga (Available for the Kindle.)

I, Zombie: Tomes of te Dead Series (Available for the Kindle.)

Brains: A Zombie Memoir Available for the Kindle.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Available for the Kindle.)

The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead  (Available for the Kindle.)

Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel  (Available for the Kindle.)

36 Hours by Anthony Barnhart (This does not seem to be available on the Kindle and I am not sure if it is still in print.)

So, did I miss anyone’s favorites?

Next up: A new seminal zombie dictionary and personal training seminars for the Zombie Apocalypse!