Wednesday, December 19, 2007


In the introduction to "The Rising: Selected Scenes from the End of the World", Brian Keene writes about how he was less than enthusiastic when approached to do this project. Brian had already written two wildly popular zombie novels, ("The Rising", and "City of the Dead"), and I think he was getting a bit sick of being labeled as "The Zombie Guy".

Going into this book, I must admit that there was a part of me that wondered just what else was left to examine in Keene's zombie (read: Siqqusim) mythos. However, after reading and very much enjoying Brian's other works, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

I'm very glad I did.

Keene's own brand of zombies are here in all their glory. An otherworldly "sentience" - for lack of a better word - inhabit the recent dead. They bring with them a need to feed on human flesh, thereby making room for their Siqqusim brethren to inhabit the earth. Essentially, the book is a collection of 32 short stories that are in some cases extremely loosely connected to one another, or to "The Rising" or "City of the Dead". The only thing that they all have in common is that they all take place during - or very shortly after - the Siqqusim invasion.

Still with me?

Yes, as with "Tequila's Sunrise", it helps if you've already read Brian's other books, but it's not absolutely necessary. Within the first few stories you can easily get the gist of what's going on. Through the first four stories, you quickly understand that (A) the world is ending, and (B) Keene's zombies are everywhere.

However, it's in the fifth story, "Watching the World End", where this book starts to kick in to high gear. It's in this story where you realize that the stories aren't just about flesh eating zombies. It's in this story where you realize that Brian's going to take you deep into the minds of the momentary survivors, and really delve into the psychology of mankind when faced with such an epidemic.

There are stories of families, of lovers, of cannibalism, of insanity, of megalomania. There are stories that feature both the best and worst characteristics of human nature, all set to the tune of the end of the world, and they're a ton of fun to read.

The last few chapters take place after the events of "City of the Dead". They speak to what happens after the Siqqusim "stage" of the invasion is completed, and the subsequent invasions begin. For long time Keene readers, as with "Tequila's Sunrise", there's some great new Labyrinth tidbits here that'll have you thirsting for that next new Brian Keene book.

A fabulous collection that's a blast to read, whether you're well versed in the Keene mythos or not, I highly recommend it... if you can get your hands on it. Limited to 500 copies, this is a collectors piece, (of which I'm proud to own #337 - signed by The Zombie Guy himself). But if you can find one, snatch it up. You won't be disappointed.

You can find out more about Brian Keene at his official site.

Rated 5 out of 5

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