Audiobook Review: The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse by Steven C. Schlozman

23 05 2012

The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse by Steven C. Schlozman

Read by Peter Berkrot, Stephen Hoye and Emily Durante

Tantor Audio

Length: 3 Hrs 44 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse Mocumentory

Quick Thoughts: The Zombie Autopsies is at times fascinating and at times confusing. Schlozman combines fiction and science in an interesting way, and hardcore Zombie enthusiasts, who enjoy Discovery Channel type programming, will find this book a welcome addition to their Undead Library.

Grade: B-

I have always been fascinated by the science behind Zombies. While many books either do not explain the advent of the walking dead or use mysterious or supernatural events to explain reanimated copses, I have always preferred books that offer a scientific reason. For me, it makes it all the more scary. As someone who grew up in a religious household, we head a lot about apocalyptic events destined for our future. For me, events like The Rapture, Armageddon and the Tribulation has always been tied to faith. Faith is something you can choose to have, or choose not to have. In this way, I can control the apocalypse. I can decide whether or not I believe in a God who may eventually destroy the world. Yet, with science, I have no control. I can not control what made scientists are cooking up in the labs. I have no say over whether or not a brain parasite could infect our cerebrum and take over our central nervous system. Prions, amino acids, neurotoxins, mutated viruses, and DNA take no heed from me. This is why I find it scary. We are living in a time where science is at such a cutting edge, it could either save us, or kill us all. While I believe science has good intentions, even these intentions have side affects. These side affects may include our bodies rising from the dead, hungering for human flesh and incontinence.

In the Zombie Autopsies by Steven C. Schlozman we find the world in the midst of a Zombie Apocalypse and our last hope may be experiments being conducted in a secret facility called The Crypt. Here, Scientists are conducting autopsies of Stated 4 subjects to try to isolate the causes and possible solutions to the ANSD virus. Yet, as the scientists succumb to the virus, Dr. Stanley Blum, more administrators that scientist, is left to try to figure out and record the potential breakthrough the team has made. The Zombie Autopsies is a strange blend of fiction and Discovery channel documentary. I found the science, and scientific method used to try to understand the virus causing humans to transform into zombies to be fascinating, if not a bit over my head. As a layman, who is well read in science fiction and zombie literature, but who isn’t especially knowledgeable in Science, my understanding of the discoveries and theories being displayed in this novel was shaky at best. For the most part, the science was presented in an accessible manner, yet, the rambling of Dr. Blum becomes harder to follow as he begins to suffer cognitive issues, as a result of either catching the virus, or losing his mind. Here is where the fictional aspects of the novel took away a bit from the tale. I enjoyed the blending of fiction, but I feel right as I was starting to get a feel for the scientific speech of Dr. Blum, things began to fall apart. One aspect of the boom I really enjoyed was the Appendices. The author did a good job mimicking Bureaucratic speak when compiling governmental and scientific supplemental materials for the story. I found a sort of dark humor in the wording, particularly when discussing the legal status of the undead. The Zombie Autopsies is at times fascinating and at times confusing. Schlozman combines fiction and science in an interesting way, and hardcore Zombie enthusiasts, who enjoy Discovery Channel type programming, will find this book a welcome addition to their Undead Library.

I was unsure about listening to an audiobook version of this title, and almost went with a print version instead. I’m glad I didn’t. I think the performances of the narrators easily overcame any of deficiencies in experiencing the novel is audio format. Peter Berkrot gave a fast and frightening interpretation of Dr. Blum, which contrasted nicely with Stephen Hoye’s calm bureaucratic voice. Berkrot was all frantic performance, while Hoye brought a crisp matter of fact reading, and the interplay between the two made the telling even more frightening.  Tantor Audio also included a PDF file of the visual materials of the novel, which included drawling of cross sections of the infested brains, and visualizations of the stages of zombieism. All together, the production was nicely done, and made for an informative and entertaining package.

.





Audiobook Review: White Horse by Alex Adams

27 04 2012

White Horse by Alex Adams

Read by Emily Durante

Blackstone Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 15 Min

Genre: Post Apocalyptic Fiction

Quick Thoughts: White Horse is one of the more unique and refreshing apocalyptic tales I have read in a while. Alex Adams offers something for everyone, romance, mystery, politics, science, devastation and hope, creating a rare book that can easily appeal to fans of both Literary and genre fiction.

Grade: A-

Some say the apocalypse will come with a bang, others say this it will be a whimper, yet, always the contrarian, I sort of believe it will be both. It easy to look at one large event that could bring about the end of the world. Whether it is a super-plague like in The Stand, or a giant comet like in Lucifer’s Hammer, or nuclear war, the big event will come to end our time as the earth’s dominant species. I think it would be easier for us that way. We could point the finger and say, "It wasn’t my fault, it was that big old comet." Yet, recently there has been a push in Post Apocalyptic fiction to show the gradual breakdown of society through a series of events. In Wil McIntosh’s Soft Apocalypse, everything contributes from economic issues, to scientists playing god, that it would be impossible to point to one cause. This becomes more problematic for human apologists, because of these many causes it’s easy to find one that we may have contributed to. Maybe if we choose that more fuel efficient car, or didn’t take out that risky loan, then things wouldn’t have gotten as bad as it did as quickly. In White Horse, Alex Adams combines these two nightmarish scenarios to create a unique, yet troubling potential apocalypse. In the world Adams creates, a combination of scientific manipulation of the weather, and war over the technology begins to cause a breakdown in society, but it’s a strange plague that alters the genetic structure of our DNA which gives us the knockout punch. It is the bang and the whimper that gets us.

White Horse tells the story of Zoe Marshall, a former cleaner at a pharmaceutical company who lives through the devastating virus called White Horse which kills off roughly 90% of the population, and transforms some of the survivors into genetic freaks. The story alternates between before the virus where Zoe finds a mysterious jar in her condo, to after the virus where she’s traveling through a bleak, devastated Europe searching for the father of her unborn child. I have heard many people compare White Horse to Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Road. White Horse shares many elements with The Road, the darkly beautiful landscapes, the character’s journey both physically and introspectively. Yet, it was the aspects of the novel that differentiated it from The Road that made it stand out for me. Adams fills her novel with specific details of the apocalypse that bring the world into greater light. Her detailed description of the progression of the White Horse Plague, as well as the developing tension between The United States and China and their eventual war over weather technology grounded her tale in a way that just resonated with plausibility. Her vision of the changing world, even before the devastation of the White Horse plague scared me. Adams builds her story in layers, with Zoë’s personal struggles, her relationships both familial and romantic, the escalation of plague, the genetic changes of some of the survivors, and her travels across Europe with a deranged character known as the Swiss. All these layers interact and played with each other building a fascinating narrative scope and coming together in the end like a grand puzzle. There were times in the tale, where I wasn’t so much as lost, but unsure of the direction the tale was going, yet Adams brings it together so well that the tales payoff was even better than I expected. White Horse is being touted as the first in a trilogy, yet this book has no problem standing on its own. White Horse is one of the more unique and refreshing apocalyptic tales I have read in a while. Alex Adams offers something for everyone, romance, mystery, politics, science, devastation and hope, creating a rare book that can easily appeal to fans of both Literary and genre fiction.

It is quite hard for me to break down Emily Durante’s performance as narrator of White Horse. I was so immersed in this tale, that I can’t truly remember any specific nuance to her reading. I think this actually says a lot about her performance. She was able to so aptly match the tone of the novel that her performance fell away, just leaving me with the author’s words. Her characterizations were well done. I’m not sure how authentic her accents were, particularly with “The Swiss” yet the accent and gruffness she gave that character fit his personality if not his ethnicity. I enjoyed the soft exotic tones she gave to some of the other character that Zoe meets along the way. It’s rare that I get as immersed into an audiobook as I did with White Horse, and that is truly a credit to both the author and the performance of the narrator.

Note: Thanks to Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

This review is part of my Welcome to the Apocalypse weekly feature.