The latest review on GoodReads of Nights of the Living Dead is by Jay Smith, and it’s a lengthy, thoughtful, excellent review, and I’m not just saying that because Jay is a good friend of mine and thought my story, “Live and On the Scene” was one of the best stories in the anthology.
Jay knows his zombies — he wrote and produced HG World, the Parsec Award-winning zombie apocalypse audio drama (for which I provided one of the voices) — and his review is worth reading.
These stories reflect many of the reasons why people fear zombie stories. Our fear transcends the horrible notion of being eaten alive or becoming a flesh-craving monster. Zombies represent our deeper dread about change in our lives, our relationships, our health, our world, and that ultimate change at our personal end of days – death. In this way, zombies are very real because one day we will all look up and see the world has changed irrevocably, turned ugly and hostile and we fight the rest of our lives to avoid being consumed or absorbed into their ranks. That’s a feeling that applies if you’re young and resisting the call of adulthood conformity or an adult resisting the onset of physical and intellectual obsolescence. One of the best of these stories is Keith R.A. DeCandido’s “Live and on the Scene” which offers both the media’s witness account of the initial spread of the dead and a simple, yet heart-breaking tale about of death, family, heritage, and loyalty.
These stories are about how we struggle to survive while preserving bits of the world that is dying. They also speak to how we cope with death and change. Zombies, themselves, are a rather dull adversary. Nights of the Living Dead recognizes this and drives conflict through relatable, intriguing character stories. Introspective stories like “Fast Entry” by Jay Bonansinga and broader ensemble tales like “Williamson’s Folly” by David J Schow rely on fascinating, different, and well-rendered characters orbiting a personal or interpersonal conflict while making the best use of the Romero mythos.