fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy anthology book review Christopher Golden The New Dead: A Zombie AnthologyThe New Dead: A Zombie Anthology by Christopher Golden (ed.)

FORMAT/INFO: The New Dead is 400 pages long divided over nineteen short stories. Also includes a Foreword by the editor Christopher Golden, and biographies on all of the anthology’s contributors. February 16, 2010 marks the North American Trade Paperback publication of The New Dead via St. Martin’s Griffin. Cover art provided by Per Haagensen. The UK version will be published on February 18, 2010 via Piatkus Books under the altered title: Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead. Subterranean Press is also producing a limited signed edition of The New Dead that is already long sold out.


1) “Lazarus” by John Connolly. Connolly, author of the CHARLIE PARKER novels and last year’s YA title The Gates, kicks off The New Dead with a chilling, mournful, and somewhat contentious reimagining of the Bible’s Lazarus of Bethany who was brought back to life by Jesus four days after he had died.

2) “What Maisie Knew” by David Liss. One of the best entries in the anthology, “What Maisie Knew” has a little bit of everything: inventiveness (the dead reanimated as servants, Nazi science, soul photography), depravity (sex, torture and mutilation of reanimates), great writing (a compelling first-person narrative), and a fitting ending.

3) “Copper” by Stephen R. Bissette. The author is best known as an illustrator, having worked with the likes of Alan Moore, Heavy Metal, R.L. Stine, Rick Veitch and co-creating the comic book character, John Constantine. In fact, he even provided the cover art and interior illustrations for the Subterranean Press version of The New Dead. Stephen R. Bissette can write too though, as attested by his Bram Stoker Award-winning novella Aliens: Tribes, and in “Copper” the artist/editor/writer delivers a noir-esque tale that is as much an examination of war and soldiers as it is about zombies. The best thing about this story is the Charlie Huston-meets-Dr. Seuss presentation, although it does take some getting used to: “Copper, wrapped in the cloth houses and cloth street and cloth neighbors and cloth Copper in his cloth rocker on his cloth porch.”

4) “In the Dust” by Tim Lebbon. I’m a big fan of the NOREELA tales by Tim Lebbon, and the author in general, so for me his contribution was one of the more anticipated short stories in the anthology. “In the Dust” is a fairly routine zombie story though, starring survivors in a post-infection milieu and dealing with such familiar ideas and themes as military quarantines, perseverance, and finding closure like discovering what happened to the protagonist’s wife. Nevertheless, another solid offering from the three-time British Fantasy Award-winning author.

5) “Life Sentence” by Kelley Armstrong. Featuring magicians, shamans, necromancers, vampires, and other urban fantasy elements, I believe “Life Sentence” is set in the same world as the author’s popular WOMEN OF THE OTHERWORLD series. For an urban fantasy tale, “Life Sentence” was actually darker than I expected, and follows a very rich magician, who is diagnosed with inoperable cancer and uses his considerable wealth to discover a means of extending his life, no matter the consequences. A delightful surprise and one of the better short stories in the anthology.

6) “Delice” by Holly Newstein. Zombies have long been associated with voodoo, so it only makes sense that a zombie anthology would include at least one story with voodoo in it. Set in New Orleans, “Delice” is a tale of dark voudou magic, zombies, and vengeance.

7) “The Wind Cries Mary” by Brian Keene. Only four pages long, “The Wind Cries Mary” is the shortest story in the entire anthology. Despite its length however, “The Wind Cries Mary” is a sweet tale of love set in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak.

8) “Family Business” by Jonathan Maberry. The author’s awesome zombie/techno-thriller, Patient Zero, was a favorite of mine in 2009. As a result, I couldn’t wait to see what Maberry brought to the table in The New Dead, and the author doesn’t disappoint. Not only is “Family Business” the longest story in the anthology, it’s also one of the best, featuring creative ideas like cadaverine (a nasty-smelling concoction that disguises humans from zoms) post-zombie jobs (Erosion Artists, Locksmith Apprentice, Fence Tester, Carpet-Coat Salesman, Pit Thrower, Ash Soaker, bounty hunters, etc.), the Children of Lazarus religion, and a surprisingly poignant story about family, closure, and respecting the dead.

9) “The Zombie Who Fell from the Sky” by M.B. Homler. If I’m not mistaken, M.B. Homler is actually St. Martin’s Press editor, Michael Homler, and as far as I can tell, he doesn’t have anything else published. If that’s the case, then it might explain “The Zombie Who Fell from the Sky”, a story that has some impressive stuff going on like the black humor and craziness (a chihuahua named Butt Muncher, footnotes, zombie poetry, etc.), but ultimately is one of the weaker entries in the anthology due to inconsistent writing and poor execution.

10) “My Dolly” by Derek Nikitas. “My Dolly” has a strong biblical theme running through it with various references to the Apocalypse, which could have been interesting if the author had explored the concept further. Instead, Derek Nikitas’ focus on a former emergency medical technician and the Dolly of the title results in one of the anthology’s more forgettable stories.

11) “Second Wind” by Mike Carey. Starring zombie Nicky Heath, one of my favorite supporting characters from Mike Carey’s superb FELIX CASTOR urban fantasy series, “Second Wind” was a treat to read even if the voice and story weren’t quite what I was expecting.

12) “Closure, LTD” by Max Brooks. When discussing contemporary zombie fiction, Max Brooks’ name is almost guaranteed to come up every time, so what would a zombie anthology be without the author’s inclusion? Though on the short side — six pages long — “Closure, LTD” is an interesting tale set in the world of Max Brooks’ highly popular World War Z about a company specializing in providing ‘closure’ for its clients.

13) “Among Us” by Aimee Bender. A zombie that eats other zombies; salmon; Being John Malkovich; usury; a recently divorced sixty-year-old man… these individual parts make up “Among Us”, one of the more original and thought-provoking stories in the anthology.

14) “Ghost Trap” by Rick Hautala. Rick Hautala’s contribution about a U.S. Coast Guard discovering a corpse while diving for ‘ghost traps’ — lost lobster traps — has an old-school horror feel to it, but nevertheless is one of The New Dead’s spookier stories…

15) “The Storm Door” by Tad Williams. When I think of Tad Williams, I immediately think of epic fantasy, so I was a little surprised to see him included in a zombie anthology, but Tad Williams more than holds his own with an impressive tale about a paranormal investigator named Nathan Nightingale, who discovers that predatory souls are taking over the bodies of the recently deceased.

16) “Kids and their Toys” by James A. Moore.What would happen if a bunch of twelve-year-old boys found a zombie one day and decided to keep it as their pet/toy? That’s the scenario James A. Moore explores in his short story and the answer, as one might expect, is not pretty. It does, however, make for same damn good reading.

17) “Shooting Pool” by Joe R. Lansdale. Trouble finds a group of friends one night in a local pool hall in Joe R. Lansdale’s Southern-influenced crime story, which is engrossing but has little to do with zombies. As a result, “Shooting Pool” feels terribly out of place compared to the other entries in the anthology.

18) “Weaponized” by David Wellington. The author is no stranger to zombies, having written about them in the MONSTER trilogy and Plague Zone, and it’s quite apparent that he is comfortable with the subject based on his entertaining contribution, which takes place in the year 2019 and focuses on wars, a savvy reporter, and a new, cheaper form of weaponry: remote-controled PMCs (PostMortem Combatants).

19) “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead” by Joe Hill. Told entirely in the form of Twitter messages (TYME2WASTE: “Hello Twitterverse. I am Blake and Blake is me. What am I doing? Counting seconds.”), Joe Hill’s story about a family that comes across a zombie circus on the way home from vacation is just pure genius, and a perfect ending to The New Dead anthology.

CONCLUSION: In the Foreword, editor Christopher Golden asks, “Why are we fascinated by zombies?” I’m not sure The New Dead anthology ever adequately answers that question, but it does provide readers with a collection of short stories that not only celebrates the zombie genre, but also examines it from different perspectives, and in some cases, introduces new ideas. On top of that, the anthology boasts an impressive mix of big-name authors, rising stars and new faces, while the stories themselves are indeed, “wildly diverse and entertaining”. Granted, there were stories (“What Maisie Knew,” “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead,” “Family Business,” “The Storm Door,” “Weaponized,” “Life Sentence,” etc.) that I enjoyed reading more than others, but a lot of that has to do with personal tastes, and it is an opinion that will differ from reader to reader. One thing is for sure though — if you love zombie fiction, then you will love Christopher Golden’s The New Dead.

The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology — (2010) Publisher: RESURRECTION! The hungry dead have risen. They shamble down the street. They hide in back yards, car lots, shopping malls. They devour neighbors, dogs and police officers. And they are here to stay. The real question is, what are you going to do about it? How will you survive? HOW WILL THE WORLD CHANGE WHEN THE DEAD BEGIN TO RISE? Stoker-award-winning author Christopher Golden has assembled an original anthology of never-before-published zombie stories from an eclectic array of today’s hottest writers. Inside there are stories about military might in the wake of an outbreak, survival in a wasted wasteland, the ardor of falling in love with a zombie,and a family outing at the circus. Here is a collection of new views on death and resurrection. With stories from Joe Hill, John Connolly, Max Brooks, Kelley Armstrong, Tad Williams, David Wellington, David Liss, Aimee Bender, Jonathan Maberry, and many others, this is a wildly diverse and entertaining collection… the Last Word on the New Dead.  


  • Robert Thompson

    ROBERT THOMPSON (on FanLit's staff July 2009 — October 2011) is the creator and former editor of Fantasy Book Critic, a website dedicated to the promotion of speculative fiction. Before FBC, he worked in the music industry editing Kings of A&R and as an A&R scout for Warner Bros. Besides reading and music, Robert also loves video games, football, and art. He lives in the state of Washington with his wife Annie and their children Zane and Kayla. Robert retired from FanLit in October 2011 after more than 2 years of service. He doesn't do much reviewing anymore, but he still does a little work for us behind the scenes.

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