A few weeks ago I mentioned the Hugo Voter Packet, the collection of eBooks and PDFs that help ensure that the ignorance found amid the Hugo electorate is maintained by virtue of laziness rather than poverty. And before any of you get all up in my face over that remark, know that I've voted for the Hugos several times now, and this will be the first year I've done more than 10% of the reading. Ignorant electorate, thy face is mine own.
WAS mine own: I'm not done with the reading, but I'm making good progress. I've finished all the short stories, novelettes, and novellas, and I'm about 2/3rds of the way done with the novels.
I hit something of a speed bump when I began reading Feed, by Mira Grant (who some of us know better as Campbell-award-winner Seanan McGuire.) It's the first book in her Newsflesh trilogy, it's brilliant, and I realized I had no desire to keep mowing down Hugo Voter Packet material -- at least not until I'd consumed the second Newsflesh volume, Deadline.
While it is possible one of the as-yet-unread tomes will steal my Best Novel vote from Feed, those unread tomes are going to have to knock the proverbial ball into LEO, because Grant already knocked the ball out of the park.
Feed is set about 25 years after the zombie apocalypse. We survived. Our culture changed, our technology advanced, and the zombie virus will animate any dead mammal larger than about 50 pounds, or any living mammal of that gets a dose of the active strain. The usual rules apply: don't swap fluids with the undead, decontaminate at every opportunity, and don't get bitten.
The best part? The usual rules apply. The zombie apocalypse that showed up was the one we expected. All the zombie movies you and I watched ended up saving our lives. George Romero became a saint. That totally won me over. I'm bored by zombie stories in which nobody knows what's going on. I saw the first episode of "Walking Dead" and was disappointed*. If you want me to love your zombie fiction, please acknowledge the last 20 years of pop culture.
I loved Feed. The story isn't really about the zombies. It's about some bloggers who get hired to cover a presidential candidate. The zombies in this tale are more like wallpaper. That moves. And then tries to eat your face. Okay, the book IS about the zombies, but there's ever so much more to it than that. And Deadline? EVEN BETTER.
(*Note: "Walking Dead" fans don't need to get all up-in-arms here. Walking Dead has its place: it is source material that makes our survival in the world of Feed possible. And yeah, as non-aware zombie fiction goes it's good stuff.)