Tag Archives: Zombies

Review: Rot & Ruin – Warrior Smart

Rot & Ruin: Warrior Smart

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Writer – Jonathan Maberry, Artists – Alex Ronald & Tony Vargas

Continuing the adventures of the apparently popular book series, Rot & Ruin: Warrior Smart finds a band of teenagers wandering the zombie infested countryside searching for a jet they may have seen (and that never comes up again) only to soon find themselves trapped on a farm with crazy breeders.

Let me back up a bit.

What looks interesting and cool about this series is the kid with the sword. We get the idea that this is going to be kind of a wandering samurai kind of book set in a zombie apocalypse (zombies here are called “rotters”). The other teenagers have some “backstory” to explain the various types: the city kid, the feral jungle girl, the crazy redhead, and the aforementioned sword wielding kid dealing with the loss of his brother.

This whole volume feels like it could have been an episode of The Walking Dead, and not in a good way. It is humorless, and adds little to the zombie canon (we still have to make ourselves smell bad and move slow to trick the zombies). I did like the idea of labyrinths and written instructions as a way to weed out zombies, and the idea that zombies only really move when there are brains to eat, but I suspect these aren’t really new ideas, just things I hadn’t encountered before.

But my biggest complaint is how much the story telegraphs a “shocking” plot-point, and then spends the rest of the volume dwelling on that point.

Our (heroes?) are saved by a pregnant young girl and are taken to a farm with a lot of strapping young men, no women in sight except for some in their 50’s, and very little visible animal life, including the mysterious “cows.” If you’ve been reading this genre for more than 10 minutes you know that the “cows” (*Spoiler alert I guess*) are going to be the pregnant young women, all locked in a barn, and sure enough we readers find this out maybe 10 pages later. Our main characters don’t realize it until a full chapter later, to the point that I thought the big reveal was going to be some other even more horrible thing these farmers were doing (not to say that the cow thing isn’t horrible, because it is).

What I object to most about the “cows” is that it is only in this story for shock value. There are a lot of interesting motivations to explore here, maybe even some parallels to human trafficking, but the writer treats the women like the cattle the farmers believe them to be. We get no personal narratives, no women making this choice for themselves, they’re just brainwashed and don’t want to leave. This isn’t what we thought this story would be about. Weren’t we going after some jet or something?

There are long drawn out and implausible fights. People fight, get captured, ramble a bit, escape, fight, get captured, and finally escape again. And the conclusion is that kids aren’t monsters I guess because they chose not to kill one guy, even though they killed many other people in trying to escape, and pretty much left the farm at the mercy of the rotters.

*Blecch*

You know what would be cool? Take the classic manga Rurouni Kenshin, steeped in Meiji era politics, and just add zombies. That would be the zombie samurai epic we deserve. That would add a whole new dimension to the whole “I’m not going to kill anybody” arc of Kenshin. Would Kenshin kill Zombies? Nobuhiro Watsuki, I’m looking at you.

Orororo.

(2 Stars | Even for zombie faire this was terrible)

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God, Jesus and Zombies

My pastor didn’t time the crucifixion right.

By Palm Sunday, when Jesus was supposed to be walking into Jerusalem, he had already risen from the dead and appeared before the disciples.

Oh well, maybe next year.

But what is a good theme for Palm Sunday? Zombies.

Zombies are a bit of a cultural obsession right now (and one I’m afraid I don’t quite understand). A number of my friends are preparing for the coming Zombie Apocalypse and there are more than enough films to reinforce the idea coming this summer to a theater near you. I kinda understood vampires (Spike is cool) but even they are undead creatures without a soul, and an inclination to violence, destruction and spreading like a disease.

Kinda the opposite of the resurrection right?

Christ is not undead, death has no hold over him. He’s not a mindless killer, but instead opens hearts and minds to faith and to his fulfillment of prophecy. Zombies and vampires can only create more death or more of themselves, spiraling down to ultimate destruction. If the whole world were zombies, then the zombies could not survive. What if the whole world believed in Christ?

This idea of contagious faith intrigues me.

As a Christian I find myself apologizing at the start of conversations, or clarifying that “I’m not with those guys”. The behavior of other people who happen to claim the same beliefs as me can be a little embarrassing  You wanna see real zombies, just take a look at the members of the Westboro Church.

I want to find ways not to just grow my relationship with Christ in a bubble but to genuinely share it. To be bubbling over with faith so that anyone I interact with will be affected. I’m not saying I want it to be part of every conversation, or to suddenly change all of my writing, or anything like that. I just want someone to meet me and go, “there’s a guy who believes in God” as opposed to “there’s a guy who likes Star Trek and Fractals.” though that’s fine too.

I have something like 13 Bibles sitting on my shelf (maybe closer to 20). I don’t read any of them, since I have several good ones on my Kindle. And while I was weeding my books I was thinking of selling them. But I don’t want to sell them, I want to share my faith with others and give them to people. I’d kind of like to make it a life goal to talk to enough people to give away all the Bible’s I’ve acquired. I just don’t know exactly how to go about it yet.

Fact is, right now the blog is how I encounter people of different faiths. Work is pretty conservative and “christian” and even for those who are not of the same faith it’s not a great place to witness. The rest of my time is either spent at home with Hannah, working on books, or interacting with friends in the Church. I don’t want to be in a bubble, but right now life has kind of put me in one.

I realize this is sort of a prayer on paper, I’m writing some of the things I’ve been thinking about with God. Fact is if not contagious I’m at least bubbling about a lot of things besides my faith. Fractals, Star Trek, Writing in General, Babylon 5, anything tangentially computer related, video games, etc. Why is faith something I only seem to talk about on Sundays or the occasional plaintive post?

I think life can make us like Zombies, can rob us of zeal and of sharing the things that make us who we are. If it’s the drudgery of routine, or TV, or the same meal every Tuesday or whatever, life can get us down.

As always I want this blog to be a place where that isn’t true.

In what ways do you share your faith, your cherished beliefs?

PS. Pastor Rich’s sermon has some pretty great stuff about Zombies and more. You can hear it here, or read a transcript here.

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Okay, enough with the crazy

I’m sure most of you don’t really care who I’m going to vote for in the 2012 election. I try to keep things around the blog from getting too political, in part because I think it detracts from the overall theme, and because I believe if I don’t have something to say on a subject, then I shouldn’t write about it.

Facebook on the other hand seems to bring out the crazy in everyone.

I have friends on both ends of the political spectrum, some who are moderates like myself who care about specific issues such as labor conditions or alternative energy, but most of the ones I see in my newsfeed are coming from the more extreme ends of the spectrum.

It was different when the internet was anonymous. People could spout off any opinion, take on any personality they wanted to online, and it wouldn’t be traced back to them. But now we really can’t lean on anonymity as our excuse for why we’ve gone off the deep end. It’s something else, a fracturing of society, an over simplification of viewpoint, I’m not sure what.

I’m a believer in the complex argument, in the discussion, in the long form communication. When I’m trying to wrestle with an idea I write about it essays, in short stories, even in novels. I try to listen to other people’s opinions and see where they are coming from and not assume they are the enemy.

We’re all in this together.

Regardless of who wins in November we will still be all in this together and sometimes it’s important to remember that when we say things that might lose our friends, or at least force them to stop following us in their newsfeed. 2012 won’t decide us, nor will 2016, or the next dozen elections. How we treat each other as people both online and off, will.

As a bit of sidebar, I think it is in extremely poor taste to joke about a heinous crime being the sign of a zombie apocalypse. If you actually think about what happened, it’s not something to joke about. I understand that zombies are kind of in again, that they have historically been used in all sorts of fiction to represent various fears, socialism, communism, etc. But biting a man’s face off while being high on drugs is not something to laugh about.

Think a little bit more about what you post, and what kind of person it’s making you.

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