31 Shots of Shock #3: ‘Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue’ by Kim Newman

*Title: ‘Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue’ by Kim Newman.
Date Read: 03 October 2011
Available Online?: NO (read from the anthology, 999 (William Morrow Books), edited by Al Sarrantonio)
Briefly: Mother Russia finds itself once again embroiled in war, but this is a conflict against no ordinary enemy. Napoleon and Hitler may have long left the scene but they’ve been replaced by an altogether more terrifying foe – the walking dead. One of those facing the undead horde is Chirkov, who finds himself cut off from the rest of his military unit as their train pauses in Borodino. He travels to Moscow to reattach to them, only to discover that he’s being re-assigned to the Spa.
Afterthoughts: Although it’s a little long-winded and disjointed at times – and certainly not that scary – Kim Newman’s tale is rather enjoyable. It’s refreshing to see a zombie-pocolypse tale set in a country where this type of story is not often set, and in doing so Newman is able to bring something of the culture and history of the country into play, making his tale unique and wholly refreshing. Newman refers to his zombies as ‘Amerikans’ – primarily blaming the outbreak on American ‘suicidal infectees posing as tourists’ – and this does nothing but reintroduce the tensions of now defunct Cold War. Clever this may be but Newman’s pièce de résistance comes from him introducing a particular Russian historical figure into his story, who fits in surprisingly well. All-in-all very readable, but a story that is perhaps best suited to lovers of the ‘walking dead’ genre.
Notable Quote: Cautiously, the corporal circled around and rammed his rifle-butt into a knee. The guards were under orders not to waste ammunition; there was a shortage. Bone cracked and the Amerikan went down like a devotee before an icon. The corporal prodded a colorful back with his boot-toe and pushed the Amerikan onto his face. As he wriggled, ice shards worked through his flesh. Chirkov had assumed the dead would stink but this one was frozen and odorless. The skin was pink and unperished, the rips in it red and glittery. An arm reached out for the corporal and something snapped in the shoulder. The corporal’s boot pinned the Amerikan to the concrete. One of his comrades produced a foot-long spike and worked the point into the back of the dead man’s skull. Scalp flaked around the dimple. The other guard took an iron mallet from his belt and struck a professional blow.

Rating: ★★★★☆

*Story read as part of my 2011 31 Shots of Shock reading project.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).