Showing posts with label #52Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #52Books. Show all posts

Monday, December 30, 2013

#52Books - 2013, End

And the final score is:


Um, yeah, pretty weak really.

It’s even worse when I think of all the words of stupid clickbait articles from newspapers like The Guardian I read instead.  Sigh.

I’m not disheartened as the aim was to read more books and the kindle (and Amazon) has been brilliant for this.  I’ll go for it again next year but I won’t bother with the blog posts and reviews.  They don’t get a lot of hits in relation to the other posts.  As I’m aiming to improve my writing productivity it’s better for me to spend my time writing 1,000 words on the latest story/chapter than scratching around on a two paragraph review of a fifty-year-old book.  I might throw up the occasional round-up, but they won’t be as detailed.

With that out of the way, here’s the last of the books I read in 2013.  Overall my favourite was Brian Keene’s Earthworm Gods and I also really enjoyed Shane McKenzie’s novellas.

#25: Shane McKenzie – Fat Off Sex and Violence

Another slice of fun’n’gruesome from McKenzie.  When I read the synopsis I wondered if this might be McKenzie’s version of a succubus story.  It’s not, although the feedlings are inventive and interesting demons.  As the title states, they feed off sex and violence and are very adept at causing both.

The protagonist, Gary, is indeed a real fucking loser—the start of the book has him caught masturbating in the toilet of the comic store he works.  He’s every negative geek/nerd/gamer/comic fan stereotype wrapped up in a soft, blubbery human shell.  It works because most people will know a Gary or three, or even been one themselves at some point.  It’s easy to feel pity for him for the first half of the book, but there are also plenty of hints that a lot of his problems are self inflicted or at least made a lot worse through his weakness of character (I liked the scene where a young fanboy gives him money so they can both have lunch and Gary unthinkingly orders a burger so expensive there isn’t enough money left for the other boy – sums the character up perfectly in a couple of lines).

The inevitable demon-fuelled roaring rampage of revenge, when it arrives, is satisfying (and gory!), even though you know it’s going to go horribly wrong for poor Gary (which it does).

26: Brian Keene – The Cage

Another short novella from Brian Keene packaged with some additional short stories.  It’s a good concept and gives the story a lot of pace as you want to read on to see what the not-quite-so-randomly-psychopathic antagonist is up to.  Unfortunately the ending is a little anti-climatic as the protagonists don’t really protag all that much.  Maybe Keene will come back to this one day and round it out with additional novellas in a similar way to what he did (to brilliant effect) with Earthworm Gods.  Disappointingly, the kickstarter to make this into a movie fell through.

#27: Lee Thomas – Ash Street

After the other high-octane offerings from Sinister Grin Press, this was a little bit of a surprise—a slower, multi-viewpoint tale of ghosts haunting a small town in the aftermath of a serial-killing atrocity.  Solid overall, but unspectacular.

#28:  Joyce Carol Oates – The Corn Maiden and other Nightmares

First time reading Oates.  Wow, the prose is good.  I wish I could write like this.  It’s not all style over substance either as, a few iffy endings aside, the stories are mostly solid.  The title story is the classic small town meltdown over a missing child and ends with some interesting questions as to who pulled whose strings.  It’s a shame the horrors are all of the mundane (non-supernatural, non-weird) kind, but I think I’ll pick up some more collections of hers for the prose alone.

#29: Edgar Rice Burroughs – The People That Time Forgot

The follow-up to The Land That Time Forgot is a bit too light on the dinosaurs and too heavy on the overly-simplistic politics between the various cavemen tribes.  An okay adventure story, but misses the tension the uneasy alliance with the Germans provided in the first book.

#30: Thomas Ligotti – My Work Is Not Yet Done

My first exposure to Ligotti, another name spoken highly of in horror circles.  For the first half of the book I was wondering if the blurb had been telling porkies as it looked like a simple revenge tale about a “good” man getting the shaft in a corporate environment and then going off the rails.  Then the supernatural elements kicked in and were followed by some highly imaginative and (mostly) deserved deaths.  The revenge fantasy is also cleverly subverted—karma is not in play here and the whole story is riddled through with cosmic darkness.

#31: Rick Hautala – Bedbugs

A solid collection of horror tales from the other horror writer from Maine.  Yes, it’s predictable in places, but I’ll take that every day of the week over a lot of the plotless, style-over-substance nonsense that abounds nowadays.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

#52Books - Uh, sometime in 2013

Now that the last minute panic of getting A Succubus for Remembrance is nearly out of the way (there will be a print version - details here as soon as that's out) it's time to catch up on some of the other posts, such as the increasingly erroneously named #52Books.  I'm a little further along than books 21-24, but I'm still going to fall short by some way.  I'll try again next year with the additional resolution of not imploding like the England cricket team in Australia the moment a submission deadline looms.

Here's what I was reading just before that aforementioned implosion:

#21: William Hope Hodgson - The House on the Borderland

Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland is a fairly important weird text as he was one of the first to plough down that particular furrow, and The House on the Borderland is a very weird book indeed.  The majority of the book is the account of the un-named protagonist of the various weird things that happen to him within the eponymous house, which seems to be some kind of dimensional nexus.

Hodgson doesn’t waste any time as within the first few chapters his protagonist is under siege from hideous pig men.  He fights them off and then the book swings off into an audacious flight of cosmic weirdness where the man sees time accelerate all around him, eventually seeing the end of the solar system and travelling through some kind of rebirth that places him right back where he started.  The final segment switches back to more conventional horror as a more hideous entity than the pig men creeps up on both the house and the hapless narrator.

It’s an old book, so it’s not an easy read, especially as Hodgson seems to regard commas as caltrops to be sprinkled liberally through the text.  Despite that I never found it dull and the crazy inventiveness makes it easier to forgive the barely coherent plot.  It reads more like Hodgson is letting his imagination tumble out onto the page rather than cynically exploiting the “Insert Own Plot” con-trick much over-used by modern writers.  It can be picked up for free from the Gutenberg project and is worth a look for fans of old weird fiction.

#22: Brian Lumley - Hero of Dreams

Yay, for nostalgia.  Lumley is probably better known for his Cthulhu Mythos fiction and Necroscope series, but he also found time to pen this fantasy series set in Lovecraft's dreamlands during the eighties.  It's an unashamed fantasy romp and the main characters, David Hero and Eldin the Wanderer, are loveable dolts that would last about two seconds in modern GRRM-influenced fantasy, but who cares, it's fun.

I remember it mainly for the Eidolon Lathi, a sexy (until you find out what she is) monster girl queen that fired the imagination of my teenaged self in ways that were probably not entirely healthy.  If you want insight on where my ideas come from, some of the blame can definitely be left at Lumley's door. :)

#23: Shane McKenzie - Jacked

I really like Shane McKenzie’s novellas.  They move fast, have interesting ideas and don't faff about.  No insert-own-plot or look-at-how-clever-my-writing-is wankery here, just a simple idea executed very well.

Jacked features two employees trapped in a gym after weird green slime starts pouring out of the ground in a river.  Anyone caught in the slime is turned into a squishy, slime-spewing zombie and soon Sid and Gabe are besieged.  Unfortunately for them, also trapped in the gym with them is Crow—a monstrous, crazed steroid junkie—and it’s only a matter of time before being outside starts to look safer than being inside.

Fast and fun.

#24: Edgar Rice Burroughs - The Land That Time Forgot

Time to take another dip into the copyright-expired Gutenberg barrel to dig out another pulp classic.  I’ve always had a soft spot for monster movies and the 1975 Amicus adaptation was a favourite of mine while growing up.  The dinosaurs might look rubbery and immobile by today’s fx standards, but it’s always been a fun adventure romp.

The first half of the book is a masterclass in pulp adventure writing.  There’s the dastardly shelling of an ocean liner, the heroic capture of a German U-boat, betrayals and reversals, until both crews end up having to co-operate after fetching up on the mysterious and dinosaur-infested land of Caprona.  The film version wisely decided to give Von Schoenvorts’ character a little more depth.  In the book the dirty Boche are a fairly one-dimensional bunch of backstabbing assholes (understandable given the book was written in 1918).

Sadly, the protagonist, Bowen Tyler, ends up getting lost and isolated for the second half of the book and the book ends up getting lost with him.  After a wham-bam start the book peters out.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

#52Books - July

September seems to have a bookish theme on the blog.  Don't worry, I don't believe in boring books - I like mine filled with sex and violence... ;)

#17: William Hope Hodgson – The Boats of the ‘Glen Carrig’

This is a real oldie, being first published in 1907.  You can pick it up for free from the Gutenberg Project here.  Most people associate weird tentacle horror with HP Lovecraft, but Hodgson predates him.  This is a weird horror tale concerning the adventures of a group of seamen after their boat sinks and their lifeboats encounter strange islands and an eerie weed continent.  The book was written over a century ago and the prose features a lot of quirks.  For starters there are no dialogue tags.  The entire book is written as an account of the narrator’s adventures.  Despite this I didn’t have any problems with the pacing and found it an enjoyable, if old-fashioned, yarn.

If you’ve devoured all of Lovecraft’s works and fancy something in the same vein, The Boats of the ‘Glen Carrig’ might be worth a look.  Hodgson has a similar flair for weird horror.  The weakness he has compared to Lovecraft is there is no over-arching mythos underpinning the work and it lacks the cosmic bleakness of Lovecraft’s stories—it’s more of a romantic adventure in a very odd setting.  The story is effectively eerie and creepy in places and worth reading for fans of old weird horror.

#18: Wrath James White: To The Death

Zombies meet MMA cage fighting in a satisfyingly brutal book from Wrath James White.  The default setting for the ever-popular brain munchers is zombie apocalypse, so it’s refreshing to read a book where the apocalypse sort of fizzles out and never materialises (there’s a minor subplot where an African warlord uses them as an army and fails).  The real focus of White’s book is to put an MMA fighter in a cage with a zombie and describe the messy results in graphic detail.  Being a former fighter himself allows White to bring a degree of verisimilitude to the brutal and pulpy fights.

And it is a pulp story—there are evil mob bosses, cops and a hard-up fighter trying to win his last lucrative fight and get out with the money before the authorities shut everything down.  Tyler Pope is the fighter, and waiting for him in the cage is the monstrous Lester Broad (I’m guessing an expy of the real-life Brock Lesner), a recently-deceased former professional wrestler, former MMA champion, and now returned as a hulking, two-hundred-and-eighty-pound, ravenous-for-human-flesh zombie.

The editing is a little sloppy, but thankfully this doesn’t detract too much as White’s entertaining slice of gore-noir zips along at breakneck pace.  I thought White might have missed a trick with the ending though.  One of the characters would have made a good foil to his recurring main villain, Vlad, in future books, but alas, a round two is not to be.

#19: Cameron Pierce – Ass Goblins of Auschwitz

My experience of Bizarro fiction thus far appears to be this:

Books written by Carlton Mellick III == good.

Books not written by Carlton Mellick III == meh.

This book was not written by Carlton Mellick III.

Pierce’s sophomore effort is a tricky book to write about.  It’s set in a suitably bizarro universe where nazi-themed ass goblins (asses on legs with eye stalks emerging out of the butt cheeks) abduct kids from Kidland and take them to Auschwitz to make toys out of children’s body parts.  Pierce has a fantastically loopy imagination and a flair for describing the gross and perverse.

The book didn’t really hit the spot for me.  Pierce is going hell-for-leather for total offensiveness and gross-out description, which is great to see, but the characters were too detached from reality for me to really care about the varied and highly imaginative indignities Pierce heaps upon them.

#20: Shane McKenzie – Bleed On Me

Fasten the seatbelts, this one is high-octane gore fuel.  Deadbeat slacker, Chris Taylor, goes down to complain about the noise his gangbanger neighbours are making and finds himself in the middle of a massacre.  The new drug they stole and tried out has the unfortunate side effect of opening up the body to demon possession.  And by possession I mean rip the body apart and reshape it in new and imaginative forms of body horror.

The book is short, fast and completely drenched in gore.  There’s barely a chance to pause for breath as Chris is pursued by twisted demons.  It would make a great action-packed horror film.  There are some weaknesses—McKenzie could have filled in some more of the background, in particular why a character’s blood does what it does—but overall the book is fun, fast-paced and perfect for gore lovers.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

#52 Books - June

More from my doomed mission to read 52 books for the year.  Leaving aside the initial cost of the kindle, ebooks are ridiculous value for entertainment hours at the moment.  The Herbert I picked up for 20p as part of Sony's (or someone else's) plan to take on Amazon (not too bright: you want to sell it for 20p?  Sure, we'll sell it for 20p too).  I also picked up most of Sinister Grin's backlist for less than a quid each as Shane McKenzie put on a promotion the weekend he went to the World Horror Convention (A smart move - I'll be checking out more of their books based on what I've read so far.)

#13: China Miéville – Embassytown

Miéville is one of my favourite authors.  If I had to pick a favourite book of all time it would probably be Perdido Street Station, although The City & The City might technically be the better book.

Embassytown is... tough.

Embassytown is Miéville’s foray into the type of science fiction concerned with space and alien planets, although the book is primarily concerned with language.  The eponymous Embassytown is a human city on Arieka, a planet right at the edge of known space.  The planet’s inhabitants communicate through two voices and the only way humans can speak back is to raise twins to speak simultaneously.  Then the humans try something different with catastrophic results...

Miéville’s great strength is the ability to write about the alien as if he’d actually been there.  Embassytown is no exception.  Unfortunately the book is very arid and a little too academic in style.  It is very slow-paced at the beginning while he sets up the world and background.  Most of this detail becomes important later, but I suspect a lot of readers will find it a little too dull.  The book was left half-read on my kindle for a very long time before I forced myself to finish it.  When it comes together towards the end it is very good—there is a real sense that the planet and the previously almost ephemeral narrator have undergone epochal change—but it asks a lot of readers to get that far.

#14: Shane McKenzie – Muerte Con Carne

It’s a Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but with Mexican luchadors instead of chainsaws.  Or rather a huge, fuck off, pound-you-into-mince-and-serve-you-up-in-a-taco luchador.

McKenzie’s book is a solid slab of splattergore featuring a family of crazed cannibals picking off illegals crossing the Mexican border.  There’s nothing really new here, but it’s executed well.  Marta and Felix, the hapless bickering couple dragged into the carnage, are imperfect human beings trying to do the right thing.  There’s enough to provoke sympathy from the reader, but also enough flaws to make you fear they won’t get through this.

Of course the key part of this type of book is the Grand Guignol ending and McKenzie doesn’t disappoint with plenty of splattered organs and some gruesome imagery to test the stomach.  Recommended for gorehounds everywhere.

#15: James Herbert – Ash

The last novel from legendary Brit horror writer, James Herbert, who tragically died earlier this year, and it’s madder than a box of frogs.  This reads like his revenge fantasy on the establishment as he blends fact and fiction into imaginative conspiracy theory.  There are fictional explanations for Lord Lucan’s disappearance, Dr David Kelly’s suicide and a host of past scandals.

I’ll drop an important caveat that this is a very British novel.  I suspect the use of real-life political scandals and establishment figures might leave a lot of non-British readers completely nonplussed.

Paranormal investigator David Ash is sent to investigate a spooky Scottish castle by a secretive and powerful organisation.  Similar to the cult British TV series The Prisoner (remember that one), the castle is a dumping ground to allow wealthy, well-connected individuals whose lives have been blotted by one criminal scandal or another to escape jail and live out their lives in luxurious exile instead.  Until now, because dark supernatural forces are rising and James Herbert is here to dish out the justice their real-life counterparts never received.

Herbert’s style is never going to win awards, but he’s always had a flair for the set pieces and one, with Ash and his love interest being threatened by a pack of possessed wildcats, is effectively tense.  Unfortunately the book suffers from trying to do too much.  Herbert’s secretive Inner Court organisation comes across as too venal and incompetent to be truly terrifying adversaries.  Even the dark supernatural forces set against them seem reduced to little more than bit players in an explosive climax that doesn’t really ignite.  It’s a fun read, but ultimately gets a little too silly near the end.

#16: Nate Southard – Down

Cool, another monster book and one that zips along at a ferocious pace.  A rock band’s chartered plane goes down in deep forest and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the survivors are menaced by a creature in the darkness.

I love monster books, so I was always going to like this.

The book is short, but gives the impression that’s because it’s been sent down to the gym and worked out until there’s not an ounce of fat left.  No flab to slow down the pace here at all.  I read it in two tasty gulps and enjoyed it thoroughly.

I was also pleasantly surprised when the explanation for the monsters turned out to be different, more supernatural, than I’d been expecting.  There is a Lovecraftian touch to what’s happening, but from first principles and without the usual how-many-Great-Old-Ones-can-I-reference baggage.

As an aside, I did chortle afterwards when I remembered the page at the start indicating the book’s events took place in 1993.  I wonder how tempted Southard was to write “i.e. before every fucker had their own fucking mobile phone to ruin good horror plots everywhere” underneath.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

#52Books - May

Time for some more booky-wooky stuff (Just in case the midweek rant explosion hasn't already drove everyone away - I'll try and make it up by getting back to some good ole-fashioned succubus smut next weekend).  This is my #52Books (let's be realistic - #30Books) project caught up to May.

#9: Brian Keene - Earthworm Gods

My favourite book of the year so far.  Then I am a sucker for old-fashioned monster stories and Earthworm Gods is a big brash monster story with the possible end of the world (Again, Mr Keene?  How many Earths is that now?) as a backdrop.  It’s been raining constantly for the past forty days, the world is flooding and monstrous worms are coming to the surface to pick off survivors.  What’s not to love?

The book is broken into three sections.  The first concerns Teddy, an old man living up in the mountains, and sets the scene with first the unnatural rain and then racks up the tension as the predatory worms appear.  Teddy is joined by some survivors and the second part is their account of escaping a drowned city haunted by other monstrous threats.  The third part returns to Teddy’s house and an epic stand against a threat even worse than the eponymous killers worms.

I really enjoyed this.  Teddy is based on Keene’s grandfather and is an interesting and well-drawn protagonist.  With some of Keene’s other books I felt the focus drifted near the end, but here he’s on brilliant form, with some superbly executed set pieces.


Stuff ‘realistic’ horror with serial killers and other dullness.  Nothing beats some good old-fashioned monster scares.

#10: Brian Keene – Earthworm Gods: Selected Scenes from the End of the World

This is a collection of short stories set in the same universe as Earthworm Gods.  The characters are all real people who paid for the privilege of Keene writing them into a story and killing them off in imaginative ways (an interesting concept—anyone fancy being made into succubus fodder?)

It does impose some restrictions on the stories—Keene shows no qualms in sending his sponsors down the maws of various hungry worms, but is obviously not going to depict any of the characters in too bad of a light.  After reading the first few stories I had some doubts.  They’re a little too short and follow a similar pattern of potted character history, setup, and then the fade out as the character meets an untimely end.  However, the collection does settle into a kind of rhythm and while the stories are short, in accumulation they do a good job of describing the doomed, drowning world.  Overall I enjoyed the collection, but wished the stories weren’t quite as short as they were.

#11: Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw – Jam

Yahtzee Croshaw is probably more familiar as that dude who speaks really fast on the Zero Punctuation videos.  Aside from reviewing games and creating point-and-click adventure games he also writes books.  Jam is his second.

This is the point where I could rant about useless legacy publishing is and how the only way someone born after the mid-seventies can get a horror book out is through spending a decade becoming famous at something else first, but that would feel like leaping onto a mammoth to attack it with a chainsaw when the mammoth is already sinking beneath the surface of a tar pit.

I picked this up because of the interesting premise—An apocalypse (or jampocalypse) where Brisbane gets buried beneath three feet of carnivorous jam.  The ‘jam’ is a voracious blob-like monster that absorbs all organic matter on contact.  The narrator sees his flatmate get slurped up on page two and the book maintains the same pace throughout.

The book is a parody and leans more towards Bizarro than outright horror (You might have already guessed this from the whole ‘carnivorous jam’ thing).  It follows the British comic tradition of characters trying their best, but getting distracted by trifling concerns (such as the narrator’s insistence in carrying around a Goliath birdeater spider) and continually undermining their efforts with sheer incompetence.  Think Shaun of the Dead or Red Dwarf.  Croshaw’s Jam isn’t quite as sharp as those, but it’s a fun read that might make a decent TV mini-serial (6 episodes, obviously).

#12: Dante Aligheiri – Divine Comedy I: Inferno

It’s time to get all classical with one of the most famous depictions of hell—Dante’s Inferno.  I picked this one up from the Gutenberg project, although I thought it contained all three parts of the Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso) rather than just Inferno.  It did, however, contain copious notes for which I’m grateful as following classics without the historical context is really hard.

I knew about the structure of hell as Dante created it—the nine circles each punishing different sins—but this is the first time I’d read the source (okay translation of the source).  It’s pretty much Dante dissing everyone he’d ever disliked and imagining various scabrous torments to be inflicted on them in hell.  Drown in rivers of boiling blood!  Be submerged in pitch while demons stick forks in you!  Great fun.

“...and he had made a trumpet of his ass.”

Lovely stuff.

Monday, June 10, 2013

#52Books - March (sort of...)

Yeah, that #52Books thing of reading 52 books in a year.  I posted about it in January and then approached it with my usual chaos.  I'm currently on #13 (and also #14, #15, #16 and maybe a #17, because...chaos), but for some reason got tangled up in putting reviews together.  The book reviews get the lowest hits here of everything, but I feel obligated to review them because I write 'em myself.  Here's what was on my Kindle around Feb/Mar.

#5. F. Paul Wilson – The Keep

So that’s what the film’s about.

I remembered seeing the film of this back in the late eighties/early nineties as part of Alex Cox’s late night Moviedrome series.  The film is a bit of a cult classic, but largely incomprehensible after executive meddling hacked it down to a far-too-slim ninety minutes.

German soldiers are stationed at a creepy Romanian keep in WWII and are picked off one by one by a malign presence.  A Jewish professor and his daughter are brought in to try and explain the mystery, which deepens as a powerful stranger arrives to resume an aeons-old conflict.

The book is a clever mix of influences, including an extremely unexpected one that lies at the heart of the whole story.  It’s a little baggy in the middle while it develops a romance between the leads and layers on the misdirection as to the true nature of the evil entity, Molasar, but not enough to sink a thrilling tale.  It’s a shame loopy epics like this have given way to endless serial killer/police procedurals on the horror shelves.

After reading the book it’s fairly obvious film never had a prayer of doing the book justice.

#6: Brian Keene – Jack’s Magic Beans

Not a novel but a novella with some extra short stories added to bulk it out to an appropriate length.  If I wanted to be especially harsh I’d describe it as the leavings off Brian Keene’s writing desk packaged together.

The novella details a typical day at a shopping mall gone horribly wrong as everyone suddenly goes homicidally insane.  The title comes from the reason why the few survivors are immune, but then that immunity starts to wear off...

Gory fun, but it reads like the opening chapters of a book Keene never got around to finishing.  The short stories are fairly solid with “’The King’, In: YELLOW”, Keene’s gory riff on Robert W Chamber’s The King in Yellow being the highlight.

It might be scraps and leavings, but they’re fairly tasty scraps and leavings.

#7: David Wong – John Dies at the End

David Wong is the pseudonym of editor Jason Pargin.  It is also the name of the narrator of John Dies at the End, used as a device to play it up as a faux ‘true story’.  John Dies at the End recounts David and John’s fictitious adventures in the town of Undisclosed, where after being injected with a strange drug, Soy Sauce, they gain the ability to see the things humans shouldn’t see and become embroiled in a sinister plot involving alternate dimensions, weird artificially-engineered life forms and a whole heap of craziness.

The book is broken up into three vaguely linked adventures and veers wildly between crazy gross-out humour (such as trying to get a dog to shit out some plastic explosives it had swallowed) and darker moments designed to make the reader pause and think, including a deftly understated moment from Wong’s past that involves no extra-dimensional weirdness at all, which makes it all the more horrifying.  There are plenty of twists, including an absolute gut-puncher in the middle that reveals why that innocuous little philosophical question about an axe with a replaced blade and handle was asked at the beginning of the book.

Overall the book is probably a little too madcap zany for its own good, but is packed full of imagination and never dull.

#8: David Wong – This Book is Full of Spiders

The follow-up to John Dies At The End, this continues the adventures of John and David in Undisclosed.  At the start Wong is attacked by a extra-dimensional arachnid parasite only he and John can see (because of the Soy Sauce from the previous book).  Other parasites escape Wong’s house until a full-fledged outbreak threatens Undisclosed and maybe the whole country.

The sequel has tighter focus than John Dies At The End and is better for it.  Wong (Pargin-Wong, not Wong the character) takes some well-aimed swipes at cozy zombie apocalypses and the exploitation of fear by authority.  It’s only near the end, with the introduction of a reality-warping fur gun, where things start to get a little too silly and some inconsistencies creep into the story.