October 12, 2011

Zombies and The Rising: a guest post by Tim Marquitz

Tim Marquitz is the author of the Demon Squad series, published by Damnation Books, including Armageddon Bound and Resurrection. He lives in Texas and grew up with Heavy Metal as an early influence. He describes his writing as "a mix of the dark perverse, the horrific, and the tragic, tinged with sarcasm and biting humor." Not bad. You can learn more about Tim by visiting his site: http://www.tmarquitz.com/. But first, here are his thoughts on a favorite of his--and mine.
The Rising
 by Tim Marquitz

The Rising audiobook cover
While zombies have become so prevalent in horror fiction these days, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where they come across as threatening or frightening. We’ve had fast zombies and slow zombies and even more fast zombies, but that’s largely been the evolution of the genre. The story has always been built upon the strength of the characters and the manner of their survival. That said, Brian Keene decided to change all that. He turned the genre on its head in his 2007 Leisure release, The Rising. (re-released in 2011 through Deadite Press, which I recommend due to Leisure’s unwillingness to pay its authors for their work.)

Instead of slow lumbering zombies that kill through surprise and superior numbers, those in Keene’s world are vastly different; they’re sentient. In The Rising, Keene took the tropes of the zombie genre and mixed in a darker, more malevolent kind of evil to make zombies a threat once more.

No longer simply animate corpses shambling along in search of fresh brains, zombies in The Rising are the dead possessed by dark spirits from The Void. Similar to demons, The Void being an apparent representation of a sort of Hell, the creatures slip through a dimensional portal, torn open by a failed particle accelerator experiment, and take control of the dead. Intelligent and vicious, and able to access the memories of the bodies they inhabit, these zombies seek to slaughter humanity. Worse still, they’re organized. Led by a demonic creature that calls itself Ob, the zombies cross the earth strategically, laying waste to humanity in order to clear the way for more of their kind to come into our world.

Amidst all that, there is the more traditional kind of story that takes place. Jim, divorced from his wife and kept apart from his child, travels across the zombie-infested landscape in an attempt to rescue his son. Along the way, he stumbles across the vicious dead and finds he must face yet another threat; the remnants of humanity.

Just as dark and cruel as the demonically possessed corpses, survivors of the undead uprising have come together under a National Guard Colonel, Schow, whose sociopathic tendencies make him as dangerous, if not more so, than the dead. His men rape and kill at will, forcibly drafting survivors into their army to help fight the undead, the women made to be sex slaves for the soldiers.

Trapped between the sentient undead and the brutal cruelty of the army, both of which have their own unsettling agendas, Jim battles to save his son. As the tension amps up to a fever pitch, Keene brings the book to a violent conclusion that leaves it to the reader to take away what they will.

So, if you’re looking for a new twist on the zombie tale, and want to do away with the single shot to the head answer to the undead, I think you’ll find Brian Keene’s The Rising a fresh breath amidst the foul air of the genre.


  1. Probably the best zombie book I've ever read!

  2. ^ I second that. The Rising is definitely a favorite of mine.

  3. I've read a few of his books before, so I think I'll be reading this one as well.

  4. Good pick. Also love the completely unrelated Keene zombie novel, Dead Sea.

  5. I do think the twist, that the remaining humans are as bad or worse than the "invaders," adds the extra dimension. In this sense it's less about a "new" kind of zombie (in face I'm reminded of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie) as a survival adventure being caught between two opposing armies, regardless of their origins. But as Tim says, that's the level on which any book will succeed or fail, on the protagonist and how he (she) copes with the situation.