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John Skipp ‘Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead’ Review

Written by: Matthew J. Barbour

Every once and a while a book comes along that all horror fans must read. Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead, compiled and edited by John Skipp, is one such book. It is a collection of 32 zombie short stories/novelettes by some of the most well-known names in horror fiction. Tales include:

Introduction: “The Long and Shambling Trail to the Top of the Undead Monster Heap” by John Skipp

Part One: Zombies of the Old School

“Lazarus” by Leonid Adreyev

“…Dead Men Working the Cane Fields” by W. B. Seabrook

“The Return of Timmy Baterman” by Stephen King

“The Emissary” by Ray Bradbury

“A Case of the Stubborns” by Robert Bloch

“It” by Theodore Sturgeon

“Lie Still Sleep Becalmed” by Steve Duffy

“Bitter Grounds” by Neil Gaiman

“Sea Oak” by George Saunders

“The Late Shift” by Dennis Etchison

“A Zombie’s Lament” by S. G. Browne

“Best Served Cold” by Justine Musk

Part Two: Post Emancipation

“The Dead Gather on the Bridge to Seattle” by Adam Golaski

“The Quarantine Act” by Mehitobel Wilson

“The Good Parts” by Les Daniels

“Bodies and Heads” by Steve Rasnic Tem

“On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” by Joe R. Lansdale

“Like Pavlov’s Dogs” by Steven R. Boyett

“Jerry’s Kids Meet Wormboy” by David J. Schow

“Eat Me” by Robert R. McCammon

“The Visitor” by Jack Ketchum

“The Prince of Nox” Kathe Koja

“Call me Doctor” by Eric Shapiro

“Great Wall: A Story from the Zombie War” by Max Brooks

“Calcutta, Lord of Nerves” by Poppy Z. Brite

“God Save the Queen” by John Skipp and Marc Levinthal

“We Will Rebuild” by Cody Good Fellow

“Sparks Fly Upwards” by Lisa Morton

“Lemon Knives ‘n’ Cockroaches” by Carlton Mellick III

“Zaambi” by Terry Morgan and Christopher Morgan

“The Zombies of Madison County” by Douglas E. Winter

“Dead like me” by Adam-Troy Castro

Appendix A: “Zombie Roots A Historical Perspective” by Christopher Kampe and Anthony Gambole

Appendix B: “They’re Us and We’re Them: Zombies in Popular Culture” by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow

The collection has many great stories. These are not just great zombie stories, but great horror stories. Almost all are reprints. Hence, they can be found in other collections, but pound for pound there are few collections which can hold a candle to Zombies.

“Calcutta, Lord of Nerves” by Poppy Z. Brite, “On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” by Joe R. Lansdale, and “Jerry’s Kids Meet Wormboy” by David J. Schow are arguably the best short stories ever written by their respective authors. Others such as Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Robert Bloch demonstrate why they are considered masters in the genre with tales you may not have ever read.  Treasures abound, both expected and otherwise.

All stories are masterfully introduced by one of the fathers of splatterpunk, John Skipp. By Skipp’s own admission, he does not get every great zombie tale ever told, but comes pretty damn close. Absent from the collection are works, such as Brian Keene’s “Fast Zombies Suck,” Robert Kirkman’s “Alone, Together,” Edward Lee’s “Grub Girl,” and George R. R. Martin’s “Meathouse Man.”  However, their presence is hardly missed in a collection filled with so many memorable tales and literary juggernauts. Besides, most the “absent” tales have come out since 2009 when Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead was first published.

A personal unexpected favorite for this reviewer was “Dead like me,” by Adam-Troy Castro. It is a story in which our narrator struggles against conformity. In this case, he has to pretend that he is a member of the walking dead. However, the story serves as a strong euphemism for growing up and becoming part of the machine: You begin life rebelling against it. Then you take steps to live with it, but you don’t really buy into it. Time passes and resistances fades. Eventually you wake to find that you are part of that very machine you despise.

Get Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead if you like the zombie or splatterpunk genres of horror. Get Zombies if you love John Skipp, or any other author in the collection, for that matter. Chances are that you have read some of these tales before, but chances are even better that you have not read all of them and if you haven’t read all the stories, you are missing something special.

Order it here.

Rating: 5/5


About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

2 Comments on John Skipp ‘Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead’ Review

  1. I added this one to my collection a year or so ago and I agree 100 per cent that it’s a must-read.


  2. Matt Barbour // July 3, 2015 at 1:43 am // Reply

    I mentioned Dead like me as a surprise. Another story I had not read before this collection was Sea Oak by George Saunders. It is pretty bizarre.


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