Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Carlton Mellick III is among the most well-known authors writing within the bizarro movement of speculative fiction. Bizarro is not horror per se, but often includes horrific elements, such as the gratuitous sex and violence prevalent within the splatterpunk subgenre. It is fiction taken to absurd extremes often as a way of providing social commentary on the workings of the ordinary world.
Zombies and Shit is one of the over forty novels written by Mellick since the early 2000s. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by the walking dead. The remnants of humanity survive on the island stronghold of Neo New York where they watch their favorite television show, Zombie Survivor. The show takes twenty people from the city’s destitute Copper District and drops them off on the mainland. There, they compete against each other and the hordes of zombies for chance to be the winner and return to the protection of Neo New York.
The current batch of survivors contains a mix of evil geniuses, street punks, neo-Nazis, mercenaries, genetically modified killers, prostitutes, and a cybernetic-enhanced television icon from the 1980s. They will form alliances and backstab one another all while competing for the prize as the dastardly television mogul, Wayne “The Wiz” Rizla watches events unfold from his corporate headquarters. The Wiz believes he has the game rigged so that nobody will ever win again, but can the survivors prove him wrong?
One part Survivor, one part Hunger Games, one part Battle Royale, and one part Return of the Living Dead, Mellick offers one of the most memorable romps through the zombie apocalypse ever written. The plot and characters of Zombies and Shit are both ridiculous and engaging. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the twenty survivors with each survivor’s tale interlinking and overlapping with another to form the story. Other than for few typographical mishaps, the book is near perfect –and absolutely ludicrous.
This said, Zombies and Shit is not for everyone. The characters’ actions, the nature of the virus, and even the setting defy logic. Plausibility is thrown out the window. Instead, the reader is treated to dogs with mini-guns attached to their backs and garden gnome mechanisms that repel zombies. Bizarro literature in general is written for a niche audience. Zombies and Shit is no different. The reader must be willing to go along for the ride.
For fans and those interested in bizarro literature, Zombies and Shit is a must read. Carlton Mellick III is the quintessential practitioner within the movement. His impressive storytelling skills are on full display. Just be ready to suspend your belief.