Okay -- now that I've hit the long-form part of the Hugo ballot, I'm going review the novels across five separate posts (though I'm still going to use the same general format). First up:
Feed, Mira Grant (Orbit)
Premise: In the early 21st century, a cure for cancer and a cure for the common cold accidentally joined genetic forces and became the virus that launched a zombie apocalypse. Years later, zombies are now a horrible fact of life for the human race. Interestingly enough, though, America's bloggers have benefitted somewhat from the disaster. They were the first to report on the zombie plague, so now the public trusts them more than they trust the traditional media.
This novel follows three young bloggers - Shaun, Georgia, and Buffy - as they tackle their biggest assignment yet: the presidential campaign. Along the way, they discover a large-scale conspiracy that threatens their lives and the lives of countless others.
Steph's Comments: Let's discuss what Grant gets right first. Number one, it's evident that she conducted a great deal of research before putting pen to paper. Most zombie novels (that I've encountered) tend to handwave away the origins of a zombie plague, but Grant takes the time to explain it medically, and I think that's a definite plus. I'm not an expert, mind, but her world building on this score seems plausible to me. Secondly, her zombies are scary zombies, not the ironic zombies that populate much of today's urban fantasy. Whenever there's a large-scale zombie outbreak in Grant's novel, death, carnage, and mayhem are the usual results.
I also find Grant's assumption that bloggers would scoop the mainstream media if ever there were a genuine zombie apocalypse to be interesting for our purposes here at Right Fans. In recent years, the traditional media have indeed become hidebound to their favorite narratives, and they have subsequently been challenged - or flat-out debunked - by jammy-wearing bloggers. Bloggers, for example, took down Dan Rather.
I doubt that Grant was thinking of that particular case, though. If there's one thing that becomes increasingly evident as the novel progresses, it's the fact that Grant is virulently anti-Christian and anti-traditional conservative. Her presidential candidate is a Christian Republican, granted, but he's one of those non-threatening sorts who never challenges the secular-humanist viewpoint. In the meantime, all the antagonists of Grant's piece fit every leftwing Christian stereotype you can think of. For example, the vice presidential candidate - and the story's Big Bad - stupidly blames the zombie apocalypse on our national lack of moral fiber and is willing to use the zombie virus as a weapon to keep people running scared for his own nefarious purposes. Yeah -- that's a totally accurate, non-bigoted portrayal.
Now, I'm sure a leftist would jump in here at this point and eagerly cite Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and their remarks after 9/11 as proof - proof! - that all Christians would blame a zombie apocalypse on the heathens, but once again, I'd like to declare such arguments to be based on bigotry. Because these leftists haven't actually talked to any observant Christians, they have no frelling clue that a lot of us facepalmed at Falwell and Robertson's ill-chosen words. I think most of us Christians do believe that our immoral living has sapped our ability to function as a society and has weakened us in the eyes of others. At the same time, however, we place the blame for the 9/11 terrorist attack squarely on those Muslim fanatics who carried it out. Yes, folks -- unless you believe in the sacrosanctity of the victim, you can hold both arguments in mind at once. Indeed, as a Catholic Christian, I feel it is absolutely necessary that we acknowledge both truths; if we declare discussion of our decadence completely off-limits, we will never find a way to arrest our decline.
Steph's Rating: 6.0
I'm giving Grant credit for her thoughtful set-up and her engaging plot. Her political stance, on the other hand, is a huge turn-off.