Wednesday, October 2, 2013

San Diego 2014: A Review

Mira Grant's San Diego 2014: Last Stand of the California Browncoats is a novella (120 pages) set as  a prequel to her well known Newsflesh series. Here we have a zombie apocalypse set within the confines of a large comic book convention. 

Mira Grant is a pseudonym of Seanan McGuire.  She describes herself as a fanatic fan of the horror genre combined with a paranoia that has her keeping up with the latest virology reports, and sleeping with a machete under bed.

This is a fairly short, direct story told as a retrospective from a much latter time when the virus-driven zombie apocalypse has been brought under control.  A writer is interviewing an ex-coastguard officer, who happens as a young teenager to have been the last person to get out of the convention center alive.  Since this information is given to us very early on, the tale is not one of hope and redemption, although there are plentiful examples of both hesitation and courage.

The zombie apocalypse, as seems common with much of the modern genre of this type, is given a bit of psycho-babble justification to make it sound somewhat plausible.  It is the typical case of a super rabies run amuck.  How a bit driven disease winds up spreading so quickly, as is typical, is papered over in the usual fashion.  But it makes for the usual entertaining romp.

A lot of the setup is involved in the geekdom of the convention itself.  In this it reminds me of the much earlier Sharyn McCrumb Bimbos of the Death Sun, which is a murder mystery set at a Sci-Fi convention.  The intent is to mix in a popular genre within the convection setting which many authors are forced to attend.  This novel does not seem to have as much fun as McCrumb's in exploring the setting, but you still get a sense of the oddities and cultural uniqueness of the event.

The plot is pretty straightforward.  With a zombie plague breaking out, it is not too surprising that some of the z-people would show up at such a large event with a world wide draw.  The z-people attack, and the story is of various groups trying to get out of the locked down convention center.

Did I like it?  It was o.k.  I am handicapped from having worked in the construction of these large arenas, and thus find the (somewhat) accidental lockdown of the arena to be highly improbable.  The explanation of the events, wouldn't pass NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards for 1920, little less 2014.  Big Arenas/places of assembly are all about multiple exit points.  Beyond that pet peeve it made for a nice little story;  But a story that  seemed a little pointless.  So I will give it an ~ (maybe yes, maybe no) recommendation.

We now come to our two descriptive (not qualitative) ratings: 1 to 7 with 4 the mid-point and 7 high.  Realism does not include the cause of the collapse or apocalypse, but is otherwise an assessment of how close to today's world is the setting.  Could you imagine your friends, or families living through the situation.  Readability is not literary merits, but literally how quick and painless of a read.

Realism: it is a zombie apocalypse set within a comic convention.  As the entire events are all within one day, there really isn't a lot of time to get more attached to a general survival type situation that might give it more realism.  It is a 2.

Readability is easy.  It is very close to a page turner, or at least tries to be.  The characters are comic-crowd types and thus not the naturally heroic types that one would see going toe-to-toe with the z-folk.   It is a six.


PioneerPreppy said...

OH My God I hope all of the rogue and Joker Girl Friend Look alike chicks made it out alive.

russell1200 said...

Pioneer: One weaponized gal does all right before biting the dust - so to speak - but your Rogue/Joker gals seem to be in with the faceless screaming hordes not mentioned out for individual munching.