Tuesday, 28 September 2010

‘Night of the Living Trekkies’ – Kevin Anderson and Sam Stall (Quirk Fiction)

Is there anyone here, reading this blog, who didn’t watch ‘Star Trek’ when they were a kid? I didn’t think so. I used to love Star Trek when I was a kid, a good substitute for ‘Star Wars’ in those ‘pre-video’ days when I would have to wait until Christmas to see Han/Luke etc. All good things come to an end though and I ended up switching allegiance to ‘Babylon 5’ and, later still, ‘Lexx’. I still like the occasional episode of ‘Star Trek’ but I’m not a massive fan and don’t get all the references that my friends (who are fans) make about the show. All of this made the prospect of reviewing ‘Night of the Living Trekkies’ a bit of an odd one. How can I review something if I don’t really get the fandom that it’s sprung out of?


Ah but that’s ok; it’s chock full of zombies! This is something that’s always a good thing for me to come across... or is it? These days I find myself wondering if there’s a little too much in the way of zombie fiction out there. ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ was very much a good thing but it opened the doors for everyone who had a ‘zombie spin off’ to pedal. Don’t get me wrong, I love my zombies but the media dosage has been set on overkill. All of this made the prospect of reviewing ‘Night of the Living Trekkies’ a bit of an odd one. Could I review a book about zombies when I’m starting to feel all ‘zombied out’?

As it happened, I ended up being pleasantly surprised on both fronts...

After a hellish tour of duty in Afghanistan, all Jim Pike wants is a life without any kind of responsibility at all. Assistant Manager in a small Houston hotel sounds like just what he’s after, once he gets the yearly ‘Star Trek’ convention out of the way. There is a nasty surprise lurking in the midst of all the people dressed up as Klingons and Borg though, a strange virus that transforms its hosts into flesh eating zombies! Not only must Jim and a group of survivors escape the hotel but they must also halt the spread of the virus before it takes over the entire planet. All they have is some prop Klingon weaponry and an in depth knowledge of one of the most successful sci-fi shows ever...

I was seriously thinking of taking a break from zombie fiction and films before I picked up ‘Night of the Living Trekkies’. Now that I’ve finished it, I find myself really eager to get to two more zombie books that have somehow found their way to the top of the reading pile. So, what happened?

To put it quite simply, ‘Night of the Living Trekkies’ has a little something for everyone and it all comes together to form something pretty special.

My initial fear about not being ‘Trekkie’ enough to ‘get it’ was dispatched fairly early on. While there may be bits that only the die hard ‘Star Trek’ fans will pick up on, Anderson and Stall pitch ‘Night of the Living Trekkies’ firmly at the likes of people like me; people who know who Captain Kirk is but not necessarily what colour boots he was wearing in the third episode. The result is a lot of fun with plenty of references thrown in that everyone should be able to enjoy. For instance, what do you think the odds are of the guy in the red shirt escaping from a hotel full of zombies..? :o) It’s never laid on to thick either, everything makes sense in the context of the story while raising a wry smile at the same time. As a Star Wars fan, I was pleased to see that it wasn’t just the Star Trek references making an appearance. The quotes used were spot on with a nice little side commentary about genre rival that served as a counterpoint to the serious zombie business going on elsewhere.

What about those zombies though? I arrived at the book expecting something that would poke a little fun at the sub-genre. You’d expect it with this kind of mixture wouldn’t you? What I got instead was something more along the lines of regular zombie fiction. Zombies gnawing bits off the living while the survivors try and make out the best they can. These zombies are slightly different to the regular kind and this difference is where the urgency to the plot springs from. It also leads to a twist in the tale that I saw coming from a long way away. There’s not much effort made to hide it so I had to wonder if this was an intentional move on the author’s part...

In the meantime though, what the reader has is a tale more than effective in its ability to make you jump when you’re not expecting it; you don’t know what’s hiding behind that hotel door... For a book with such a premise it’s also surprisingly apocalyptic with small hints gradually building up into something that’s quite awesome when you see it from the hotel window. Anderson and Stall hit the nail right on the head here.

‘Night of the Living Trekkies’ is a lot of fun to read and features characters that I wanted to stick around for, I reckon you will too. Books like this are the reason why my reading diet will always contain a lot of pulp...

Nine out of Ten

2 comments:

Jessica said...

I was super lucky and won this book about a week ago it's already arrived so I'm thrilled being the crazy star trek fan that I am. Not to mention that zombies are always hilarious. Glad you liked it I'm sure I will as well.

Carmen said...

Oh fantastic, am so pleased you liked it! I've wanted to read it for ages ever since I saw the book trailer (my favourite book trailer EVER!)

This is my next book to be read.