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The Loving Dead
Amelia Beamer
Night Shade Books, 241 pages

The Loving Dead
Amelia Beamer
Amelia Beamer works as an editor, reviewer, and photographer for Locus: The Magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Field. She has won several literary awards and has published fiction and poetry in Interfictions 2, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Red Cedar Review, and other venues, plus a zombie story in The Living Dead 2 (Night Shade Books, September 2010). She has a B.A. with high honors in English Literature from Michigan State University, and attended Clarion East in 2004. She lives in Oakland California.

Amelia Beamer Website
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A review by Rick Klaw

With her horrifically comic first novel The Loving Dead, Amelia Beamer taps into the cultural zeitgeist of the early 21st century. Much like the great zombie film progenitor, Night of the Living Dead, Beamer uses the undead to represent the fractured real world around her, albeit from a hyper-sexual millennialist bent.

  Sure enough Kate's friend was roped to the bed. Naked. She wore white contacts, and her skin was a fine gray. Her gaze moved among the men, and she licked her lips.

Michael was stunned. He knew Kate had a sense of humor, but this was beyond expectations. She'd turned her friend into a perfect sexy zombie. He turned to her. "You had me all worked up! You two must have been doing the makeup all this time. And I never knew you were such an actor."

"I'm not," Kate said. She wasn't grinning like she should have been. "I don't know what happened."

"My compliments," Cameron said. "She looks awesome."

"Wow, Kate," Sam said. "You know, what would be even been better is if you'd put some blood on her. Or some black goo, or something. I guess you don't want to mess up your sheets, though."

"Kate, you can cop to the joke," Michael said. "It was masterful. Smile already."

Kate blushed. "It's not a joke."

 

Twenty-something housemates and Trader Joe coworkers Kate and Michael confront the terror of watching their friends turn into horny zombies, literally. Marauding sex-crazed undead shamble throughout the Oakland hills spreading the sexually transmitted disease that produces the horror.

  The zombie raised her arms, not forward like he expected, but to the sides. Her arms writhed like snakes. The ripple moved out form her shoulders to her elbows, her wrists, and her fingers. The skin around her wrists was torn, with scabby bracelets of black blood where the rope had been. Her hips swung around, to one side and then the other. She took a step forward, and Michael stepped backwards. The zombie wore a stage smile, big and brilliant. There was no music, but she kept time, stepping forwards. Knees bent, she rocked her pelvis back and forth. The motion was sharp and practiced. Beautiful, in its own way.  

While indeed, as the back cover copy promises, a bizarre cross-pollination of Chuck Palahniuk and Christopher Moore, Beamer's work lacks the innate coolness of the former's prose and the snappy comedic timing of the latter. Its true literary strength lies in her unflinchingly realistic portrayal of the Millennials' Facebook-managed, no barriers world -- an entire life, every secret, presented in living color for all to share. Despite their differences, the youth of The Loving Dead, similar to previous privacy-oriented generations, struggle with the feelings and misunderstandings spawned by their peers and their world as they struggle for their own identities.

  Kate interrupted his thoughts. "Hey, does anyone else think that scene in Living Dead, where the white girl slaps the black guy, and he clean knocks her out and then lays her on the couch and undoes the buttons on her jacketódoes anyone else think that scene is hot?"

"Racist," Audrey said.

"Liberal," Henry said, in the same tone.

Michael was stunned. It was the sexiest thing anyone had said in a long while. Deliberately provocative. And a total non-sequitur. It took his mind off of their zombie problem for a blessed moment.

 

Peppered with several ironic moments, uncomfortable family encounters, zeppelins, and an over-abundance of sex, The Loving Dead barrels along at an entertaining clip to an ultimately disappointing conclusion that feels more tacked-on rather than planned. Still, Beamer's insightful observations about her contemporaries combine with a fascinating application of the current zombie phenomenon elevates this debut novel above the plethora of increasingly mediocre undead sub-genre offerings. Ultimately, The Loving Dead presages the talents of an intriguing new author.

Copyright © 2010 Rick Klaw

Professional reviewer, geek maven, and optimistic curmudgeon, Rick Klaw has supplied countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications including The Austin Chronicle, The San Antonio Current, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Moving Pictures RevolutionSF, King Kong Is Back!, Conversations With Texas Writers, Farscape Forever, Electric Velocipede, Cross Plains Universe, and Steampunk. MonkeyBrain Books published the collection of his essays, reviews, and other things Klaw, Geek Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century. He can often be found pontificating on Twitter and over at The Geek Curmudgeon.


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