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Peter Clines
Broadway Books, 432 pages

Peter Clines
Peter Clines grew up in Maine and started writing at the age of eight with his first epic novel, Lizard Men From The Center of The Earth (unreleased). He made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper. He is the writer of countless film articles, several short stories, The Junkie Quatrain, the rarely-read The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe and the poorly-named website Writer on Writing. He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California.

Peter Clines Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Ex-Heroes

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

'People of Krypton, shouted Zzzap in a deep, buzzing voice, I tell you our world is doomed. We must take refuge in the Phantom Zone!

"Hard as it may be to believe, sir," said the colonel, "we've heard all the Superman jokes you can think of."'

Ex-Patriots is the second novel in the author's on-going series, featuring the adventures of super powered individuals in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. This time around the main thrust concerns the discovery of -- and by -- another powerful group. The others are a US military unit, located at the Yuma Proving Ground facility. A base that is also home to Project Krypton, which as the name implies, is a super-soldier program. The Unbreakables, products of that program, are lead by Captain Freedom, an enhanced man who believes himself to be the greatest soldier alive! Other Yuma staff of note include Dr. Sorensen, the obligatory mad scientist, and liaison John Smith, who gives a new meaning to the phrase gift of the gab. After an initial accidental skirmish with Freedom and his super-soldier squad, the author's original group from the Mount agree to visit Yuma for talks, with a view to collaboration and the Mount coming under what is left of official US jurisdiction. Soon after their arrival Stealth, St. George, Cerberus and Zzzap are split up -- by design -- and make troubling discoveries about the true status of the base. One startling development is the revelation of what seems to be a game changing gizmo, developed by Dr. Sorensen. This is a small electronic box that when fitted to zombies allows their brains to function again, albeit in a very limited fashion. Luckily, this is enough for them to take simple orders, and even more importantly, stop eating people! But Project Krypton has been infiltrated by two malevolent super-powered individuals, each with their own agenda and unaware of the other's existence. The premise is good, but does the story fizz with fresh life, or is it stiff as an undead dodo?

Keeping the momentum going is always a tricky task for the author of an on-going series. Not enough wellie and everything goes flat, too much and things can get out of creative control. What Peter Clines does well here is the continued action within the small portion of his world we get to see. An old enemy returns in an altered, far more interesting form, and there's a new threat in the person of an individual with a subtle yet devastating ability. Without giving too much away, fans of George R.R. Martin's fabulous Wild Cards series will recognise what may be an alternate take on the Envoy. We also get to learn more about the heroes of the Mount, who continue to develop at an easy pace. By way of contrast, the super-soldiers of the Unbreakables are not really Captain America material. They tend to come across as almost entirely brainwashed by their training. Except for Captain Freedom himself, who is allowed to show that he is capable of free thought. As a result he has more depth than the rest of his squad put together. Less great is the author's continued small world view, which ignores everything outside of the United States. Despite having a character who is able to fly intercontinental with ease. I was also disappointed to find that the accidental architect of the zombie plague, revealed and incarcerated in book one of the series, plays no part here. This book is almost a hundred pages longer than Ex-Heroes. So there was plenty of room to do more, had the author so desired.

If the question is whether Ex-Patriots was a fun read with mostly interesting characters, then my answer would be a resounding yes. But, I also felt frustrated that better progress wasn't made, and the world view stayed narrow. Instead of military flashbacks which added little, I would have preferred to glimpse outside the box. Perhaps the biggest problem is created by the author's adjustment of a character into a menace that is effectively immortal, and cannot ever be completely beaten while the undead walk. The moment they don't, of course, this series is done. Readers can only hope that Peter Clines has thought ahead concerning this issue, and has something in mind that is both ingenious and credible. In summary, Ex-Patriots moves fast and is worth the price of admission for the spectacle and the laughs. Eschewing its potential for the greatness that more depth could bring, it does what it does and no more. But sometimes good is good enough. Many readers are more interested in the traditional face of super heroics, and prefer zombies without the harrowing angst and relentless terror of The Walking Dead. That audience may find what the Ex series has to offer is just the job.

Copyright © 2014 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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