Author: Michael Logan, 2012.
Genre: Comedy Horror. Satire. Science Fiction. Zombies.
Other Details: Hardback. 352 pages.
'Apocalypse Cow made me snort with laughter' - Sir Terry Pratchett.
‘If only I’d acted like a real journalist and got the story out I wouldn't be about to be eaten by the ultimate oxymoron, a vegan zombie.’ - Leslie McBrien, Apocalypse Cow.
If the title and cover featuring a red-eyed, slavering Holstein didn't snag me the fact that this début novel amused Sir Terry and was the joint winner of his newly established ‘Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now’ prize would have.
When an experimental virus intended as a bio-weapon to infect animals with a zombie-like virus escapes the lab it isn't long before things spiral into chaos as Britain's livestock, pets and wildlife succumb and become sex-crazed, flesh-eating monsters. The standard zombie outbreak trope demands that a disparate group will come together to battle against all odds to survive the zombie apocalypse and here the main protagonists are three rather useless Brits: Terry Borders, an abattoir worker who survives the initial attack by a zombie herd and wakes in a secret government facility, Geldof Peters the long-suffering 15-year old son of New Age vegan parents, and Leslie McBrien, an inept journalist who has accidentally stumbled upon the news story of the century. Together they manage to uncover proof of the government conspiracy as well as data that may lead to a cure but can they battle their way to safety and not only avoid the animals but sinister government types determined to ensure the truth doesn't get out there?
Aside from these three there are plenty of supporting characters to enrich the story and then die in sudden and unpleasant ways. I found the dialogue snappy and the novel well-paced.There were also tips of the hat in the general direction of other novels and film including one scene that was a direct homage to 'Mars Attacks' (both original cards and film adaptation) and others that recalled Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Stand.
As I observed when reviewing John Dies at the End comedy horror can be difficult to write. That particular novel fell flat for me while this one I totally enjoyed even with its many gross-out moments. Some of this may be down to cultural differences though I felt in Apocalypse Cow that there was another level to the story in terms of pointing out the dangers of bio-weapon research as well as reminders of real events in Britain such as the outbreak in 2001 of foot and mouth disease that led to the slaughter and burning of infected livestock, the ongoing quarantine restrictions in Britain on importing animals to avoid bringing rabies to an island, and the various health scares about viruses crossing the species barrier such as swine and bird flu.
It received an enthusiastic thumbs up and one I will be recommending to friends who are into zombies and zomcomedy.