The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

In the city of the dead, the departed linger until the last person who remembers them dies. When a plague sweeps through the world’s population, the city first fills and then empties to a few thousand–those who were remembered by the last woman living, who is stranded in the Antarctic.

Beautiful and philosophically fascinating, this character study of the dead has a great deal of meaning lying under the surface. Unfortunately, Brockmeier can’t quite land it. Graceful metaphor devolves into abstract, metaphysical description, leaving me dissatisfied with the final pages but still loving all that came before. Recommended for those comfortable with literary in their speculative fiction and vice versa.

 

The Digital Plague by Jeff Somers

The second Avery Cates novel from Jeff Somers. Cates is infected with a synthetic virus which infects all those who come within a few feet of him. He alone is immune, and sets off to discover who has infected him, and how to stop them. Carnage ensues.

Some elements of this series continue to hook me. The voice is distinct, and the character is engaging if rarely sympathetic. The second installment didn’t thrill me, though; sometimes Cates, for all his cleverness, is slow on the uptake, and the amount of damage Cates takes gets monotonous and unbelievable. I’ll pick up the third gladly, but this one fizzled.

 

Kate Marshall lives, writes, and studies (generally in that order) in Seattle. She is the Assistant Editor at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a magazine of literary fantasy.

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