Tag Archives: zombies

The House of Corporate Horrors Guest Post at Suvudu.com

I did a guest post over at Suvudu.com called “The House of Corporate Horrors,” about the writing of my novel The Panama Laugh and what it all means! And also how my zombie novel is one of the extraordinarily few zombie novels (some would say “the only”) directly connected to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Oakland, like, philosophically speaking.

Here’s an excerpt from “The House of Corporate Horrors”:

The important social observation that inspired The Panama Laugh is simply this, and I’m not the first one to have it: “By limiting the power of the public sector and privatizing things like the military, law enforcement and counter-terrorism, we as a globalized society offer a dangerous amount of power over to multinational corporations that are, at best, benignly amoral. At worst, they careen into soul-crushing evil.”

The premise therefore became, just how evil could they be?

This seems, in retrospect, like a straightforward premise of the sort that’s common in cyberpunk: “Heartless monolithic multinationals do awful things to the little people.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not actually 100% anti-corporate. I’m a passionate supporter of small business, and I think when small businesses get big(ish) that’s just dandy. But I believe what we have today is a grotesque conflation of the public sector and the private, where corporations have been allowed to get too big to fail, and therefore have been handed the keys to the kingdom. Public money should not be used to bail out private enterprises — certainly not unless there is some kind of accountability for providing long-term benefit to the people whose money that is, rather than simply the stockholders.

Read the rest at Suvudu.com, or buy The Panama Laugh at Amazon, or, better yet, at Biblio.

 

My Zombie Bibliography

Given the stunning, overwhelming, “Tell-Scorsese-he-can-wait” success of my first novel, noir-themed zombie apocalypse The Panama Laugh (of which there are extremely few copies left — extremely few! — so you’d better buy it right now or they might run out), people keep asking me, they say, “Rosanne Rosanna-Danna, what other a-zombie stories have you a-written?” I tell them, well, it’s like this.

My Affairs With the DeadZombie Stories by Thomas S. Roche

“Viva Las Vegas.” A tale about dirty rotten gamblers and the heavily-armed hit man who kills them a second time…sometimes a third. Only incidentally funny. When the zombocalypse hits, a Mob hit man who made the mistake of working “one last job” and got his fiancee killed must cruise the broken streets of Vegas looking for her. (Appeared in Funeral Party 2, edited by Shade Rupe.) Buy a copy of “Viva Las Vegas” for 99 cents in the Amazon Kindle Store.

“The Sound of Weeping.” A short story of terrifying necroschtuppery. Not funny. No LOLZ, really. Charlie Quinn, a morgue attendant in a small Northern California hippie town fights with his gay coworker for teasing him — but inside he’s fighting his own erotic impulses until they break him…and break the laws of living and dying… (Appeared in Queer Fear, edited by Michael Rowe.) Buy a copy of “The Sound of Weeping” for 99 cents in the Amazon Kindle Store.

“Veggie Mountain.” A story of homophobia, with no LOLZ at all. The sequel to “The Sound of Weeping.” On the non-responsive ward in Monteverdi Hospital, also known as “Veggie Mountain,” the now-catat0nic Charles Quinn has been incarcerated after being found incompetent to stand trial for a string of brutal sex-murders. A homophobic attendant who’s been accused of abusing the inmates finds that Charles remains catatonic for a damned good reason, and when he’s threatened, a few “old friends” may show up to visit… (Appeared in Queer Fear 2, edited by Michael Rowe.) Buy a copy of Veggie Mountain for $2.99 in the Amazon Kindle Store.

“Deepwater Miracle.” A novella of the chuckleheaded apocalypse. Only incidentally funny. Set in the world of The Panama Laugh, the novella-length “Deepwater Miracle” follows two seafaring brothers as they try to make landfall in Texas after crossing the oil-choked Gulf following the Laughing Apocalypse. (Appeared in Z: Zombie Stories, edited by J.M. Lassen.)

“St. John of the Throwdown.” A tale of beach-bound frat assholes. Not funny…plenty LOLZ. Set in the world of The Panama Laugh, “St. John of the Throwdown” tells the story of a homeless teen on the run, and her experiences on the beach in San Francisco the morning the world ends with a giggle. Appeared on the podcast Open Source Sex, read by Violet Blue (for whom the story was written). Buy a copy in the Amazon Kindle Store.

“October in Tuscvari.” A gonzo tale of alien mind control. Sadly, I anticipate pushback from any playa hatas who believe that all zombiism comes from the copious manhood of George Romero. There was a whole not-very-good genre of zombie flick well before Georgie was in short pants. Before zombies ever became the walking dead, they were the victims of mad scientist mind-control rays, so I feel I must include “Tuscvari” in the zombie list, even though there’s not a living dead person to be seen. It’s about bigfoot, aliens, and a lawyer with a really hot biracial wife. No, it’s not dirty, except when the two hippies feed each other free-trade organic chocolate. It’s about politics. Published on Thomasroche.com on Inauguration Day, 2008. Buy a copy of “October in Tuscvari” for $2.99  in the Amazon Kindle Store.
 

 

Say Hello to the Monster: What Halloween Has to do with Occupy Oakland

Photo by AJStream, from Flickr.

When I was a kid, I never really cared what I was for Halloween, as long as it got to kill people.

More often than not, I dressed up as the characters I thought were having a way more exciting life than me: guys in the Army.

Yeah, I know (now) that guys in the Army don’t have it all that good. It’s not all ultra-cool stuff like crouching in a rice paddy eating baked beans from a can off the end of your still-bloody bayonet. It’s, like, paperwork and saluting and stuff, and trying to get your mortgage paid on a salary that dwindles every year. It probably sucked then and it probably sucks now, but I was a kid, WTF did I know? I thought it was all John Wayne in The Longest Day and Bob Crane in Hogan’s Heroes, romancing German girls and giving Gestapo guys wedgies. That’s what war is, right?

My father is a hardcore military nerd, just like me, so he helped me hugely with his vast stores of knowledge on uniforms and gear from his eight years as a mortarman in the National Guard, an early-’40s childhood spent watching newsreels from the war, and his compulsive reading in contemporary military history. He explained to me the exact shape and configuration of a white phosphorous grenade (armed forces designation AN-M14, in case you’re wondering) and helped me figure out how a Shasta Cola can could be turned into one and exactly what it would do to the interior of a tank with a crew of Hans-es and Gunther-s in it, which I thought was friggin’ awesome. Death! Murder! Mayhem! Burn those Nazis alive! Fry up some German sausage! Freedom forever! God Bless America! All enemies, foreign and domestic! Eat lead, suckers!

What’s that, you say? Didn’t I want to be an astronaut? Sure, I would have dressed up as an astronaut…as soon as those pansies in Congress started arming NASA! Seriously, they were sending people into orbit without even sidearms? Hell, you think the Russies are that stupid? I don’t think so, hippie! What happens when the space zombies come…you gonna hit ’em with algebra? Slap ’em around with your Master’s degree? Only wimps dressed up as astronauts for Halloween.

Sure, year that Star Wars came out, I was Luke Skywalker. Because my family wasn’t exactly swimming in credits, I painted a stick with fluorescent paint (badly) to serve as my lightsaber. (Don’t worry — me and my sister got lightsabers for Christmas, aka “flashlights,” leading to many spirited lightsaber battles.) But I spent about a hundred times as much effort on the lightsaber and the blaster (a tracer gun with a bunch of fruity crap glued all over it) as I did on the robe and the boots.

Actually, I just threw on a bathrobe went around shooting things, which would become a running theme in my life. The galoshes were particularly fashionable, and big enough on me that I could stuff a couple boot knives and extra blasters down there. Better safe than sorry, even if I rattled when I walked. The idea wasn’t so much to “trust your feelings” or “feel the Force flowing through you” as to hack people to death with high-energy plasma and blow holes in things while making smart-assed remarks. That, too, would become a lifelong habit.

Another year, I was a detective — not a cop, mind you, I never wanted to be a cop, just a detective. But no, I wasn’t a detective with a deerstalker cap and a pipe and a magnifying glass…I had cigarettes, a fedora and about twenty revolvers stuffed into my overcoat. I was a six-year-old kid who made Mike Hammer look like “the negotiator.” I was the nightmare of jaywalkers everywhere.

Mostly, though, I wanted to be a cigar-chomping combat fighter…an Army Man. Because what red-blooded American boy in the ’70s wouldn’t like to kill people for a living?

Simmer down, Army people, I know you don’t “kill people for a living,” you “serve your country honorably.”

Just like private detectives don’t suckerpunch litterbugs; they dig through big stacks of canceled checks and dive into file cabinets looking for for birth certificates.

And Luke Skywalker never slice-and-diced any Stormtroopers with his glo-stick, at least not until I was too old to dress up like him without looking like a choad.

And by then I’d learned about Ronald Reagan, the ultimate monster, and I’d learned about nuclear war, and jobs, and how much everything sucked. I didn’t want to kill people anymore. I didn’t want to fight in the Army and I didn’t believe that the people who ran my country had the faintest clue what they were doing, and I sure as hell knew they didn’t have my best interests in mind. When Reagan made his joke about the bombing beginning in five minutes, I yelled and screamed about impeachment; I was a precocious 13-year-old. And when Ronald McReagan floated the Star Wars plan, I was disgusted that anyone even thought about giving his boneheaded ideas a fair hearing; I knew then, as I know now, that the release of nuclear weapons is not something you can beat.

But suggesting that nuclear weapons can be shot down safely? Pretending down is up, black is white, social security is an “entitlement” and nightmares are dreamscapes?

That sounds really familiar. The monsters are still telling us all about it.

I just got into a tangle on Facebook with a friend of a friend who said about the Occupy Oakland attacks, “It happens.” He said that a woman had been killed following a Red Sox game. “It happens.” “The police tell people to disperse…they don’t disperse.” “It happens.”

It doesn’t happen. Not like this, it doesn’t. In Egypt, yes. In America…no. Not now, not ever. Not without grievous consequences.

Monsters exist because the people don’t have the guts to slay them. Monsters exist ’cause “it happens.”

And it happens ’cause the monsters come out to play, people, in an ever-building loop that starts when they come for the communists, and then they come for the trade unionists, and you don’t say anything because “it happens.”

It happens because the people see crap-ass policing like what happened in Oakland and they roll their eyes and make apologies for incompetent leadership. They don’t demand Mayor Jean Quan’s immediate resignation. They don’t hear the Oakland Police claiming no rubber bullets were use, and realize that police departments that lie in public deserve to be disbanded. The citizens don’t call bullshit on assholes saying of unconscionable police tactics, “It happens.” People who don’t know what they’re talking about, incidentally, because no, it doesn’t happen.

I lived in Oakland for years, so I know what I’m talking about. That city is brutalized by its administration. Its elected officials, in my experience, are privileged idiots who walk on air above the torments of the populace, eternally in bed with developers and selling out small business for their own gain. Its police force closes ranks around revolting behavior — yes, like police forces everywhere, partially because they feel that’s what’s necessary to keep police work safe for its workers…and I don’t always even disagree with them.

But in Oakland, it’s out of control…and it’s out of control in America.

The people have spent too many years shrugging and saying “It happens.”

This is what happens when the monsters come out to play.

Happy Halloween, everybody. May Freddie, Jason, Robert Neville and my cigar-chomping white-phosphorous-tossing homicidal Army guy get you before Wall Street does.

(This article was cross-posted to The Night Bazaar)

The Panama Laugh is…a Best-Seller!

Borderlands Books at 866 Valencia Street in San Francisco was my neighborhood bookstore for bazillions of years. It’s one of the largest science fiction-fantasy bookstores in the world (possibly the largest at this point, I’m not 100% sure).

The location is gorgeous, gorgeously-appointed, luxurious, low-key, and most importantly packed with great books. The staff is gracious, chill and knowledgeable about the fields of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and often about associated genres like noir.

And my novel The Panama Laugh is on the Borderlands Books trade paper best-sellers list for September, according to the Borderlands Books newsletter and Hellnotes.com.

It’s wedged between William Gibson’s Zero History and Max Brooks’s World War Z…two of my favorite writers.

In fact, when I was writing the scene in the middle of Part II of The Panama Laugh with the busted shipping containers, I had some of World War Z‘s amazing subtexts about of globalization in mind.

I’m reading at Borderlands on October 15 as part of Litquake’s Litcrawl, with Ray Garton, Richard Kadrey and Naamen Tilahuh, by the way. Litcrawl readings are some of the funnest I’ve ever been to. So come see us, hear some zombie fiction and argue with me over whether “funnest” is a word.

'Grabs You By the Throat and Punches You in the Face From Beginning to End'

W00t! YA author and clinical laboratory scientist Kelly Swails gave my novel The Panama Laugh a very positive review over at her Live Journal.

In it, she says, in part, “The Panama Laugh by Thomas S. Roche grabs you by the throat and punches you in the face from beginning to end, and I mean that in a good way.”

And did I mention she said this? “There is a lot to like here. The voice is perfect, as are the characters. The pacing doesn’t give you much breathing room, which I liked.” Read more here, and THANKS!

I like getting praised — who doesn’t? But if someone hates a piece of fiction I wrote, I feel like I should thank them for that, too…at least they took the time to read it, which is more than I can say for some people who hate on my nonfiction articles.

Regardless, thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to read The Panama Laugh, and thanks to Ms. Swails for the great review. I’m sort of extra-stoked because Swails’ bio says she is a clinical laboratory scientist by profession, which must mean that however egregiously wrong the science is in The Panama Laugh, there’s at least one scientist my fake-science wasn’t boneheaded enough to piss off!

I put a fair amount of work into figuring the logistics, but science speculation is not one of my strong points. Though I’ve read and loved science fiction my whole life, including quite a bit of hard science fiction, I’ve always felt like more of a crime and horror writer. I take forays into being a fantasist, but bona-fide SF has always been a stretch for me

I was awful proud of myself that The Panama Laugh technically crossed that line.

And I’m awful proud that people seem to be enjoying it.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and review the book!

Free Audio Story — The Panama Laugh: "St. John of the Throwdown"

The 5,000-ish word “St. John of the Throwdown” is set in the zombie-infested world of my debut novel The Panama Laugh, and is available only as an audio download — free! — with Violet Blue reading, on Violet’s podcast Open Source Sex. In it, a homeless teen sleeping on the beach in San Francisco wakes up having to face a crowd of frat boys — and maybe get sent up for murder.

I wrote “St. John of the Throwdown” specifically for Violet to read at a promotional event for The Panama Laugh this month. She was the very first reader of the novel and gave me some incredibly helpful feedback that basically helped me put the whole latter half of the book together. I based the viewpoint character on what I know of her as a teen, drawing on some of her experiences being young and homeless on the streets of San Francisco.

After generously (and brilliantly) reading “St. John” at Z-Day 2011, Violet even more generously agreed to read and release it for free on Open Source Sex. Check it out on Violet’s Libsyn feed here, go to the direct download link here, or if you use iTunes, access open source sex here. Here’s what Violet says about it, incidentally:

Open Source Sex 88: (Non-sex) The Panama Laugh – St. John of the Throwdown
Sep 14, 2011

Tonight’s podcast is a non-sex short story about zombies – and me. Author of the (awesome) new zombie novel The Panama Laugh wrote a short story based on his novel’s universe where a young female street punk in San Francisco goes up against a pack of zombie frat boys. The author Thomas Roche based the story on my very real life as a homeless teen here in SF. If you like action, horror and zombies (and you like me), you’ll love it. If you don’t like those things, tune in for the next podcast which I promise will be delightfully naughty and fun.

http://violetblue.libsyn.com/open-source-sex-88-non-sex-the-panama-laugh-st-john-of-the-throwdown

Z: Zombie Stories, Featuring my Zombie Oil Spill Novella "Deepwater Miracle"

Just got a couple copies of Z: Zombie Stories, a YA anthology featuring my 10,000-word novella “Deepwater Miracle,” my first published work of young adult fiction.

“Deepwater Miracle” is Set in the world of my novel The Panama Laugh and features two teen refugees trying to reach Texas from Costa Rica, and encountering plenty of hellfire in their path. It features references to the 2010 Gulf oil spill, including a chocolate mousse deluge of Biblical proportions, as well as anti-immigrant hysteria and “patriotic” pirates in the form of right-wing Texan secessionist Minutemen-style groups.

 

Z: Zombie Stories, edited by J.M. Lassen

When the zombie apocalypse comes, it’s not just those crusty old folks who will struggle against the undead, it’s also the young people. What happens when you come of age during the zombie apocalypse? Z: Zombie Stories has the answer to that question.

Z: Zombie Stories gathers together some of the hottest zombie fiction of the last two decades, from authors including Kelly Link, Jonathan Maberry, and Catherynne M. Valente. These stories focus on those who will inherit a world overrun with the living dead: a young man who takes up the family business of dealing with the undead, a girl struggling with her abusive father…who has become a zombie, a poet who digs up the wrong grave, and a Viking maiden imprisoned with the living dead…

Featuring stories by Kelly Link, Jonathan Maberry, Thomas S. Roche, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Catherynne M. Valente, Scott Edelman, Darrell Schweitzer, Christine Morgan, David Barr Hirtley, and Scott Nicholson.


 

 

BUY Z: ZOMBIE STORIES HERE!