Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall

Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall

In the field of genre mash ups, there are very few clever twists, but they can be golden when they come. Take Night of the Living Trekkies. The story is about a Star Trek convention in a Houston hotel that is overrun by a zombie outbreak. Instead of just sticking zombies in Star Trek (isn't that what the Borg are?), the story is pulled closer to our own world by being about Star Trek fans and how they would deal with zombies. Sure, Kirk would just knock their brains out, Prime Directive be damned. But what about fans who only aspire to Kirk-hood?

The story starts with Jim Pike, an ex-Army guy who has sought out a low-level job so he no longer has responsibility over others. He works in Security at the Botany Bay Hotel just outside Houston, which hosts GulfCon every year. Thousands of Trekkies flock to the convention. This year, Jim's sister is coming with some friends, including a very unlikeable boyfriend. Jim was a sci fi fan back in the day but now tries to be more mature and deal with real life and real problems (only he's got this low-level job...). Things just get rolling when they get out of hand. Someone's been decapitated by a Klingon battle axe in the bathroom. People going outside for a smoke or better cell reception are not coming back inside. Chaos ensues as zombies swarm the convention. Can Jim rise to the occasion and take care of his sister and the few survivors they collect along the way?

The story has tons of jokes and puns and quotes from Star Trek (and some Star Wars, too), which was delightful to me. The plot moves at a nice pace. The zombies are menacing without being overly gory. They also have a twist--the zombies grow a third, red eye that seems to have some sort of psychic power over the living. It provides a new vulnerability and a new mystery to solve.

This book is the perfect summer/beach reading. It has enough of the familiar that it doesn't require much concentration and enough gags to keep the reader smiling and enough heart to keep the reader reading. If you're not a Star Trek fan, you won't get the most out of this book but it is enjoyable anyway.

Sample Quote--on the difference between Star Trek and zombies, which isn't very funny but I thought it was insightful:
"Star Trek is all about applying the Federation's high-minded ideals to difficult situations," Jim said. "No matter how bad things get, you're supposed to play by the don't-shoot-first, don't-mess-with-pre-warp cultures, don't-alter-the-timelines rules. But in the zombie universe, it's all about jettisoning everything--morality, sentimentality, weaklings--that might keep you from seeing the next sunrise. Because no matter how impeccably you behave, you'll never bring the other side around to your way of thinking. They don't think. They just kill." [p. 203]

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