Dead Earth: The Green Dawn is the début collaboration from two writers I first became aware of several years ago when I stumbled upon their excellent podcast, Pod Of Horror. Not only was POH a highly informative report on the world of horror fiction and the small press in particular, but Justice and Wilbanks were smart and funny and all their joking and clowning around made it one of the most entertaining podcasts the internet had to offer.
These days Wilbanks is no longer a co-host (come back Dave, your country needs you!) and the podcast is a lot more sporadic, but it’s still great and always worth waiting for.
So, given how well these two guys worked together on air, I was keen to see how they would gel as a writing team.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Jubal Slate is a small town deputy who wakes up one morning to find the horizon green and soon learns that something has gone very wrong with the world. The townsfolk have been having lucid dreams about an un-dead army led by a mysterious figure in red and a strange virus has broken out that blisters the skin and turns people into walking corpses.
The plot seems familiar at first, as do the small town characters with their visions of a sinister leader that reminded me of Randall Flagg from Stephen King’s classic post apocalyptic novel The Stand. But where other zombie stories tend to plunge straight into the action from the first scene, Green Dawn takes the time to let the reader get to know the characters first, so that we actually care what happens to them when things start to go bad.
Jubal’s personal loss leads him to strike out on his own after realising he may be immune to the virus and at this point it becomes apparent that the novella is just a prelude to a much larger tale with a science fiction element that indicates it’s going to be something quite different from what the first half of the book would lead you to expect.
Justice and Wilbanks are not only two up and coming writers but also huge fans of the genre they’re now contributing to, and it’s this sense of fun and enthusiasm that makes Dead Earth: The Green Dawn such a fast and enjoyable read that promise great things to come in Dead Earth: The Vengeance Road.