Friday, 6 January 2017

Nineteen Nuns On The Number 15 Bus

Nineteen Nuns On The Number 15 Bus: 
The Southend Zombie Apocalypse
Simon G. Gosden

Createspace paperback $5.85 / £3.86

**** (4 stars) review by Steve Lee

Without wanting to sound over praiseworthy of this work I must admit it was right up my street. A rather quirky English saying I know but that’s like the book, both rather quirky and very English. Simon Gosden’s first novella, although he is part of the genre book trade in modern Britain so he knows a thing or two about writing. Rule one write about what you know, so that box is ticked. Set in Southend, and around the Thames region of old Blighty, the story whisks you off with an engagingly fast pace of zombie activity as if in one’s home town. The characters are interesting grounded people we could meet any day of the week, thrown together to survive Southend’s zombie shenanigans.

Shenanigans another great British bit of terminology and just the sort of language found among the very few (60) pages, but that suited me perfectly so I read it in one shift at work on standby overtime. These days I do not read enough anyway and shy away from the usual fare of a 600 page doorstop, so this short piece of English lit from Sarffend made my day. How many Fs in Southend? As many as Mr Gosden wants, and it works. Proper people storytelling in a fantasy apocalypse begs a question. Are you ready for it? Not prepped, living in a bunker sleeping with an AK between your food provisions and an armoury, are you mentally ready for it? Prepared to survive able to care and kill at a moment’s notice. Jeff Cooper’s tag coded up, green light red light stuff, mind set focus grit.
The main character, whose adventure we follow, goes by the name of Tim, who meets the stunningly attractive Tania from Croatia as you do on zombie apocalypse day, so it’s his perspective and insightful thought processes we share. Yes, they make mistakes just like in The Walking Dead TV show I’m also watching as a DVD box-set, but it’s no surprise while the undead try to bite you at every turn and then an arsehole turns up named Jason. He only wants to shit over everything like in Team America.

Gosden writes as I wish I could, or would if I did, and I hope that makes sense. He sticks to zombie lore, so it’s head-shots or stabs all the way and we’re treated to a lot of fast pace action with just enough gore and sprinkle of comedy, some in-jokes, and likeable product placement worthy of transfer to film. Then again I always say that, but it’s true, and I have seen worse. Suppliers would queue up to advertise their brand so come on Triumph, Glock, and Ford, find some money and let’s get this made before the real world ending event rocks up to pull the plug on our greedy fucked up dystopian existence.

19 Nuns... what a title! The dialogue is laced with my genre favourites with references to The Matrix, Spider-Man, Monty Python, Star Wars, Elm Street, and even Duran Duran - though I don’t really like them, honest. This plays out as a cultural joke at the expense of our European heroine because she just does not get it, any of it, but it’s funny. Clarksonesque science comes in a Top Gear style, but I can live with that. In my zombie fantasy they are caused by overusing mobile phones, which is the main reason I might survive, not forgetting my well stocked bunker arsenal and colour coded lifestyle. Hero Tim drinks what I do - Rioja red wine and lager beer, eats what I eat, rides a big motorbike, and has great taste in guns. His van does have a tail-lift, as does mine at work. The gap in my knowledge means I know next to nothing about his boat content, although I’ve been on a really big boat.

Although I do prefer the Glock 21 in .45ACP to the minor calibre model 17. Come on, Simon, if you want to make a hole make it a big one. Get armed, stay armed, find the girl, and never leave her alone. Mossberg beats Remington in the shotgun arms race as it’s easier to load. I liked the landmarks too, such as Traitors Gate at the Tower of London, name dropping the royal prince and the Prime Minister whom the hero recognises but still has to ask who he is. “I’m the PM” he says. My favourite author is Dean R. Koontz, and Simon G. Gosden is a minnow in comparison, but we all know that. Mr Koontz’s heroes always find the love of their life just after winning the lottery, but before they have to face evil, and Gosden’s tale is not unlike that. It reminds me of Road To Fero City by Morat, another recommended read. Tim likes bikes, girls, and guns, but not necessarily in that order, and that’s fine by me.

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