Series: Newflesh #3.1
Published by Orbit on July 11th, 2012
It was the summer of 2014, and the true horrors of the Rising were only just beginning to reveal themselves. Fans from all over the world gathered in San Diego, California for the annual comic book and media convention, planning to forget about the troubling rumors of new diseases and walking dead by immersing themselves in a familiar environment. Over the course of five grueling days and nights, it became clear that the news was very close to home…and that most of the people who picked up their badges would never make it out alive
Novella for the Newflesh series
A segment where at least two of our bloggers collaborate to share their thoughts in a joint review discussion.
Today, Bry and Fry discuss a novella of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series, San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats
B: SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con) 2014. Okay, its bad enough that I read this series this summer while the books are claiming the Rising would come in the ‘hot July of 2014’, but this novella topped everything off when I finished it just days before the real SDCC 2014 was to commence. Talk about anxiety!
F: Yeah, I’m glad I read it when Comic-con wasn’t happening. There was a comic convention here in Chicago at the time but it wasn’t one of the international franchise run ones. That’s okay! Norman Reedus would have kicked all their butts.
B: I need to be full-disclosure with this one and say that I’m not really a con goer, I haven’t even seen Firefly (I know.), and my forays into this type of thing are more fantasy or supernaturally based, so there were a lot of references I was doing the smile-and-nod for.
F: Bry, you need to watch Firefly! You don’t even know the joy of toy dinosaurs and statues to assholes. I’m a rather frequent con-goer myself. I’ve been to everything from small local cons like Capricon to larger more franchised cons like C2E2. I’ve also gone out of my way to travel to specialty cons like Teslacon. I’ve never been to SDCC, though. It is on my bucket list. But so is traveling Europe and I think the latter has less lines.
B: I knew that was coming! 😉 I’m more the Europe travelling type. I’ll take you, you’ll see everything. BUT back to the book…
F: I didn’t see a lot of references. There weren’t any obvious Whedonisms despite having a bunch of Browncoats as the main characters.
B: I generally wasn’t put off for it, but it didn’t surprise me either to be brought into this event with a troop of people that seemed to be famous for being there for everyone, but also being the loud rowdy ones. Although, considering the context of the book, you know that isn’t going to go well for them.
F: They were much better suited for this sort of thing, being armed forces on top of nerdy, than some of the other characters.
B: Well, then we get the teenager with attitude, who is basically sent back to her room for being a pouty-pants. Knowing in the end she’s going to be the sole survivor hurts me a little. Especially when there is a full cast of characters to be had.
F: One of the more significant characters is Elle, star of the slightly popular show Space Crime Continuum. Which, I’d totally watch. Don’t judge me. She spends most of her narrative trying to stay true to her geek roots while constantly being bombarded with the notion that she’s a fake geek girl. Her storyline was a bit preachy, and she didn’t contribute much to her group besides her fame. But, she was endearing.
B: To a degree; I don’t feel I genuinely connected with Elle. The ‘struggles’ of having to be flirtatious with boys while being a secret lesbian didn’t really sit well with me. Perhaps because I am in the public industry a bit, I’m aware being flirtatious is just part of your career and your engaging personability, so her internal turmoil felt a bit…cliche?
F: At least her partner was nowhere near the carnage. I guess, she doesn’t technically count as a survivor because she wasn’t inside the place to begin with? Eh. Anyway. Elle’s mad dash to safety meets her up with a newlywed couple, on their honeymoon, and they hide within the confines of a flimsy makeshift version of her show’s office. They were clearly meant to be tragic players in this narrative, blood offerings, chattel. You became attached just to watch their happy vacation go rotten. Had they just spent half an hour boning in their hotel room, they’d have been fine.
B: For me, the most compelling and heartbreaking character of this whole story was the blind woman’s seeing eye dog. Mira Grant hits HARD in her writing when she goes for a dog POV, because you get a snapshot of a creature so pure and genuine in their intent — in this case, to be a good dog, and to protect her owner. I hurt so badly for this small snippet.
F: The dog POV’s are always the worst. Poor puppy. It wasn’t as bad as the one from Countdown, but it was bad.
B: I felt worse about this one, because in Countdown, the dog was sick and sad about it. In this case, the dog was set to protect its owner, trying so hard despite being terrified. That is the greatest level of valor!
F: There’s a few other characters, most of which don’t really do much but die horribly. Even when they band together, it’s all futile.
B: We have to hand it to Lorelei’s family though. They died bravely, and calmly, doing only what they knew how to do best. And it was because of their connection with Lorelei that they could face that prepared.
F: Yeah, at least Lorelei pulled up her big girl panties and tried to help the only way she knew how. Mahir was right, her parents reacted much better to the crisis knowing she was perfectly safe. Had she been in the room with them, their actions would have been much different. But, yeah, it was hard knowing she was the only survivor when you had to sit by and fruitlessly watch as others attempted to escape or help.
B: One thing that made this story so compelling was that it really emphasized the unexpectedness and unpreparedness that the general society had for Kellis-Amberlee. With the media blackout so strong, and the government assuring ‘its just a flu!’, no one thought their lives would be in danger in a public venue. So somewhere, someone at Comic-con breaks into KA amplification, and because everyone comes to comic-con in costumes and youre surrounded by people playing the part, this isn’t generally obviously apparent, or even reacted to. This allows for a very quick, very pervasive spreading of live Kellis Amberlee.
F: Yeah, at a comic convention your first reaction to zombie dude is, “Neat cosplay.” And then the biting starts. Once the proper authorities are alerted, the vendor hall was counted as a loss, and they dealt with it the standard American way, by tossing bombs at it.
B: Its almost amusing, zombies at comic-con, and yet the way it unfolds is so real, and almost exactly what you’d expect if it were really, actually happening today. The reactions would be the same. The actions of the government would probably be the same. And thats what makes The Last Stand so chilling.
If you’d like more about the Newsflesh series, check out our other reviews: