Book Zombies with a Fantasia on Robert R. McCammon

Books to bring back from the dead

I didn't realize that Robert McCammon had withdrawn his first four books from publication.  That's a real shame, because a couple of them are really superb and all of them are good.

I wonder whether the question is withdrawal or simply lack of republication, because when I look at his bibliography, I see all four listed, recognized and being published in Europe.  For me the least successful of the group was the premier effort Baal.  And even while a debut effort, I still liked it a great deal.  I loved Bethany's Sin even though it tracks Thomas Tryon's Harvest Home pretty closely.  Night Boat with its crew of Nazi Zombies reminded me at once of some of the more intense Italian Zombi films of seventies and eighties mixed with the classic Zombies of Mora Tau.  (Mora Tau doesn't get great ratings at IMDB, but most reviewing it probably didn't see it on late night television when they were 12 or 13 years old. ) And They Thirst was one of the best vampire books of the pre-contemptible (oops!) contemporary vampire age.  A Salem's Lot on steroids although the books share very little in common and I would rate each about the same.  And I've continued to engage with and love the more recent books--Usher's Passing and Boy's Life both stand out before the recent set of three mysteries set in Colonial America: Speaks the Nightbird, The Queen of Bedlam, and Mister Slaughter.  A writer less well known than his skill deserves.  And the exquisite Swan Song unfortunately stands in the shadow of the better known, and slightly lesser quality The Stand (considerably lesser quality if we consider that bloated paean to authorial self-indulgence known as the Uncut or Restored version).

You can sample some of his fiction here.


  1. As a kid, I read Swan Song on a beach vacation, back when the book was new in paperback and available in any drug store. At the time, I had no idea it was probably meant as McCammon's attempt to capitalize on The Stand, and 25 years later I couldn't tell you anything about McCammon's way with words, but I'm struck by how many scenes and motifs I remember: the lumbering, hobbled ex-wrestler facing evil in an infested grocery store; the gradual, horrific deformity of the heroine; the government's mountain retreat; and an unexpectedly humane ending. I haven't thought about McCammon or his books since 1987, but now I have to think he did something right if he so permanently burned some pretty unlikely images into my brain.


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