Countdown by Mira Grant is a novella covering the events that combine together to bring on the zombie apocalypse int Grant’s Newsflesh universe. The story is told in a fast paced third person style covering the stories of the originator of the Kellis virus (meant to cure the common cold), the Marburg Amberlee virus (meant to cure cancer), the group (radical stoners) who release the Kellis virus into the wild and George and Shaun’s parents the Masons before when they were fairly ordinary.
We get to see how a number of mistakes and stupid actions add up to the events that end up killing around a third of the human race. It all feels quite (and unfortunately) believable. I liked the detail of the governments initial (misguided) attempt at suppressing the news of the new virus and its implications. The misguided belief in “mass” panic is something I’ve mentioned before. It is a “zombie” meme in and of itself. This story provides either a nice entry into the Newsflesh world if you haven’t been there or a good bit of background info if you have. In either case it is a good read.
As a side note, this story comes to us from Orbit’s Short Fiction wing. They are making various shorter pieces available as eBooks. I’m seeing more of this and I really like this trend. This is a really nice effect of eBooks that I hadn’t seen coming. Coolness.