Introducing the first post in a regular series that will feature on Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviewer – reviews, not of books, but rather the authors behind the books. It’s my intention to try and highlight some of my favourite authors, explore why I like their work, and why they deserve to be read by as many new readers as possible!
Authors You Need To Read – Adam Baker
The surviving crew of an oil rig try and survive in the arctic while fighting off the zombified crew of a cruise liner. A team of mercenaries fight their way through a horde of zombies to secure a cache of gold bullion and the deadly bioweapon that created the undead. A Search and Rescue team travel through the irradiated, partially-flooded subway tunnels of New York in a desperate search for a cure to the zombie plague causing the end of the world. A rag-tag group of aircrew nurse an aging intercontinental bomber over the Nevada desert, trying to carry out their mysterious orders to drop a nuclear weapon on American soil. Welcome to the grim world of Adam Baker.
I’ve read a lot of books set in end of the world/apocalyptic scenarios that feature the undead, and despite the variety of settings and characters, there’s usually at least one common theme broadly speaking – hope, or at least the chance of hope. The survivors fending off the undead are usually pursuing something that can improve their situation, or at least keep them safe – a safe zone perhaps, or even a cure for the plague/disease/macguffin causing the dead to rise. By the end of the story it’s often the case that they’ve managed to find it, or at the very least managed to achieve something to survive another day. Things are looking up, even if only by a little bit.
Adam Baker’s contribution to the genre is to take that hope – however fleeting – and burn it to the ground. Smother it in wave after wave of rotting, metallic-tumour riddled zombies, forcing each character (and by extension the reader) to realise that this truly is the end of the world, and that there’s no coming back from it. In doing so, he adds what I think is a much-needed dose of realism to the genre, showing what would actually happen in an undead apocalypse – the extermination of humanity, irreversible no matter what the small groups of survivors try and accomplish. There is no cure, there are no safe zones, and food and ammunition will always run out long before the endless horde of undead assaulting you.
Baker’s style of writing is dark. Very dark. Grimdark as a genre is popular at the moment, portraying anti-heroes and apocalyptic scenarios, but Baker takes it a step further. Bleakdark, to try and coin a phrase. Darkdark even – so dark that not even a glimmer of light can emerge. These are depressing scenarios, and in the hands of a less talented writer, they wouldn’t work; it takes an incredible amount of skill to weave a set of entertaining and enjoyable tales from such bleak material – even more so to create novels that you want to read over and over again. But Baker has managed it, writing four amazing novels (Outpost, Juggernaut, Terminus and Impact) that have rapidly made it to the very top of my repeat-reading pile.
His writing is of the highest quality, staccato text that mimics the desperate gunfights that punctuate his stories, never wasting a paragraph or even a sentence with extraneous detail. The pace of each book is lightning-quick but never makes the reader lose track, with plots that easily keep up; effortlessly juggling desperate gunfights, endless zombie hordes, and an intriguing overarching conspiracy around the cause of the undead that teases out a few more details with each l. His characters compliment the story – all of them are fleshed out enough for the reader to become engaged with them, and for once in the genre we have some great female protagonists – smart, tough and they easily pass the Bechdel Test.
Baker has written four brilliant novels, with a novelette (Killchain) in the same universe published earlier this year by Infected Books, all of which deserve to be on the bookshelf of even a casual fan of the zombie and horror genres – not to mention fans of great writing.
His latest work, Winter Raven (Path of the Samurai – Book 1) has just been released, and is now available on Kindle.
About The Author:
Adam Baker was born in the west of England in 1969. He is the son of a priest. He studied Theology and Philosophy in London.
He has worked as a gravedigger, a mortuary attendant, a short order cook in a New York diner, and fixed slot machines in an Atlantic City casino. He is currently employed as a cinema projectionist. He was also a close neighbour of the notorious British serial killer Fred West.