I have grown weary of the zombie trend; so much so, that I have decided Shane on the Walking Dead had it right, and should have blown Rick away. It happens, genres become tiresome retreads, and you move on. That was how I felt until I picked up Welmerink’s “Transport.”
Welmerink takes an angle that hasn’t been done since Brooks’ ‘World War Z.’ and while WWZ was an anthology of stories and interviews, Welmerink literally, crash lands you in zombiefied Michigan.
Commissioner William Lettner is a horrible human being, so much so that everyone wants him dead. However, he now needs to be taken home by the military after a mishap, and Captain Jake Billet has drawn the short straw to do so. To accomplish this he and his crew will need to use their M213 Ridgerunner class Huron transport; a tank of such immense size and magnitude that one would think this would be a milk run. This is where Welmerink shows his immeasurable skill as a writer, as the story becomes part love song to Michigan, part road trip through Dante’s Inferno.
Welmerink’s Michigan is original, with Zombie internment camps, where zombies are penned up as they are still somewhat sentient. They have memories and speak ‘Zomb;’ a mumbling language that shows that the person they were is still in there. Life inside the tank is a claustrophobic existence, evoking Wolfgang Petersen’s ‘Das Boot’. These are gritty, battle hardened soldiers we’re dealing with and you can see that Billet has his hands full keeping them on point. Lettner is a despised outsider and the tension is so thick; you can cut it with a bayonet.
In a spoilerific culture, I will step above the morass and tell you nothing further. What I will say is this is not a book you rush through; you will want to savor the details. At first Welmerink seems to tread on thin glass with over doing the details, but then my military background kicks in, and it all makes sense. This is a military story, and that’s how soldiers think.
To conclude; Welmerink is the zombie genres Tom Clancy, and Dale Brown; he’s just that good. For someone who wants a new take on the ‘Walking Dead’, I encourage you to enlist.