Almost the Last Story by Almost the Last Man

Rather than going on myself about this tale, which was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award, I’ll just share what reviewer Val Grimm had to say about it at The Fixx>. Here’s an excerpt from her critique of PostScripts 12, cover-dated Autumn 2007, in which I was reviewed as favorably as one could ever hope:

Although it is uneven, this issue is worth buying and keeping for its most promising stories, two of which, “Almost The Last Story By Almost The Last Man” by Scott Edelman and “Ghost Technology From The Sun” by Paul Jessup, show thoughtfulness and literary craft that deserve special recognition and remembrance.

The unnamed narrator (I suspect his name is Walter) of “Almost The Last Story By Almost The Last Man” is a writer doing research who seeks refuge in the rare book vault of a library, which is attacked by zombies. Walled in with his books, he struggles to comprehend what is happening by telling stories, mostly of what he imagines is happening in the world outside the library. His meta-narrative is an exploration of the impulse to write and why telling stories is human. All the vignettes our male Scheherazade formulates to forestall and forget the inevitable involve affection or dedication of one kind or another: bonds between people, or between humans and zombies. Death doesn’t part his husbands and wives in their love or hatred; mothers adore their strange children; priests attend to their flocks; and survivors seek other survivors. The unflinching mayhem of this story is heartrending rather than perverse or disgusting, as life is destroyed and, tattered, continues in unlife. Again and again, our narrator imagines a man on a mountain, who has never heard a whimper of the chaos below, poking in the dirt with a stick and talking to his son, a darkly hopeful image which recalls the torturer’s horse scratching its innocent behind on a tree in W.H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts.”

That’s the first time I’ve ever been favorably compared to W.H. Auden!

“Almost the Last Story by Almost the Last Man” was reprinted in my zombie collection What Will Come After.