Review: “On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” by Joe R. Lansdale

2 of 5 stars.

This short story, included in Extreme Zombies edited by Paula Guran, is long on imagination. The setting is a dystopian, post-zombie-apocalyptic wasteland of lawlessness deep enough into the future that genetically modified animals have been created for purposes of bestiality among other things. Wayne, the protagonist, is a bounty hunter in the Western deserts of the US. Despite the apocalypse happening in his lifetime, new cultural mainstays have cropped up, such as Meat Boys [who traffic zombies after they’ve removed the hands and muzzled the faces to render the zombies harmless], and Dead Dancing Bars [in which patrons dance and grope with muzzled zombies with the option of making a more intimate connection with the undead body if the patron wishes]. There are also wild zombies about. And more fully tamed ones. . . .

Not everything in this world is explained, such as the Cadillac desert in which vast numbers of Cadillacs are buried on end with dead bodies still in the cars. Somehow this had to do with gunned-mounted Chevys and Cadillacs warring against each other–the why is not explained. The world is also uber-sexualized with sex as a commodity, possibly the commodity. [ie sex workers, zombie sex workers, animal sex workers, sexual religious cults]. To say that it felt gratuitous is an understatement.

Timelines and the rules of how zombies work, seemed vague and confused. A person implicated in the contamination of humankind with the zombie bacterium is alive and not necessarily old, yet the new cultural realities seem quite established. Some zombies also seem to be mind-controlled, though most act mindless, or simple. Another zombie seems to have the full range of thoughts, desires [sexual included] and motivations. It was also hard to understand why a person with a Frankenstein-complex, would purposely damage tissues and organs that he wanted to harvest for death-defying purposes.

Despite the considerable length of this short story, I could not wrap my head around the hows and whys of the scenes and situations. If the purpose was just to cram plenty of guns, jacked-up vehicles, zombies, and raunchy sex into a story, then it succeeded. Unfortunately, I wanted more than that.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

2 responses to “Review: “On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” by Joe R. Lansdale

  1. Pingback: Short Story Review: “The Case of the Stalking Shadows” by Joe R. Lansdale | Jaffalogue

  2. Pingback: Anthology Review: Book of the Dead ed. by John Skipp and Craig Spector | Jaffalogue

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