Kelly Link’s Some Zombie Contingency Plans

Kelly Link’s Some Zombie Contingency Plans

pretty-monstersSo I’ve been listening to Podcastle episodes while processing my usual insurmountable citadel of books here at Top Shelf.

Podcasts are cool. Especially Podcastle podcasts, because, hey, FANTASY!

They’re usually 30-50 minutes, entertaining, with experienced narrators and great introductions and afterwords by Dave Thompson or Anna Schwind. Since I don’t read as many short stories as I’d like to, when I listen in on these things, I feel like I’m also learning something from my fantasy writing peers (and superiors). Something about structure. Something about character. Something about plot and dialogue and pacing. Lots of somethings, in fact!

Today, I listened to Kelly Link’s Some Zombie Contingency Plans. Now, whatever you think when you read that title, I have to tell you, you can’t possible predict what this story is actually about. Whoa.

And since I’m still feeling shocked and queasy (and astonished at the craft that went into this story, although I don’t know why I should be astonished, because it’s not like I don’t know who Kelly Link is or how highly she’s thought of) after listening to this story, I thought I’d hop on over here and tell you, tell you…

c5805Well, that I listened to it! And that I’ve not felt this jarred after a story since Shirley Jackson’s “The Witch” (which made me burst into sobs in my friend Stephanie’s kitchen) and Joyce Carol Oates “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” (which, after reading it for a fiction class in college, I underwent the wickedest nightmare I’ve had yet as an adult).

I even went and read the Podcastle forum on this story! I never read fora! And then I posted one myself! Which meant I had to register. Those were the depths to which I was stirred.

If you don’t like listening to podcasts for whatever reason, or if you just don’t have the time, you can read the text here. I have no idea if reading it will whammy you the way listening to it whammied me, but there you have it.

I dare you. I’m not sure if I can recommend it exactly (I only recommend books to people whose tastes I’m sort of familiar with), but I DARE you to read it.

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Kelly Link is a genius. Case closed.

Her story “Louise’s Ghost” is one of my all-time favorites. And if you like her writing, you might also like Margo Lanagan. Equally good and ever so slightly unhinged*.

*The stories, not the author!

John ONeill

Kelly Link is SO cool. At the World Fantasy Convention in Madison in 2005, she confided that she was thinking about sending me a Sword & Sorcery story. How neat is that?? (Plus, she had some very nice things to say about my editorials).

Haven’t seen the story yet. But I haven’t given up hope. I keep reminding her whenever I get the chance. A S&S story from Kelly Link? The world deserves it.

Jeff Stehman

I’ve only read a few Kelly Link stories, none of which caught my interest. “Some Zombie Contingency Plans” is the one that convinced me give on her. I just didn’t care.


Jeff: Wow! We certainly had WAY different reading experiences.

Thank God for different experiences or I’d never sell a single book!

[…] story writers of our time.” And then, of course, Kelly Link. About whom, you might remember, I already sort of geeked out not so very long […]

[…] previous short story collections, Stranger Things Happen (2001), Magic for Beginners (2006), and Pretty Monsters (2008), are some of the most acclaimed fantasy books of the century. Her short stories have won a […]

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