Simona Turini was taking a sip from a flask the first time I saw her. I am partial to people who drink out of flasks in public. Not the least because then I can imagine that they are taking swigs of polyjuice potion to retain their human shape.
I had arrived late to the BuCon30 in Dreieich, Germany, and slipped into a reading in progress. One of the authors from a new post-apocalyptic series from Amrun called Zombie Zone Germany, Turini read a segment from her novella Trümmer (English: debris, wreckage). In it, a commune that had begun pre-apocalypse was falling apart under the pressure of real sustainable living. She made fun of plenum hands*. I bought the book.
Unlike the majority of small German publishers, Amrun gets covers right (do not get me started on small press covers, OH THE UGLY). And the price. Trümmer is only 5.99, a steal when I think of how much, to take one example, Nnedi Okorafor’s novella Binti costs (9.84).
Zombie Zone Germany is a shared-world zombie apocalypse situation set in Germany. Obviously. So far it includes an anthology and Turini’s novella, with more on the way in the near future. (Amrun is looking for more Zombie Zone authors, by the way.) I love reading about end times on my home turf, but I don’t have the energy for another shared-world apocalypse project. (My heart already belongs to Abaddon’s Afterblight series.) At 116 pages, Trümmer was a good place to dip in and back out to see how it would taste. It also won extra Nikki points by not showing a single zombie and instead focusing on the fear they caused inside the commune walls.
Trümmer is an incredibly fucked up book. It is dark: dark without hope, dark without meaning, and in that way, terribly, terribly real. We do not learn from this darkness, we shudder. We do not find insight to the human condition in this darkness; there are no answers and the world is black and desolate. The ending was the perfect crescendo in a symphony of violence, pain, and terror. The ending was absolutely perfect. Still, I can only recommend this book if you can stand, to take one example, watching a woman bleed to death from a botched hanger abortion. So. Fucked. Up.
While the post-apocalyptic genre could use more apocalypses that don’t romanticize the end times, the ones that succeed at portraying it realistically tend to be painful reads. But no one reads about the apocalypse because they’re looking for reality.
*Plenum hands are basically jazz hands. They are a hand signal used in large meetings to signal agreement. They are ridiculous and silly and I kind of love them in an I’m-rolling-my-eyes-but-this-is-really-practical kind of way.