By: Paul E Mannering
Permuted Press Publishing
Society has certainly changed since the apocalypse. The few remaining humans in civilization have become either slaves or prey unto the reanimated corpses known as Evols. At the mercy of the undead one has the choice of either succumbing to the hands of zombies or becoming food.
Small town leader evol leader Soo-Yang strikes up a bargain with a messenger to go to the Australian Opera House to retrieve an undisclosed package and return it to him at once. In return, Soo-Yang will let the messenger live. Upon arriving at the underground society of the Opera House the messenger soon learns a most macabre, twisted production is taking place, the cloning and harvesting of humans known as Tankbread to satiate the seemingly insatiable appetites of the undead. Will the messenger return with what Soo-Yang has requested or will he flee the ungodly hands of the Evols once and forever?
Tankbread is written by New Zealand author Paul Mannering and takes place in Australia, post apocalypse era. It’s refreshing to see a change in demographics set aside from the norm in conventional Armageddon themed tales of recent years. The country’s landmarks and rural scenery sparks intrigue unto a legion of international fans.
The tale is penned from first person perspective, a courier that remains unnamed throughout the entire plot. At first it may seem a little unusual but merely reinforces the trivial nature of what’s truly in a name. I particularly admire this author’s ingenuity and ability to think outside of the box. If we can get behind the sentiments, emotions and depictions of an individual’s story without ever knowing their name, then that is most talented story telling in its own right. The dry wit, sarcasm and cynicism is enough to satisfy readers from all backgrounds and expectations.
An intimate interpersonal relationship escalates between Else, a particularly valued Tankbread and the courier. Their interaction is heartfelt and engaging. Her naivety is comical at times and a most welcome relief from the grim and gore feast unfolding seemingly around each corner.
The descriptions of the death scenes and the infected ones known as Evols are unapologetically graphic; certainly not at all for the faint of heart. Author Mannering shots for shock value and terror in the unknown. His execution rarely fails to meet its mark. The indulgence of extreme ‘gross out’ depictions is merely an aftershock and will unnerve even the most hardened of readers.
A constant shift in setting keeps the readers captivated and their interest fresh. This odyssey like adventure would translate quite brilliantly unto the big screen. Some notable scenes take place within a convent where a band of rescued sisters cope with balancing faith and coexisting in a world gone mad.
Scientific data from Dr. Haumann, Josh and Wainwright is thorough and bone chilling. Their physiological endeavors suspend the readers’ believability factor. It’s an interesting twist in a zombie genre that arguably has become borderline saturated in recent months and even years. Mannering demonstrates innovation; taking a repetitive subject content and giving it a new slant.
Tankbread fits the mandate of Permuted Press releases decently in their realm of post-apocalyptic nightmares. The premise of zombies running society and being appeased with human harvests is hauntingly good and disturbing reading. For those unfamiliar with the Permuted Press line, this would be a tremendous introduction into undead terror.