Countdown: The Top 31 Norman Partridge Works of Short Fiction–#29

[For the previous countdown post, click here.]

 

29. “In Beauty, Like the Night” (1992)

Partridge is a writer with a unique perspective and signature style, so it’s no surprise that when tackling a genre staple like zombies, he doesn’t just serve up some simple Romero rehash. Here nudie magazine mogul Nathan Grimes attempts to wait out the undead apocalypse inside his Caribbean island fortress, and arranges to have the past year’s calendar girls evacuated there. The plan gets monkey-wrenched, however, when the Grimesgirls’ plane crashes onto the island, and the wrecked passengers start showing up outside the gates of Nathan’s compound. Besides featuring zombies more fetching than festering, “In Beauty, Like the Night” also reworks the formula by thoroughly blurring the line between the living and the undead (who have persistent traces of personality and can pass as human–at least until they get close enough to someone for their ghastly appetite to be triggered). All in maul, a terrifically fresh take on rotten shambling. (And, c’mon, when was the last time your read a zombie tale that invoked Lord Byron?)

 

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