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  • Writer's pictureBP Gregory

What Are We Reading?: Earthworm Gods, Brian Keene

Rating: 4/5 Segments

Give me the short version: The Worms are coming! The Worms are coming!

I've been pondering old age, as folk at my time of life are wont. Considering cruel abandonment by a partner who'll race ahead to the pearly gates, and the fate of becoming a bewildered alien out of time, set adrift in a world that's moved on. It's times like these that cocktail party syndrome makes you twig to such terms as "exit strategy" with startling clarity; and you plot to tie your compatriots in ever-tighter so in your dotage you can annoy them by pretending to be deaf. Due to the above I've become rather sensitized to the disproportionate percentage of young able-bodied protagonists out there, and I get a special thrill from every encounter with a hero (or anti-hero) of sufficiently distinguished years. Enter Brian Keene's Earthworm Gods. In fact, I've been enjoying quite the Renaissance in Oligochaeta-related apocalyptic fiction. Perhaps because it's not such an over-saturated sub-genre as other offerings on the market. Par example, most tales from the living dead horde venture forth bravely and innovatively enough, but once established as a zombie event they tend to fall into conventional patterns. Perhaps because the trope is so firmly established now it's become nigh-impossible to really break free and forge your own path. Not so with earthworms! Different authors can commence on the doorstep of almost identical scenarios, and promptly shoot off in the direction of what terrifies/repulses them the most, ending up with very unique-feeling stories (for a nice example of this, enjoy Earthworm Gods back to back with Tim Curran's nauseating Worm). Even better, Mr Keene has established multiple books and short stories in his earthworm-wracked universe, encouraging an almost cultish following and a holistic experience in the slithering way the world comes to darkness. Favourite moment: Carl had always had a gift for stating the obvious. In mid-July when the temperature soared to ninety-nine degrees and the fields turned brown, Carl greeted customers to his combination post office and feed store with, "Boy, it sure is hot out there, ain't it?" Now he said, "Boy that sure is a lot of worms."

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