The Oasis of Filth by Keith Soares is a short story written as the memoirs of a man surviving through the modern “zombie apocalypse”. While many people may be thinking “oh no, not again”, let me put your fears to rest that this is not yet another Walking Dead or World War Z. This is a death of society by society, not by undead monsters; by the living, not the dead.
In 2013, several simultaneous cases of a dual instance of rabies and leprosy in patients, something incredibly unexpected by medical professionals of the time including the writer, a doctor who was in charge of treating one of the original patients, emerges across the USA, killing each victim with no response to treatment and spreading effectively through their biting and exposure as well as emerging seemingly from thin air as no professional is able to locate an actual origin or other cause for infection except for “uncleanliness.”
This spurs a widespread panic as “RL2013” overcomes all preparations and infections take over cities slowly but effectively until society is condensed into lone, disconnected and utilitarian states, to “control the infection.” Panic causes the extremes to happen and life becomes a shell of pre-RL2013 existence as the people let freedom trade for a feeling of safety.
The only place free of the government oppression is a children’s story; an urban legend: The Oasis. At least that’s what the writer thinks, until Rosa, a governmental worker privy to just a little more than rumor, starts taking the idea seriously. Very seriously, just before she’s removed by the authorities.
The writer becomes spurred into a new line of thought, and what happens next is uncovering mysteries that perhaps should have been left covered, including what could be a cure and an end to the dire trade-off of freedom by the people.
The book sets up a believable and in many ways terrifying world, one which takes the zombie genre in a direction that can actually be called unique, although a certain depth of narrative is slightly lost in this shorter tale compared to full-length novels in the same genre. “Zombies” are the backdrop, not the focus.
The writer knows the story he wants to tell, and tells it in exactly as much time as he requires. There’s no dull detail but it doesn’t skip over anything important to the tale or the telling of it. Mysteries are left unfulfilled where the plot isn’t interested in filling them with any answers or conclusive clues. Ideas are given but the reader’s imagination is used well in working out a vision for themselves based on one man’s recollection of events. Situations are well balanced between an outsider perspective and sympathizing with the writer and the rest of the small cast. Nobody has a rich back story because nobody needs one beyond their basic motivations, and I applaud the book for working out what it wanted so effectively.
The story does come to almost an abrupt end but it tells the story it means to and delivers the ideas it intended to regardless. All in all this was a fantastic short read that I found incredibly easy to digest and recommend as a great travel or vacation read for those who fancy a bite at the zombie genre.
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