Nature goes rogue in Michael Logan’s Apocalypse Cow (May 21; St. Martins), in which a leaked government bio-weapon transforms the local wildlife into flesh-craving man-eaters. By restricting his infection to animals, Logan’s shrewd concept tweaks the very core of zombie myth. From cows to dogs, from sheep to squirrels, once the disease has spread, the heavily outnumbered humans are forced to circle the wagons against the furry masses.
Scottish author Michael Logan champions mediocrity by making a triumvirate of losers the unexpected heroes of his story. First there’s young Geldof, a teen wanker raised by a veggie-obsessed mother and a pothead of a father. Then you’ve got Terry, the guy manning the bolt gun out at McTavish & Sons slaughterhouse. Poor Terry always smells like raw meat and has a hard time with the lassies as a result. Slacker journalist Lindsey rounds out the cast, a reporter for the Glasgow Tribune who can’t catch a bloody break.
When an experimental bio-weapon is accidentally unleashed on a herd of unsuspecting cows, the three unlikely heroes find themselves barred in a house with several others, terrified of the madness that rages out on the city streets. (And considering that some of the animal attacks are sexual in nature––what one character dubs “reverse bestiality“– it is, indeed, madness worth hiding from.) Inevitably, cabin fever sets in, the idea of cannibalism is kicked around, and escape from Glasgow becomes the only viable option.
With Apocalypse Cow, Logan has struck an impressive balance between action and wit. In between the gruesomely funny animal attacks, the crackerjack banter keeps the pages turning. With staunch vegetarians holed up alongside stoners and meat-craving couch potatoes, petty conflicts are inevitable, and Logan seems to take great pleasure in putting these assclowns in awkward situations just to push their buttons. Sure, there’s no point in taking any of this seriously, but with a title like “Apocalypse Cow”, what did you expect? Earning its rightful place alongside other “nature run amok” classics of pop culture, Logan’s novel really delivers the Grade A goods.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Skulls