Most zombie stories have their own origins for the walking dead, and their own special names for the rotting, shuffling fiends. In Cherie Priest’s novel “Boneshaker” they’re called “Rotters” and they’re created when people are exposed to a toxic gas. That’s one way in which Priest puts a new spin on the old zombie tropes, the other is that she’s set the zombie apocalypse in a steampunk world, creating a mish-mash of genres that should get nerds dressed in black clothes and nerds dressed in brown clothes drooling alike. A more descriptive introduction to the book, from its Amazon page, reads like this:

“In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born. But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead. Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.”

According to a press release sent out by Cross Creek Productions and Exclusive Media Group, who are teaming up to bring an adaptation of this book to the big screen, Rotters aren’t the only thing that Briar has to deal with. This world is also rife with airship pirates and heavily armed refugees. Sounds like a jam-packed story, and if this new film adaptation becomes a success, there’s even more material to mine that could turn Boneshaker into a potential franchise. Priest published a sequel called “Dreadnought” in 2010, a third book called “Ganymede” in September, and a fourth called “Inexplicables” is set for sometime next year. Dang, she’s really churning these things out.

Boneshaker is set to be adapted by John Hilary Shepherd (Nurse Jackie), but as of yet no director has been announced. Once that happens, we should get a better idea of how much potential this book series has to be a legitimate film franchise. Are we looking at the next big thing in horror, or just a new piece of junk to release next to the Resident Evil movies? Let’s hope the former. [THR]

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