Reading Michael Logan’s novel Apocalypse Cow, I was reminded of the New Zealand movie Black Sheep. Both works of fiction are darkly humored and both don’t reach the level of wit of a Shaun of the Dead or that deadpan delivered outrageousness of a Dead Alive, but Logan’s Scottish cows contrast well with his acutely offbeat characters that fall into neat categories of meat lovers, vegetarians, and government cover-up specialists.
Terry's the abattoir worker who can't get the meaty smell off him, no matter how much Old Spice he sloshes on. He survives the cow uprising that slaughters his co-workers. Young Geldof is seriously undernourished, bullied about by the nasty twins living next door, and is forced to wear only natural plant-based clothing by his mum Fanny, the devout vegetarian. Geldof's allergic to the clothing, and both mum and dad like to doff their clothing while at home, making Geldof's home life equally uncomfortable. Fanny is an activist in search of her next diatribe and crusade against the establishment this or that, and she is vexed daily by her meat-eating neighbor David, who ate his pet hamster when his parents died suddenly, leaving him locked in his room for three days and quite famished. Geldof's dad is a pothead. He only crusades for his next high. Crusading for her big journalistic break is Lesley, who is about to be fired from her uneventful job just when the bovine zombieness breaks out.
It's the odious government villain, Brown, and his evil intention to wipe any trace of the virus that leaked out of a secret testing facility from the public's eye, that brings everyone together. And sends them on the the run from him, the infected cows, the infected rats, the infected squirrels, and then just about anything else with four legs, hooves, paws, and could be mistaken for being cute and cuddly. Logan delivers the contagion-spreading with restraint, making it hard to tell when he's being deadly serious or earnestly cheeky, but each character participates in the action enough to make each chapter a good build on the previous one as they make their escape to the Chunnel and hoped for safety in France.
While about every overly modulated wave of the modern zombie outbreak codec is chewed on and regurgitated more than a cow's cud by Logan's pen (or keyboard), he does twist up the bits here and there to curveball a surprise, overindulge on squirrels that want more than nuts, and maintain what could have been a one-note gimmick with a very short half-life into an engaging adventure with a little social finger-pointing to broil up the parody.
Dare I say it, his novel is udderly good.