Wednesday, February 9, 2011
by Wrath James White
Published by Deadlite Press
Population Zero was originally released as a limited-edition novella through Cargo Cult Press in 2008. Deadite Press re-issued the book as a paperback and digital release in December 2010. The main character, a Welfare claims analyst named Todd, was taught as a child that animals need to be sterilized, sometimes even euthanized, in order to keep their populations down. When Todd, as an adult who sees the dregs of society waltz into his cubicle all day in search of a free handout, takes this ideology to its most extreme, hard decisions and bloody meat become the order of the day.
Population Zero is stylistically more similar to White’s 2008 Leisure release, Succulent Prey (also originally released as a limited-edition book, in 2005), than to his most recent novel, 2010’s The Resurrectionist. Todd is written almost as a prototype of Joseph Miles, the protagonist from Prey (though Prey does predate Zero by at least three years); according to the author, both are meant to be sympathetic characters capable of the most heinous crimes. Like Joseph, Todd fits this bill perfectly. It’s hard to disagree with a guy who feels indisposed to giving drug addicts more money for drugs and human baby factories a reward for producing children they can’t raise. Also like Succulent Prey, Population Zero features an insane amount of stomach-turning graphic nastiness, and a rougher writing style than White’s more recent, and more refined, work.
Overall, Zero is a fast-paced read that gets more brutal with each turn of the page and comes to the sort of jarring, satisfying ending one might expect from White’s work by now, with a mixture of the graphic horror and thinking-man’s concerns that are hallmarks of his writing.
Buy it here.
Reviewed by Lincoln Crisler
Lincoln Crisler's debut novella, WILD, is due in March from Damnation Books. He has also authored a pair of short story collections, Magick & Misery (2009, Black Bed Sheet) and Despairs & Delights (2008, Arctic Wolf). A United States Army combat veteran and non-commissioned officer, Lincoln lives in Augusta, Georgia with his wife and two of his three children. You can visit his website at www.lincolncrisler.info.