“Mr. Animation and the Wu Zhiang Zombies” by Liz Williams
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I like a good supernatural police procedural. Although I’ve read Liz Williams’ autobiographical Diary of a Witchcraft Shop (co-written with Trevor Jones), I know her work almost exclusively through her Detective Inspector Chen series. The D.I. Chen books take place in Singapore Three, a fantastical port city where business and high technology exist along side magic and ancient religion. The walls between worlds are thin in Singapore Three, and Hell–the Chinese version of if–is only a slip away. While “Mr. Animation and the Wu Zhiang Zombies” takes place in the Chen universe, it features neither Chen himself nor his demonic partner Zhu Irzh. Indeed, none of the characters from the series are present, unless the nameless narrator is a younger, more reckless version of Exorcist Lao, though I’m probably reaching here.
The Wu Zhiang Zombies are a band specializing in something called Anarchy Hardcore, which I gather from the story is rather like Death Metal. To promote their new release, “Chainsaw Killa,” the band’s leader, the titular Mr. Animation, decides to conduct a seance between sets at the release party. All goes according to plan until Mr. Animation is snatched into Hell and the band’s label sues for lost royalties. Wackiness, as they say, ensues. “Mr. Animation and the Wu Zhiang Zombies” is told from the point of view of the drummer’s elder, geekier brother, who is more than a little responsible for the unfortunate turn the seance takes. Though I found this tale amusing, it did not satisfy as much as other Singapore Three stories I have read. The full glory of the Chinese afterlife and its intricate mythology, one of the main pleasures of the D.I. Chen series, isn’t really on display here. Still, I look forward to reading the other, largely non-Chen, stories in this collection.
This story appears in the collection Glass of Shadow from NewCon Press, which can be purchased (along with Diary of a Witchcraft Shop, mentioned above) as a very reasonably priced ebook from Smashwords.