Machines of the Dead by David Bernstein (Severed Press 2012) is the perfect blend of sci-fi and undead horror. In this zombie apocalypse, the source of the virus is a nanobot experiment conducted in an underground bunker by Dr. Eugene Reynolds. The doctor sends soldiers up top to kidnap homeless people to be used as test subjects. Derek Mayfield is one of the victims who manages to escape – after he is infected with the nanobots – into the city above. The nanobots, originally designed to help wounded soldiers recover faster, do their job too well, and successfully reanimate the dead.
Jack and Zaun are two of the last remaining survivors to be brought down into the bunker, the only safe place left in the city…but the more Jack converses with the doctor, the more he suspects that Dr. Reynolds isn’t being completely honest about the experiment. Some of the soldiers also grow suspicious, and attempt to leave the bunker with Jack and Zaun. After one hell of a fight, the survivors reach topside only to find that the outbreak has spread much farther than anyone predicted.
The book ends when the group of survivors decide to split up to search for any family members that might have found a way to stay alive despite the chaos.
Since MOD is the first book in a series by David Bernstein, I thought I would have a little chat with him about nanobots and zombies…
Where did the idea for nanobot-infected zombies come from? Were you just trying to write a different angle to an outbreak scenario?
I’ve always found the idea of nano technology to be really cool. I mean imagine the possibilities. Years ago, I read Michael Crichton’s Prey and loved it. Nano-bots are amazing and frightening at the same time. I wanted to write a zombie book where the zombies were slow, but something different and non-supernatural. Something that could be explained. I had written another zombie book where the undead are supernatural, and there are different types– runners, trackers, etc.
Did you know that there is in fact a conspiracy theory among zombiephiles that Fort Knox is just a cover story for a project like the one you described in Machines of the Dead?
Wow. I had no idea. I’ll have to research that.
MOD is marked as Book 1, so when can we expect Book 2, and how many books will be in your series?
I’m working on book 2 now. Just started it. I’m hoping to have it done in about three months and Severed Press moves fast at getting it out to the public. I am planning to have 3 books in the series, but who knows.
Will the story continue following Jack’s POV, or will more of Zaun’s and Maria’s POVs be included as well?
Jack will probably be the main POV, but honestly I have to see where it goes. I kind of write without a plan for the most part, especially with this series. For book 2, I was toying with the idea of writing Jack’s chapters in first person, leaving Maria and Zaun and whoever else might come about, in 3rd person. Not sure yet.
Have you written any other zombie stories?
I have a number of short stories in various anthologies. The first novel I ever wrote is a zombie novel, called Amongst the Dead. It was picked up by Samhain and will be available in November. The zombies in the novel are supernatural and there are various types–runners, trackers, slow, etc. The story follows a twelve-year-old girl who loses her father and is left alone in a cabin in the woods in a post-apocalyptic world. Sure, the undead are bad, but it’s people that can be the real monsters.
Have any other zombie authors influenced or inspired your writing?
I’ve been lucky enough to have met and gotten to know some really great authors in the genre. Jonathan Maberry, Joe McKinney, Eric S. Brown, and David Dunwoody, just to name a few. Each one has been so helpful in my writing career, going above and beyond with advice, blurbs, and insightful knowledge. I can only hope to do the same for other writers. There are so many wonderful authors writing zombie fiction these days, it’s amazing.
If the scenario in MOD happened for real (in Fort Knox…heh heh), who would you want on your survival team and why?
Hmmm. Probably family members. I think survival would be much easier on the soul and mind if the survivors had family with them. On top of that, maybe a few gun-toting experts and good shots!
You can find David Bernstein on Facebook for more information.