Steven Popkes. The Crocodiles. (F&SF May/June 2010)

A story about which I’m quite ambivalent. It’s told by a German scientist in the Second World War who has been transferred to a concentration camp to assist in research on creating ‘tote Manner’ – zombies. A virus has been found that causes death, followed by reanimation with a desire to kill. Surely such a thing could be harnessed for the war effort? Only when things go terribly,
terribly wrong, and the scientist and his family entomb themselves in a bunker, does he show any level of humanity, and that a purely selfish one.

The description of the progress of the experimentation is told in a chilling manner – straight scientific reporting, echoing what must have gone on in the ‘medical experiments’ that did take place in such places. But I’m not entirely comfortable with the setting – when things that are virtually beyond belief in their horror really did happen, to make an entertainment around a fanciful variation seems wrong.

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