50 Shades of Decay, as anyone familiar with recent pop culture would guess, is a play on 50 Shades of Grey, the popular Twilight fan fiction erotica. Only rather than being about BDSM, this is horror/erotica, and some of the stories within go into really alternative lifestyles. In fact, this anthology contained some stories that featured sub(sub?)genres that I didn't realize were out there. But there are 51 stories by 51 different authors, so their take on zombies and erotica varies widely. There are stories of love that leads to suicide come the apocalypse, zombie strippers, necromancy, necrophilia, and the list goes on. The stories range in quality from good to excellent, with my favorites leaning much more heavily into the horror genre.
Out of all of the short stories in this anthology, two in particular really stood out to me. Rabbits, by Guy Anthony De Marco, is a rather bleak story that features a zombie with a latent memory and a man who comes to realize that he has been reduced to nothing more than an animal in a cage. There were a few stories that dealt with similar themes, but De Marco manged to capture the sense of hopelessness in just a few short pages in a way that has stayed with me long after reading it. The other, and possibly the best story in the anthology, is Z Spot, by Benjamin Kane Ethridge. Ethridge's story revolves around a zombie stripper that is still going through the motions as she slowly decays, and who is also looking for an emotional connection. She finds it with one last customer, but things take a tragic turn. Ethridge is one of those rare writers who can take something that could easily be ridiculous and turn it into a moving story of love and loss.
If I was giving awards away for titles, the award for best short story title ever would have to go to Pretty Kitty's Post Apocalypse Porn Palace. My love for alliteration aside, this was a good story. Jolie Chaton is the author and she has an original take on the zombie apocalypse, or at least one possible business opportunity that could be available afterward.
Overall this is a good anthology that I think would appeal to anyone who loves zombie fiction, and quite possibly a few of you weirdos out there who have truly outlandish fetishes. (That last bit is very tongue in cheek, so please don't send me any hate mail. Many thanks.)
I give it four cocktails.
This title is available as an ebook and in paperback, and can be purchased by clicking the following links: