The Oasis of Filth (The Complete Series) by Keith Soares

The 2014 Red City Review Book Awards First Prize Winner – Science Fiction/Fantasy

This trilogy tells the story of a distinguished doctor who one day encounters an unknown illness, which he correctly (but only partially) classifies as leprosy.  RL2013, the disease in question, is a bit more complicated than that.  In fact, it turns out that this single illness, never before seen by our species, might just result in our total destruction.  In the not-so-distant future, society has retreated behind walled cities dotted across the United States, while others have become completely overrun by diseased and zombified humans.  The doctor finds himself living inside one of these walled-off cities and working as a pharmacist, though his life is forever changed when he intervenes on a mysterious young woman’s behalf and rescues her from being tormented by a group of thugs.  Her name is Rosa, and she’s a brilliant microbiologist who believes that there is a secret paradise hidden somewhere across the country: the so-called Oasis of Filth.  Together, Rosa and the doctor make the decision to leave the safety of their city and set off on a journey to track down the rumored camp while somehow avoiding the dangers – both human and otherwise – that spring up at every turn.

Keith Soares’s Oasis of Filth trilogy breathes new life (no pun intended) into a stale genre.  In the last decade or so, zombies have successfully infected pop culture, giving rise to books, movies, TV shows, and video games that essentially deal with the same subject matter: the end of civilization brought on by a deadly virus that turns friends and family into flesh-eating monsters.  In that regard, The Oasis of Filth isn’t truly ground-breaking, but the really awesome bits have to do with the characters and the world that Soares has written about.  The doctor is a unique hero: in his sixties, he’s already older than you’d expect, not to mention that, though brilliant, he doesn’t have the expertise to concoct a cure for RL2013.  But if I ever end up in a post-apocalyptic scenario, I want this guy on my team.  Loyal, brave, and kind-hearted, the doctor serves as our guide in a world that’s been eerily changed by the advent of RL2013.  The setting – essentially a ruined landscape with pockets of survivors – is surprisingly realized and haunting in its unexpected moments of beauty.  This is one story you definitely need to read before you die (and reanimate).

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