Nazi Ghouls from Space
Scott M. Baker
There are times when I really want to read detailed, intricate alternate-history novels such as A Greater Britain by Ed Thomas, and then there are other times when I want to read a really good, gory story about Nazi Ghouls coming down from space and feasting on the brains of unsuspecting humans. Fortunately, Scott M. Baker’s Nazi Ghouls from Space exists to satisfy that very specific requirement – and furthermore, it is actually a great slice of pulpy, Nazi-zombies-on-a-rampage story-telling. Continuing with the theme of great covers, while there are very few titles that can hold a light to the work of Jack Tindale for the covers of Sea Lion Press’ books, the cover for Nazi Ghouls from Space (by Maggie Carrie) is certainly striking – with a decent font that means I can actually read the title, and the simple but effective image of three zombified Nazis shuffling out of a desert canyon, it readily puts itself above the vast majority of self-published zombie fiction that has flooded Amazon and other self-publishing platforms in the past few years.
So, a good title – Baker’s afterword actually notes that the term ‘Zombie’ wasn’t in mainstream use until the late 1960’s and the advent of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, hence the use of the more appropriate ‘Ghoul’, which is something I wasn’t aware of – and an effective cover are then followed up by some great writing. In early 1945, the remnants of the Third Reich launch an experimental rocket, which is meant to be an intercontinental ballistic missile aiming for the United States. Unfortunately for its three occupants, technical difficulties actually mean that it achieves low-earth orbit instead, dooming them to travel around the planet until either the rocket, or their orbit, decays sufficiently. Two years later, the rocket finally reaches its target – in a manner of speaking – slamming into the ground in the duty outskirts of New Mexico in front of two ranchers. Suspecting it to be an unexploded U.S. missile, one rancher rides to find the authorities while leaving his son to watch the missile from afar with strict orders not to approach it. Of course, this being a zombie novel, and also obeying the instincts of all stereotypical teenagers, the son fails to do the sensible thing and instead approaches the rocket and opens up the access hatch. He then looks inside – and promptly has his brains (and most of his flesh) devoured by the three Nazi occupants who have been ghoulified by cosmic radiation.
Baker cites in his afterword that his hope was to invoke the feeling of the classic 1950s monster horror movies, and in my opinion he has succeeded admirably. What follows is a monster hunt through New Mexico, as a motley group of soldiers, accompanied by the main Nazi scientist responsible for the rocket launch, try and kill the Nazi ghouls. Unfortunately, the ghoul’s infection spreads to their victims, and their numbers quickly swell. The writing is of a good quality throughout the story, with effective pacing, some very gory action scenes and good editing – not always something you can count on in the self-published genre – and the characters are all stereotypes, but effectively written.
I really enjoyed this story, and I think that my only disappointment with it is its brevity and relatively small scale. By the end, I wanted a bigger and more epic version it; Nazi Ghouls from Space currently has the feel of one of the small, shoe-string budget 1950s horror films like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman – well done, but capable of so much more. I want a War of the Worlds version (the 1953 version, which is obviously the best, not the Tom Cruise one) with more zombies, more soldiers, more chaos and brain-eating. I want to read the big-budget remake of this story! Perhaps if enough people buy a copy of this great story, Mr Baker will sit down and write that remake, or a sequel.