Why Zombies?

4 Nov

This posting was inspired by a friend of mine.  I gave him an early draft of my book to read and his first response was ‘What’s the obsession with zombies?’ As I explained to him in great detail why my book featured infected rather zombies, and what the difference was, I watched his eyes glaze over.  Like many fans of post-apocalyptic stories, I can get a bit geeky about it all and this can be difficult for outsiders, but it did make me wonder why there is so much interest in the end of the world, and, in particular, in zombies and their infected brethren? I think for most fans, this is something that starts to appeal to them in their later teenage years and goes on to develop more and more as they grow older.  As quite a few have pointed out before me, vampires and werewolves are for children, they’re just too out there, too unreal.  In contrast, zombies and other creatures that roam post-apocalyptic worlds seem, in some way, more feasible, more real and so more adult.  This is not to say fans think zombies exist or are possible (well most of them at any rate), it’s more that it’s an interesting exercise in ‘What if…’.  It’s almost like there’s an intellectual curiosity that exists within post-apocalyptic fiction that is absent in other genres, and the best ones really make you sit up and think, almost demanding that you get involved.

Evidence of this can be seen whenever post-apocalyptic fiction fans get together. Eventually some one will ask, ‘So what’s your plan?’, and you can bet everyone there will have one. They’ll have thought about what they’d do if it happened to them, where they’d hole up, who they’d take with them (many are more practical than sentimental and so will go for people with useful skills over friends and families so if you want them to pick you, make sure you can do something useful). Some will have primary, secondary and even tertiary escape plans and bolt holes all picked out. They will have considered the merits of shotguns (easy kills but you need ammo and they’re loud) against those of crossbows (more difficult to use but almost silent and the bolts are re-useable – provided you can get them back) and broadswords (always ready, but you have to get up close and personal with it).

I can’t think of another genre where people come so personally involved not with the characters and the stories themselves, but with the basic concept on which it is based. Fantasy fans may dream about life in imaginary worlds, but post-apocalyptic and zombie fans bring the story into their everyday lives and ask, if it happened here, if it happened now, how would I survive?


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.

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