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Genres and Sub Genres > Zombie Novels - Why ?

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message 1: by Carycleo (new)

Carycleo | 28 comments For me, once you've seen George Romero's Night of the Living Dead and maybe a couple of other zombie flicks, there's nothing new or interesting left about zombies, except for the parodies. Zombies are dead. They're predictable predators. They're boring. They definitely rate high on the creepiness scale, with the rotting flesh and the cannibalism.

I just read a competent zombie novel,Hollowland, which made me wonder what draws people to them.

So, what is it that so many authors and readers (and film makers) are finding rewarding and fascinating to explore about zombies? This seems a pretty new phenomenon, maybe within the last 5 to 7 years, that zombie popularity has boomed. Is it a trope to explore fears about plagues and contagious diseases? Is it an apolitical way to pit groups of people against each other in knock down drag out fights to the death?

If you love or appreciate zombie stuff, please share why.

message 2: by Marlene (new)

Marlene (marlene1001) | 289 comments I think zombie and vampire stuff go hand in hand. Maybe it´s the fascination with being alive (in case of zombies rather less than more) after death.
Human were always interested by death and were looking for ways to cheat it.

Well, I certainly wouldn´t want to come back as a zombie, but still...

message 3: by Franky (new)

Franky I tend to like the zombie satires more than serious zombie stuff, both in film and books.

Yeah, zombies are the rage right now, but I think it is just a fad that will soon pass and be replaced by something else. Maybe it has something to do with so many end of days, doomsdayish stuff in the form of predictions, films, books, programs, etc that we see. People are seemingly drawn to that because they wonder what they might do to survive if they were the only ones around....or fighting cannibalistic zombies.

message 4: by Michael, Mod Prometheus (new)

Michael (knowledgelost) | 1255 comments Mod
Where is the Vampire and Werewolf thread :P they all seem to go hand in hand.

As for Zombies, I can't remember the last time I read a good zombie book

message 6: by Michael, Mod Prometheus (new)

Michael (knowledgelost) | 1255 comments Mod
I do have Feed and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on my shelf, but they really aren't a high priority

message 7: by Melki (new)

Melki | 205 comments I've been a horror fan long as I can remember. The first time I saw "The Wizard of Oz", I was rooting for the witch. When I was a teen, I read tons of scary novels. Books about zombies were few and far between back then.
Though I've seen more zombie movies than I can count, I've read only a handful of books about the creepy, flesh-eaters. It is a challenge to come up with something new to do with a tired, over-exposed subject. Authors are experimenting with ever-evolving zombies who are not only much faster than their shambling, brainless ancestors, but can think, plan, use tools, and work together to hunt their living, breathing prey.
The most fascinating aspect to me is not the zombies themselves, but the behavior of the survivors. The crisis brings out both the best and worst in people. They cooperate to stay alive. They squabble. Some take advantage of others by hoarding food and weapons. To me this is much more interesting, and sometimes much more frightening, than the roaming bands of living dead.

A friend and fellow zombie fan, who's also a psychology professor, mentioned that zombie populariity rises during troubled economic times. Is it our way of reminding ourselves that "Hey, things could be worse"? We may be scraping by on minimum wage, but at least dead people aren't trying to eat us.
Anyway, here's an interesting article on the subject:

message 8: by Carycleo (new)

Carycleo | 28 comments Really interesting article you linked, Melki. Maybe the zombie stuff is the equivalent of all those nuclear radiation-induced monster movies from the 50's and 60's. Except we become actually mindless consumers, where we eat each other, taking the dog-eat-dog capitalism and marketplace metaphors and making them actual. :)

And, ahem, a side note on how vampires are Nothing like zombies, and How Dare Anyone suggest otherwise. Vampires, per most authors, are fiendishly clever, terrifyingly seductive, and some even have tortured consciences. Plus, often hot looking. Zombies -- the opposite.

message 9: by Marlene (new)

Marlene (marlene1001) | 289 comments The grave-crawling, rotten, bad breath and tattered clothes opposite?
Right you are. ;)

message 10: by Carycleo (new)

Carycleo | 28 comments This article maybe answers my question and more.

message 11: by ♥Xeni♥ (new)

♥Xeni♥ (xeni) | 220 comments Props to for explaining everything once more.

message 12: by William (new)

William Mego (willmego) While most of it is terrible, there actually IS some worthy efforts which happen to include zombies. Yes, one of these is a graphic novel. Yes, you're welcome to dismiss it because you think about nerdy comic fans, and you'd be right to dismiss many of THEM, but don't throw out literary art babies with anti-social basement dweller bathwater.

World War Z An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is a strange but actually quite thought provoking book, written in the style of a UN report. It's not going to win the Man Booker, but strangely enough, people will still be reading this years from now for it's amazing detail and scope. A bastardized movie with none of the redeeming value of the book will release at the end of this year.

After the Apocalypse Stories by Maureen F. McHugh After the Apocalypse: Stories is a collection of short stories themed around Apocalypse of one sort or another, a single story being devoted to zombies, but all of them are quite good. One of the better collections of short stories I've read in a while, this Hugo award winning writer known for genre writing will make you hope she breaks free of those common chains and flies forth into the world of general fiction. She's just too good a writer to allow herself to be pigeonholed.

The Walking Dead, Book One by Robert Kirkman The Walking Dead, Book One Yes, if I can't get you try the first one, why would you read this one? Because it's got some of the best story made in the past several years. Kirkman has been proving himself a masterful developer of plot across medium recently with both his graphic novel series and now television writing. He's unafraid to offend the traditional fans of both graphic novels or zombies by writing fiction entirely ABOUT people, and not zombies. It's really a human character driven story, which just also happens to contain zombies. This brings him lots of complaints, but not from the millions of reader/viewers who aren't interested in the usual junk, but are drawn by his work, which at it's core is about people, and how they change under the stress of a broken world.

Will you read any of these? Sadly, most people not already prone to it won't. At least attempt the Maureen F. McHugh if you can. But if you can get past any per-concieved notions you have and try The Walking Dead, Book One you might find yourself with a newly opened mind to a much maligned and misunderstood medium where while the vast majority meander miserably in the usual milieu of costumed caped crusaders, some writers are creating real art and stories, many of which are non-fiction, autobiographical, and deeply emotional.

message 13: by Lea (new)

Lea | 11 comments This is such a fascinating topic that there has even been an academic international zombie conference, with social scholars asking and attempting to answer that very question of why we are so obsessed with the 'undead'. (Not to mention the many cities around the world that have annual zombie 'walks' [or is it zombie 'lurches'?]).
Personally, I think zombies allow us to discuss a wide variety global and cultural issues through a 'silly' lens- we can think about things like technology, morality, food-trends, apocalypse (environmental, technological, social, etc) without taking it personally. In a society where the individual is increasingly marginalized, the zombie apocalypse allows a reversal of fate, providing a way for the socially unimportant to be on equal footing with the VIPS of our times. Moreover, zombies allow us to discuss these global issues by rethinking what it means to be 'human' and 'civilized'.

message 14: by Franky (new)

Franky Will, thanks for the list of those reads on the zombie theme. I've heard of World War Z, some people were even looking for it on my last trip to the library.

Lea, very interesting take and perspective.
Zombies give us a scope of what we deem normal vs. abnormal life(or, as I-gor ("eye-gore") in Young Frankenstein once put it, Abby Normal). We can also think to possible disastrous circumstances within our society, and how we could possibly handle them.

On an unrelated side note, I'm watching this hilarious zombie satire, Fido (2006), on netflix. Has anyone seen this film? It is pretty much Night of the Living Dead meets Leave it to Beaver.

message 15: by Veljko (new)

Veljko (_vxf_) | 52 comments If you like the genre and appreciate comic books - I would recommend taking a peek at Dylan Dog. It's an Italian comic book and some of the first issues have just been translated in English - there is a collection on Amazon called "The Dylan Dog Case Files".
It's not all about zombies, there are other 'horror themes' explored in the comic book. But zombies are a recurring topic.

I personally am not a big fan of the genre... but that comic book has stayed with me since being a child. Of course, those were other times, when we did not cringe at children seeing some violence or the occasional bit of skin... or maybe that's just the way Italians are... but I digress...

message 16: by Alicia (last edited May 28, 2012 11:22AM) (new)

Alicia (soitgoes815) Will wrote: "While most of it is terrible, there actually IS some worthy efforts which happen to include zombies. Yes, one of these is a graphic novel. Yes, you're welcome to dismiss it because you think about ..."

I agree with you completely about World War Z. I think it's very genre-breaking as far as zombies go. It's not about stopping an apocalypse or about grabbing a shotgun and scoring some headshots with a small group of survivors. It's basically a series of case studies looking into this catastrophe as the world is in the process of piecing itself back together.

There's the things one would expect, like a chapter about Patient Zero - but there's a lot I found novel, like the chapter on North Korea's response. I'm an American, but I really appreciated the international settings. I get sick of seeing every apocalyptic event happen in New York City or American-Metropolis-that-looks-suspiciously-like-Toronto. It seems like the majority of dystopian and apocalyptic books are set in fictional cities/wastelands that seem very American.

And the movie sounds terrible. They're just going to turn it into a formulaic tripe about stopping an oncoming calamity.

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