I’m not going to start this guest post by lying to you, so here it is: I was going to use this guest post to simply plug my work. There I said it, now you can’t say that I wasn’t honest with you. However, I was talking to my old friend Ben Childs, who runs the Drunken Horror Podcast, the other day, if you consider yelling screaming, reminiscing and drunkenly discussing the finer and not so finer points of the entire Star Wars universe, talking. I don’t and I don’t expect you to, but there isn’t a word in the English language to convey the ridiculous nerd-dom that ensued, so bear with me as I move on.
One of the topics that came up before discussing all six episodes of Star Wars was that of zombies, and especially zombies in fiction. Now, as some of you who may read this already know, I am a huge zombie horror/survival horror fan. I go out of my way to read and review works of zombie fiction over on the horror/dark fiction/rpg reviewing site Flames Rising.
Others of you may know that, along with being a simple opinion pusher, I am also a small time writer who has penned several zombie horror stories, the latest of which was just published in May December Publications First Time Dead anthology series. (pick up both books, but really volume two is the best, a-hem read “The Mission,” just a suggestion)
I also have a collection of Novella’s and short stories that will be coming out from May December Publications, sometime this spring, some of the stories, two or three I believe, also deal with zombies. So I am kind of a zombie horror/survival horror freak. I have my own theories, I have my style and I have my own likes and dislikes about the genre, especially the inundation of slop work and the churning out of clichéd story line after clichéd story line, just to catch a ride on the ever cresting wave of the zombie in literature.
But during this questionably coherent conversation, I was saying how I believe that the zombie could actually become one of the best ways to symbolize humanity. It was a very foggy conversation, so I may be elaborating to you for the sake of filling up space. But it’s true. The zombie could in fact be the last great bastion of literary exploration. Think about it for a minute, and I mean really take the time to do so. Queue theory.
The zombie, in my opinion, has moved past the image of shambling political and anti-consumerist allegory and clawed its hulking bloody self into the forefront of what it means to be alive and American in this the bold new century. But not just the zombie, not just the monster itself, I should say. I’m talking about the entire genre here.
You have the zombies; and yes of course they still stand for any sort of crowd/collective action/mentality, be it consumerism, political radicalization, terrorism, the anti-humanist theory of cannibalism and etcetera. But you also have the survivors. And being an old man of 31 who has just recently gotten back up off his ass and returned to the work force after a two year long crippling bout of unemployment and fiscal drowning, due for the most part by the greatest economic decline in the history of the United States, well let’s just say I sort of have an idea as to what it takes to be a survivor.
In my little theory, my generation, or what I call the “True Loss” generation, the 28-32 year olds that grew up under the shade of parents that were probably just children themselves when they had us. The ones who told us that there would be everything under the sun waiting for us so long as we obtained these hieroglyphic little pieces of nothing called “Degree’s” from these bastions of bad pot and even worse beer called “Colleges.” Yes we in the “True Loss,” generation are the ones who will be the survivors. The ones who will reshape the world after the baby boomers and their ilk, on down to the Gen Xer’s, finish devouring the entitlement programs that they so clearly didn’t fight for.
They have become what they feared they would become, they have become the zombies. But not in the way they used to consider the prior generation’s as zombies. They have become the zombies by sucking the marrow out of everything and leaving nothing but destruction in their wake. And we have become the survivors, as of course, given this theory’s many, many holes because we’ll have to scavenge and struggle and fight them till the ends of the earth, just to survive being stripped of even the tiniest glimpse of the future we were promised.
So how does this trickle down into the literary realm?
Well, I knew you would ask and here’s that little tidbit as well. Literary is defined as, so says the great Google:
So then, Literature is also thusly defined as:
“Writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features.”
Now take my little theory and apply it to those definitions and what do you have?
Proof Watson, proof I dare say, that the zombie has moved from being just a metaphor or simple translation of fear. The zombie has moved into the realm of the utmost of literary devices, especially if used to understand the methods, philosophy and culture of my generation.
Because couldn’t surviving and struggling against massive and global political/ socio-economic destruction be considered in the “True Loss” and the immediate future generations, permanent and universal interest? The answer is yes, just agree and it’ll all be over with.
Seriously though, this is exactly why I believe that zombies translate so well, and have been on everyone’s collective mind. Because we are fighting what feels like a losing battle, because the walking dead are devouring the living in a way that is even more nefarious than a skin soup or brain buffet. They are feasting on the future, our future.
There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, but unlike the nihilism of the original holy trilogy Night, Dawn and Day and so many of the greatest zombie novels that have been surfacing or being released lately- I think our story will actually have a happy ending. I don’t think it will be as ambiguous as those films were, or as down and out and terrifying as those books are. Maybe I am wrong. And maybe the future has already been too far infected with the strain?
Either way you look at it we’re standing at the edge of the end, so I could just be pissing in the wind to get a drink. But then again couldn’t you drink your own urine if you needed to survive? I think I saw Bear Grylls do it once, or twice.
Eric Pollarine is a freelance journalist and book reviewer with Flames Rising, constantly disheveled musician, right mad bastard and author. His latest works are the ebook Novella
“A Man of Letters,” a soon to be published collection of novella’s and short stories with May December Publications “Fireside Chat,” series, the newly begun free serial novel MONOCHROME, and is currently working on finishing his first full length book about, what else, the end of the world and zombies entitled “This is The End.” You can contact him through facebook, twitter and of course his website unlikelyconvergence.com. He lives, writes, smokes and drinks far too much coffee in Cleveland, Ohio.