How Many Ways Can You Write About Zombies? by Theresa Lucas

I never knew I was a fan of zombie literature until I started reading it as the current wave of zombie-themed fiction started landing on my doorstep. Two of the best books I’ve read in the last two years (Boneshaker by Cherie Priest and The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell) have featured the undead without turning the story into a cartoon. But how many ways can you write about shambling creatures that hunger for braaaaaains?

Way more than I ever could have guessed.

Here’s a sample of what’s out there and how the authors have put their unique spin on the genre.

Steampunk & Zombies

Steampunk is easily as big of a craze as zombies, with a slew of mish-mashes going on and, according to i09, the zombie/steampunk thing has been nearly done to death. However, a search of “steampunk zombies” doesn’t bring up the slew of titles the i09 article would imply (and in fact the article itself fails to mention who, specifically, is writing all these books). Nonetheless, it’s a great blending. But it isn’t just Cherie Priest who’s bringing airships and zombies together, George Mann brings his Victorian era automations and zombie goodness together in The Affinity Bridge and The Osiris Ritual, both of which are getting some great buzz.

Zombies & the Classics

Who knew that Jane Austin’s timeless classic “Pride and Prejudice” could be spiced up with zombies? I sure as heck wouldn’t have thought of it, but a full-fledged fad was born when Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was released. Since then I’ve seen The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead and The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies, which, among others,  also include mummies, werewolves, sea monsters and vampires.

Sci-fi & Zombies

There’s often a scientific element used to explain how  the zombie plaque began. Usually it’s a case of science gone awry. But it’s rare to see zombies deliberately created as they are in James Knapp’s inventive debut State of Decay. So ingenious are Knapp’s “revivors,”– zombies that are scientifically manufactured to be military cannon fodder– that it’s surprising there aren’t already a slew of copycats out there. But something tells me they’re on their way.

Funny Zombies

Anyone who has seen Shaun of the Dead knows there is comedic potential in the zombie story. So it was only a matter of time before we started seeing the style repeated on popular fiction. Mark Henry was the first author I read who really picked up on the potential for zombie humor with Happy Hour of the Damned and his wonderfully self-absorbed socialite zombie Amanda Feral. He definitely finds a way to make you cringe and laugh at the same time. Not to be outdone is Jesse Peterson with her debut, Married With Zombies, and her recognition that in the modern world you’re going to see zombies with breast implants.

Zombie Survival Guides

Be rest assured, if we’re attacked by zombies and you can make it to the local library, there will be LOTS of books on the subject of how to survive a zombie apocalypse. Max Brooks seems to be the expert here with many titles, on the subject.

Zombies & God

Post apocalyptic fiction seems to bring out the inner philosopher in many authors, and it’s a natural question to wonder where God would fit in a world populated with zombies.

In Alden Bell’s The Reapers Are the Angles , the main character often muses on the character of God and the beauty of His dangerous world. My fellow blogger Stewart Sternberg has his own zombie-themed book, The Ravening, coming out this November.  And, like Bell, Stewart looks at the way people react to tragedy and turn to God– or any approximation thereof– to make sense of the world for them. These introspective, thoughtful books are my favorite style when it comes to zombie lit.

I never guessed zombies were such a versatile topic, but I am now a full-fledged fan. It’s not just about Resident Evil anymore.

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