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Brains 101
January 30, 2011 4:54 AM   Subscribe

A Brief and Incomplete History of Zombie Literature
posted by Artw (20 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's the time of the season?
posted by bwg at 5:23 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Max Brooks' "Zombie Survival Guide" was just a waste of paper, but his "World War Z" was damn good. And the zombie/ninja/pirate trope grows older faster than cop/lawyer/dr tv setting by the day.
posted by efalk at 5:31 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd be remiss not to say that my six-issue zombie series, Dead Eyes Open, which was published by SLG back in the earlier 2000s, is available in its entirety online for free.
posted by Shepherd at 5:39 AM on January 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


Max Brooks' "Zombie Survival Guide" was just a waste of paper, but his "World War Z" was damn good.

Agreed: Zombie Survival Guide is a mindless novelty, a junky gag book, but World War Z is a fantastic alternative-history novel. It's packed with great ideas, and the oral history overview means it explores lots of viewpoints, lots of ways in which the zombie apocalypse affects different cultures and zones. There are moments of genuine humanity in it, of great imagination, of sorrow, of anxiety, of shuddering horror. (There is one idea in there that gives me goosebumps every time I remember it... like right now.)

I was thrilled by that book; I would be proud to have written that book.
posted by Elsa at 6:05 AM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


mmm... Zombies
posted by Flood at 6:32 AM on January 30, 2011


This is a Human Quibble v Quibble Man point, but no Walking Dead? That seems like a glaring omission.

Also, I admit that the Zombie wave has crested, but I'm uncomfortable equating it with the whole Pirate/Ninja trope from a few years back.

The Ninja trope, which I'd attribute to "Real Ultimate Power" was always just an ironic internet meme.

I think, as the author states, Zombies strike a deeper nerve than that.
posted by Telf at 7:06 AM on January 30, 2011


Yeah, really, "incomplete" is the word here. It's like, George Romero made Night of the Living Dead, then...stuff-y'know-whatever...then in 2004....
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:12 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


After reading World War Z I was so psyched that I picked up Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead by Jonathan Maberry. I couldn't finish it. It was very dense with actual police protocol and I couldn't slog through it.

I will give it a try again. I hate to abandon any book.
posted by Splunge at 7:59 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's also pretty much everything I have ever written, which is also classified as Jewish literature and Irish-American literature.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:03 AM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I especially enjoyed your short story, "Oy, Those Brains Aren't Kosher, Let's Get Drunk Instead."
posted by Mister_A at 8:59 AM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm still amazed that George Romero's inspiration for Night of the Living Dead, was making a video about tonsillectomies for Mister Rogers.
posted by eye of newt at 9:31 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I especially enjoyed your short story, "Oy, Those Brains Aren't Kosher, Let's Get Drunk Instead."

I don't know which part of that to be offended by first.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:57 AM on January 30, 2011


The hotdog bun.
posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on January 30, 2011


Oh, hey, it's Electric Velocipede. They're pretty much my favorite fanzine. Good stuff.
posted by Amanojaku at 12:08 PM on January 30, 2011


It's interesting to look at how tropes in fiction develop. I think this article does a disservice by a failure to even mention video games, though. He claims "and what was a small, insignificant, and rarely used trope soon birthed its very own subgenre" after the publication of The Zombie Survival Guide in 2003, but the Resident Evil series was fleshing out Romero's concept of the living dead in 1996. And hell, Shaun of the Dead came out in 2004 seemingly independent of the Guide. I realize the focus of the article is on literature, but these things don't exist in a vacuum.
posted by girih knot at 12:20 PM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's an interesting point, girih knot. The endless hordes, coming after you for no particularly important reason, behaving according to a very simple AI, is a very video-game kind of situation.
posted by hattifattener at 12:38 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shepherd, I just read your series in its entirety. I really enjoyed it. Thanks!
posted by monkeymadness at 2:11 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the big gap between Night of the Living Dead (itself a film, for heaven's sake) and World War Z in 2003 was chock full of a rich tapestry of zombie movies which collectively explored the notion of zombies in much more detail than probably most written works, and are the clear inspiration for Brooks's work.
posted by whir at 3:14 PM on January 30, 2011


World War Z was awesome, 'nuff said.

I came across a few other books that are worth the time: Already Dead by Charlie Huston, although really a vampire novel, it does have zombies in it and it's an awesome read. Get it.

Tooth and Nail by Craig DiLouie is also amazing, it being about the Zombpocalypse as seen from the point of view of the military. Truly a fascinating read that raised some verrry interesting points.

As for the linked article, yeah, it was brief but a half decent overview. I recently tried reading I Am Legend and simply couldn't get into it - I think it had more to do with the writing style than the subject.
posted by ashbury at 7:35 PM on January 30, 2011


Oh, and I forgot to mention the fantastical Paul is Undead, which is a wonderful twist on the zombie thing. Read this too.
posted by ashbury at 7:42 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


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