Literary Trends

Zombies: A Metaphor For Our World

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!     It’s 2011 and the zombies are not coming. They’re here. No, I’ve not gone off my rocker and incidentally, I’m not discussing the traditional brain-sucking undead, either. It is my contention that we are in the age of zombie literature.
     The undead in recent literature are a metaphor for our fears that nothing is new. We, as a creators fear we have used all of the creative verve the universe has to offer and all we can do is cannibalize upon what has come before.  The is mirrored by society, terrified of pseudo-resurrections from our various malaises (including economic). We don’t want a zombie existence where we’re alive, but only in the most technical of ways. Nonetheless, we suspect our best, strongest hope is to be pallid, undead vampires who sparkle.
     Fifteen years ago my husband made the utterly ridiculous claim that we had arrived at the literary age of plagiarism. All literature would be based on the work of others and, in the most extreme cases, would BE the work of others with only the byline changed. I scoffed. (Sorry, honey.)
     I’m not laughing anymore. The last fifteen years has seen the consistent use of fairytales for retellings and previous stories as jumping off points for more stories: Happily Ever After, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies being a few. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is comprised of 90% of the original Jane Austen novel mixed with 10% of Seth Grahame’s original material. Please understand, I am not knocking Grahame’s achievement. He saw the potential there and I applaud him. I am not complaining about this trend, either, as I’ve used Mother Goose rhymes in one of my strongest short stories and my first novel is based on “Romance of the Three Kingdoms.” No, I am a part of this trend, but as a fantasy writer, I do seek to understand it and perhaps stay ahead of it.
     So what are your thoughts? What caused this fear? Fear of the A and H Bombs brought on monster movies fifty years ago and one can easily see our present love affair with the undead is an extension of that time period. Still what was the modern bomb and where is the trend headed?