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? 




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11 Responses to “Zombies: A Metaphor For Our World”

  1. FredTownWard says:

    I am rather dubious of the idea that zombies are that much of a metaphor for anything happening today, and in my mostly positive review of the best (because the only) zombie romance anthology, I took editor Lori Perkins to task for arguing the same thing: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2BUHY4BR7KGVT

    Just like the other paranormal archetypes: vampires, werewolves, demons, ghosts, etc., zombies IMHO speak to something far deeper in our psyches than current events.

    IMHO recent zombie-related books, movies, and TV shows have been successful because they were:

    a. very creative.
    b. not what we've come to expect from previous zombie incarnations.

    We'll see if they can manage the popularity longevity of their paranormal buddies or sink back into something only a zombie fan could love.

  2. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks for the comments, Fred!

  3. Janet Johnson says:

    I don't know about other types of works, but fairy tales I think have an obvious connection to today's world.

    Fairy tales are about facing your obstacles and overcoming in the most miraculous and wonderful ways (at least modern day fairy tales). Seems to be a good reason to enjoy them right about now. 🙂

  4. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks, Janet!

  5. Lynda Young says:

    I've not thought of it this way. I think the current zombie trend is just that, a trend. It will die out soon enough. Great post. It got me thinking (gasp) 🙂

  6. Victoria Dixon says:

    That's what I was shooting for, so thanks, Lynda!

  7. Maggi Andersen says:

    I think everything's been done, Victoria. Artists too are scratching their heads to produce something original. If there are only seven stories ever told, we just have to keep coming up with new slants on them.

  8. Stina Lindenblatt says:

    I've heard this is a great book, but I just can't read it. I'm not into zomies, though one of my favorite books is based on them. But not the flesh eating kind. 🙂

  9. Victoria Dixon says:

    Well said, Maggi and I'm sorry it took awhile for me to respond. Blogger doesn't always notify me when a new comment comes in. 🙁

    Stina, this is exactly how I feel, too. I borrowed it from the library, brought it home, read the first page and got no farther. Elizabeth Bennett as a zombie – ummm, no. I love the original too much and just couldn't do it. On the other hand, my husband has now read more of the story than he ever has before! Alas, I made a comment to that effect and he stopped laughing his *** off and put the book down. Sigh. Me and my big mouth.

  10. Patricia Stoltey says:

    I'm so anti-zombie (and werewolves and vampires, too) literature. Chalk me up as a chicken, but I hate reading things that make me have nightmares. There's no way I can read these novels and look for the deeper meaning. Yeeks.

  11. Victoria Dixon says:

    They don't really scare me, but I AM tired of being not scared of vampires and werewolves. Particularly vampires. I was cool with Buffy, but once they cancelled it and "Angel," I was done. Now I'm overcooked. LOL

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