Sunday, March 3, 2013

THE RELEVANCE OF ZOMBIE FICTION (A Brief Summary)


            
            The majority of authors who write zombie fiction adequately explore the idea that the living are far more dangerous to the survival of the species than walking corpses. If we consider the zombie phenomenon as a "plague" then Stephen King himself described how the center of civilization would collapse upon itself in his iconic novel, The Stand. The military is well-equipped and there are plenty of emergency plans in place in the event of an outbreak, however, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
            Any zombie-virus outbreak that has been imagined in popular fiction is an extension of a severe natural disaster—on a much larger scale. The tragedies of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy have devastated families and have altered lives forever; there has been much criticism levied at the procedures that were implemented to protect and preserve. But there are tales of heroism and sacrifice, of people coming together for a common good, but in the media, we often read the stories about long lines for gasoline amid fights and looting.
            The events of 9/11 were generation-defining, etched forever into the memories of a country that will forever grieve. While my own recollection of the event remains vivid, fear touched every corner of our country and challenged our way of life.
            It's not my intention to summarize these disasters and the ripple-effect upon society; however, we should observe these disasters, and popular fiction, as factors that demonstrate the relevance of zombie fiction as a genre.
            We understand that George Romero's films display a microcosm for many problems we face in a self-serving world. Indeed, we can analyze all of his zombie films and pick them apart for the sake of critical analysis for years, but essentially, Romero didn't need a big budget or explosions to provide apocalyptic stories that demonstrate our failures—and why such an event would be possible. In comparison, The Walking Dead comic book series by Robert Kirkman analyzes the social and psychological impact of a cataclysmic disaster. While characters attempt to define morality, city-state structures rise and fall as the result of fledgling social experiments. I'm reminded of Ancient Greece, and from a historical perspective, I have to consider what it took to finally unify those cities into one nation.
            There are many authors who offer their own unique perspective regarding the reaction and the fallout from a zombie apocalypse, and many of these concepts explore the definition of humanity in the face of a crisis. Zombie behaviors also allow us a glimpse into the hive-mind mentality of a consumer-culture.
            I believe that showcasing an apocalyptic scenario in the city of Detroit would provide the backdrop for many of these themes. Necropolis Now utilizes characters who are damned by their own flaws, though what makes them weak in a civilized world may help them in a crumbling city.
            The zombie genre is significantly relevant. While I don't dare compare myself to Romero or King, I believe there is plenty of room to explore important themes with a disaster-scenario that uses zombies, while still being able to entertain. Zombies are certainly an extension of the contagion-outbreak scenario; but as King and Romero masterfully explained, our human failings—our paranoia, greed, and self-loathing—are the greater catalysts for the unraveling center. In a fictional apocalypse where suffering and violence are rampant, there emerges a human spirit capable of love and virtue; our search for these heroes within the pages of a zombie novel where norms have dissolved in the wake of terror mirrors our need for more heroes to emerge out of the muck and negativity of the real world.