I’m crossposting this with my gig over at the United Kingdom Zombie Defence League. It ticks too many of the boxes I regularly mark off here not to make it available to you, oh Readership. Howevs, before we begin, I urge you to check out the UKZDL site – it’s full of zombieliciousness!
Post-Romero, the zombie becomes a creature born of magic, rather than science. Forget voodoo rituals; your modern-day Z is created by a viral infection, a toxic spill, cosmic radiation.
Frequently these days, they’re not even dead – sidestepping the awkward question of decomposition, I guess. The thing is, our definition of what it is to be a zombie is changing rapidly, especially as we move further into the 21st century.
Consider, for example, the latest series of Torchwood. Miracle Day starts with a simple conceit; no-one dies. Turning off the life support has no effect. Shoot someone in the head in the classic zombie coup de grace – they just keep going. The conspiracy theory at the heart of the series is it’s motor, but there’s enough background of the nature of how we might deal with this nightmarish situation to make the show interesting. In effect, Torchwood: Miracle Day shows us a world in which we are all zombies.
In his new book The Postmortal*, Drew Magary takes a different approach, making immortality a slightly more elective process. He comes up with the idea of a Cure for old age – a serum that halts the process in it’s tracks. The one thing it doesn’t do is rejuvenate. Take the cure in your 80’s, and that’s where you’re stuck, complete with all your aches, pains and need to go to the loo five times a night. The world of The Postmortal is a cruel, sad place, where most people that can afford the gift realise that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Tie this into an idea that acclaimed SF author Charlie Stross has posted up on his blog. He introduces us to type 3 diabetes, a neurodegenerative disease that may be part of the cause of Alzheimer’s. It effectively turns the sufferer into a brain-gone zombie. There’s no hankering for braaaains – in fact if you don’t feed them, they’ll starve. In the early stages, you get sudden, unexplainable rages and emotional instability. As the age demographic changes, more and more people will begin to suffer from this awful, incurable ailment.
Consider, then. Neither Magary’s Cure or Torchwood’s Miracle protect us from disease. If type 3 diabetes becomes more prevalent, there are going to be more and more immortals that gradually turn, become rage-infested creatures that we cannot kill. Our family, our friends, everyone we know. Worse still, someday we are doomed to follow them into an undying, unknowing hell.
Stross follows the graph with remorseless logic. The wave becomes tsunami. By the middle of the next century, Earth is Zombieworld.
Makes The Walking Dead look a bit lame, eh?
Read the whole of Charlie’s post. It’ll give you chills.