How to Differ from Popular Opinion

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Reader Comments (58)

I think you might like "This Book is Full of Spiders," then. No zombies in it but there is commentary on zombie mania.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZach

Zombies are boring.

Although a story where the problem is solved with antibiotics would probably be even more boring.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterORione

So what was the book she read?

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGryllidae

My (now) ex-girlfriend just tried to tell me about some TV series that was about zombies that weren't really zombies... I had the exact same argument. She just dumped me last Sunday because I wasn't open-minded enough or something.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheMortallyWounded

Ah Zombies..every generation has to have a monster or two. To cure Zombie boredom, I suggest getting attacked by Frankenstein's monster, submit to ravaging by a werewolf, having your blood sucked by a vampire and unwrapping a mummy or two. It puts those adorable brain eating, walking dead, in perspective.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTony

A Canadian friend referred to "World War Z" as "World War Zed", which I heard as "World War Zod." What if the next Superman movie, instead of featuring Batman, had Kal-El fighting a Zombified Kryptonian army?

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheKFV

Even if it is oversaturated, zombies are still something of a logical choice...

The way media tends to work is that something recognizable is far, FAR more likely to get made into a new property, so a 'classic' monster like zombies have that built in as an advantage for getting a new movie or whatever.

I think the reason zombies specifically have become the most popular monster for the simple reason that nobody wants to be a zombie...
Vampire = Agelessness, superpowers (yeah you are an arguably soulless parasite, but AGELESSNESS AND SUPERPOWERS)
Werewolf = Much the same, but this time you can typically get away with keeping your soul and not murdering your friends if you plan well.
Frankenstein = Isn't the monster supposed to be a nice guy? Also, SCIENCE JUST PWNED DEATH, there are kinks to work out but this is a good thing.
Mummies = Limited in quantity, often flammable, geography specific, and really not very intimidating unless they're actually just wizards.
Demons = Awkwardly religion charged
Aliens = Typically come more as 'science fiction' and lack the 'destruction from within' aspect that makes the viral monsters scary (still one of the betters, probably)


Zombies = Lose your self, lose your sapience, and become EVEN MORE of a nonentity faded into a crowd.

Regardless of the threat to the protagonists specifically, the prospect of the creatures as a general rule ends up placing zombies as the scariest... I suppose non-contagious vampires had the chance to be scarier, but given that the much wanted 'recognition' aspect will turn on writers if they mess with vampires too much now more than ever, I don't see that happening for a while.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZ2

Forget solving the problem with antibiotics; I want to see a movie where the problem is solved with zombies!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTachyon

Ah Zombies..every generation has to have a monster or two. To cure Zombie boredom, I suggest getting attacked by Frankenstein's monster, submit to ravaging by a werewolf, having your blood sucked by a vampire and unwrapping a mummy or two. It puts those adorable brain eating, walking dead, in perspective.

Nah, they've all been done. I prefer less-common, or even original, monsters. Djinn, Efreet, Kitsune, Kappa, Vampiric Melons, Loogaroo (not to be confused with Loup Garou), Baen Sidhe, Basilisks, Homunculi, etc. Human folklore is full of all sorts of weird, fantastic, and creepy monsters. I really wish that more of them were well known.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGDwarf

Pretty sure she read "Pride & Prejudice and ZOMBIES!!!"

That's not it. Haven't read that one because I'm not a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice. ~Missy

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick

I liked zombies better when they were underground.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertool

@ ORione
I know I story where the not-quite-zombies are cured with antibiotics:

I Didn't think it's boring but that's personal opinion. :P

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLdaQuirm

Just the other day I was running through a way to make some not-zombie zombies. The central idea is to get an enemy that evokes the same concepts as zombies, but clearly isn't the same thing.

Here's what I came up with:
A parasitic lifeform that burrows into a human and takes up residence inside the spinal cord, from which it bypasses the brain entirely to directly control the body. Therefore, the first difference is that bullet to the brain wont even slow them down. Decapitation would be more effective, removing the eyes, ears, and nose in one fell swoop, but the body would remain a threat. An actual kill would have to come from destroying the parasite which is in an unknown location along the spine, so the only effective means of getting a proper kill would be repeated bone-shattering blows to the back, or complete body destruction (fire, acid, wood chippers).

Bites would remain the primary mode of transmission: A bite would hold the new host's body to the old host's, allowing the parasite's young to travel into the new host. However, living parasites outside a host are still dangerous, being coated in an incredibly powerful anesthetic: Touching one with bare skin results in numbness and limpness in seconds, with the person passing out under a minute later while the parasite travels towards the spine.

Allow them some intelligence and slow communication (presumably they'd communicate by biting one another's shoulder), meaning some clever tricks would happen. Playing dead when shot, ambushes, lures. Nothing highly complicated, but a few steps over horde charges.

Primarily for balance reasons, restrict them to hobbling speed. They've got a lot of advantages over "traditional" zombies as it is.

See, writers? It's not that hard to come up with a way to rework zombies into a new and frightening threat!

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWaladil

Question: is the argument about the pronunciation of "World War Z" - "World War Zee" in the US, "World War Zed" in the UK, Canada, and quite a few other places - escalating to the point where it threatens to become more bitter, intractable, and indeed interesting than the zombie war in movie?

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMad Dan Eccles

Or better yet: What if the next Superman movie, instead of a Zombified Kryptonian army, had Kal-El fighting Sean Connery in a loincloth?

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCRConrad

Ahhh, the magic of panel number 3...
(I liked 1, too!)

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterM

Antibiotics? Sounds like the book "I Am Legend" - not zombies but vampire zombies - go on read it, it's better than any of the four movies based on it.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKevin A Kunreuther

First Vampires now Zombies. I predict a renaissance for Giant Ants next.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStevens

For those wondering, the book in question was Cherie Priest's Boneshaker.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMissy

How meta!

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRay Charbonneau

How about a book about some nerd named Jimmy but insists people call him Merlin...

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermohrorless

You can't use anti-biotics. The disease is a virus!

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavidC

is that the sequel to rumpshaker?

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterscott

Hah! I knew it! As soon as Missy said "she's tired of zombies too" I thought of Boneshaker.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave H

The annoying thing about modern zombies is that they aren't zombies. They're ghouls.

Zombies were revenant slaves, animated by black magic. They evoked the horror of slavery continuing beyond death.

Romero created a film filled with ghouls, not zombies. Ghouls are demons who eat the dead (and sometimes the living). Because they shambled* along, ignorant people decided to call them zombies. Which brings us to the present, in which the mindless living are tormented by endless plagues of the mindless undead.

*In more than one way-- learn what a "shambles" is.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkhereva

"Night on Mispec Moor" by Larry Niven has zombies that are killed by antibiotics.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterResuna

Zombies, vampires, aliens... piffle and twaddle say I! We need a renaissance in Killer Tomatoes books and movies.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermstrange

There was an episode of Sliders in which all the zombies were caused by a diet drug gone bad, and they were all cured by antibiotics. I wouldn't have called it very interesting, but I do remember it 16 years later.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

I am Legend is just an updated Omega Man starring Charleton Heston that wasn't nearly as convincing...

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterXuuths

@Waladil: That's pretty similar to Robert Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters". The big difference is that the "masters" in that were intelligent and capable of much more, including space flight. I'd love to see a screen adaptation made from that book that follows the complete plot, because the "masters" are an incredibly creepy enemy. (I am aware of the 1994 movie adaptation, but it wasn't particularly close to the story, from what I recall.)

HBO original show, maybe?

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTim R

I still maintain that zombies are popular because, as far as horror movies go, they represent a disaster that could realistically happen.

Seriously. Imagine pollution (or some superbug that developed immunity to GM crops) wipes out the world's coffee production.

In what way is that distinguishable from a zombie apocalypse?

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I'd love to see an "Urban Dead"-style take on zombies, where the zombies are fairly nonthreatening and are actually mostly reasonable people, but where human society tears itself apart from all the would-be zombie hunters fighting each other for "survival."

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterK

"Allow them some intelligence and slow communication (presumably they'd communicate by biting one another's shoulder), meaning some clever tricks would happen. Playing dead when shot, ambushes, lures. Nothing highly complicated, but a few steps over horde charges."


See, this is the sort of zombie I can't stand; the only thing worse would be to have them talking and driving cars...wait. You'd be better off marketing that as some sort of horrible parasite than as a zombie, I think.

Zombies are "mindless"; it's why they're so scary in large numbers...they keep coming, regardless of what happens to other zombies around them, or even damage they receive themselves. Zombies don't give up. Even if you remove their arms and legs, they'll still try to get to you. Their behavior is alien to human understanding, and therefore disturbing. If you make them smart or clever or able to communicate anything beyond "Hey, there's somebody we can eat!", you no longer have zombies, you have a crazy guy stumbling around with some cheesy zombie gimmick biting people; basically like all those terrible "horror" movies from the 90s, only with bits and pieces of the villain falling off. There is a ton of stuff you can do with traditional zombies beyond having a bunch of them stumbling across a field.

p.s.: Running zombies are good too.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRed

My husband wrote a book, and YES, it's BECAUSE zombies are an easy market that the book is about the zombie apocalypse. But really, it's about the people who survive, and how you survive with THEM. Anyone interested, including Missy or Scott (I know, I know, Scott's not interested), PLEASE get a copy for your kindle, and then review it if you're inclined. The next book won't be about zombies - he promises - but he needed an "in", you see?
(I'll understand completely, Scott & Missy, if this post doesn't get approved based on the "shameless plug"-ness of it.)

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBI Fan

I'm of the opinion that any zombie movie would be automatically improved (and scarier) if you replaced all of the zombies with bears.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBraden

DANGIT! I read that book 4 months ago and was about to guess it!

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBurnEdOut

Zombies are supposed to be dull. The best zombie stories are the ones that quickly establish that zombies have ruined everything and then concentrate on how people are either dealing with the chaos or losing their minds. A more interesting enemy would steal the focus. People are the monsters in a good zombie story.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwumpus

White Trash Zombie series?

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

The [Girl Genius] webcomic has "revenants", but they were wiped out twenty years ago, and you only become one if a bio-engineered "Slaver Wasp" burrows into your brain. Nevertheless, "revenants" become relevant again as the story advances. This comes best as a surprise (to the reader; characters in the story don't appreciate revenanty surprises).

I'd be cautious of using antibiotics in case you just get healthier zombies. Antibiotics used in farming make dumb animals into healthier dumb animals. One version of creatures of the night meeting antibiotics (or something like) is in Larry Niven's short story "Night on Mispec Moor" (1974). Apparently there's a legal (I think), free audio reading online. Larry Niven doesn't do it for the money, for the same reason as Batman; he's -got- money. This isn't to say that he's relaxed about copyright, but he can afford to let some of his stuff be out there.

If the disease is a virus, then antibiotics are no good, and anyway you may need a doctor's prescription to get the antibiotics from the pharmacy. Which means that the zombies need to have health insurance. And in [Pride and Prejudice and Zombies] I assume that antibiotics haven't been discovered yet.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Carnegie

Zombies which are mindless field slaves who do not know that they are dead and will continue to work as long as no one addresses them by name or gives them salt might make an interesting monster. I think the monster which is popular now is a mis-named ghoul.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC A Collins

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