When I was a kid I was fascinated with old scifi and horror movies from the fifties and sixties. In those days there were a lots of giant monsters tormenting the poor folk of London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and New York. Gojira (Godzilla) debuted in 1954, The Blob 1957, Gorgo (one of my childhood faves) debuted in 1961. In between there were RV sized tarantulas, SUV sized bunnies, giant praying mantises, ants, reptilian creatures, scorpions, giant radioactive people, and I remember one movie where the intrepid heroes had to battle a twenty foot chicken.
Few people in those days understood how radiation affected the body. It was widely assumed that exposing a creature or plant to radiation, if it didn’t kill it, might make it grow to some enormous size, a fear propagated by the very movies that exploited that fear.
I wondered as the years went by and monster movies changed why so many movies from those days featured oversized critters come to destroy cities and kill the populace. On an afternoon of idle thought while I was watching the cloth on my cubicle wall fade to a blander shade of gray, I concluded that all those giant monsters were an expression of society’s legitimate fears at the time, nuclear war with the Soviet Union and the aftereffects of radiation.
The monsters that grew out of the imaginations of the storytellers of those days flattened cities and killed everybody who lived there. The horrific effects of the monsters that made it into books and movies of the time were exactly the effects of the nuclear war that people feared. So, killing the monsters at the end of each movie, in a way provided some outlet for people’s fear.
So what does this all have to do with zombies?
I think the zombie is the one monster in our supermarket of supernatural critters that most closely matches what we currently fear. A zombie is (was) our loved one, our friend, our neighbor. The zombie is a person we used to trust. And trust is a much broader concept that you initially think. Of course you trust your spouse and kids and parents but without thinking about it, you also trust the neighbors you don’t know, the ones with safes full of guns who—oh by the way—aren’t generally taking pot shots at you when you drive by. When you’re waiting on the curb to cross the street, you trust drivers not to run up on the curb and squish you. When you’re flying, you trust your pilot not to crash the plane. You trust your waiter not to piss in your soup. You trust your dentist to wash his hands.
All of this trust is implicit. Our society is built on our trust of strangers as well as on the trust of the people we know.
In today’s environment of terrorism and political distrust, exacerbated by our media outlets whose profits seem to be directly proportional to the level of fear and paranoia we feel towards our family, friends, and neighbors, one monster personifies those fears better than any other, the zombie.
And once the zombie, the proxy for our fears, becomes real enough for Rick Grimes to put a bullet in, through some weird voyeuristic mechanism, he puts a bullet in our fears as well. So while it seems that Rick and company are trying to scare the crap out of us every Sunday night when The Walking Dead airs, they’re actually helping us deal with the feelings of distrust and fear we feel toward the people we come across in our everyday lives.
(This is the fictional semi-bullshit version that Bobbywanted to put in this section. – Kat)
Bobby Adair is a former programmer, with a long-lived passion—and only recently fulfilled desire—for writing.
On working a corporate job…
I was just another off-white American who used to sit within four cube walls of a blandly unidentifiable color and stare at a computer screen trying to will esoteric snippets of code into compilings of software. Or, some might say that I explored the limits of how little productive work a man can do while still managing to pay my rent, hang out with a friend, feed my dogs, find a dentist at Smile951.com, go to said dentist and mindlessly maintain the uninterrupted status of my bi-weekly compensation. At work…mostly I just stared.
Sometimes the staring lead to daydreaming, and sometimes, through no effort of my own, the daydreams turned into temporally rambling yarns. And then, when the caffeine flow hit a mysteriously optimal level—right before the headaches and jitters kick in—motivation materialized out of the ether and my fingers got all clickety-clack on the nearest computer keyboard. Then before I knew it, a novel was splattered all over my word processing software.
At that point, I would always ask, who am I to let my own lack of motivation keep that which the caffeine gods have bestowed upon me away from the righteously deserving readers of eBooks? The answer was always something like, “nobody.” So, I would go to the store, purchase more gallons of sugary caffeine-laden liquids, and trudge through the effort organizing and editing all of those nearly psychotic babblings into coherent stories. Yeah, I know, you’re probably asking, how can one man be forced to suffer so much beneath the tempestuous whims of the wicked muses of pseudo literature? Well, that question is beyond the metaphysical aptitudes of we mere mortals to understand. So, I simply accept the burden that a productively sedentary life has placed on me and I produce tremendously actual works of fiction.
In closing, tempered by the degree to which you may feel gratitude, I say, “you’re welcome, world!”
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014
AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in November, here’s the complete list, updated daily: