Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Zombie Philosophy

If you're reading this, you must have at least a passing curiosity about zombies, or my book which is in the zombie genre. Generally, zombies are slow-moving, mindless dead people who feed on human flesh (some say brains). Zombies in the movies are pretty easy to avoid because they're so slow and stupid. The trouble is, they are relentless. They don't get tired. They don't stop to rest and more of their friends keep arriving at your doorstep. They just don't stop trying to eat you. Eventually, live humans are overcome by their sheer numbers. The appearance of zombies usually means there's some sort of apocalyptic event going on. Everyone is going to be a zombie or eaten by one (maybe in reverse order).

I've seem many zombie movies and read my share of zombie books. In most of these, there seems to be a disconnect between the science and the fiction. Zombies are dead people. Wouldn't they rot and decompose in a matter of days or weeks into a pool of oozing bones and bodily fluids? Wouldn't predatory animals have an interest in these mobile meat wagons? Well, if that's the case, why would humans have to worry about an apocalyptic event involving a virus that reanimates dead people, a la zombies? After a month, they'd all be a mass of rotting flesh with no risk to the living; I wanted a book that would, at the very least, try to address these problems for me. I didn't find one, so I wrote it myself.

I needed a reason to explain how the dead could reanimate. After some research, I chose a virus as the biological entity that could hijack the cells of the living and set the story in motion. I have accelerated the time frame as to how fast the process of natural selection (and Darwinian evolution) could work. In 'Flatline Virus', zombies evolve (or rather, the endogenous retrovirus behind the zombie disease) and become plotting, intelligent, dangerous and even communicative entities within the 23 day time frame of the story. Further, I endeavor to address some of the questions that might bother the typical science fiction reader, like 'how do zombies assimilate food for energy?' and 'why aren't they rotting sooner?' I use several scenes and some friendly links to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) in order to talk about what the CDC is seeing with regard to the zombie epidemic.

So, my zombies evolve. Yes, they do so rather quickly, but that helps the story. Since a virus hijacks the dead body of its host, there is a solution to the pathogenic problem. I won't tell you what it is. That's for me to know and for you to, well, you know the rest.

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