Monday, 26 September 2011

Z is for Zombie

Zombies may be the most clichéd and least sexy of all tropes of horror fiction—even if vampires and werewolves are the paranormal romance-cliché of the year, shambling mindless zombies are surely among the most pointless monsters in the canon. Add to that their problematic status in terms of racial sensitivity, since the Hollywood zombie is an appropriation and perversion of an element of Afro-diasporic culture (Vodoun practitioners do not turn people into zombies, any more than they stick pins into dolls representing their enemies), and you might well imagine that zombie fiction has no place in TFF.

Then again, the world after a zombie outbreak is usually represented as a postapocalyptic landscape (or maybe a paranoid dystopia), both of which are great themes for socio-political scifi. In addition we’ve recently seen the ability of zombies to represent sexuality and sexual conflict; human rights and alienation; terrorism and the politics of fear. In other words zombies are very political.

As with every genre or theme we’ve discussed this month, the important point is that a story is not social and political because it’s overtly about societal roles or political activism. Whatever the surface subject matter of a speculative fiction story, a good writer who is willing to speculate and extrapolate changes to our world in a way that matters, cannot help but write socio-political fiction.

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