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According to Variety , Why so much enthusiasm for a show filled with gruesome violence and almost unbearable tension? Why all the interest in the end of the world generally? The hospital, located near Atlanta, is seemingly empty, with signs of violence, including the mangled corpse of a woman and blood-splattered walls, all around.
Outside, the dead are piled high in bags.
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Stumbling about, Rick heads home to find his family. On the way, he comes to a park—where, to his horror, a severely decomposed body, missing its lower half, begins to crawl toward him. But he soon meets a live human being, Morgan Jones, who gives him shelter and a rude education. Rick sets out to find his missing wife, Lori, and son, Carl, and, against the longest odds, succeeds, becoming the leader of a small group of ragged survivors, struggling against infection and death in a world where everything is shattered and danger lurks around every corner.
The suicidal Dr. Edwin Jenner, whom the group meets at the abandoned offices of the Centers for Disease Control, sums up the bleak reality in the season-one finale. L ike all good science fiction and horror, The Walking Dead is completely believable once you accept the premise—the existence of corpses that walk and bite.
The important thing to me is the way people react to this horrible situation, misbehave, make mistakes, and screw themselves up. Everyone left alive learns that distrust is essential. Yet, even forced to spend their lives in survival mode, the characters of The Walking Dead still yearn for meaning. The last people on earth can reinvent themselves into something better, or more powerful. Glenn, a pizza-delivery driver before the zombie plague, becomes, postapocalypse, a vital strategist and skillful navigator of deadly terrain.
Society begins to reinvent itself, making The Walking Dead a study in primitive politics. All these systems are more or less based on the chieftain model that humans lived under during their prehistory. Nobody builds bridges, founds nonprofits, or splits the atom in The Walking Dead. No one mentions the United States Constitution.
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Most important, The Walking Dead is a morality tale that disdains easy answers. How does a civilized person behave in a world where civilization has collapsed? Decency is still possible, the show instructs us, but ruthlessness is needed as well. What can you do with a child like that in the postapocalyptic world? Carol makes a gut-wrenching decision to shoot the girl, but the viewer is left wondering: Did she go too far?
Many characters fail to find the right balance. The Governor, played by David Morrissey, is shown to have a moral and heroic side in a remarkable two-episode sequence in season four. Until that point—and after it—we see a man willing to go to any extreme, including mass murder, to rule.
Rick comes close to failure himself. Some rise to true greatness. An elderly veterinarian, Hershel, is a naive pacifist when we first meet him. A ngst about the end of civilization has pervaded popular culture before. When I was growing up during the Cold War, I believed—deep in my teenage bones—that I might never graduate from high school because the Earth might first be incinerated in a nuclear holocaust. With the end of the Cold War, however, the threat of total destruction eased. Political theorists talked about the triumph of liberal democracy and the opening of a new age of peace and prosperity.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America claims that anxiety disorders are now the most common mental illnesses in the country, affecting more than 40 million people. Still, the world is providing a lot to trouble the sleep of even the non-neurotic—Islamic terrorists beheading innocent captives, debt bombs, financial meltdowns, mass shootings in schools—all of it trumpeted by round-the-clock media. The omnipresent media regularly remind us that natural calamity remains a possibility, too, even in the developed world.
In , Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed local, state, and federal governments and almost destroyed New Orleans. The massive tsunami in Japan, triggered by a magnitude 9. The worst outbreak of Ebola in history is ravaging West Africa as I write, killing thousands and spreading fast, including the first cases identified in Europe and the United States. With such cataclysms, man-made or natural, comes the risk of social breakdown that makes us so apprehensive. Shortly after Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast in , residents in parts of New York City armed up with booby traps, baseball bats, and bows and arrows to protect themselves from potential looters.
In New York City. That makes us far enough away from coast to avoid all but a few gusty rain storms, yet close enough to act as the evacuation point for every coastal city from Brownsville over to New Orleans. The mission is enormous, requiring all the logistical planning of a military invasion — only in reverse — and the analogy was not lost upon me when I started thinking of a cause for my zombie outbreak. The first of these storms was a Category 3 storm named Gabrielle that fizzled to a tropical storm just before making landfall. Most of the population in the Houston-Galveston area, which all together totals about 5 million people, did as they were asked and evacuated in anticipation of a huge storm.
But when Gabrielle turned into a lot of nothing, most of those who evacuated felt cheated and stupid for wasting their time. And then, a week and a half later, a second mandatory evacuation order was issued, this one in preparation for Hurricane Hector. Hector knocked Houston back on its heels.
Millions of people were trapped as the flood waters carried spilled oil and chemicals into the flooded suburbs. All electrical power was knocked out. Fresh water was unavailable. That sewage mingled with the oil and the chemicals from the refineries and the drowned bodies that were rotting in the scorching Texas summer. The federal government has a long tradition one going back at least as far as the Johnson Administration of getting caught with its pants down when it comes to disasters in the Gulf of Mexico, and then following up that negligent lack of preparedness with painfully slow and inadequate follow up.
For a critical span of eight days, local authorities received only token aid from Washington. And when the federal government finally did decide to act in a meaningful way, it was too late, for Hurricane Kyle was waiting just offshore, and it was bigger and badder than Hector ever thought of being. Kyle tips the scales. The storm surge is immense, and it floods the entire city. So severe is the flooding that most experts believe Kyle permanently alters the shape of the coastline.
But what nobody realizes at this early point is that some of these refugees are infected with the necrosis filovirus, a hemorrhagic fever akin to Ebola, Marburg and the Crimean-Congo viruses.
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The necrosis filovirus is a level 4 biosafety hazard, but unlike its more well-documented cousins, the necrosis filovirus is incredibly fast-acting. Whereas a person who contracts Ebola or Marburg is likely to exhibit a headache, backache and other flu-like symptoms within five to ten days, a person infected with the necrosis filovirus will begin to show symptoms within a few hours.
Complete depersonalization and aggression and a near invulnerability to pain manifest themselves very rapidly, turning the infected person into what is essentially a zombie. The illusion is all the more complete when you see the clouded pupils and encounter the smell of rotting flesh. The only difference between the zombies in the Dead World and the zombies developed in the Romero mythos is that the Dead World zombies are living people.
The Outbreak, as the first wave of the zombie apocalypse is called in the Dead World universe, is underway. He has no special knowledge or skills. This is not a book, after all, about kicking tons of zombie ass. Sure, a lot of zombie ass gets kicked, but that is incidental to the main point of the book, which is to show both the fragility of our modern day world and to suggest a possible remedy for that fragility.
I wanted someone who could stand in for the reader, someone with whom they could identify rather than hero worship. Most people who took a freshman year English Lit class are probably familiar with it. Everyman pleads to stay. Eventually, only Good Deeds agrees to go with Everyman into the grave, and it is through a combination of Good Deeds and contrition that Everyman eventually ascends to heaven. Eddie Hudson has grown used to being part of a large army of sorts, with the full might of the Department ready to come to his aid at the touch of a button. That is gone at the end of the first act.
The second act opens with Eddie emotionally adrift. And then, while wandering through the ruins of a gas station in his old patrol district, he finds his best friend and former partner, Marcus Acosta. Eddie and Marcus are basically a variant of the Odd Couple. Eddie is a family man, with all the attachments and sense of obligation that implies. But for Marcus, the end of the world means nothing more than the end of alimony payments. But friendship can only take Eddie so far, and like Everyman before him, eventually he has to go on without Marcus at his side, and at the beginning of the third act we find Eddie standing alone once again, surrounded, facing down certain death.
Of course he manages to escape he is narrating the story first person, after all, so you know he has to live through it , and his experiences here in the third act prepare him not only for his reunion with his wife and child, but also for his ultimate redemption. And now that he has achieved control over part of his world, the real challenge of rebuilding that world begins.
The parallels to Everyman are pretty obvious. Both characters get their friends and resources stripped from them by events outside their control. Gradually they are left with nothing but themselves, and their ultimate salvation dependant upon their actions. Even a localized disaster can serve to show that our control over our lives is tenuous at best. And nearly everyone, even the non-Air Force types, has heard of the Alamo. In fact, tens of millions of Americans have visited it since the late s.
In other words, San Antonio is well known to a great many Americans, and even a great many foreign travelers. My reasoning was that I was writing about a big city. What was the harm in making up a few street names? The second reason is a little more complex. The San Antonio Police Department has very specific rules about its officers writing for publication. Not only do they take a suspicious view of officers giving away police tactics and procedures, but they also want to preserve their valuable relationship with the public they serve.
So, I made up some street names. The first line of the book is a good example. The empty parking lot near the corner of Seafarer and Rood is actually the empty parking lot near the intersection of Roanoke St and Culebra. I was reading a lot of poetry, preparing for my comps. Sure, The Lord of the Rings was cool. But with nearly everything else, the magic that worked in the first book tends to become tedious and annoying about midway through the second book.
Even still, I get why authors love to do them. First and foremost, they make money. A lot of readers, I guess, enjoy the comfort of covering familiar ground. Hell, I followed Buffy through all seven seasons. I even kept on with Angel after that. It is what it is. Sometimes it works. Publishers know this, and so they encourage their authors to turn good ideas into lucrative franchises. I have nothing against making money. In fact, I rather enjoy making money. But there has to be more to it than that. If money was all there was, storytelling would be down there on the very bottom of the career ladder.
Most writers, in fact, make a shockingly low wage. The figures get even more embarrassing when you start figuring the actual money earned per time spent writing. But we do it. And every year, hundreds of thousands of authors submit their manuscripts to publishers in the hopes that they will be able to do it too.
Those are the moments that keep writers coming back for more of this abuse we call writing for a living. There were other parts of Dead World that needed exploring, and for that reason, I began to think of the possibility of doing a series of books, each one following a different set of characters through some other part of Dead World. That way, I could assuage my separation anxiety without doing the very thing that so frustrated me as a reader. I could have my cake and eat it too, in other words. Meanwhile, I was writing other stories and publishing them here and there.
I was impressed by the way 23 House did business, and I wrote Mitchel Whitington, the managing editor, to let him know. I agreed right away. One night was just about perfect for my purposes. That told the story the way I thought it should be told. But, as I mentioned earlier, quite a few readers thought differently. They wanted details of the six weeks that pass between Chapter 33 and I felt for them, because I wanted to write about that part of the overall story, but my instincts told me that Eddie Hudson was not the right person to tell of that confusing time.
That part of the story would have to wait. Canavan and his platoon have been tasked with a very simple mission. Their lieutenant is pinned down with a few survivors. Canavan is to take his men into downtown, rescue the lieutenant and any uninfected survivors, and get them to safety. But of course nothing is ever as easy as it sounds, especially when there are hundreds of thousands of zombies flooding into the area.
While trying to fight his way back out of the compromised area, he encounters a woman who is dying in the bombed out ruins of a bank. Amid the swirling dust and the moaning hordes of zombies, the two share a tense and bitter moment that changes Canavan forever. The missing six weeks from DEAD CITY were a time of rebuilding, or at least an attempt at rebuilding, and survivor guilt is an unfortunate symptom of that process. Those who live through traumatic moments of loss know this.
They know there is a drive to throw oneself headlong into any kind of mind-numbing labor, and that that labor is at once an urge to destroy oneself while at the same time building up the memory of those who have died. What was needed, I decided, was an outsider, someone who could bring in a firsthand account of what happened in Houston, while also commenting on the deep sense of loss continuing on through the rebuilding process.
Stoler and Eddie spend the middle third of the book arguing about the philosophical and moral implications of a world populated by zombies. Eddie, being who he is, finds the conversation rather pointless. They are very much alive, but infected with a disease that eats away their minds so that they are, for all intents and purposes, completely depersonalized.
They feel no pain, only aggression, so that they will continue to attack even when mortally wounded. For him, it is a matter of kill or be killed. Stoler, on the other hand, absolutely refuses to heap violence on the zombies. He lacks the mental horsepower necessary to debate Ken Stoler, and they both know it. Stoler hopes to use this to his advantage and convert Eddie to his cause. He wants to quarantine off the entire Gulf Coast region and put pressure on the government to research a cause for the disease turning the infected into zombies.
Every single infected person, he argues, deserves to be rehabilitated. We can no more hold them criminally liable for their acts of murder and cannibalism than we can hold an insane person responsible for murdering someone. That, of course, is not an effective argument to use on a cop, and though Eddie tries to respond in an intelligent manner, all he ends up doing is tripping over his tongue. And when Ken Stoler leaves the book, it is none too soon for Eddie Hudson. And just as many from people who hated him. No one, it seemed, was on the fence about him, which is exactly how I hoped he would come across.
Ken Stoler generated so much attention, in fact, that I decided to put his ideas to the test. And it would give me a chance to introduce a man destined to become one of the most important characters in the whole Dead World series. Ben is single, mid-thirties, smart, but not pompously so. He was born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas, just like Janis Joplin, and when the first reports of cannibalism started coming out of Houston right after Hurricane Mardell, Ben went into action.
He made a decision right then to write the definitive history of the Outbreak, covering every aspect of the zombie plague, from the lofty, but ultimately empty, speeches on the White House lawn to the plight of the lowliest individual hiding out in the back alleys of a ruined town. Sylvia Carnes. She has about forty students with her, each one a member of the local chapter of People for an Ethical Solution, and a court order authorizing her to enter the quarantine zone.
The idea, she tells Ben, is to show the rest of the country that the infected — she refuses to call them zombies — can be handled in a humane way by normal people. This, she hopes, will open the door to meaningful research into a cure. Ben Richardson is naturally skeptical. He and Sylvia Carnes fall on opposite sides of the issue, but he nonetheless maintains an open mind, and convinces her that he should come along on her expedition into San Antonio.
Well, okay, I said. The more important part of that story was the way the debate between Sylvia Carnes and Ben Richardson develops. All those elements were a deliberate part of the overall point of view. But when I sat down to write the next book in the series, I felt I had to go the other way. I needed to cut a wide path. I needed to show the zombie apocalypse going global.
I envisioned multiple groups of characters fleeing the advancing zombie hordes, seeking shelter in the frozen expanse of the North Dakota Grasslands. In my mind I saw a huge novel, both in scope and in size, an homage to the giant Stephen King horror novels of the s. Turns out, my publisher was thinking along the same lines. Really do it up. Blow the whole world up, that kind of thing. A really epic book. I mean genre in the more traditional sense.
Genre as it pertains to specific literary forms, such as comedy, or tragedy, or even in slightly narrower poetic terms, such as the elegy, or the ode. I was trained to read literature as an academic. Dealing in the finer points of literary terms was my stock and trade for a good long while. In traditional academic terms, an epic is a long, narrative poem defining the significant heroes and historical context of a nation.
Epics define the culture and the values of a nation. Also, epics use things such as heroic epithets and catalogs and godly intervention and long digressive passages. And their authors generally telegraph their intentions to write epics early in their career by first earning their writing chops with pastoral poetry. Neither did Stephen King in The Stand. Neither did any of the other modern scribblers you can think of. In fact, about as close as any American author has ever come to writing a true epic is Melville with Moby Dick.
You in the back. In other words, they absorb all other poetic forms current in their day and age and therefore make them subservient to their narrative. Melville does this with drama, with biblical exegesis, with shipping, with science, with action, with comedy, and on and on. I knew the book would — undeservedly — be called an epic. And for that reason, I threw in a couple of nods to those who, like me, cringe at the misuse of the word. Students of English epitaphs will notice several vaguely familiar poems, the most obvious of which are for William Bunn and the dentist John Hannity.
Both of these poems, and several of the other zombie-themed epitaphs quoted in this section, are loose adaptations of famous folk rhymes from the British Isles. I expect my English and Irish cousins will recognize the rhymes before most American readers, simply because the poems are a part of their culture and not the American one, but just in case some American reader figures it out first…Bravo to you!
You got the joke. Ben Richardson began the post-apocalyptic phase of his life as a journalist, determined to describe every aspect of the zombie apocalypse in what he intended to be the definitive history of the zombie apocalypse. Not only does he narrow in on the specific human cost of the tragedy, but he writes with authoritative skill on the political machinations behind the cataclysm.
Through him, and specifically, through his journals, we learn the shape of this world that is devolving into anarchy. In the early days of the Outbreak, the only thing that divides the American people from complete destruction is The Gulf Region Quarantine Authority. These men — and yes, they are a not so thinly veiled commentary on the U. They are a Band-Aid for the patient who is rapidly bleeding to death. Sometimes I find it hard to wrap my mind around how big it is.
The logistical scope of the project is simply staggering. Back in its heyday the U. They hunted drug dealers and illegal aliens with a huge array of tools, everything from satellite imagery and publicly-accessible webcams to helicopters, horses, and plain old fashioned shoe leather. Even still, the border had more holes in it than a fishing net. In comparison, the Gulf Region Quarantine Authority only has a wall of some 1, miles to patrol. The wall stretches from Gulfport, Mississippi to Brownsville, Texas, paralleling the freeway system wherever possible to aid in the supply and reinforcement of problem areas.
The GRQA keeps this stretch of metal fencing and sentry towers and barbed wire secure with just over 10, agents, most of them former CBP and National Guardsmen and cops. They are aided at sea by the U. Coast Guard and in Mexico by federal troops. Yet despite their numerical advantage over the old U.
Customs and Border Protection Agency, their job is infinitely harder. Nobody in the old CBP thought too much of it that a steady stream of illegals got through the border every day. They just shrugged and went on with life. That would spell disaster. The pressure is high, the price of failure is apocalyptic. Their job terrifies me. These guys are frequently posted outside of major metropolitan areas where the zombie populations are thickest. Day and night they have to listen to that constant moaning.
Hearing all that noise for just a few weeks is demoralizing. Or that they are never punished for it when they do. Nate is an unlikely hero. This is our introduction to Nate Royal, and from the start we find him difficult to like. But then something happens.
Nate gets attacked by a zombie. He is immune to the necrosis filovirus. When the military doctors who have set up shop in the area discover his unusual condition, they pack him off to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. Once there, Nate meets a military doctor named Mark Kellogg, and while the two of them never really become friends, they do develop a unique relationship. Kellogg is an intellectual.
Because Nate is most certainly not an intellectual, he lacks the specialized language to discuss nihilism like a philosopher. He only knows what he feels. This presents Dr Kellogg with an obvious problem. Their relationship is as much of a statement on the way an older generation attempts to hand the baton of responsibility off to the next as it is a rejection of the classical hero archetype.
Nate is definitely not a hero, and yet is called upon to play the part. Comic books are more popular today than ever before. So too are songs and movies about superheroes. The phenomenon even extends into politics, where Barrack Obama failed to live up to the media image of hope and change that propelled him into office. Time and again, Dr. Kellogg has to lift Nate up and push him in the right direction. And can one truly be called a hero if there is no free will involved in the actions that would traditionally qualify one for hero status?
I changed the title after a lengthy and at times heated discussion with my editor and agent. When I was plotting out the book, I knew I wanted to end with a microcosm of the apocalypse.
I also wanted that ending to speak directly to the theme of nihilism. And, as has become my modus operandi when I need to craft major plot elements, I turned to my youth for inspiration. What I found there was Jonestown. I was ten years old when the news broke about the mass suicides down in Jonestown. How, I asked, could so many people just give up on life? How could one man convince so many people to do something so ridiculous? Those questions stayed with me, even as I made jokes with my friends about drinking the Kool-Aid.
Over the years the legacy of Jonestown continued to bother me. I found lots of wild ass guesses concealed as educated theories, but nothing that really, solidly, answered the question. I think we have a deep-seated need to belong somewhere. But beyond fitting in, we also want to know that our lives have value, even if we never grow rich or get famous or add to the collective knowledge of mankind. Cults of course provide for this by a creating the illusion of family, a sense of inclusion.
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Gangs do the same thing. So does high school football, and turning out in droves to support a pro sports team, or blogging, or belonging to professional organizations and gardening clubs. The point is we seek out ways to be included. And when that happens, all hell breaks loose. Are you saying that a world based on bad reasons is enough? A world based on bad reasons is enough. Their answer makes sense within the context of their relationship, but falls short of satisfactory when put in light of the events at Jonestown, and the fictional counterpart of those events as they occur in the novel.
I was cranking them out at a fevered pace, sometimes as many as three a week, and selling most of them. It became almost like a drug for me. And then, at the end of that year, my agent came calling for another book. As I said, I never had any intention of becoming a writer. I just wanted to write. I told him my thoughts on sequels and he seemed disappointed, but asked what else I had. He liked the idea, and I got to work on Quarantined, my second novel. Specifically, I turned my attention to Houston.
All those banks with their vaults full of cash…all those museums with their walls covered in priceless art…all those jewelry stores with their diamonds on display…they got me thinking. Imagine someone desperate enough, someone skilled enough, someone brave enough…they could run the Coast Guard blockade out in the Gulf, scuba dive into the flooded ruins, and take anything they wanted. All they had to do was avoid the soldiers guarding the walls and the nearly two million zombies still wandering inside the city. Originally, I planned to have a team of four men and women scuba dive into the flooded city, grab the cash, dodge a few zombies, and maybe make it out alive.
Along the way, they would do battle with the Quarantine Authority and a wild bunch of gangsters. It was going to be great fun. Once again I turned to my personal experiences. It occurred to me that if I was going to write an effective storyline, it would have to involve those two elements. I decided I would tell the story of how the first zombies appeared and spread to the rest of the Gulf Coast. I would tell the story of the hurricanes that sunk Houston and created the Dead World. She is also a wife and a mother. As the storms roll in and the City of Houston begins to fall apart, Eleanor is caught between her job and her family, unable to devote her complete attention to either.
As the novel begins, Eleanor thinks she has a handle on this question. She has done her homework and has thoroughly prepared her family to shelter in place during a hurricane. Her husband and daughter have more than enough food, water, and medical supplies to get them through a few weeks without power and running water. Eleanor, in fact, has made preparation a near obsession. But, as she finds out, mere preparation is insufficient. There is a greater danger than raw sewage and flood waters, and its name is boredom. Meanwhile, at work, Eleanor is being pulled in a hundred directions at once.
As the nearly 2. The shelters quickly swell to unmanageable numbers, which leads to many more problems, such as dysentery, cholera, starvation, and a host of sanitation problems and medical shortages generally found only in third world nations. Between salvaging boats to evacuate the refugees and struggling to maintain order, Eleanor spends long hours, and sometimes days on end, at the campus. When she returns home, which is surrounded by flood waters, she finds that her husband and daughter have been fighting their own battle with boredom, and that their resentment of her apparent freedom has reached a boil.
Being home soon becomes as much work as being at her job. But when the hurricanes hit, and his command post at the University of Houston campus becomes the only legitimate police authority in the area, Captain Mark Shaw finds himself the man on top, the place where the buck stops. He is confronted not only with the demands of organizing the shelters and the evacuation of those shelters, but also of being the father.
Once the disaster is managed, his two sons will almost certainly be out of work with everything they own washed out to sea. As Captain Shaw sees it, he has two duties: evacuate the citizens who have entrusted him with their safety and see to it that his sons are provided for after the disaster has passed. It seems like an impossible task, but Shaw has a plan. Through his connections as head of the EOC, he has learned of a local bank with 7 million dollars in cash abandoned in its vault.
The bank is flooded and the property and the money declared a total loss by the insurance companies. He sons are able to recover the money. Now, the only task is getting out of Houston alive. Of course the zombies make that difficult. And when Eleanor Norton learns of the heist, the Shaws find themselves stuck between survival, doing their duty to the refugees, and looking out for their own futures. Self-interest would take over and the problem would work itself out. But Captain Mark Shaw is not a lesser man. Some men have religion, Captain Mark Shaw has duty. He is deeply conflicted by his role in the bank heist, and this proves to be his crisis of faith, for he sees the money as his greatest sin and at the same time the key to providing for his family.
But even still, I feel compelled to point out that none of the first three books are truly post-apocalyptic. They are, more properly, disaster stories. Apocalyptic stories. I wanted to show, in detail, where the scenarios I had put in place would lead. It is now a world of abandoned cities and crumbling roads and a population so decimated that a traveler can walk for days without seeing another human being. Something about those dark, empty windows, the vacant doorways, the sepulchral quiet of an empty train station or hotel lobby, spoke of discontinuity, and of trauma.
There was a vacancy in those wrecks that evoked loss and heartache and the memory of dreams that have fallen by the wayside. Sure, most everybody gets eaten, and so you end up with a lot of buildings and very few people, but it goes a little deeper than that. Zombies and abandoned buildings, it seems to me, are actually two sides of the same coin. Aside from the obvious similarity — that they are both miserable wrecks somehow still on their feet — both are symbols of a world that is at odds with itself and looking for new direction.
And in that way, zombies merge symbolically with the abandoned buildings they haunt in ways that other monsters never really achieve with the settings of their stories. When a building dies, it becomes an empty hull, and yet it does not fall. At least not right away. Its hollow rooms become as silent as the grave; but, when you enter it, its desolate inner spaces somehow still hum with the collected sediment of the life that once thrived there.
The operative force at work here is memory. Within the mind, memory links past, present and future. But in our post-apocalyptic landscapes, our minds need a mnemonic aid…and that aid is the abandoned building. The moldering wreck before us forces us to consciously engage in the process of temporal continuity, rather than simply stumble through it blindly. Put another way, we become an awful lot like Wordsworth daydreaming over the ruins of Tintern Abbey.
That is our biological imperative. Zombies are, really, single serving versions of the apocalypse. Apocalyptic stories deal with the end of the world. Generally speaking, they give us a glimpse of the world before catastrophe, which becomes an imperfect Eden of sorts. They then spin off into terrifying scenarios for the end of the world. And finally, we see the survivors living on, existing solely on the strength of their own wills.
There are variations within the formula, of course, but those are the nuts and bolts of it. When we look at the zombie, we get the same thing — but in microcosm. We see the living person prior to death, and this equates to the world before the apocalypse or the ghost of what the abandoned building used to be. And finally, we see the shambling corpse wandering the wasteland in search of prey, and this equates to the post apocalyptic world that is feeding off its own death. It is in this final note that the symbolic functions of the abandoned building and the zombie diverge.
But the zombie, so long as it stands, speaks only to our ultimate mortality. For example, the last time we heard of Ken Stoler, he was leading a national campaign to protect the rights of the infected. Sylvia Carnes, the University of Texas English professor and acolyte of Ken Stoler, was last seen driving off in a chartered bus after losing all her students to an ill-fated trip into San Antonio. So not only is MUTATED unique in that it is the only truly post-apocalyptic book in the series, but it is also the only novel in the bunch that can truly be called a traditional sequel.
The book begins with Ben Richardson, who never quit working on his history of the zombie outbreak. Excerpts from his book are peppered throughout MUTATED, and from those excerpts it becomes clear that Richardson knows his work will never be finished. The idea of writing the book has become his crutch, the one thing that enables him to get up every morning and go on living in a world that has otherwise lost its meaning for him.
And then, while hiding from a roving band of zombies in the ruins of St. Louis Pizza Hut, he runs into Dr. Unbeknownst to Richardson, Sylvia Carnes and her group have fled a compound run by Ken Stoler in order to meet up with a doctor who may have developed a cure for the necrosis filovirus. But the world Carnes and the others have escaped into is not so simple. This man, whose skin has turned a dark red from rosacea, has built up an army of zombies and uninfected human soldiers. The Red Man also wants to capture Carnes and her people.
Thrown together in the ruins and dodging common foes, Richardson and Carnes join forces, and together they go on a quest down the Mississippi River to find the man who just might be able to save the human race from itself. While no one part of the United States is more or less American than any other part, the Heartland is just that…the heart of America. In the Dead World, the necrosis filovirus spreads through exposure to the bodily fluids of an infected zombie, and the usual vector is a bite. The virus causes the complete depersonalization of the infected person, essentially turning them into a zombie.
It does not kill them, however. The living, infected person exists as a mindless husk, intent solely on aggression. And in most cases, they are so badly injured by the contact that caused their initial infection that secondary infections are rampant. What this means in practical terms is that most of the infected die off very soon after getting infected, either from their initial injuries, injuries incurred while hunting for food, or from the food itself that they eat.
While looking over the side of the roof, Richardson realizes that the zombies below are using strategy to flush out prey. The shock is nearly too much for him. He had been so certain that the infected needed to be exterminated outright after his trip to San Antonio with Dr. But now, watching them use strategy, all his certainty disappears. To be sure, the change is a gradual one. But it is happening.
These zombies are freshly infected and almost completely depersonalized. They are incapable of reason, and have no capacity to anticipate the actions of others. Most of the time, these zombies are the traditional slow movers of the Romero movies. There are a few, however, who are capable of moving with great speed. Eddie Hudson calls these fast movers. These are infected persons who were in excellent physical condition at the time they were turned and who were infected by injuries so minor that their ability to move around was not impaired.
Luckily, they are few and far between. Assuming a zombie survives his or her first eight months or so of undead life, they begin to change into Stage 2 zombies. They are capable of using simple strategies, such as cooperative hunting, to corner prey. In most cases, Stage 2 zombies are still slow moving. It is extremely rare for a zombie to advance beyond Stage 2, but a few live long enough to manage it. Stage 3 zombies have regained a great deal of their fine motor skills and are even capable of approximating language through grunts and primitive gestures.
They are rather like trying to keep chimpanzees as pets, he realizes. Left alone for too long, they can, and will, break locks, feign injuries or sleep, and in some cases respond to their names and other verbal cues. They are, however, still aggressive to a fault, and unable to contain their impulses. Before the Red Man so named because of the rosacea that has turned him a burgundy red from head to foot no one envisioned a stage 4 zombie. The idea of someone completely, or even mostly, regaining their sense of self after being infected seemed too implausible to be considered a threat.
But that is exactly what the Red Man is, a stage 4 zombie. The Red Man has regained nearly all of his memories and his sense of self, but the necrosis filovirus has left him hopelessly insane. It has also given him the ability to communicate through normal speech with his army, and through grunts, smells and moaning, with the zombies. He is the next step in evolution in this world made up of two different species of humanity. Nate Royal, for all his many faults, is immune to the necrosis filovirus. This puts him in direct opposition to the Red Man: the man who becomes the ultimate zombie versus the man who can never become a zombie.
They represent opposite ends of the spectrum, and a meeting between the two is inevitable. It also opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.www.hiphopenation.com/mu-plugins/vital/benefits-of-dating-a-fat.php
Apocalypse of the Dead
A man immune to the zombie virus could redefine the struggle they have spent their lives fighting for. Nate has never had things very easy. Mark Kellogg was able to help Nate along, but only after many hours of shared suffering and individual attention. Now that Kellogg is gone, Nate is like a compass needle spinning aimlessly around the dial, trying to find his true north.
But Nate remains vital, for even after all these years, he still carries the flash drive that Dr. Mark Kellogg put around his neck just before he died. Contained in that flash drive is the answer that humanity has been waiting for, the cure to the necrosis filovirus. The trouble is that Nate has run out of gas, spiritually speaking. And then he finds Ben Richardson. While the two of them are floating downstream on the Mississippi, Nate rediscovers the true north he has been missing. He takes from Ben Richardson the guidance he needs to confront the Red Man.
Whether, ultimately, he is successful, depends on your point of view. What kind of future do you want? The world has been overrun by zombies and left in ruin. But there are still groups of people left alive, and they are carving out an existence in the wasteland. How hard could that be, right? Kids have been dating forever. Well, when taking your date out involves high speed pursuits through zombie-infested ruins and being used as pawns in an underhanded power grab scheme, nothing is as easy as it seems.
I had made a few readers mad with the ending to Dead City, and I wanted to address the criticism before I went on with the rest of the series. And that meant writing about Eddie Hudson again. The thing to remember about Eddie Hudson is that he is not a reliable reporter. Most people get that wrong about him. So this story really becomes as much a conversation between father and son as it does a commentary on the Dead World series itself.
I think the answer hinges on personal accountability. Case in point: He gave me some important advice on personal responsibility. Right before I left for my first date, he gave me the only bit of parental sex education I ever received. Conduct yourself accordingly. I guess it took. People keep asking me if they need to read the Dead World in a certain order. Okay, that was for all those folks who are completely new to the series. The rest of you, those who have read at least one of the books and are looking for some insight into the rest of the series, what follows is for you.
If you want to read the Dead World series the way the author would like the series read, this is it:. And much thanks for this lengthy and informative background on your zombie books. Thanks Jim! I appreciate that! Thank you. Hope Apocalypse of the Dead keeps you coming back for more.
A lot of people my wife among them have told me that Barnes is their favorite character in Apocalypse of the Dead. I understand that. But the thing about Barnes you have to remember is that he is emotionally exhausted. You may remember in the opening chapter when Barnes is looking down on the refugees as they are being shot by the Coast Guard and he feels something go numb inside.
This is the beginning of the exhaustion I mention. Later, Richardson makes comments about how many of the Quarantine Authority troops end up going AWOL, or worse, commit suicide, because of the daily stress of their job. This is another indicator that Barnes is wearing thin. Then we have the scene where he beheads the bandit trying to kill him and screams at the head. The journey across the country wears Barnes down past his breaking point, ultimately culminating in the bedroom of the RV where he kicks the corpse of the man who has eaten himself to death.
He realizes that Robin is a natural born teacher, that Kyra is a natural born messenger, that Sandra Tellez is a natural born medic. He has that ability to look deep into someone, and in many cases, deeper than the person themselves can see. Remember that? Aaron says he sees a natural leader, a fighter. I see exhaustion. Ultimately, Barnes and Ed Moore are opposites. Both start from similar backgrounds, and both are forced to lead a ragtag army of survivors through a countryside full of zombies, but they end up on opposite sides of Jasper precisely because of the issue of emotional exhaustion.
Barnes has been fighting a long time, and his natural response to exhaustion is to fight even harder. Ed has had things a little easier. He is exhausted, due to his age, but he is far from emotionally exhausted, and that is what gives him the reserves to resist Jasper. What I want to know is, are you or they , ever going to publish them together in one volume? Not to make myself sound super important or anything. Thanks a ton, man!
I do actually have a short story collection coming out in , called Nightmares and Grimoires. And thanks again for reading. I really appreciate it. I just came across one of your books, Dead City last week. I read it in a setting and ran out the next day to get a copy of Apocalypse of the Dead. I have read 25 zombie books in the last year and you are in my top three now. Great book.
I am looking forward to your next one in April, and like the previous poster i am excited to see that your short stories are coming out in a single collection soon. Fantastic, thanks Brad. Feel free to post on Amazon as well. Amazon reviews are always helpful. And just out of curiousity, who are the other two on your short list? I just finished two if the Dead City series, it was amazing. The books gave me a few restless nights of getting up to look in the backyard for the zombies LOL… Thank you waiting for the next!!
Brain Keane writes great zombies also, and you two are my favs so far! Thanks Angela, glad to hear it! Yeah, Brian is a great author. I love reading his stuff. I think Ghoul is my favorite of his. Thanks for reading! Complex characters in a very complex environment. Well done!! Unfortunately now I have to wait a explicit year for Zombie King. Great I love to see new authors hit the scene because they have the raw energy of a stage one Zombie…If you have the time how about a big Vampire book that shows them as truly evil and not the teen heart-throb of today..
Thanks, man! I appreciate it. I really enjoyed writing both Eleanor and Shaw. It would be great to reconnect with Eleanor sometime soon…. I agree with your choices of vampire stories, by the way. I hate the Nancy Boy vampires too. Next up is a mummy story, then a ghost story, but after that, who knows, a vampire story could be fun. Thanks great books! Thanks Eli! Glad you liked the book! And yeah, I do have plans to continue the story I started with Apocalypse of the Dead. Thanks again for the kind words! I bought Dead City almost by accident.
When I read the summary of the book I kept it in my Amazon shopping cart. I just finished Apocalypse of the Dead. I was ecstatic when I saw that there were 2 more books in the series and even more so when I realized that I have 3 books of short stories that have Survivors, Ethical Solutions and Dating in Dead World in them. Your books bring the readers right into the stories and make them feel like they are there with the characters.
They let you experience the desperation and panic that the main characters go through. Excellent writing! I used to work in a book store and I know the thrill of picking something up by accident, only to discover something I later grow to enjoy. I got to know the writing of John Irving that way. Where did you find Ethical Solutions, by the way?
The neighbourhood dogs barking in the distance now fill me with a wondering dread, is there something coming out of the woods? Your writing definitely struck a chord! Enough gushing from me, hurry up with the Zombie King!! Thanks a ton! No worries. By the way, I was in Brighton early last year and fell in love with the town. My wife and I had a great time.
JJ, just read your post and had to say something.. I grew up in Manchester and after watching Dawn of the Dead at 7 years old allways had it in the back of my mind.. I happened to be walking around a bookstore one day looking for a new book to read and I stumbled upon Dead City. I have been a zombie fan since before I can remember and read practically anything I can get my hands on about them. I love hearing that people are connecting with the books.
I love finding new authors that way. Hope you enjoy Flesh Eaters! Hey, I just wanted to let you know I love your books. I first read Dead City right after it came out, my sisters friend let me borrow it and I loved it. Then just this year I was working at borders and put Apocalypse of the Dead on the shelf and realized it was your book and bought it on the spot. Just finished Flesh Eaters and have to say it was amazing. Keep up the great work can wait for Zombie King to come out. Thanks for the amazing books! Thanks David! Too many times I brought my paycheck home in a bag. Thanks again!
Gush, gush. My question? Thanks Lynn! I appreciate that. Thanks again for taking a chance on my books. Hi Joe! Took your advice and started with Flesheaters before Apocalypse. I hope it is as satisfying as I am imagining! I was actually shocked when Capt. Shaw joined in trying to kill Eleanor. I had to go back and re-read the paragraph to be sure it was actually the captain. Did he snap? In the midst of all that craziness and death, you would think that people would hold life more sacred.
I think I need to work on that naieve thing. For me, Captain Shaw was on the rails as far as his destiny was concerned. He was so absorbed with his sense of duty, first to family, then to honor, that anything between his family and their continued existence was going to become his enemy. Right or wrong, Eleanor falls into that category, and so he has to attack. Anthony is in a slightly different position, as he and his brothers are really the two sides of their father, and for me, that means that neither one is capable of true redemption.