Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blogging A to Z, Q is for Questions about Zombies

By Pembroke Sinclair

As many of you know, I've always been a huge fan of zombies.  I've enjoyed writing short stories, novelettes, and YA novels about them, along with watching films.  I always wanted to write a nonfiction book about them, but I was never sure what I wanted to write about.  It wasn't until I saw World War Z that it became clear what I needed to do.

One of the biggest questions I asked while working on this book was: What are zombies metaphors for?  Well, fears, of course, but fears of what?  In my case, it became the fear of science.  I am so excited to announce that a draft of the main text of my nonfiction zombie has now been completed.  It has been 9 months since I first started, and I'm nearing the finish line.  It's been an amazing ride.

Here are the chapters that hopefully answer the questions I asked:

Chapter 1: Dissecting and Defining Zombies
We know zombies today as reanimated rotting corpses that have come back from the dead to kill and devour the living, but they have existed in various forms throughout history and have come from different cultures. This chapter looks at the history of the zombie and how it has evolved into the creature we know today. This chapter also explains how zombies become a metaphor for our fears and what role science has played in perpetuating those fears and creating the undead.

Chapter 2: Exotic Zombies
Zombies have long been part of Vodou societies. They are recognized, but not necessarily feared. They are not the flesh-eating monsters we know, but corpses that have been taken from the grave to be used as slaves. The only thing to fear about a Vodou zombie is becoming one.

This chapter will explore the history and social significance of Haitian zombies and how those customs and practices instill a sense of fear in Western culture. By looking at films such as White Zombie, I Walked with a Zombie, and The Serpent and the Rainbow, this chapter will look at the human fear of losing control of their own mind and how “exotic” societies and their practices make us uncomfortable and fearful.

Chapter 3: Zombies from Space
Space is still a strange and unknown area. Before the space program kicked off and sent astronauts and probes to discover what was out there, only the limits of the imagination could explain what existed in the vastness. Scary and harmful things could be up there and come to Earth. What if in our explorations we discover something long dormant that wants to kill us? Worse yet, what if those things wake the dead? This chapter will explore the fear of the undead coming from space by looking at films such as Night of the Living Dead and Ghosts of Mars.

Chapter 4: Playing God
Science has given us a lot of advancements. They have worked hard to eradicate disease and improve the quality of life through the foods we eat and the medicine we take. It’s possible they have even searched for a way to defeat death. But are these things science should be messing around with? Should they have the ability to genetically modify food, even if it improves nutrition and sustainability? Is it possible that these advancements will mess with the natural order and create havoc with evolution? This chapter will look at the fears associated with science play God and how frightening it can be if their creations get out of hand.

Chapter 5: Pandemic Zombies
There was a time when plagues would wipe out the vast majority of the population. Until science understood the nature of pathogens, humans were at the mercy of the tiny germs. There are still outbreaks, so is there a chance another pandemic could occur? This chapter will look at the history of deadly outbreaks, how they have been combated, and the various ways an epidemic can infect a population.

Chapter 6: Zombies and Water
Water is vital to the survival of the human race. After oxygen, it is the most important element we need to live. It is also vital to the survival of pathogens, and many of them live and infect the water supply. In an industrialized society, we are fortunate to have treatment plants that ensure clean water always reaches our tap, but what if something goes wrong? Communities have been infected through the water supply before. What happens when society no longer exists? How will we be able to get clean water to survive?

This chapter examines the possibility of the zombie outbreak occurring through the water supply and what can be done to combat it. Using films such as Land of the Dead and the TV series The Walking Dead, this chapter also looks at how our society is “civilized” through treatment plants and what we would need to do to survive if they no longer existed.

Chapter 7: Biological Warfare Zombies
A pandemic outbreak of disease is scary enough, but it’s downright frightening to know someone developed and unleashed the disease on an unsuspecting population. While this type of outbreak hasn’t yet occurred, the threat of it happening is very real. This chapter will look at how science can be responsible for destroying the world with a developed biological disease that is used as a weapon.

Chapter 8: Surviving the Zompocalypse
Using various examples from films, this chapter will look at ways in which humans can survive the zombie uprising.


  1. Very interesting work. Congrats! It sounds great...

  2. Super cool post. There are so many ways zombies can reflect our fears, or to simply examine the human existence.

    Hope you are enjoying the A to Z challenge! Here’s my A to Z Post on Memorable Characters