This one is a little bit of an unusually specific discussion for me, but I think we’ve pretty much all been exposed to zombies in popular culture, including through fiction. I was personally terrified of zombies until I actually began reading zombie fiction and while they still have that ‘uck’ factor I don’t have nightmares any longer. There is no standard type of zombie, though. The portrayals vary from author to author and when you read a lot of zombie fiction it’s interesting to see the sheer variety.
Mira Grant’s zombies, for example, are similar to the slow-moving ones of popular culture. They have one important aspect, though: they have a hive mind. One or two zombies aren’t a danger to any physically fit human, but as Shaun and Georgia find out a pack of zombies can display hunting tactics from ambushes to cutting off all available routes of escape. This is in contrast to humans, who seem to utterly lose all common sense when in large crowds. (Yes, I know, I’ve studied way too much psychology.)
Another fascinating zombie type for me are the ones in V. M. Zito’s The Return Man. Marco, the main character, lives in the Evacuated States and hunts zombies for a living. People pay him to put down their relatives so they know they’re not suffering as a zombie. How the heck do you find one zombie in an area that makes up most of the US? Well, emotional geography is how you do it. Zombies in Zito’s world have some trickle down from the neocortex into the reptilian brain that controls them and this trickle down mainly consists of powerful memories. Zombies will go to where they spent a lot of time in their lives such as at work or at home. Maybe they’ll hang around the restaurant where they met their beloved wife or the hospital where their first child was born. But either way, if you know enough about a person you can be sure to find their corpse wandering around somewhere.
These are my favourite zombie versions. What I want to know now is this: What’s your favourite version of zombies? Do you like the traditional George Romero style ones or the fast-moving zombies? Does a particular author portray zombies in a way you like? (Please, no major spoilers if the truth about the zombies is main plot point, as in the case of The Scourge by A. G. Henley.)