Just made it in from a whirlwind week in NYC at Thrillerfest. I am so tired I want to DIE, yet my stupid biological clock still has me up at dawn despite how exhausted I am. Of all places, though, NYC seems to be the favorite place for moviemakers to destroy or infect. That and LA. Though I will mention the aliens never land in Texas.
Probably because the movie would be 15 minutes long :D.
One of my close friends, Piper Bayard, wrote a fabulous book, Firelands which deals with a post-apocalyptic world where religious fanatics now rule a world in ruin and use food to control the masses. In the spirit of her book, I wanted to discuss the apocalypse. That and I just spent a week in NYC walking through “mystery puddles”…which makes me wonder….
Why is the zombie apocalypse so fascinating to us?
Never Underestimate Zombies
One of the wonderful parts about being a writer is we are really well educated…too well educated. Any writer worth his or her salt reads…a lot. I recall (back in college) reading The Hot Zone, which is an absolutely terrifying book. Terrifying in its premise, sure. But also terrifying because it is based off real events.
For those who don’t know, Ebola actually made it to the United States in a shipment of infected monkeys back in the early 90s.
Ebola happens to be one of the most frightening diseases I’ve ever read about. Ebola Zaire, the most virulent of all the strains, essentially liquifies a victim within less than 12 days. The mass destruction it does to the body is the stuff of nightmares.
The virus does a number of nasty deeds to the body, but namely it attacks all the connective tissue from the inside out causing catastrophic internal hemmorhaging. This means the organs (including the brain) essentially turn to pudding because there is nothing left to hold everything together.
As a response, the body throws out all its clotting agents trying to keep the infected person alive…until it runs out of clotting agent and then the person just begins to bleed…from EVERYWHERE. Blood teeming with active virus begins to pour from the nose and mouth and eyes until the victim is rendered a puddle of infected blood, bone and tissue.
Um, cleanup on Aisle Five?
This is how the virus spreads—via blood contamination. The victim is literally dead before they die, their face sliding off the bones because nothing is left to maintain/support the facial architecture.
What makes Ebola especially horrific is that it’s only a few peptides and mutations from being something airborne. If something like Ebola spread like the flu? We’re toast. This is what The Hot Zone addresses. A version of Ebola (similar to Zaire in burn rate) really made it to the US…and it spread through the air like a cold.
I won’t say any more because this is a really fabulous book, but part of why it was so scary is IT FREAKING HAPPENED.
Ebola happens all the time in Africa and how do they deal with it? I call it the Three B’s—bleach, bury and burn. When a village has an outbreak, the authorities will cut down trees to block any roads leading to the village…and wait for everyone to die. Ebola Zaire has roughly a 99% kill rate. Almost no one ever survives. Authorities wait for everyone to be dead then torch the place.
Happy Monday! 😀
The Scary Part About Viruses
Viruses are a lot like politicians and Kardashians. They are parasitic and they will adapt as much as needed to survive. If they burn through a species, they’ll change to be able to burn through another. If contamination via blood isn’t working? A virus is fully capable of changing tactics, like marrying Kanye West and naming it’s kid something seriously stupid like North West.
Sorry, forgot we were discussing Ebola.
As populations get larger in countries like Africa, China and South America (ideal virus petri dishes because of climate and population density) we are invading areas of rain forest no human has ever set foot in. A virus might be inert or less virulent because local wildlife has developed immunity over time, and then? Virus spots the equivalent of a Twinkie on two legs (people). NEW JUNK FOOD!
Viruses have no long-term planning capabilities. They suck at having an IRA or even going to college. They just want to consume no matter the expense to the host, much like deadbeat in-laws.
But Isn’t This Why the Zombie Fascination is So Strong?
I love vampires, wizards, werewolves and the like, but zombies hold a unique fascination. Why? Because I think deep in our collective subconscious, we realize this is something that could happen…which is why you need a plan (but that is totally another blog).
I was one of the
fortunate first people to get Swine Flu. Hey, I’m an early adopter. What can I say? I contracted Swine Flu a year before we had a pseudo-pandemic. I had 105 fever for almost 12 days, and not only did I want to die? I wanted to die, be cremated, then have someone shoot my ashes it was so bad.
We live in a scary world. Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Ebola, and the Kardashians.
Come on! The Kardashians already have a reality show and have invaded QVC. If they manage to marry and breed faster? We could be looking at a world filled with mindless people wearing too much lip gloss and trashy shoes and being permitted to name their own children *shivers*. If a Kardashian meets up with Ebola? They could spread through sneezes and unwashed hands. Next thing we know, we are filled with botox, unable to move our foreheads or articulate an intelligent thought.
Sounds like zombies to me.
What are your thoughts? Most of us aren’t afraid of a vampire invasion, but zombies? A lot of us still get that niggling, “What if?” Why do you think we do that? Is it because we think it might happen? Is it because we’ve spent too much time watching The Bachelor or Toddlers and Tiaras?
I know you guys are geeks and have thought this through, so I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. strong>What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.
At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I love your post and how you tie in a most serious subject (ebola and the spreading of a viral disease) with humour.
Sadly, the Kardashians make it easier than it should be, LOL.
Hahaha, True, so true.
Perfectly wonderful title… I’ve often thought there’s something odd about the Kardashians.
As for thoughts about the zombie apocalypse, oh yeah, I’ve had a few. I just finished an excellent e-book called, “Ravage: An Apocalyptic Horror Novel” by Iain Rob Wright. I won’t say what started the zombification in his book, but it’s a twist I haven’t seen before. And lastly, I think too much Bachelor and Honey Boo Boo will eventually perform the same magic Ebola does… Personally, I’d rather watch a re-run of Sharknado 🙂
I think that the “crowd effect” is a strong implanter of zombie fear. Almost every theory of human behaviour suggests that we become more stupid if we are part of a large group, and city life (especially at sale time) subjectively supports this. So most modern urbanites (probably both the largest consumers of and the largest commenters on horror media) have already lived with hordes of stupid dangerous humans disrupting their lives.
This makes the distance from only fantasy to real much shorter than for, say, the beautiful, charming, and erudite vampire. So we are more likely to make the short leap.
Never been big on zombies, but Kardashians and politicians . . . now there’s a terrifying apocalypse.
Thanks for the shout out! Much appreciated.
I’m wondering, do some zombie enthusiasts just get into the thought of being able to legitimately shoot at humans that are dead, yes, but still resemble (beneath the rot) the mother-in-law, neighbor who doesn’t return the tools, teenager and so on? Vamps, sifters, fey can have a human form as well, but killing them is so much harder than mindless brain eaters.
We all kinda hope the annoying people get infected first. And, since most truly annoying people are stupid it’s plausible. So I would go with YES.
For me, and the friends I have who enjoy Stories of the ZA, its partly the horror of the situation, not only is it that every one you have ever known or met in life is now a thing that shouldn’t exist but does and is out to kill you but also every facet of our lives that we trust to be there in times of crisis are gone,. no police, no doctors, no Army or FEMA. Nothing of the old world still exists to step in and save the day. its all on you to survive.
but more importantly its thoughts of how would I survive this, what would I do. gather survivors and try to stall the slide back to the stone age, rebuild, or would fear and pressure finally get to me forcing me to discard all the things I profess to believe in or would I stay true to those ideals even if if kills me.
I think the Kardashians are kinda like a zombie apocalypse. I will admit, when I first saw them, I fancied the hell out of them and even watched more than I’m proud to admit but then I realised I actually was only watching it because they are hot and it is actually mind numbingly boring. Sad times
Look, there is nothing romantic about a zombie. You get bitten, you turn into the undead and you crave brains all the time. SPOILER ALERT: It is even apparent in the movie Warm Bodies: The teenage zombie heart throb turns BACK in to a human…
Now, if you get turned into a vampire, then you are the coolest thing since sparkly teenage boys.
With zombies, the one minute you and your lesbian lover is making out all hot and steamy, the next thing you get ripped through the dry wall by a horde of zombies and you have your belly ring tore out!
(Do not ask me why is that the only thing I remember of Romero’s Land of the Dead. That movie had Simon Baker in it!)
I’m on our local CERT team. We speak of all the people who aren’t prepared for a wide variety of emergencies ‘zombies’ because when the excrement hits the fan, they’ll be tearing down the door of anybody with food or water desperate to eat. BTW Kristen … FEMA uses a hypothetical ‘zombie apocalypse’ as a training exercise for certain populations who they might not otherwise ever get to think about these issues or participate in a drill (such as college students) although the ‘zombie virus’ -is- something like an H1N1 or ebola-type virus. So … you’re NOT nuts for obsessing about zombies in your emergency preparedness plans 🙂
Kristen, I read THE HOT ZONE more than 10 years ago. OMG. Oh. My. GOD! I didn’t sleep well for a long, long time. Thanks for reminding me… lol
Ebola? And I thought zombies were the ultimate in scary! Having my whole body melt and my village shut down waiting for me to die trumps zombie apocalypse.
Too funny, especially for a monday. love the post Kristen. Unfortunately I don’t understand the fascination with Zombies. I was never a fan. I’ll take a vampire or a witch any day.
Thanks for that, Kristen 😛 Good job it’s too hot here to sleep anyway…
Thank you so much for another wonderfully entertaining blog post!
I never really got the whole fascination with zombies thing; this sure puts an interesting spin on it!
I thought your comment about an alien invasion would only last 15 minutes in Texas. I live in Texas and I have to agree with you. I don’t think I actually personally know anyone who does not have weapons in their home for defense against…whatever. They wouldn’t get in our house, that’s for sure! LOL
Hot Zone! I had forgot I had ever read that! That book turned me into a germaphobe. You know you’re right about aliens lasting 15 minutes in Texas. It’s either them or us. I’ve been researching the reality of a zombie apocalypse and unfortunately the Resident Evil take has a very real approach. Their delivery method is off, but the results are about the same as what I’ve researched. A mutation of a virus that already exists could drive humans into a feeding frenzy and shut down enough brain to make them only understand hunger. If this virus became airborne and extremely contagious. Boom zombie apocalypse.
I should think it’s a mix of a number of things. Among them the “ok-button” to shoot at what at least still looks (almost) like a human, the fear of a spreading virus, and the need of having something new to scream about. Really, when we’ve made vampires into gentlemen and werewolves into charmers … what’s left to be scared about? Not them, at least. And aliens has been done too.
I’ve yet to see the charming, gentleman zombie, but I guess that might not be far off…
I take it you have not watched Warm Bodies yet? Charming, gentleman zombies! 🙂
No, obviously I haven’t. *groans*
Well, ok. If they don’t sparkle or anything, I might buy it.
lol. No sparkling. It’s actually pretty hilarious, I loved it. Now i need to read the book.
The Hot Zone is sitting on the shelf behind me. Reality is so much scary (and usually more unbelievable that fiction). Everyone ought to read it. Enjoyed another of your great posts.
Speaking of “Warm Bodies,” did you notice the parallels to “Romeo and Juliet”? The confidante in R&J was her nurse. In WB it is Noral. There is even a balcony scene in both. Kristen, I’m posting your link to SAWG and SARA, as usual.
LOL. Awesome. So happy I can at least provide you regular content you enjoy *fist pump* SCORE!
Love your book recommendations, Kristen, I’m excited to start reading Firelands!
As for how frightened we are of a zombie outbreak, or other viruses like it, I think it has to do with our need for control. While our military is spending billions upon billions buying tanks and ever more firepower that would be helpless against an Ebola outbreak, all we need is an enemy who hates us enough to ship such a virus smack into the middle of a few major cities… and boom! We’d be instant Kardashains for sure.
I heard Al Qaeda was tinkering with a strain of Kardashebola. Or would it be Eboladashian?
Great post, Kristen! I read your blog religiously, but I’m a lurker, not a poster 🙂 Today, though, I just couldn’t resist joining the conversation (also, I read Hot Zone as an impressionable 8th grader…and the lasting effects probably explain a lot about my personality today. TERRIFYING BOOK, but so, so good!)
I’m a zombie enthusiast. Actually, my Masters thesis was on zombies, so I guess technically I’m a certified zombologist :-p As a culture, the American viewing audience’s relationship with all horror media (not just zombies) is fascinating. Historically, in times of severe ideological upheaval (war, intracultural tension, etc.), horror movies not only make tons of money, they come to represent (in a twisted way) what it is we fear. By reflecting our fears back at us and showing a way to overcome them (at least on screen), audiences are able to have a cathartic release of tension. Just a few examples: During WWII, when many American soldiers were in Europe fighting, Gothic horror films were very popular (American hero fighting a “foreign-natured” monster on generally-European soil). In the 50s, when fear of nuclear war on the homefront rose, creature features were all the rage (mutated monsters on American soil). In the 80s, the decade of commodification and greed, slasher flicks with a concentration on high body counts dominated the box office (the human body itself representing a commodity to be used/disposed of in growing numbers). It’s really very interesting to study the greatest threats we faced at any given time, and then look at the horror films that were popular at that same time.
Zombies take it a step further. They aren’t just a monster, they’re us. At any time, one of the “good guys” can be bitten and turned, against his or her will, and join the “bad guys”. Zombies can stand in for any debased group in a society; it’s why they’ve been used to illustrate disparities in class, race, gender, and socioeconomic status. It’s their ability to reflect our ideological fears back at us – all the while groaning that we’re just one little bite away from becoming them – that makes them so delightfully scary.
OK. STOP LURKING! AWESOME COMMENT! Very interesting (tinkers even more ideas for blogs).
Thanks 🙂 I’m going to stop lurking. Honest. Generally, I just feel like I don’t have anything meaningful to add to the conversation. Zombies, though. Zombies I know! 😀
I *love love love* your blog, btw. Whenever someone tells me they are new to writing and looking for advice, your blog and the WANA Twitter group are where I point them.
Now THAT’S a thesis I’d love to read!
Ha! Famous last words. It’s one of those projects that just kept…growing. More blob than zombie, though I was pretty brainless by the end of it. I think it ended at about 150 pages after the defense and rewrites were all said and done. There’s a link to the pdf version online (through Auburn’s thesis outreach or whatever it is program), if you’d like to flip through it.
THANK YOU! And, um yeah???? Of course we want to. Well, I do….once I recover a little, LOL.
Fair warning, it’s academic and DRY. I hadn’t yet learned academic didn’t have to be boring. Recovery may be needed before and after.
Thanks, Gretchen! And I’ll definitely read it! I’ve read far less interesting ones, I’m sure. With a topic like zombies and horror movies, this one is calling me over 🙂
I hope you enjoy 🙂
Nice! I can’t wait to check that out myself.
Thanks 🙂 Hope you like it.
Since I live in South Texas (where guns flourish). It’s not so much that we are concerned with zombies or Kardashians, but more with running out of food and essentials (airconditioning and Bluebell icecream). This concern has prompted my husband to start spending an extra $100 a month on canning and storage equipment, emergency preparedness (iodine tablets, etc.) items, and dry goods. I know one day we’ll be ready to weather anything – except the Kardashian invasion *sighs*.
Hi from Tucson. I usually only lurk, though I read all of your blogs faithfully. This one hits home, though. I read The Hot Zone years ago and ebola virus has been a big fear since my sister and her family live in Africa. Maybe I should be more worried about zombies and Kardashians — well, maybe Kardashians more than zombies. At least zombies can’t procreate.
There’s a terrific and funny book called “The Zombie Survival Guide” by Max Brooks. If you’re into zombies then this is a must read.
When I was a teenage, I loved watching/reading/hearing about anything zombie-related. But when my Shih Tzu adopted me, I became such a devoted dog momma that I couldn’t handle anything zombie-related.
I’d have nightmares about how I’d be able to take care of her if it ever happened. From survival nightmares all the way to “Zombies have taken the mall?! Where will I get her squeaky toys???”
She passed away over two years ago and I still can’t watch anything zombie-related.
The real things out there are scarier than zombies. On thing to look into a pre-zombie craze book by the King “Pet Sematary”. Zombies on a small but really, really scary stage.
For another zombie pick, try the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant — Feed, Blackout, & Deadline.
Let me get this right…”Viruses are parasitic and they will adapt as much as needed to survive. If they burn through a species, they’ll change to be able to burn through another.”… kinda sounds like humans to me. Consuming everything the planet offers without regard while constantly looking for a new planet to inhabit once this one is devoured. Hmm.. perhaps we are the virus that creates zombies! 😉
Could be right. In the Matrix, Agent Smith referred to the human race as a virus.
I have some Kool-Aid with a “special ingredient” that can take care of this 😀 *evil laugh*
A, No thanks lady…I gave up Kool-Aid… a…for lent! Yea that’s the ticket.
I have been working (from time to time) on a new novel: Misty Morgan’s Guide to Happiness in a Post – [zombie] Apocalyptic World. So far I have the title (no small feat) and a list. I’m thinking maybe I should step up this project a little …
You are the best blog writer I’ve read. You consistently post things are very interesting to me. I have long loved the pandemic. It’s ironic but after all the weapons development we’ve done, the virus will probably be what does us in. I have heard of “racial memory”. Perhaps we have a “human memory” of the Black Plague or some other nasty that devastated humanity. We studied about virus in school. The recent popularity of Twilight touched on the flu that killed so many people around the time of the first World War.
Our subconscious knows that a virus can lay waste to humans with amazing speed and thoroughness. Any of us who have ever had the flu remember the misery. They keep telling us that the world is overdue for another pandemic. I think we’re all just waiting for it. Subconsciously, at least, we’re waiting. And that is why we’re fascinated by the zombie movies and books and rumors.
I believe the Kardashians are just a few letters away from being the Cardassians. Someone alert Starfleet Academy!!
Great offering today!
My ebola virus is that seemingly prevalent flesh eating bacteria! No more mix shaving with those disposable razors AND hospitals.
Since I moved to the other side of the Atlantic before the Kardashians cane in the scene, I am not quite sure how to classify them. Did someone make them up?
*ROFL* Kristen, you’re great!! I love how you equal the Kardashians with a “virus”. *grin*
Just in Case you feel like reading more about Miss Kim: http://raaniyork.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/letter-to-kim-kardashian/ and
You don’t have to… but I thought you might appreciate a good laugh. *grin*
Besides: I LOVE your blog post. I always love them!! They’re so creative!! 🙂
I’m more than a tiny bit obsessed with zombies (my first fully-completed manuscript – minus editing – is a zombie apocalypse novel), and I’ve thought about this a lot myself. Personally I think that what makes zombies so extremely frightening is that they’re US. Vampires, werewolves, witches…they can start as human, but we tend to think of them as monsters, creatures..something OTHER. But zombies…they’re us. They’re us, dead and rotting, and unable to resist the lure of raw flesh. Any one of us could become one at any time, and that’s beyond creepy. And I LOVE it. >:)
Texas has cannibals chasing you with chainsaws. “A zombie is an animated corpse raised by magical means, such as witchcraft.” I guess; the Muslim takeover had been contained. Zombie Apocalypse, no wonder Pope Mario is doing exorcism.
Great way to get people to leave a comment! I have a book I would love for you to review about my time in New Zealand, the insane court system, leaving my son there, trusts, the power of the sudo Aristocracy, macho men, among a number of other crazy circumstances. –elyssa–
I have plans for several types of disaster as I am paranoid.
Great post! I love reading zombie novels or apocolyptic novels of any kind. One reason why I’m currently writing one of my own I would love for you to review. Mine is just a bit different than most I’ve seen or read. I found a way to tie vampires in right along with the zombies in order to give the surviving humans just another threat they have to overcome during the apocolypse. -Tahnee-
Zombies take more than our lives. We’ve built a complicated society and dwell in it, clinging tight to all our possessions, hopes, and dreams. Zombies want none of that. For zombies, life is simple: eat. If you infect other humans along the way, so be it. But first, eat. You can’t negotiate or effectively defend against a swarming society that has only that one purpose and cares nothing for all that you’re trying to cling to. Zombies are like ants, who live only to serve their colony (Borg). Keep your home clean and ants won’t come in because there’s nothing to be found that’s of any use to them. Likewise, when we’re bad the zombies come…
Kristen, I’ve just finished reading World War Z, so I’m now an expert on zombies, and I can confidently say that no Kardashian would call their child North. It doesn’t start with a K. Now Kismet West, or Klout (for a boy) West, or maybe even Key West (to open all doors, y’hear). Those, I would expect.
Oh, I SO have a zombie apocalypse plan. And I’m not sharing it with anyone.
Love your blogs. They give me a laugh and an education every morning in good old Australia. Still have the Hot Zone and only started reading it again the other day. Talk about serendipity! Really enjoy books about germs, and Ebola is a cracker of a disease. As for zombies, never been big on them. It’s that thing about them wanting to eat your brains. Very uncivilised. Vampires always seemed urbane to me, and that whole neck biting scenario a little bit sexy to be honest. Anyway, there’s a chance you’ll be able to live forever if you become a vampire. And vampires aren’t affected by germs, so no Ebola. Bonus!!
I would have to agree with some of your commenters…I never really understood the extreme fascination of a zombie apocalypse. I’m a believer and follower of Christ and always thought that if a zombie apocalypse happened, why should I fear? I know that I’m going to heaven. And, I always thought, “Well, how likely is it anyway?” But, you make some really interesting points, such as the Emboli. I never knew much about the virus. Plus, I couldn’t help, but laugh at your connection with the Kardashians. Hehe Priceless. Glad I’m not the only one who can’t stand them. Love your blog!
Reblogged this on Live, Love, Laugh, Dance, Pray and commented:
Now I somewhat understand the fear behind the Zombie Apocalypse. Great post!
SOmetimes I am convinced that Zombies are in the decision making rooms of the television networks. I realize two truths about television: (1) Their are too many networks and something has to occupy the space of their schedule no matter how mindless (insert Kardashians here) (2) the more you have of something, the less qualified those who run it. I found the recent movie Zombieland to be a campy, yet enjoyable little film. I have watched The Walking Dead on AMC and while I can watch without being totally grossed out, i find the story to move way to slow. I mean I know there is probably no future, but how many times can you shoot all the Zombies without running out of ammo?
I have a zombie apocalypse plan – toss any zombie who tries to eat my brain a Kardashian.
Reblogged this on midnightscorner and commented:
Great post, and thought I would share with others, anything that links the Kardashians to Zombies and Ebola is a plus in my book LOL