Zombie fiction


For a while I have taken to tagging as 'a zombie story' any story in which defeat means being transformed into the enemy. Typically where defeat is something as difficult to avoid as being touched. This seems to be a common trope in the new series of Doctor Who, including The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances, somewhat implicitly in Tooth and Claw, 42, Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead and The Waters of Mars. Which does not even include all the other episodes in which characters are transformed into enemies or used as components thereof.

Seems to be rather a strong strain in the series, and I have been wondering if that might carry over into other fiction, if it is somewhat a 'fear of the times'. Certainly there is the explosion of zombie-themed media in the past decade, and I am writing this post because an episode of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes reminded me of the trend. In that episode a villain called The Leader [1] is using a machine to generate a sphere of gamma radiation that transforms all within into powerful monsters [2], so the villains focus on damaging the heroes' radiation suit integrity rather than defeating them outright.

I suspect the theme of this sort of thing is something of body horror, but if there has been an increase in it as a theme in recent years, it probably relates to other aspects of the recent human world. I notice a lack of Captain Planet and The Planeteers, and a prevalence of stories in which humans are transformed into monsters against their will and the rest must survive. Presumably it says something about where we are, culturally and politically.

[1] Who, thanks to The Simpsons, I have difficulty taking seriously.

[2] I know, but this is a Marvel Comics series. One must accept these things if one is to enjoy it.