August 7, 2013

The Disappointment of Surviving in Zombie Fiction

The Disappointment of Surviving in Zombie Fiction


Jule Romans

So, you're a character in zombie fiction. This means you are a survivor. That's great, right?  So many other characters have expired in horrible circumstances. You have not. You are surviving the zombie apocalypse.  

You should be grateful. 

Unfortunately, being a survivor in zombie fiction can be pretty disappointing.  Here are eight particular disappointments that are regularly suffered by zombie fiction characters- and all of them are created by zombie authors.


Disappointment Number One:

You're Still Alive.

Somehow, staying alive is a deeply disappointing imperative. Your zombie author is essentially required to subject you to this torment.

Most characters in zombie novels consider suicide at least once. They may drag themselves through each day, but at some point they simply want to give up. Zombie books are littered with the corpses of random individuals who just couldn't take the pressure. Most of the time your zombie author makes it only a minor character or two.

Sometimes the ones who have given up are simply discovered after they've done themselves in. Every day, your zombie author will send vicious and ambulatory corpses who want to eat you or make you one of them. Every day, the bodies of living victims will remind you what's in store.

The very fact that you are alive is a kind of burden to be borne, a burden you would almost prefer to put down forever. But you don't. Why? That's the whole deal--

You survive. Somehow you continue. Somehow you develop hope. Or the hope that there will someday be a hope. Running underneath, always, is the trickle of survivor guilt, fed by an inexhaustible supply of confrontations with death. Who wouldn't be disappointed? Only two kinds of people: the insane, and the villainous.

Which leads us to-

Disappointment Number Two:

The zombies aren't your greatest enemy.

The greatest threat to survivors is not zombies. It's other survivors. Slavers, desperadoes, idiots, zealots, cult leaders, cannibals, pirates, and just plain crazy people will be everywhere. You are more likely to meet a surviving polar bear in an abandoned Florida zoo than you are to meet a stranger who is immediately worthy of your trust.

Luckily, you'll either be a completely self-sufficient and independent type, or you will already have a small band of comrades. Of course, those comrades have one drawback.

Disappointment Number Three:

You're pretty much stuck with the same people for a long time- unless they die.

Once you hook up with other characters, they are likely to be yours for keeps. If they are really annoying or dangerous, you can count on the fact that they will probably die. Someone has to. You'll have a crew of three to seven others who are reasonably tolerable. You have them. They have you. That's it. You're going to need each other, since-

Disappointment Number Four:

It's not going to get better anytime soon.

Let's face it. It CAN'T get better. Your zombie author can't very well reverse the apocalypse just for you. Well, he can. But he won't. So you are just going to have to deal. This is disappointing, I know.
But think of the great service you are doing for those of us who read. Your continued suffering keeps us engaged. Be grateful for the little things, and get busy killing zombies.

Every once in a while you'll get a little rest. While you're resting, you can drink tea or coffee substitute, because-

Disappointment Number Five:

There will be no new manufactured anything.

Dark roasted coffee beans are not going to be replaced. There will be no more shampoo. Salted cocktail peanuts will never again be packed in vacuum sealed jars and shipped across the country in airplanes. If you do get coffee, shampoo, peanuts, shredded coconut, or Kool-Aid, you had better hang on tight. But don't hang on too long.

Once the items go stale or spoil, you can't eat them anyway. Whatever you have, that's about the last you'll ever see of it. Even if there is a reflourishing of society in your lifetime, there's NO WAY the same products are gong to be developed in the same way as all your old favorites were.  There just aren't enough people to create them. So-

Disappointment Number Six:

You have to repopulate the earth.

Wait a minute. Some characters would not find that disappointing at all. Let's try again.
You have to repopulate the earth with people who can no longer bathe regularly and are in a bad mood all the time. 
That just does not sound like fun. There is no Ryan Gosling in the Zombie Apocalypse. Even Ryan Gosling wouldn't look like Ryan Gosling after fighting zombies and sleeping in a ditch for three months. You can't look forward to endless romance. You can't look forward to much else, really, because-

Disappointment Number Seven:
The best you can hope for is a bittersweet but hopeful ending.

Zombie authors don't often have the luxury of giving you a Cinderella story. You aren't going to find Prince Charming at the debutante's ball. You can refer to Number Four for further clarification. You might as well enjoy your current story, though. It's more than likely that-

Disappointment Number Eight:

Your next adventure probably won't be as good as this one.

Enjoy it while you can. Sequels usually suck. Except when they're part of a series. Then they're cool.

Jule Romans is the author/editor of this blog. 

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