Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nerd Word of the Week: Zombie apocalypse

The typical zombie.Image via WikipediaZombie apocalypse (n.) - An end-of-civilization scenario wrought by an outbreak of zombies that rapidly converts or consumes the vast majority of the human population, thereby leading to global societal collapse. Basically, any story where zombies take over the world.

While apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction have been established subgenres of both speculative and conventional literature for decades -- the Roland Emmerich big-screen cheesefest 2012 and Cormac McCarthy's critically acclaimed book-cum-movie The Road being but two of the most recent examples -- the zombie apocalypse is a genre, a setting, and pop cultural movement unto itself, particularly on film. Put another way, you can be a fan of zombie fiction and/or zombie flicks without being a fan of any other genre or subgenre of speculative fiction.

We owe much of this standalone zombie popularity to George Romero and his schlocky but commentary-ridden Living Dead movie series, which has enticed devoted fans for decades. Zombie apocalypse fandom is growing steadily more mainstream, with no better example of the phenomenon than the near-ubiquity of zombie walks -- wherein dozens to hundreds of zombie cosplayers shamble through a public area en masse -- across the United States each year.

I bring it up because: First and foremost, Robert Kirkman's seminal zombie apocalypse comic book series The Walking Dead has been recently placed into production as a television series by AMC, with fans clamoring for a Mad Men-quality serious treatment of the highly thoughtful and successful zombie franchise.

Secondly, because some oddball Canadian mathematicians have modeled the zombie apocalypse and calculated exactly how small the time-window for containing such an outbreak would really be. (Verdict: We're hosed.)

Thirdly, because zombie fiction has begun to consume the classics of literature, as is the case with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a retelling of the Jane Austen novel with an account of a Victorian zombie outbreak integrated with the original text. (It can't be any more painful than Clueless.)

Now, if only we could foretell the likelihood of the World War Z movie ever getting made, let alone made well. Frankly, we're more likely to confront an actual zombie apocalypse first, in which case we'll each need a copy of The Zombie Survival Guide (thankfully, also by the author of WWZ).

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