Zombie Correction

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about the zombie genre and how I feel it is a dead end as a storytelling convention because it’s just the same story over and over and over again.  Well, I’m not ready to change that notion just yet.

But at one point I did refer to zombie novels as the “Harlequin romance of horror”, the basic equivalent of comfort food, not loved because it’s really good or challenging or particularly interesting, but because it’s familiar and reliable and completely predictable.  And I stand by that statement.

But what I want to clarify is that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Certainly, I didn’t want to insult Harlequin romances because, say what you will, romance is one of the few genres, maybe the only one, that continues to thrive while the rest of us struggle to hold onto our audience.  And Harlequin is a varied and prolific publisher that deserves more respect than it generally gets.

And, I suppose, so does the zombie genre.  Sure, I don’t get it, and I do think its popularity stems from an affection for something familiar and fun.  (I could be wrong of course.  It has happened once or twice.)  But if people enjoy it, who really cares why?

I suppose I could’ve gone back and just edited the original post, but screw that.  I’m not one to whitewash my mistakes.  So I just want to clarify that if I offended either romance or zombie fans with my comparison that offense was intended to neither.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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  1. Posted July 22, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    No offense here. I must however direct your attention to a zombie related publication. I’m sure you’re already aware of its presence but should actually give it a whirl. “The Walking Dead” written by Robert Kirkman, while being a comic book, is one of the most well written zombie stories I’ve had the pleasure reading. Mr. Kirkman completely smashes all stereotypes attached to the genre.

    I almost forgot to say that I’m new on your site and enjoy your books.

  2. sqt
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    I just read “The Strain” by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan and that one reads a lot like a zombie novel — and I have to agree, nothing terribly unique there. There is hope that the vampires may evolve and be less zombie-like in subsequent books. But if that doesn’t happen, what a boring series that will be.

  3. jhersko
    Posted July 25, 2009 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    First off, Mr. A. Lee Martinez, I’ve been a fan since “Gil’s All Fright Diner” and frankly, you just rock. Thank you for the many hours of pleasure you’ve given me with your writings. I had a laugh when I read your zombie post. I’ve been a die hard zombie movie fan for a couple years now, and just discovered the book genre. I love zombie tales because I’m all about stories of survival. I’m sure you’ve heard of these books, but just in case you haven’t, if you pick one up, they may change your outlook:

    Day by Day Armageddon by JL bourne
    World War Z by Max Brooks

    Listen, if you have a zombie contingency plan, there is *nothing* that you can’t survive. 🙂

  4. A. Lee Martinez
    Posted July 26, 2009 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the comment, Jhersko.

    My only disagreement with your thoughts is that planning for a zombie apocalypse is no guarantee that you’ll be prepared for everything. For example, when the Inhumanoids come from the center of the Earth, you’ll discover that shotguns and planks over your windows aren’t going to do you much good. And, inevitably, when the robots from space attack, you’ll discover that lasers are no match for dinobots.

    Still, as long as you think I rock, I guess I can overlook your zombie apocalypse fallacy.

  5. jonquest
    Posted August 18, 2009 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    World War Z.

    I’ve never read a zombie book and have never been a big fan of zombie movies, but World War Z is excellent. I wouldn’t even classify it as a zombie book, in the same way you don’t want to be classified as “funny.” Oh it has zombies in it, but that isn’t what it’s about. Give it a try if you haven’t. Maybe it will surprise you as it surprised me.

  6. Posted December 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    I’ll second the suggestion that you read World War Z. The only reason I initially read it was because Max Brooks wrote it, and I expected it to be some zany pastiche of the genre, and was amazed by what he had done with the premise. jonquest is right: It’s not a zombie novel like you would expect. It actually has an unexpected depth.

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