What Defines a Zombie?
Among fans and purist of the ever-popular zombie craze, there are many debates. The most common question is: fast or slow? Personally, I like both for different reasons, but I tend to lean toward slow, simply for the creepiness aspect of them. But hey, that’s a different discussion for a different day. Thanks, 28 Days Later, for opening that can of worms.
But what actually defines what the hell a zombie is? First, let’s start with the definition of a zombie.
Urban Dictionary defines a zombie this way:
“A deceased human being who has partially returned to life due to undeterminable causes. The brain retains base facilities, namely gross motor function. In its near-mindless state, it grasps no remains of emotion, personality, or sensation of pain. In rare cases, some of the reanimated have reflexively preformed routine activities from their past lives.”
Yes, I used Urban Dictionary. Surprisingly, they had the most relevant search result on the ole Google.
So, what truly makes the undead, undead?
The most intriguing part of this definition to me is the first sentence. In almost all forms of zombie fiction or movies, the outbreak is brought forth by some kind of viral disease. This first sentence is most interesting because it opens up the possibility that a corpse would be lifted in other ways.
In my own zombie series, Empty Bodies, I took an unconventional route to start my outbreak. In lieu of giving any spoilers here, I’ll just say that it was something that I’d never seen in a movie or read in a book before. At one point during the big reveal (which comes in book 3), I actually stopped and asked myself: “Are my creatures zombies?” Do they eat flesh? Yes. Are they thoughtless, wandering monsters? Yes. Are they slow? Damn straight. But I was still worried, as the origin of my beasts was original (to my knowledge) and unconventional. I was nervous, worried that I might make some purists angry.
At the end of the day, I stuck true to my gut, and I went through with it. I’d built up to the reveal in the first two books, while the characters worked to fight through this hell-asish new world full of Empties (the word I use instead of zombie). All the feedback I’ve received has been awesome, and readers have loved the new spin and approach on the genre.
So, maybe a more fair question is: how do I define a zombie?
No matter what the initial cause, a zombie is any human that died, then was reanimated. I feel like you can’t have a zombie that doesn’t feast off human flesh, and that they do need to be brain-dead aside from basic motor-skills.
What about you? In your mind, what makes a zombie a zombie? I’d love to hear your response in the comments.
Zach Bohannon is the best-selling author of the ‘Empty Bodies’ post-apocalyptic zombie series. Check out his website at http://www.zachbohannon.com, and for a complete list of his books, visit his Amazon author page. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife, Kathryn, daughter, Haley, and German Shepherd, Guinness.
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The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!
Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!
#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!