Zombie Queens

10 10 2012

When it comes to monsters, tropes and traditions make me itch. True, they are an easy and comforting platform for building a more elaborate idea. The established audience is also there with you, and usually thrilled with a new take on an old idea. I try to avoid tropes, which I do for various reasons (playing “Dig Me!” being the main one).

Artist and editor friends of mine say that I write really cool monsters. The editors I send stories to usually respond with “neat idea” or somesuch, even if they don’t buy the story.

How does one write a good monster? Here’s one way that I do it.

Find a trope and take it apart. Zombies = consuming humans + implacable + dead. This is what they mean to me; you may have your own thoughts.

I did a zombie story for “Tattered Souls” anthology from Cutting Block Press, where the zombificator was an injectable polymer that could be programmed to maintain one’s health through home computers. When the internet achieves sentience, it brings everyone along for the ride and never lets go after death. Yay me; not a bad idea.

But the “consuming” part was taken one step further, in that anyone infected had their RNA sequences accessed by the polymer. Their personal memories were experienced through halucinations by those others who were infected, making an even greater hive-mind. The protagonist had visions of his mother’s life from his mom’s point-of-view.

Awkwar-r-r-r-rd for that guy.

We know the history of movie zombies, from boring black-magic robots, to shambling carnivores, to running hungry dimwits.

Let’s take it one step further. How? We can look at existing limitations and figure out ways to circumvent them.

Zombies rot. Their soft tissues go first, which means brains and all sensory organs. Then rigor sets in which stiffens muscles. Then in about two weeks time, the muscles have decayed and fallen away.

It’s assumed that the zombifying agent delays the rot, replaces the neurons, keeps the muscles in working order, and acts as a metabolism in lieu of digestion. While infecting others with 100% mortality and efficacy.

This is why I’ve never gotten into zombies. They could be much more real than this.

Here are ideas just to circumvent these obstacles:
A dormancy period after infection.
Infected organs, such as someone is alive with a zombie digestive tract.
A recurring condition which arises during stress, requiring medication (“Ask your doctor about Vivify…”)

“But I want my zombahs dead! And running around! And biting!”

Okay, then what moves the zombies? It’s not the Krebs Cycle. It’s not technology. That guy at the CDC on “The Walking Dead” said it wasn’t a bacteria, virus, or even a prion.

That removes any three-or-four-dimensional motivator.

See what I did there? We’re going super-sciency!

A being with a fifth dimensional presence could reach within the zombies and motivate them from theoretically any distance, even from a parallel plane or existence. The only requirement: that being would have to have its remaining four dimensions living somewhere. Anywhere. And it would look like anything.

Would that being be taking the nourishment of living human flesh from the stomachs of the zombies, conveyed through some fifth dimensional means? Would that means be severed when the zombie is killed?

Now we’ve got an ultradimensional creature with millions of mouths roaming the countryside.

Why even have the zombies at all? Why not have a bunch of gaping maws just appear in your neighborhood attacking people?

That would be a twist.

Or to motivate your zombies, we could go to the more recent handwavium solution, Quantum Entanglement. Someone bitten by a zombie has his atoms slowly entangled with some supermassive, hyperkinetic energy source. These zombies would be biting, running, fidgeting-vibrating-smoldering-exploding zombies. And the victim would still be conscious of his splodey fate.

So now we’ve got an ultradimensional zombie queen, roaming jaws or masticators (kinda like that Russian movie with the glowing Thread bursting people, except it would be cool), and people infused with UltraMeth.

All by reducing around tropes. I feel we all benefit if we work a little harder at an idea, because we can help someone else get an even better idea.

Here is a recommended reading: “Fortean Times” magazine presents weird stuff with enthusiasm, depth, and skepticism.

Director’s Cut:
Now, others do the same trope rearrangement, obviously. “True Blood” took “blood” and “infection” seriously and made vampirism into an alt-sexual community. “Twilight” took “eternal” and “biblical” and turned vampires into a Jesus Youth Camp (he glitters, he watches over you, the birth is technically virgin in that no human man was involved, etc.).

Go to timwburke.com to see my url linkin

8 10 2012

Go to timwburke.com to see my url linking to an actual websitey-website which will help us get acquainted.

Timwburke.com is in effect, yo.

8 10 2012

I had three obstacles to getting myself online and all professional-like.
The first: getting the url to work. I had to wait for the url provider of my last website to let the address expire before I could repurchase and link it to this WordPress site. DONE! I danced on my sofa and said “Lookit my ass! Lookit my ass!”
Two: having enough regular content. That required getting off my own back (see below).
Three: getting over myself and opening up. Because any dang post reveals much about the one who posted. And the internet is filled with crazy who will track down your home or virus your whatzis or something. NOT YOU, though; you are sensible!
Then I got over myself. Between having good social stuff, and writing getting off the ground, and getting back involved with improv comedy, I got the nerve up to get this going.
Let’s get the awkward stuff out of the way!


  1. I am anxious! And depressive! For many reasons! I am on a meds-and-talk regimin that’s doing great.
  2. I have quit my job during the most horrid economic situation in decades to become a more successful writer. Unless in the next seven months I land a movie option deal on my as-yet unfinished novel, I AM A TOOL.
  3. I perform comedy, but am a jealous snob about it. I will not watch SNL. There are performers who are popular whom I loathe. I have reasons! Though some of them are pathological!
  4. I vote Democrat not because they are perfect, but because they come closest to reflecting my own values and actually winning elections.
  5. My philosophy sways between Aikido-influenced positivism and soul-grinding, Beckett-level determinism depending on how recently I have eaten.
  6. I like the idea of a God. It feels good to believe there is Someone who understands and cares no matter what. The world is a more interesting place with a God. However, the Old Testament is one of Tolkien’s finest works.
  7. I love cryptozoology, ufo studies, Fortean subjects, magickal esoterica, ghosts, and supernatural topics. The world is more interesting with their possibilities.
  8. I am a social late-bloomer, a harsh judge of myself, and I talk to myself a lot.
  9. I loathe being cliched. It is tough avoiding being cliched when you are a middle-aged white man in the United States. Due to 2), my cliche is the “artist mid-life crisis (male)”, which is the same as a regular mid-life crisis for men, but without the fancy red sports car.

Subscribe or come back Wednesday, when I will have something.

I am making final revisions for another

3 10 2012

I am making final revisions for another Olivia and Alecsandri story, which will then appear on Pseudopod. Another sale! http://ow.ly/ebWPY

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