Saturday, November 7, 2009

Upcoming Horror Project


One of the things that drew me to the zombie genre was its central place in the universe of apocalyptic fiction. I've always been interested in stories about how systems and societies fall apart. This may be related to my interest in history, which is often presented to the reader as a series of stories about how individual societies rise and then fall; apocalyptic fiction telescopes that process and personalizes it, and often applies it to our own society in interesting and thought-provoking ways. I've always loved the first twenty minutes of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, because it gives us a series of moments where it's clear that society's defenders - the police, the journalists, the government scientist, the helicopter pilot - realize that the situation is deteriorating from a mere emergency to the End of the World, and then shows us how that End actually comes when those defenders stop defending and proceed on the basis of "every man for himself". Society collapses with the speed of a landslide once a few key thresholds are passed. I've also always loved the last fifteen minutes of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, because I'm fascinated by the human beings in the central facility at Ape Control, who have to realize that they've lost the battle and have a ringside seat as humanity goes down for the count. I always wondered, "What would it be like to be in that room? How would that feel?" That bunker experience, to me, has elements of pure horror that can't be explored by other traditional horror tropes.

That's why it's a little funny to me that I've written a zombie novel - that doesn't explore either of those concepts at all. The "traditional" zombie story provides the perfect opportunity to tell an apocalyptic tale, and it also provides the perfect opportunity to explore the horror possibilities of the "last stand". But the zombie story I chose to tell doesn't do either of those, because it's much more of a Night of the Living Dead story than a Dawn story. And that leaves me with some unfinished business.

I'm going to try to finish that business by telling a new horror story, one that again I'm going to try to tell in an unconventional way. I've started an untitled project that will tell the story of the last days of Philistine Jerusalem, leading up to the city's sack and the extermination of the inhabitants, as described in the biblical Book of Judges and Deuteronomy. I have made the creative decision as well to give the "invaders" the supernatural advantage that the Bible stories describe. Although, as was the case with De Bello Lemures, this makes it possible to think of the story as belonging to the genre of historical fiction, I'm going to approach the story as if it were horror: What would it feel like to face the advance of an implacable enemy, bent on your annihiliation and the destruction of everything and everyone you know and love, if that enemy had been chosen by God to be your destroyer? If that enemy was fighting you with the support of the divine? I think that will explore the concepts I talked about above quite well, if I can properly execute what I'm trying to do. We'll see, I guess.


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