Americans have always had a bit of healthy paranoia embedded in our DNA. This paranoia, like a RF sine wave, hits peaks and valleys, influenced by the medium through which it travels. Zombies exploded on the scene right after the economic crash of 2008, entrancing the populous with their (sometimes) slow-moving and never-ending drive for human flesh. Our fear and uncertainty of the future has driven us into the waiting arms of the undead.
The zombie has entrenched itself in pop culture with an intensity that hasn’t been witnessed since the vampires on screens everywhere in the 90s. Why? Political uncertainty, government induced malaise, endless wars, and economic turmoil have altered our psyche, propelling the tireless and nameless boogeyman that is the zombie horde into our minds.
So how do we deal? We do what we’re superb at, we have fun with it.
At E3 2016, we saw the zombie on top again, returning in several major video game releases, most notably: Days Gone and State of Decay 2. Movies and TV series also continue to embrace our room temperature protagonist with The Walking Dead and its spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead. We just can’t get enough of them on the screen, and the literary side of entertainment is no different.
See also: What Is the Best Zombie Movie?
In my latest novel, Ghost Run, along with the undead, I explore another pop-culture boogeyman—the robot. This time, instead of glowing red eyes and a drive to kill all humans, we read about a fictional but near-future prototype quadruped companion that may soon accompany our troops into harm’s way. In the novel, we witness thousands of hungry undead corpses go up against the protagonist and his bleeding-edge, near-future and dog-sized GARMR, Ground Assault, Reconnaissance, & Mobilization Robot.
Ghost Run isn’t just about zombies, but also about the complex relationship between man and machine and how that relationship might look in the very near future. One of the world’s premier leaders in technology, Elon Musk, recently told us that one of his greatest fears for humanity is a rogue, killer AI, but Ghost Run explores the other side of that. Perhaps science fiction will continue to herd us in the right direction, or maybe we’ll be fighting a different kind of zombie in the future, one that isn’t slow or unthinking.
You’ve been warned.
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J.L. Bourne is a military officer and acclaimed author of the horror series, Day by Day Armageddon, and dystopian thriller, Tomorrow War. With twenty years of active military and intelligence community service behind him, J.L. brands a realistic and unique style of fiction. Follow him at JLBourne.com before the servers go dark.