With The Oasis of Filth, I have — perhaps annoyingly — broken one of the most revered traditions of zombie fiction: I use the word ‘zombie.’ And I actually use it a lot. But at least I did it on purpose.
Your typical zombie fiction story asks us to believe in two things that are, in my opinion, ridiculously far-fetched (not that the ridiculously far-fetched can’t make a good story). First, we must believe that a living creature dies and then reanimates, typically with a lust for killing others. These undead seem to need nothing to sustain them. They don’t require food, water, shelter, complete circulatory systems, board games, Crocs, or Tyler Perry movies. It is not uncommon to see half of a zombie, or even just a reanimated but otherwise completely detached hand, scratching along across the floor, coming to attack the heroine in a standard zombie tale. Second, and here’s where they often lose me, no one in a zombie story is supposed to have ever heard of zombies before.
Therefore, virtually every zombie tale you’ve heard, by definition, cannot take place in the world you know. Because you know about zombies already.
Rick, from The Walking Dead, never saw George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Seriously? I mean, can someone grab a DVD and help our friend out here? Are we supposed to believe he’s never seen Star Wars either? Or do we just start denying that movie exists when lightsabers become real?
Person 1: “Dude. You’ve got a lightsaber!”
Person 2: “A what? What did you call it?”
Person 1: “A lightsaber, like from Star Wars! That’s incredible!”
Person 2: “I don’t know what you are talking about. What is ‘Star Wars’? What is ‘light saber’?”
Person 1: “Come on, man, seriously? That’s a lightsaber. You totally got that from the movie.”
(Person 1 gets cut in half. Person 2 runs away.)
So, I didn’t do that. In the world of The Oasis of Filth, they’ve seen Night of the Living Dead. Hell, they’ve seen The Walking Dead, or at least the first few seasons before all hell broke loose. So when people contracted the disease RL2013 and started going crazy and biting other people, and those who were bitten in turn became infected and did the same, well, the folks started calling them zombies. Because, darn it, that’s pretty much what they seemed like.
But they’re not undead. They’re just hopelessly sick. Feral, wild, hungry, desperate.
And even the zombies in my zombie book, in their last sane moments, would know. They’d be thinking it.
Oh crap, I’m gonna be a zombie soon.
Even though, technically, they aren’t.
But that’s the point.