As I write this, I recall the introduction of the stellar anthology The Living Dead 2, released this September, in which editor extraordinaire John Joseph Adams theorized on the wide range of reasons why zombies are now so popular in literature – and pop culture:

 

“Zombies are:

• an enemy that used to be us, that we can become at any time;

• a canvas writers can use to comment on almost anything;

• a morality-free way to fulfill a world-destruction fantasy;

• a monster that remains scary and cannot be easily romanticized.

 

I’m sure that’s all part of it, and we could continue to speculate ad nauseam – I’m sure there are dissertations being written on the subject as we speak. But one thing is clear: Zombies aren’t going to be dying off any time soon, and we’d better learn how to live with them.”

 

I wholeheartedly agree with all of John's points, especially the utilization of zombies as allegory. Zombies can be representative of humankind’s sheep-like tendencies or political and religious prejudice or just about any human defect… greed, rampant consumerism, apathy, etc. I also think he is absolutely right about the longevity of this latest literary zombie uprising – I’ve looked at a couple dozen publisher catalogues covering releases in the first quarter of 2011 and there is a healthy dose of walking dead amongst the vampires, shapeshifters, demon hunters and alien invaders.

 

So do I think that this zombie fiction craze will eventually burn out and go away? If I were asked a similar question a decade or so ago, I would’ve quickly answered “yes” – everything in genre fiction is seemingly cyclic – but the landscape of genre fiction has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Paranormal (ie: urban) fantasy is in the midst of its own Golden Age and readers clearly cannot get enough of genre-blending storylines that feature vampires, werewolves, fairies, zombies, etc. And while an eventual drop-off in mainstream popularity is inevitable, I think zombie fiction will continue to evolve and expand and slowly grow its core readership. Just look at the thematic diversity of storylines in this year’s elite releases – it’s literally breathtaking. There are introspective zombies, loving zombies, hate-filled zombies, and irreverent zombies – zombie stories for hardcore horror fans, speculative fiction aficionados and even elementary school kids!

 

The authors and editors listed below have elevated zombie fiction to a height it has never been before and every single one of these remarkable novels and anthologies should be treasured for what they are: and that is literary masterworks that have redefined – and reinvigorated – zombie fiction. 

 

So, without further ado, here is my list of the very best zombie fiction releases of 2010...

 

1. Feed by Mira Grant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Dust by Joan Frances Turner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


5. Dog Blood by David Moody

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Handling the Undead   by John Ajvide Lindqvist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten by Harrison Geillor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


8. The Living Dead 2 anthology edited by John Joseph Adams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Dead Guy Spy, Goop Soup  and The Big Stink (the Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie saga) by David Lubar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Desperate Souls by Gregory Lamberson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


11. The Book of the Living Dead edited by John Richard Stephens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. The Zombie-Wilson Diaries by Timothy W. Long

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. Ten Little Zombies: A Love Story   by Andy Rash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you think zombie fiction is going away in 2011? I’d say that you’re dead wrong….   :smileyhappy:

 

 

Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for almost the last two decades and has written more than 6,000 reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.

Comments
by LordRuthven on ‎12-21-2010 11:29 PM

I think that zombie lit is going to evolve.

by on ‎12-21-2010 11:39 PM

 

I'm so glad you chose Feed for number one. I loved that book!

 

And, thanks for the list Paul.:smileyhappy: Now, if I feel like reading zombie lit, all I have to do is go to your list.

by Jae_CeeKay on ‎12-22-2010 08:40 AM

 

Good choices, but I would have added the YA novel ROT & RUIN by Jonathan Maberry. He did an exceptional job of touching on some of the thorny emotional and moral issues that the zombie apocalypse brings into play and so many other shoot-em up type stories ignore. 

 

On a lighter note, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the anthology that I'm part of: HUNGRY FOR YOUR LOVE: An Anthology of Zombie Romance, edited by Lori Perkins and published by St. Martins. Not everyone's cup of tea, understandably, but we did get a nice review in PW and I'm proud of it. 

 

Jan Kozlowski

 

 

 

by on ‎12-22-2010 10:25 AM

This is a fun list. Feed was a great book, can't wait for Deadline.

The Nathan Abercrombie is pure fun and it is good to see zombies in a series for that age level.

I have a lot of books here to try. This is a good reference list.

by Lizzy_Funk on ‎12-24-2010 05:31 PM

I have to say, I was disappointed that I had not read any books on the list.  I miss seeing Ms. Hamilton on there with Anita; I wish that they would return into this avenue, but I am just greedy.

 

I believe that I agree with another posting saying that zombie fiction will evolve.  I feel that strict zombie books may stay in the river of one-noted-ness if they do not evolve and encompass more.

 

~Double H

by Paulland on ‎12-29-2010 02:09 AM

Good list (though I'd argue that Dog Blood isn't a zombie book in the same way The Crazies and 28 days Later aren't zombie movies, strictly speaking). Surprised you missed Pariah by Bob Fingerman and The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell. But maybe you didn't like those.

by BrandieC on ‎01-11-2011 03:19 PM

I just finished Feed and loved it.  According to Mira Grant's website, Deadline is the next installment and is due out in May of this year; however, the excerpt included at the end of my electronic copy of Feed says that it is from Blackout, which it describes as #2 in the series.  I guess I'll just keep an eye out for both titles.

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎01-11-2011 03:23 PM

Brandie:

It's Deadline – and it'll hit the shelves May 31st. I can't wait! :smileyhappy:

 

Paul

by BK201 on ‎06-14-2011 01:11 AM

Well it looks like we missed your list, but here's our 2011 work: 

PANDORA End of Days PANDORA End of Days Survival Horror Graphic Novel Comics 

I agree, the genre has to evolve eventually. But it's also good to go back and forth with the traditional Romero-type. 

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