The Stiff: Chapter 3: Page 105

The Stiff: Chapter 3: Page 105

I’m interviewed on Popcorn Horror about the Map of Zombies. Check it out if you like! There are only a few days left in the Kickstarter, and I’ll be posting the 99%-complete zombie map image soon.

NEXT UPDATE: Wednesday!


Discussion (4)¬

  1. Ken Kobori says:

    Jason, I read your Popcorn Horror interview, and I must say, your definition of a zombie is more inclusive than mine. (That said, you’ve seen/read more of them). I never would have considered Racoona Sheldon’s “The Screwfly Solution” to be a zombie story. No question that it’s one of the scariest SF horror stories ever written, though. Her offhand mention of “vast rafts of female bodies drifting in the Indian Ocean” has haunted my mind for 35 years. I suppose this does count as zombiesque behavior.

    Will you be including other SF/Horror stories (such as Eric Frank Russell’s “Impulse” and Theodore Sturgeon’s “It”? I would definitely vote for “It”, as it remains one of the few horror stories that still affects me with exactly the same emotional reaction every time I re-read it. And the originality of Sturgeon’s conception of the monster is revolutionary.

    I remember being incensed when it was described some years ago as a story about “a corpse returning to exact vengeance on the living.” Of course, this may have been a reference to the comic-book adaptation (of unknown accuracy) but still….that is NOT what the story is about. Seldom has John W. Campbell’s challenge of “give me a being which thinks as well as a human, but not like a human” been so well met–and never more chillingly.

  2. Night-Gaunt says:

    Great stiff er stuff Jason!

    “It” was a most unusual story. It was very matter of fact, not exactly milking the mood of dread. Just a remorseless machine that through a series of strange happenings became animated again. An organic machine that seems to want to destroy other life for no reason than to do it to eliminate rivals to its existence.

  3. @Ken — Thanks, I’m glad you liked it! Yeah, I too fear that my definition of ‘zombies’ is a little too broad at times… in the current situation, I fear it’s too broad to cram them all on a 24″x36″ piece of paper in a legible fashion. Ultimately, the definition of who or what is ‘zombie-ish’ is pretty arbitrary, now that it’s used to describe not just the undead but also living people affected by some virus or toxin. Really, at that edge of the spectrum it bleeds into “Mutants,” and that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. I’m sure there’s many great zombie-ish things that I’ve missed from my map, but basically I’m just trying to squeeze in as much as I can, while focusing on things that I consider particularly cool (although the awful movies and books are there too, I just don’t give them as much space on the page).

    Thanks for the recommendations, I had never heard of “Impulse”! That one HAS to go on there… although it’ll have to be in the final proof and not the 95%-finished version I just saved and closed. As for “It,” that’s another good question… it’s a great story, but if I included it I’d feel obliged to include Swamp Thing and Man-Thing and all the other swamp monsters that sprung out of it. :/ Hmm… I wonder if I can use the excuse that they’re “new forms of life”, like Frankenstein, rather than “reanimated dead”?

    BTW, I skimmed my old copy of “The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction” in research for this project, and it was remarkable how *few* zombies I found among 20th century sci-fi writings. (It either didn’t mention “Impulse” or I missed it.) I almost included Murray Leinster’s obscure 1963 “The Hate Disease,” which is about something like a ‘rage virus,’ but when I actually read the story it was just too ridiculous. Maybe the core thing that made it seem silly was not that the virus is curable (by a totally inane method), but that there’s a major subplot that the infected individuals feel compelled to eat this gross alien foodstuff… and that’s part of WHY they have a raging hate-on for uninfected individuals, because they’re ‘ashamed’ that they eat this gross goo! -_- That particular detail just felt incredibly old-fashioned, since I think the more common moral message in most sci-fi stories written from the mid-1960s onward would be “Eh, everything’s culturally relative, and it’s not hurting anyone, so why NOT eat disgusting carrion-feeding worms? Gosh, people are different everywhere! Yum!” But instead, in the worldview of Murray Leinster (born in the 1890s), “eating gross food” is so “shameful” that it’d drive you to kill/infect uninfected humans. @_@ Anyway, what that all added up to was that I thought the story was too dumb to appeal to modern zombie-fan audiences.

    @Night-Gaunt — You just reminded me that another genre I love is *blobs*. Joseph Payne Brennan’s “Slime” is still one of my favorite classic horror/sci-fi stories…

  4. Ken Kobori says:

    Night-gaunt–you’re right, the story is told in a very matter-of-fact manner. But that is what gives the story such power; the fact that the monster is not evil…it only finds things “interesting”. Light, darkness, screams, pain, death–it’s all just “interesting” to It. Even it’s own destruction is interesting–imagine, a being with no sense of self-preservation at all! Sturgeon tells the story with immense compassion for the characters while being completely merciless as to their fates. I’m hard put to think of a better monster story than this one.

    Jason–“Impulse” can be found in the Midnight House collection of Russell’s macabre fiction “Darker Tides”. I first came across it in the Edward Gorey-illustrated anthology “Monster Festival”. The zombie therein would fall into the category of “corpse reanimated by an intelligent alien virus intent on invading and conquering the earth”. Also, it can read minds, which gives it a killer advantage!

    Perhaps the monster in “It” doesn’t really qualify as a zombie–the forest molds just used a human skeleton as a template to grow on. The monster has no memories (and no brain, for that matter) and doesn’t even appear very human. So it’s not really a reanimated corpse….

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