If this year isn't the year of the zombie, then certainly next year will be... or maybe the year after that. It has arrive sometime.
The last few years have seen a plethora of zombie films, both "serious" and comedic. At the moment, Zombieland is booming at the theaters, and "mash" books such as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (zombie version) are filling bookshelves. As for books, there are quite a few others out there. They vary from traditional zombies (we don't know why they exist, they just do) to SF/thriller blends - usually associated with a viral infection.
And yes, I have two similar projects in the works or soon to be released. The one that is perhaps the greatest surprise is the novel Pallid Light. Yes, this one is with the ever pleasant co-author Alexander Griffin. Wonderful to work with. Always agreeable. And ever so witty.
But this post is really about the different types of zombies out there. If you haven't been keeping up with the walking dead, then you should know there are shambling zombies, ambling zombies, intelligent zombies, and brain dead zombies. There are also those that crave flesh, and others that desire brains, and some they just bite and chew.
While zombie lore existed long before George Romero's film Night of the Living Dead, it was that film that planted them in the horror genre - though it took a few years for them to sprout.
In Romero's classic film, the zombies were slow, brain dead beings, that walked the Earth for no known reason, and they liked to eat living flesh. Oh, they were groaners as well, as opposed to the more recent screamers.
Following Romero's film were a number of others, including follow-ups by Romero (I remember watching Dawn of the Dead at the midnight show at the mall theater). The zombies in that film were a bit smarter, although they did tend to hang out waiting for good prices of consumer goods.
Now throw into this the cornucopia of zombie novels and short stories, and we have a new sub-genre. To underscore this, many entertainment companies and websites are having zombie contests, protests, and of course games. Ah, did I mention The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks (Mel Brook's son)? This book is neither novel nor story. It is a guide on surviving the zombie apocalypse, and wildly successful.
And back to films. Dawn of the Dead saw a re-make with faster zombies, and they were a bit smarter. In many ways they were similar to the critters in 28 Days Later (although some would argue they are not zombies).
Needless to say, I could continue this all day - but I won't. However, if you haven't read or seen any of these books or films, take the time. If the sub-genre is this popular, it seems like it is related to popular culture, which begs the question why is popular culture embracing zombies?