MIND MELD: Love In the Time of Apocalypse…

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Love In the midst of apocalypse…whether it be an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic scenario, or a dystopian one, such as in The Hunger Games, or just amidst things blowing up, etc, our need to find a partner to share the angst is still a strong one. So, we asked our panel…

Q: What are a few of your favorite fictional couples that fell in love in an extreme situation? Why do you think this type of story is so popular?

Here’s what they said…

Jaye Wells
Jaye Wells is a USA Today-bestselling author of urban fantasy and speculative crime fiction. Raised by booksellers, she loved reading books from a very young ago. That gateway drug eventually led to a full-blown writing addiction. When she’s not chasing the word dragon, she loves to travel, drink good bourbon and do things that scare her so she can put them in her books. Jaye lives in Texas with her husband and son. For more about her books, go to jayewells.com.

Love during the apocalypse is powerful because it is the ultimate act of hope. It’s such an optimistic emotion, isn’t it? When the world’s gone to hell, when you don’t know if you’ll live another hour or week or month or, God willing, years, it takes an enormous amount of courage to open your heart when the risk of it breaking is so great.

Dystopia and post-apocalypse fiction also explores the idea that love in all forms takes on more weight when society has fallen apart. Whether it’s romantic love or the love a mother has for her child or the circumstantial love strangers create from nothing simply through the act of going through hell together. Everything takes on more meaning when future isn’t guaranteed.

In my novella, MERIDIAN SIX, a woman who has only the memory of love–that of her mother, long dead–finds a new kind of family in a group of complete strangers. It’s a dysfunctional family to be sure, but it’s better than the early death of complete isolation in an unforgiving world.

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Jesse Petersen is the author of the Living With the Dead series (Married With Zombies, Flip This Zombie, Eat Slay Love, The Zombie Whisperer) and an upcoming monster series which begins April 29 with Club Monstrosity. She lives in Tucson with her awesome husband and two cats.

Why Death (or Living Death) Is So Damn Funny

First off, a big thanks to the SF Signal for having me here today. Especially since I’m guessing I write a little different kind of urban fantasy than what most people who are gurus here do. See, I write about zombies and monsters. Okay, that’s not the different part.

Let’s try this again. I love zombies, but I came to zombies (and monsters) a lot later in life than maybe other people did. As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch that kind of stuff mostly because my younger brother kept a sharpened stake behind his door just in case and my Mom was worried if we watched a lot of horror movies, it might prove to be more fatal than we hoped.

But I grew up and married a movie lover and he started to introduce me to a lot of amazing classics, as well as newer takes on the zombie genre. What I found, though, was that I tended to gravitate most strongly toward movies and books that had horror, but also had humor.
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MIND MELD: Zombies, and Why We Love Them

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: In the spirit of the breathless wait for The Walking Dead to return in February, let’s talk zombies! Why do you think they’ve captured the rotten little hearts and minds of the non- shambling public? If you write about zombies, is it just for pure fun, or are they a metaphor for something deeper and even more diabolical??

Here’s what they said…

Jonathan Maberry
Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, and freelancer for Marvel Comics. His works include ROT & RUIN (now in development for film), PATIENT ZERO, ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead; DUST & DECAY, MARVEL ZOMBIES RETURN and others. He was a featured expert on The History Channel special ZOMBIES: A LIVING HISTORY.

Zombies are a useful monster. In creative terms, they serve a few different purposes. First, they are the well-known metaphor generator that allows every writer to explore a different moral, social, societal, philosophical or psychological issue via an entertaining vehicle. This has a long, long tradition in storytelling. Ask Homer. Ask Aesop.

Second, zombies represent a single, massive, shared threat that impacts the lives of every single character in the story. Their impact is so overwhelming that each character’s life is shaken up, which means that the affected elements of their personalities fall away to reveal a truer inner self. In times of great crisis we see personality qualities emerge (or disintegrate) in fascinating and revelatory ways. A corporate CEO who is used to being a lion in the boardroom may be a useless coward when it comes to surviving a crisis; while a kid working a minimum-wage dead-end job at a convenience store might discover qualities of heroism that might otherwise never have emerged. Don’t forget, all real drama is about ordinary people in some kind of crisis. We don’t tell stories about a bunch of nice people having a pleasant day –there’s no drama (and therefore no insight) in that.

And also, the general public has, of late, had their perceptions of what ‘zombie stories’ are. For decades the perceptual standard has been that zombie stories are about death, dying, and visceral slaughter; that these stories were self-indulgent gorefests with nothing redeeming about them. But now that there are so many zombie stories out there, and in so many formats: novels, TV, comics, movies, short stories, video games, toys and more, it’s forced Joe Public to take a closer look. What they’re finding is that the zombie genre has drawn some of today’s top storytellers –writers who understand that the best zombie stories aren’t actually about the zombies. The best zombie stories are about the people. Real people. After all, the title of ‘The Walking Dead’ does not refer to the zombies. The dead men walking are the people whose lives and preconceptions and expectations have died. They are walking from the world that was into an uncertain future, and the name of the landscape through which they walk is ‘drama’.

As long as good writers bring quality storytelling to the genre, zombies will be around for a long, long time. Deservedly so.

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