UNDEAD OBSESSED – Finding Meaning in Zombies by Jessica Robinson

zombiesUsing film and literature as reference, Undead Obsessed examines how zombies epitomize  real-world fears such as epidemics, mind control, what may or may not exist in space,and the science behind the fears.

I was somewhat disappointed in the book, because it has a strong potential to be a definitive examination of the zombie phenomenon in our films and literature, but it reads like a course paper that has been expanded, the academic jargon taken out and folksy attempts to be funny inserted.

It is too long for a blog post, and too informal and breezy for a serious look at the subject.  Neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring.  The references cited seemed to depend rather heavily on Wikipedia and internet news articles.  And we all know what our professors told us about using the encyclopedia for research papers.  I would have liked to have seen more primary source material in the bibliography.

The main points:

  •  science and scientists are portrayed in film and literature as the bad guys, with the stereotypical scientist lacking social skills and only at home in a lab, wanting fame and fortune, not caring about helping humanity.
  • unsubstantiated speculations on why scientists today are the good guys.
  • claims zombies are a metaphor for the social sciences because  we recognize they are human-ish, much like we realize murderers are human.

Then the author goes on to claim that

Zombies make a great metaphor for science, because on one hand, they are easy to recognize.  Science is conducted by humans, and zombies used to be human  On the other hand, zombies have become cold and focused; their gaze fixed on obtaining one objective, which is usually human flesh.  Like the emotionless scientist in their [sic] lab looking for answers, a zombie sees nothing outside of obtaining its desires.

Metaphors that don’t quite make sense aside, the book is at its most interesting when giving a history of zombie lore and literature.  The author’s personal speculations on the subject, however, are not always cogent or valid.

I realize that this book was intended for a popular audience, but I felt the ‘scholarship’ could have been more rigorous — less personal musing and speculation and more actual research.  Probably because I read a lot of academic papers for fun and profit,  for me the bar (in my mind) is set pretty high.

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One comment on “UNDEAD OBSESSED – Finding Meaning in Zombies by Jessica Robinson

  1. Man. When I first read the title I thought, yay something to add to the research pile for my next novel. Oh well. Another great review, though. Thanks Marti. 🙂

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