Thursday, 12 December 2013

Fear of the Future... a postscript.

Chris Wooding is mighty keen to emphasise the lack of zombie-action in his cracking teen siege-thriller ‘Silver’. Silver is, in Wooding’s words, “28 Days Later meets Assualt on Precinct Thirteen”; and having outlined the book he then finishes with an ironic – “And they’re not zombies, OK?” 

Whatever you say, Chris. What interests me is that Silver tells a story about transformation – and fear of transformation. Victims transform and infect other victims, who in turn transform.

A common reading of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead – undead hordes shamble mindlessly around a shopping mall – is that it satirises western capitalist obsession with unthinking consumption. Silver instead has its young victims infected by a super-intelligent nanobot virus which transforms these poor unfortunates differently – turning them into machines.

If you’re going to critically analyse various sub-genres and styles of zombie fiction, the important thing is – I think, anyway – to look at what the victim loses when they succumb – and what the survivors keep when they don’t.

Look at it that way, and Silver – come to that, plenty of other recent zombie flicks and stories – criticises a world in which individuality and freedom of expression are being daily eroded and people are instead becoming a homogenised mass of identical desires, obsessions and neuroses; machines programmed to live according to the values and ideals espoused by talent shows, soap operas, music videos and endless celebrity junkets. 

And as a critique of the British education system, Wooding’s excellent novel is pretty damn fierce as well.

So in terms of future-fears, something I rambled on about below, Silver lines up a significant queue of concerns and explores them through an impressive, engaging story.

In the end, I s’pose all of us are frightened of changing into something we despise.
And that’s why we love zombie stories – they remind us not to.  

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