The zombie invasion is already upon us, at least in terms of popular culture. From The Walking Dead to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it seems that societal interest in the zombie apocalypse is only growing. But why is everyone so interested in the grotesque undead? Science fiction author A.E. Stueve explores this fascination in his latest work, Former [The Novel Fox].
Unlike his wife, family and friends, Billy Dodge is alive. Profine, an international pharmaceutical and defense conglomerate, has cured him of an infection that has ravaged Earth for over a decade. Life isn’t easy for the ‘formers,’ however, and despite Profine’s help, Billy is struggling to cope in a less-than-welcoming world. When Billy and a friend are blamed for an unfortunate death, things only become more difficult and Billy finds himself at the center of a global crisis. As Billy wrestles with his inner demons and the strife around him, society struggles with an important question: are ‘formers’ really human, and should they be allowed to live?
“I’ve always been scared of zombies,” Stueve says on his reasons for writing Former. “Since I was a little kid, the idea that there could be these mindless monstrosities walking around wanting to eat us—monstrosities that look like our loved ones—that’s just always disturbed me to no end. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to realize it really isn’t their taste for human flesh that scares me—it’s the fact that they are basically a distorted mirror.”
An insightful look at zombie culture and what it means to be human, the book explores:
- How zombies are terrifying because sometimes it is hard to tell who is more monstrous—them or us.
- How sometimes it’s even harder to tell the difference between zombies and humans.
- Though the times are bleak, there is hope, which keeps the characters going and acts as a double-edged sword.
- Themes of racism, nationalism, border closing, McCarthyism, and other unpleasantness, which run rampant throughout the novel.