Some like um slow. Some like um fast. Others don’t mind when they’ve still got some brains all their own. Me? I like all of those well enough, but I most enjoy when they’ve mutated. Clarification: I like reading and writing about mutated zombies. In my writing, I’ve used mutated zombies as a way of upping the stakes for the characters. Not that the protagonists need additional challenges after witnessing their friends and family turn into zombies or devoured by the creatures, but I enjoy seeing them handle the situations. Maybe it’s the influence of all those video games, comics, and anime that consumed my childhood now resurfacing in my stories. Don’t know.
Understanding the why for me is similar to Jack Criley’s – the protagonist in my book,Whiskey Jack – thought process for understanding why everyone has changed into mutant zombies: For Jack, the reason doesn’t matter. The outcome is what’s vital. The outcome for me was a story that fueled my imagination as I wrote and continues to do even today.
There are a plethora of great authors putting their own spin on the zombie genre and creating new unique mutations of zombies. Amongst fans of the genre, I’ve observed that people tend to prefer the slow zombies but would most fear the fast ones. People also seem to prefer that their zombies not retain any intellectual prowess. This makes sense since most sources agree that a zombie is a reanimated corpse.
So where do mutant zombies stand in those preferences? Good question but first, what exactly makes a zombie a mutant zombie? According to Google, “a mutation is the changing of a structure of a gene resulting in a variant form…” So a mutant zombie is a variant form of the reanimated corpse. That helps a little, kinda. I think there is a lot of room for personal interpretation with that definition, but ultimately a mutant zombie is something different from the running and slow stumbling zombies.
I can safely say that many of the zombies in Whiskey Jack are mutations (it’s arguable that they’re not entirely zombies in the sense of reanimated dead). Without spoiling the story with a detailed explanation, there are chemical reactions that take place inside the body that mutate some of the zombies and create a new creature. None of the characters in my novel are genetic scientists or even a medical coroner, so they don’t know what has actually happened to the world. They can only guess that people have become zombies, that, or really grotesque cannibals.
The characters are able to entertain that idea until they run into one of my favorites in the story: The 15 and 20 foot giants (For those interested, inspiration came from three sources: The film The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, A dream I once had, and when I lived in Jacksonville, Fl I imagined a similar creature plowing through the trees and chasing my car on Southside Blvd.). You might say; “Okay, that’s stretching too far, and it’s not realistic. How could a reanimated corpse that should already be deteriorating grow so large? How could a normal human grow so large?” You’re right but this is fiction. It’s not like normal sized zombies ravaging the earth is realistic? Besides I wanted to write it because it made me happy, it made my small fan base happy, and it’s fun.
That’s probably the most important factor as to why I enjoy writing and reading stories that utilize mutant zombies. They’re fun. I’ll always love well written stories that have various types of zombies, but I urge you to consider giving mutant zombies a chance, even if it’s outside your normal preference. Otherwise, you might be passing on a fun story.
Brice J. Chandler is a Mutant Zombie advocate and also a US Marine Corp veteran. He deployed with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit which responded to the tragic events of Sept. 11th, 2001. He later earned the Purple Heart during combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq in 2006/2007. Since then he has worked in factories and as a pewter-smith before graduating from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His military background and work experience are often reflected in his writing. Although he writes in many genres, he considers zombie, apocalyptic, and dystopian stories his true love. Brice and his wife, Kimberly, currently reside in a small river town in North Eastern Missouri under the harsh rule of their three daughters: Emilie, Charlotte, and Piper.