Zombie books have become today’s pulp fiction. Like their close relative film noir, they depict a bleak, dystopian world where the heroes or antiheroes must fight, kill, and do anything else it takes to survive in a hostile environment, frequently at the expense of their moral sense–if they have any to begin with.
In yesteryear’s pulp fiction, the antiheroes are often criminals on the lam who become entangled in ever more harrowing situations. In zombie books, the heroes tend to be ordinary people enmeshed in the cataclysm of a zombie apocalypse in which they must do everything they can simply to survive one more day.
Pulp fiction writers like Jim Thompson wrote about criminals, like the casually homicidal cop Lou Ford in The Killer Inside Me, who exist in a hopeless amoral world and become as amoral as the world around them in order to survive.
Current zombie writers such as Joe McKinney write about characters like Michael Barnes in Apocalypse of the Dead, a Houston cop who becomes a sociopath as he slaughters zombies in his desperate bid to stay alive.
Bleak and violent (like their predecessor pulp fiction), zombie books reflect an undercurrent of malaise and a feeling of hopelessness in our time as the economy collapses and the world seems to be spinning out of control toward annihilation.