Let me state first that there are no zombies in Falling Sky.
In the blurbs I received, E. C. Myers references The Walking Dead and Tad Williams’ blurb mentions zombies outright.
See, the thing is that when I started writing the short story that inspired Falling Sky, the idea was that people were living in the air because something horrible was on the ground, something so dangerous that to even spend a short amount of time there could risk your life. Originally I had envisioned some kind of alien organism, but it was 2 AM that night at Clarion West and the story was due the next day and the mental acrobatics required to work all of that out was beyond me. So, in a moment of clarity I fell back on a tried and true genre trope – the zombie.
Originally, that was what made the ground so dangerous. Plain old ordinary zombies. It fit the bill – scary, easy to infect, reason for people to want to avoid their territory. But, as was communicated in the many crits I received, zombies were, well, unoriginal. Obviously there’s still life left in the common zombie (combie?) but it wasn’t serving my story very well. That’s when Mary Rosenblum, our instructor for that week, suggested that instead of zombies it was some other disease. Super-Alzheimers, she said.
It was a solution. I think that what she envisioned was somewhat further away from zombies than my Ferals, but it helped guide me to the right path. There’s certainly a lot of zombie in my Ferals, but I’d like to think that they’re different enough to stand alone (while still hitting some familiar notes).
Splash in a little noir, and a touch of Western (two of my favorite genres) and you generally have Falling Sky. Will it all work? Well, that’s up to the readers, but I hope that at least it presents an interesting mix. If you read it, you’ll have to let me know what you think.