History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Undead in Mythology and Legend

Last weekend, I was on a panel at Spocon on undead in mythology and legend with Grivante and Fallon Jones. Both Grivante and Fallon Jones have books featuring zombies, while I have a couple of short stories featuring zombies (“The Glorious Dead,” which can be found in Unfixed Timelines, and “Origin Story,” which appeared in Black Girl Magic Lit Mag).

As was to be expected, we talked considerably about zombies and vampires, since those are the two primary types of undead creatures most people have heard of. But we also discussed things like Frankenstein’s Monster, and whether he was a type of undead or more of a construct. We also talked about what the legends of the undead meant in terms of the people who invented these ideas, and, by corollary, what they are used for in modern stories. Ultimately, we discussed the idea of the soul in terms of undead, and whether the definition of undead required the being to either possess or have once possessed a soul. And of course, no discussion of the undead would be complete without covering the methods to stop them. Just remember: a) decapitation kills pretty much anything, and b) double tap.

Wikipedia has a pretty good article on undead that is a good starting point for people who want to learn more. And of course, there’s all sorts of popular media related to undead, quite a bit of which is on TV right now. So it seems likely that we won’t be seeing the undead going away as a fixture in books and stories any time soon, no matter how much people say that vampires and zombie are SO overdone!


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