When the living dead rise up and start consuming the rest of us, the mainstream media totally misses the story — but the bloggers don't, in Seanan McGuire's Feed. Her zombies-and-blogger-drama trilogy just sold to Orbit Books in an auction.
McGuire, who also draws a webcomic and has recorded three albums of music, is publishing the Feed trilogy under the pen name Mira Grant. She already has her first novel, Rosemary And Rue, coming out this fall. When we heard that McGuire had sold a trilogy about zombies, blogging and politics (at auction, which usually means the publishers were fighting over it) we had to know more. So we asked her to tell us more about her novel's storyline, and here's what she said:
The zombies rose in the summer of 2006, following the accidental combination of two genetically-engineered viruses: Marburg Amberlee, designed by a team working in Denver, Colorado as a cure for cancer, and the "Kellis flu," a rhinovirus intended to serve as a sort of block against the common cold. When these viruses met up, they formed Kellis-Amberlee, a hybrid airborne filovirus that spread around the globe in a matter of weeks. Shortly after that, people who were believed dead started getting back up and attacking.
The mainstream media was, of course, not entirely willing to go "hey, look, zombies." They came up with lots of stories, but none of them were really capable of taking that final step into George Romero territory. The Internet media had no such qualms. Almost immediately, the world blogging community was documenting attacks, sharing information, and delving into the horror community's full supply of zombie lore, looking for the answer to survival. They got a lot of things wrong. They got a lot of things right. The fact that we survived the Rising — the three-month period from July through September, 2006, where over thirty percent of the world's population died — is largely credited to the blogging community. And George Romero, whose accidental education in the ways of the living dead is viewed as a key part of saving the world.
The final entries made by every blogger who died during the Rising, and in the years that followed, were preserved in an online archive called "The Wall," a permanent virtual memorial to what the Internet did for mankind.
FEED takes place more than twenty years after the Rising. Most of humanity stays inside whenever possible, avoiding large groups, open spaces, and anything that might put them at risk. Blood tests have taken the place of handshakes. The most popular name in the country is "George." Almost all technical funding goes into medical research, looking for a cure to Kellis-Amberlee, and almost no one has any faith in the "traditional" news media; people are still too aware of how they failed us during the summer of 2006. The blogging community has split into three major branches: the Newsies, who do factual reporting and register their biases openly with neutral reporting sites; the Irwins, who play daredevil in a world that most people would rather avoid; and the Fictionals, who provide escapism, humor, and all the free porn you could want. The sub-divisions are infinite, but almost all bloggers identify as one major branch or another.
The first volume of the trilogy deals with the presidential campaign of Senator Peter Ryman, who has invited a set of bloggers from the San Francisco Bay Area to accompany and document the race. Georgia Mason, her brother Shaun, and their friend Georgette "Buffy" Meissonier were lucky enough to land the position, and hence, potentially, the scoop of their lives. Assuming they can get out still breathing.
FEED is a book about politics, corruption, presidential campaigns, journalism, integrity, escapism, the traditional news media, and how Livejournal saved the world from the living dead. It's about reporters, writers, idiots who like to poke dangerous things with sticks, the things that keep them together, and the things that tear them apart.
It's also about, well, zombies. Lots of zombies. What happens to a society when it has to live with the constant threat of zombies. What that does to the entertainment industry. To social patterns. To clothing styles. To the way that people interact. To funeral rites. Basically, it's an unholy cross between TRANSMETROPOLITAN and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, with a little FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS on the side.
"Alive or dead, the truth won't rest. Rise up while you can." — from Images May Disturb You, the blog of Georgia Mason.
Zombie and computer image by Erik J. Gustavson on Flickr.