Did 9/11 Cause Publishing's Zombie Feeding Frenzy?S

Zombies are sweeping the publishing industry, with books like World War Z and Pride And Prejudice And Zombies sweeping the bestseller charts. Up next: "Zombies-plus" books, with zombies-plus-something-else. What's behind the zombie-mania? Maybe it's a metaphor for faceless terrorism.

Publisher's Weekly has a great article about the zombie craze, talking to editors at Tor Books and Quirk Books, among others, about the rising trend. Apparently Max Brooks has a third zombie book coming out, on the heels of Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z — Brooks' forthcoming Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks is a graphic novel of historical zombie attacks dating back to 60,000 B.C.

Meanwhile, other recent zombie successes include David Wellington's Monster Island, Stephen King's Cell, S.G. Browne's Breathers: A Zombie Lament, and John Joseph Adams' anthology The Living Dead. Zombies are moving into young-adult and children's fiction, but the real cutting edge, says Tor's Liz Gorinsky, is books that combine zombies with other stuff — there's George Mann's Affinity Bridge, a steampunk novel with reanimated corpses, Cherie Priest's period-gothic-with-zombies Boneshaker, and even a Star Wars undead novel, Death Troopers.

Some publishing execs warn the zombie craze is almost over, since there's only so much you can do with zombies — as opposed to vampires, who can be romantic as well as scary. (Supposedly, anyway.) So what caused the zombie excitement in the first place? Publisher's Weekly fingers the all-purpose zeitgeist explanation, the September 11 terrorist attacks:

Then came the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the national fear of a faceless horde of enemies slavishly obedient to their objective of dishing out extreme violence. Suddenly, the zombie became a monster for our time. "I think it's interesting that the spike in zombie interest occurred right around the time of 9/11 and the Iraq War," says [Quirk's Jason] Rekulak. "It's been building ever since."

World War Z art by Daniel LuVisi. [Publisher's Weekly]