Thursday, April 25, 2013

This Just In! We Have a NewsFlesh!


I love politics.

I mean, it’s frustrating, it’s annoying, and it has dire consequences, and it’s a dirty, dirty system. If you decide to become a politician, you should also basically give up on having a soul, as there will be nothing of it left by the end.

And yet, it creates some of the most fascinating human drama ever. I mean, even George W. Bush, colossal fuck-up that he is, is a human being, and that means he has hopes and dreams and fears. He may have ignorant, hateful beliefs, but he’s still a human. When he made bad decisions, you have to wonder what was going through his head. Why would he choose to do the things he was doing? Did he believe he was doing the right thing? Was he cowing to pressure from an outside source? It’s fascinating.

And that’s why I LOVE Seanan McGuire (writing as Mira Grant) and her book series The Newsflesh Trilogy. It is incredible.

Zombies are played out, man. How can anyone have anything interesting to say about them anymore? They've become such a spectacle that they’re circling around to self-parody. YET somehow Seanan McGuire creates a fascinating, innovative fantasy/sci-fi world.

McGuire has talked about how she’s done enough research into diseases and microbiology that she could practically write a medical textbook.  She did a ton of thought experiments and reading, then took that knowledge and created a perfectly plausible way for the zombie virus to exist as we understand science today.

But that’s not where she ended it.

See, the problem with a lot of zombie media is that it assumes the zombie apocalypse will be the end of the human race. That we’ll be overwhelmed and be just a handful of ragtag survivors in a world that wants us dead--humanity hanging by a string. McGuire rightly assumes that we've reached a point in our society where we could effectively react to such a disaster to keep our societies from collapsing.

It’s like she started with a premise and took it to it’s most logical conclusion: humanity adapted. Sure, there are places where zombies would find the environment more conducive to thrive, but humans figured out a way to protect ourselves from the danger. Legislation was created to help protect us, technology was created both to prevent infection and protect us. Hell, even the media has changed to better accommodate their new needs.  Hell, she even reflects plausible cultural shifts--the two main characters are named after George Romero and Shaun of the Dead.

All of this is just background information. It informs the story without BEING the story. The zombies are the main antagonists. They’re a problem, sure, but it’s never the forefront issue like in Dawn of the Dead. It’s like the weather. It just happens.

The real conflict and drama comes from the characters. The two main characters, Georgia (George) Mason and Shaun Mason, are journalists in this New Media environment. George is obsessed with the truth and revealing the true facts. Shaun is a bit more of the reckless, adrenaline junky. Together, they run an awesome news team.

And it’s here where my love of innovative, creative, yet logical world building meets my love of politics. They are asked by a Republican presidential candidate to go on and report about the campaign. There’s tons of political intrigue, personal friction between characters, and straight up action.  And I love seeing a Republican candidate that's not a fanatic, a hate monger, or a douchebag.  He's a moderate, and that's awesome.

Feed is my favorite of the trilogy because of the political intrigue. Blackout is probably the most intense of the trilogy--I've literally never had to put a book down because I was so tense that I needed a break to relax.

Basically, what I’m saying is, go buy this book series. Read it. Enjoy.

(This post is partially inspired by #womentoread on Twitter, an awesome campaign trying to raise awareness about female authors in the science-fiction and fantasy fields especially, since they’re somewhat underrepresented.)