“The Price of a Slice” — John Skipp & Cody Goodfellow

If George Romero is the father of zombie cinema, then surely John Skipp is the father of zombie literature. He, along with Craig Spector, edited the first all-original zombie fiction anthologies in the ’80s: Book of the Dead and Still Dead, then, more recently (and on his own), Mondo Zombie and Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead. He is also the author of several novels, such as the splatterpunk ecocidal classic The Bridge (co-written by Craig Spector) and The Emerald Burrito of Oz (with Marc Levinthal).

Cody Goodfellow’s novel, Perfect Union, was published earlier this year, and his short fiction has appeared in Bare Bone, Black Static, Shivers V, and Dark Passions. Skipp and Goodfellow’s collaborative novel Fruiting Body, publishes in December.

If you’ve read the first The Living Dead anthology, you may remember a searing science fiction tale called “Meathouse Man,” one in a series of stories by George R. R. Martin that concern remote-controlled zombies being used as slave labor. Our next tale brings the same concept to a decaying near-future San Francisco, and concerns not only zombie laborers but also soldiers.

In our own present, war by remote control is becoming increasingly commonplace, as detailed in P. W. Singer’s recent nonfiction book Wired for War, which delves into some of the issues surrounding soldiers who pilot Predator drones into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan from the safety of a cubicle in Colorado or Nevada. The book describes the unease felt by many elite pilots, whose training has cost upward of a million dollars, as they watch missions similar to their own being flown by teenagers sitting at computer monitors. One drone pilot describes the physical qualifications needed for his job as not being able to do a hundred pushups, but rather having “a big butt and a strong bladder”—literally being able to sit at the controls for an extended period of time.

War is changing before our eyes, though as this next story reminds us, the more things change the more they stay the same. Workers and soldiers may be replaced by remote-controlled zombie slaves, but somebody’s still got to deliver the pizza.