“Zombie Gigolo” — S. G. Browne

S. G. Browne’s first novel Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament, “a dark comedy about life after undeath told from the perspective of a zombie,” came out in 2009 and was a finalist for this year’s Bram Stoker Award for best first novel. His second novel, which comes out in November, is Fated, “a dark, irreverent comedy about fate, destiny, and the consequences of getting involved in the lives of humans.” His short fiction can also be found in the anthology Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead.

One of the things that’s appealing about zombie fiction is that zombies used to be us, and we’re just one bite or infected wound away from becoming one of them. That’s a sentiment Browne shares, but he also believes they’re experiencing their current popularity because they’re no longer just the mindless, shambling ghouls we’ve known and loved for the past forty years. “They’re faster. Funnier. Sentient,” he says. “Plus there’s this constant fascination with the inevitability of a zombie apocalypse. I mean, no one ever talks about the werewolf apocalypse. That would be ridiculous.”

Browne’s own take on zombies, in his novel and two short stories, intended to show a different side to zombies: giving them sentience, viewing the world through their eyes and what they have to deal with. “When you think about it, most zombie films and fiction are really about the people rather than the zombies,” Browne says. “My fiction is about the zombies.”

Just to warn you, our next story is a little gross. It was originally written for the “Gross Out Contest” at the 2008 World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City. Browne had just sold his novel Breathers, so, for his contest entry, he took a couple of ideas from that and ratcheted them up viscerally. The rules stated that the story had to be between three to five minutes in length when read aloud, so the authors had to be frugal with their words, maintain a decent gross-out factor, and cut out anything that didn’t move the story fast enough.  

Browne didn’t win, but he did come in third, winning him the coveted gummy haggis prize. But if our next story wasn’t gross enough to win, I’m not sure I want to know what did.