Tag Archives: 28 Days Later

This Plague of Days: Stress, The Apocalypse and You

Hurricane Katrina making its second landfall i...

Hurricane Katrina making its second landfall in Louisiana, as seen by NWS New Orleans radar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time there was a fascinating (and mean) experiment. A mad scientist made his subjects do math problems under stress. Loud music would play and a demanding experiment operator insisted the subject solve the math problems faster. Then the operator would tell them they got it wrong and had to try again. “Time’s was running out!” Sounds like an experiment designed by the Devil himself, huh? Mathphobics would burst aflame under such evil circumstances.

After the experiment, the mad scientist drew blood samples to track stress markers. He found them, of course, but it was the next version of the experiment that got really interesting. In Math In Hell Part II, the subjects had a button that could turn down the blare of acid rock (the most anti-mathematics music there is). It is no surprise that the stress markers went down in the second experiment.

That’s not where the surprise comes in. It’s this:

Stress markers decreased even among the people who didn’t turn down the music. The subjects had a button, but it may as well have been hooked up to a toaster. Simply knowing they had the option to control their environment brought their stress hormones down. It’s all about the illusion of control and the wear and tear and tears that illusion helps mitigate. 

But when the apocalypse comes, there is no button!

What fascinates about end-of-the-world scenaria is, what happens when there are no rules? When someone’s breaking into your home and the cops aren’t coming…well, bad example. That happens now. However, my point is, we all seek control, even if, perhaps especially if, it’s illusory.

To a large extent? Control is an illusion and the button isn’t really hooked up. Maybe you can control how you react to stress, but lots of the time, life happens to you. You don’t choose your parents or your country of birth or how smart you aren’t. Nobody feels much control sitting in a paper gown on a doctor’s examination table when the doc sighs and says, “Hmmmm.”

But how long will the inertia of our civilization last?

When disaster is cataclysmic, the rules change quickly. That’s Hurricane Katrina. But when the pandemic creeps in slowly (as it does in Season One of This Plague of Days — at least in the American theater of teh pandemic. Europe and the rest of the world get it in the shorts first.)

How will society break down from civilized expectations to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome + The Walking Dead + 28 Days Later + Gigli?

Drones, robots, zombies: We’ve all had jobs that made us feel like we are taking up space, have no will of our own and are out of control. Our stress levels are largely tied to issues around locus of control. When the rules are gone and the economy falls apart and we’re all out of work, however, it won’t be a libertarian freedom fantasy. It’ll devolve into cabbage soup for breakfast, lunch and supper. And no wi-fi!

That’s why we’ll need people who remember their humanity even when there are no rules imposed by authority. That’s why, at the end of Season Three, you’re going to be given a shred of hope. Death will be faced and Death will win, as it always does eventually. However, amid the carnage, there’s a few moments where, whether your favorite characters live or die, there is a point besides how many gory deaths we can expect.

One reviewer (a detractor) asked indelicately, “Why are the uninfected all assholes in the apocalypse?”

Answers:

1. Because an apocalypse without conflict, scarcity, fear and anger isn’t an apocalypse and a book without conflict sucks. 

2. One-dimensional people who always do good no matter what are predictable and therefore boring. We love them in real life (if we can find them) but fiction demands more. I must also add that not everyone is an “asshole” in This Plague of Days. Certainly not. However, they have complex motivations and face peculiar challenges. This is not about a bunch of soldiers holed up in a fortress with all the supplies they could ever need and endless ammo. The Spencers are pretty much regular people in extraordinary circumstances and every day is a test they did not study for. Failure = death.

3. And finally, plenty of people are assholes now and it’s not quite the apocalypse yet. Not quite. At least, not everywhere.

It is the apocalypse in some places. Author William Gibson said, ““The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” Similarly, the apocalypse arrives at different speeds. And as Arnold said, “Judgment Day is inevitable.”

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I wrote This Plague of Days, Seasons One and Two. I’d be happier if you read it. If you’re happier after you read it, please leave a happy review, too. Thanks!

Oh, and Season One is available in paperback for Christmas.

Get that for your friends, enemies, family, barber, Weird Combover Guy at the shop, the lady at the front desk at the office with the huge, hairspray hair, that avuncular uncle you like and the teenager who doesn’t like to read much but you want to encourage his brain. And so on.)

 

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Why Zombies? For the brains.

TPOD season 1 ecoverA couple of people have contacted me to say, “What’s with the zombies? I don’t get the attraction!” That looks like a delicious can of worms. Let’s eat that.

I replied with something diplomatic like, “Well, you know, not everything’s for everybody and that’s cool but by the way, I make it fresh!”

But really, first off, how weird is that?

Is there any other profession where someone who doesn’t use your product or service goes out of their way to say, “I hate that”? I don’t like the smell of the acrylic nail salon at the mall, but I don’t rush in there to tell them “I don’t get it. Why would you do that?” Likewise, hard core military fiction? Not for me. Unicorns? Not for me. However, I don’t contact the authors looking for…well, I’m not sure what they were looking for exactly. Justification? An apology?

Second, my zombie apocalypse isn’t about zombies. 

Good science fiction doesn’t teach you how to build a warp engine. I’ve tried to read some amateurish stuff that goes deep in the weeds of world-building and it has all the allure of a technical manual. (Which is a snarky way of saying it’s not for me, I guess, but at least I’m not chasing down those writers on Twitter and Facebook to say, “I don’t get it. Why would you do that?”) 

My rule is Follow the Art. I wrote a story with zombies because that’s where Art took me.

Horror isn’t about the monsters.

Horror is about how we react to the monsters. In This Plague of Days, I take a family from the heartland of America and put them in peril. First it’s a plague (no zombies) because I wanted to show what a lot of dystopian books don’t show. I wanted to show how things fall apart instead of starting the story after the fall. As the conflicts escalate (especially in Season Two) faithful readers will come to understand why things happened the way they did in Season One. This is a big story with long arcs, secrets  and big payoffs down the road. If I wanted to write a short story, the action would come in a smaller box. This is a big gift box.

Much of the horror doesn’t come from the infected.

Throughout This Plague of Days, everyone’s scared. Scared people, even heroes, make bad choices. As the zombie action evolves in Britain (and hits American shores in Season Two), that midwestern family in suburbia faces danger not just from the world flu pandemic, but from other survivors. In short, people are shitty to each other. They’re selfish. And sometimes they surprise us by being decent. There is room for nuance and, by the way, no villain thinks he’s a villain. Even when I daydream of drowning haters in an acid bath, I think I’m righteous, for instance.

People are more interesting than monsters.

Monsters don’t have choices. They’re following their needs, instincts and natures. But when people do bad things? They’re choosing evil. Family dynamics under pressure in the Centrifuge of Death and Global Disaster is much more interesting than drooling, shuffling dead lunkheads. 

My zombies aren’t “true” rise-from-the-grave zombies.

My zombies are really people infected with a virus of the 28 Days Later variety. They’re fast and they’re getting smarter and more organized. I even make jokes about  zombie movies where the tropes don’t bear examination. I’m telling a tale of Good versus Evil where most people are conflicted about the battle. Don’t assume it’s dumb because the z-word is attached.

Some people make rise-from-the-grave stuff work great, too. I’ve read plenty of smart horror. If you haven’t, maybe you need to read more, not less.

It didn’t even have to be zombies.

To me, the place of zombies in This Plague of Days, is as a force of nature. A world flu pandemic is a force of nature and the family deals with that first. The Brits in Season One run from the infected cannibals in the same way we’d run from packs of rabid dogs. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Ghost and the Darkness (two real life rogue lions who got a taste for humans and went on a killing spree) that’s my take on zombies. 

Ultimately, Zombies R US.

When the story is done, themes and larger metaphors emerge. Amid rising action, hard choices and people you care about in trouble, This Plague of Days raises questions about the natures of God, Mankind, sacrifice and whether we’re worth sacrifice. Everyone reads a book through their own lens and will take away what they will. I think this is fiction that is very rich soil to till. It’s no coincidence that Jaimie Spencer’s on the autistic spectrum and his special interest is words and their meanings. This Plague of Days is about our meaning.

So, if you have any doubts about the value of zombies in particular or horror writing in general, there’s my justification.

The defence rests. No damn apologies.

Now, let’s eat another can of worms and follow the links to a discussion about the place of religion in horror.

 


#Free #ebook: An #autistic hero faces the end of the world

As of 2:30 pm, here’s the Amazon ranking #23 in Dystopian and #29 Post-Apocalyptic!

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 2.47.32 PM

 

UPDATE: 

3:30 PM: #1 in Post-Apocalyptic and #2 in Dystopian!

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Push it higher on Amazon’s main list with a happy click and get Episode One free now. You’re going to love it!

This Plague of Days, Episode One

is free on Amazon until midnight tomorrow night.

Do you enjoy reading:

  • a book that allows you to see the world in a new way?
  • apocalyptic scenaria where the fate of God and humankind are debated?
  • Latin phrases and wordplay?
  • international thrillers with weird and scary terrorists?
  • zombies unlike what you’ve come to expect?
  • tension that crawls up your spine and into your brain?
  • about a sweet, innocent autistic boy who rarely speaks but has hidden talents that might save the world?

If any of that appeals to you as a horror reader, click the cover below and get on board the braingasm train.

Still not sure you want that first crunchy, salty potato chip? Then get more details here.

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get 5 episodes at 99 cents each or the whole Season for $3.99. Season Two hits the world at the end of September.

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get 5 episodes at 99 cents each or the whole Season for $3.99. Season Two hits the world at the end of September.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is a novelist, podcaster and former newspaper and magazine journalist. This Plague of Days is his ninth book. See all his books here.


Season One of the World’s First Autistic Zombie Apocalypse Novel is Complete!

Just 99 vents for each of five episodes or grab the discount and get all of Season One for $3.99.

Just 99 vents for each of five episodes or grab the discount and get all of Season One for $3.99.

Season Two arrives in September. Grab Season One now.

NEW REVIEWS!

5.0 out of 5 stars A high-brow zombie serial Max Brooks could be proud of…, July 15, 2013
This review is from: This Plague of Days Season One (The Zombie Apocalypse Serial) (Kindle Edition)

I think this storyline is brilliant. It’s not your cliched, run-of-the-mill zombie apocalypse story. It’s character driven. It’s cerebral. It’s awesome. The first episode of This Plague of Days is the perfect balance of back story, anecdotes, and the events of the present crisis. Jaime, the main character, is fantastically written and surprisingly well thought out. His diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum (formerly known as Aspergers), combined with his synthesesia (seeing emotions as color-auras) is a fresh aspect to an otherwise well-known genre. Reading on, I admit I was nervous that the remaining episodes wouldn’t pack the same punch. I was wrong, they did.

Jaime is an infuriating character to withstand during such a terrifying predicament-which is why he’s awesome. You find yourself screaming at the page for him to speak up, to warn others to what he sees. And that’s when you realize just how invested in the characters you are. And his isn’t the only well-developed character. Chute often provides glimpses into the pasts of some of the others and it’s so well-written, you forget for a moment that the world is in turmoil…but just for a moment before you’re clobbered over the head again with suspense, tension, and terror.

In the end, all the immediate conflicts were resolved in a satisfying way, not rushed, not unrealistic. There’s plenty of ground to cover next season, and the last few lines will leave you guessing and impatiently waiting for Season Two of This Plague of Days.

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, July 15, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: This Plague of Days Season One (The Zombie Apocalypse Serial) (Kindle Edition)

This Plague of Days scares me to death! I just can’t put it down; I have to see what happens next. Bring on Season Two!

 

 

 


This Plague of Days: The action rises. London falls.

See the end of the world through the eyes of an autistic boy. You’ll begin to see everything differently.

Please click the cover to learn more.

TPOD Episode 3

 


My zombies aren’t dead. They’re sick, angry and hungry.

An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead

An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead

When I worked in traditional publishing, author Anne Rice made vampires huge in popular culture. It seemed everyone was reading Interview with the Vampire (and then all her other books). Soon after, many agents and editors burned out on vampires. Vampires were done to death. The professionals were ready to put a stake through the heart of the phenomenon, so it must be so, right?

Foolish humans.

After the pros declared vampires were finished, the next wave came: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Twilight series, endless graphic novels, fan fic and True Blood.

If you live long enough, you begin to see patterns repeat. It happens in products and news cycles and franchises. Interesting things don’t go away. They get made anew.

The challenge in resurrecting any subject is to make it fresh: Cheerleader versus vampires in a world secretly packed with demons; vampires that sparkle in sunlight, more sex and whatever else it takes to make the old seem new.

Today I ran across an interesting blog entry. The author is tired of zombies. Good news! Zombies are still undead, too. Whether it’s new fans discovering old material in new forms (e.g. the World War Z movie), zombies as love interests, or my new serial (This Plague of Days), fresh takes abound for new fans and for those who think they’ve seen it all.

Innovation doesn’t stop with George Romero, or any other artist no matter how gifted.

If we’d stopped because the genre seemed to be running on fumes, we wouldn’t have 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead or The Walking Dead!

My zombie serial features a hero on the autism spectrum, eco-terrorists and more Latin phrases than Harry Potter has spells.  It starts with one terrible virus (as if that wasn’t bad enough) that mutates into something more deadly.

What interests me most about dangerous situations is how they bring out truth.

The bad brings out both the Evil and the Good to shed light on the human condition. In This Plague of Days, you’ll often find you have more to fear from the  uninfected than the zombies. Check out my take on zombies. If you like it, please don’t forget to review it. Thanks!

~ Robert Chazz Chute is an award winning writer and the author of nine books. 


Episode Two of This Plague of Days: Everything breaks

Read This Plague of Days. (And please, wash your hands frequently.)

This Plague of Days, Episode One (99 cents)

This Plague of Days, Episode Two (99 cents)

or

just grab

This Plague of Days, Season One

at a discount for only $3.99.

TPOD Episode 2


My GoodReads review of This Plague of Days: I wouldn’t believe it. You’ll have to read it.

This Plague of Days, Season 1This Plague of Days, Season 1 by Robert Chazz Chute

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wrote it so, yeah, five stars from me. It’s like two books in one where two groups of interesting characters are on a collision course. The stakes? Human extinction and the lives of people we care about. But since I wrote it, I wouldn’t believe me, either. I guess if apocalyptic fiction with more Latin phrases than Harry Potter has spells intrigues you, you’ll have to read it to see for yourself. I hope you enjoy it.

View all my reviews

 


#Video: This Plague of Days

This Plague of Days pits an autistic boy against a rising zombie horde. As the world we know comes apart, the infected become cannibals. Take elements of The Stand and

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get it week to week for a scary summer or get the whole season.

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get it week to week for a scary summer or get the whole season.

Cell, mix in World War Z and 28 Days Later with a terrorist plot and a strange boy with an obsession for Latin phrases and wham! It’s a zombie apocalypse you’re going to love.

An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead

An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead

Get it week to week and episode by episode for just 99 cents or get all of Season 1 at a discount now.


This Plague of Days launches today! Think of it as the Ungrateful Living versus The Running Dead

An autistic boy + The Stand + 28 Days Later = This Plague of Days

An autistic boy + The Stand + 28 Days Later = This Plague of Days

 

TPOD season 1 ecoverThis Plague of Days is kind of like two books in one. It begins with a world flu pandemic that makes civilization grind to a halt. Then the virus mutates to a form of human rabies that turns ordinary people into cannibals. As a terrorist organization works to spread the contagion, the new strain of the virus rises with the mayhem. In the heartland of an America falling apart, a boy on the autism spectrum discovers he has curious abilities in the midst of the chaos. A war is coming as forces for good and evil come together on a collision course. 

I’m so excited to finally release season one. You can get the episodes week by week for 99 cents each or buy the full first season for just $3.99. (Take the discount!) If you enjoy the book, please do review it. 

Thanks to Kit Foster of Kit Foster Design for his great work on this project (and there’s more to come for the print version.)

Thanks to the editorial team at Ex Parte Press. Many thanks for your suggestions as I built this huge story. Season Two arrives in September.

 

 

 


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