A the night before I wrote this article, I was reminded of one of the coolest types of zombie fiction by an episode of “Star Trek: Enterprise”, of all things. The episode in question (season three, episode five) revolves around the main characters discovering a seemingly abandoned Vulcan spaceship, whose crew has been turned into modern-style “fast” zombies.
So, what’s so great about zombies in space, and why is it such an awesome version of the zombie genre? Well, there are several reasons.
The first reason is that zombie stories that are set in space are automatically about ten times more suspenseful than “ordinary” zombie stories are. This is because a spaceship is a relatively small and claustrophobic location, which the main characters can’t escape from easily.
Unlike a “normal” zombie story, the main characters can’t just leave the city or hide in a secluded cabin. On a spaceship or space station, there are usually few places to hide and nowhere to run.
Not only that, as well as facing the threat of being eaten by zombies, resources matter a lot more to the main characters when they are in space. Whilst the protagonists of a “normal” zombie story might have to worry about getting enough food, weapons and water, they don’t have to also worry about having enough oxygen or about keeping a zombie-infested spaceship in good working order.
So, purely by virtue of setting your zombie story in space, you can make it significantly more suspenseful than most zombie stories are.
The second reason why zombie stories set in space are so fascinating is because of the contrast between the zombies and their surroundings. Some of the horror in a “traditional” zombie story comes from the fact that all of humanity’s technological and social advancements have been wiped out by a plague of zombies. Seeing high tech modern cities being reduced to zombie-filled ruins is meant to evoke a sense of apocalyptic dread in the audience.
With sci-fi zombie stories, this is turned up to eleven. Seeing primitive, shambling zombies lurching through the corridors of impossibly futuristic spaceships and space stations contains a much larger amount of dramatic contrast than merely showing a horde of zombies roaming the streets of a modern city. The contrast between humanity’s achievements and the primitive inhuman nature of the zombies is made even clearer when your story is set in space.
The third reason why zombie stories set in space are so cool is because, as well as including lots of zombie-related stuff in your story, you can also include a lot of cool sci-fi stuff too. You can dazzle your audience with futuristic technology, intrigue them with interplanetary politics and thrill them with spacefaring adventures, whilst also including a lot of stuff from the zombie genre too.
Finally, one thing that makes sci-fi zombie stuff so cool is because of it’s sheer rarity. When you see something in this genre, you remember it because there aren’t that many things out there that fit into this astonishingly cool genre.
Off the top of my head, the only things I can think of that fit into this genre are this hilarious music video, one episode of “Star Trek: Enterprise”, the first part of the original “Doom” (technically), “Doom III”, an animated movie called “Dead Space: Downfall” (and everything I’ve heard about the “Dead Space” franchise), and a few fan-made levels for “Left 4 Dead 2” and “Doom II”.
But, I can’t really think of any major movies or anything like that in this genre. It’s one of those genres that is ridiculously cool, but often overlooked.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂