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The Living Dead and the Zombie Archetype

I was a bit surprised to read the news today, and see that there were legitimate warnings about various equipment failure, disorientation, and other oddities that may occur as the result of a massive solar flare expected to bombard Earth’s magnetic field sometime in the next 12-15 hours.

Solar flares and the resulting geomagnetic storms they cause here on Terra Firma can often contribute to a variety of strange things; for instance, Auroral activity will also likely increase, and even an increase in activity at  popular locations associated with “ghost light” phenomenon can be expected.

Perhaps I’m being a bit too cryptic here, but I must admit that something else had been tugging at my synapses as I consumed all this information: could a massive solar storm, in addition to potentially wiping out the electrical grid and thrusting us into a second dark age, turn all of humanity into flesh-devouring zombies?

Sure, it’s unlikely. What probably got me entertaining such ideas was the arrival of one of Brad Steiger’s new books in the mail yesterday, Real Zombies, the Living Dead, and Creatures of the Apocalypse. Similar in format and focus to last year’s Real Vampires, Night Stalkers and Creatures from the Darkside, this book will no doubt become the definitive edition that probes the actual plausibility of zombies and mindless denizens of death in folklore and history.

The notion of flesh eating “deadites” stems back to the earliest written works of our time, with references in the Epic of Gilgamesh to zombie-like monstrosities controlled by the goddess Ishtar, who “threatens to raise the dead and have them devour the people unless her father gives her the Bull of Heaven.” Also in the classic “Arabian Nights” series, a story called The History of Gherib and His Brother Agib deals with an outcast prince who battles a family of ravenous ghouls that are very similar to zombies, and converts them to Islam.

I’ll be looking forward to digging into Brad’s book today… especially in the event massive power outages are occurring across the globe. However, I must give one final word of warning: in case you see strange people wandering the city streets in the aftermath of such outages, be sure and lock your doors, and keep a flame thrower, shotgun, or hatchet nearby, lest ye be consumed by the dead who devour the living!

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Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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