Life is The Walking Dead by Khoury Archibald

In learning about the Science Fiction genre this semester our lives were thrown into some disarray by the Covid-19 Pandemic, it has was common to think of our own world as a kind of Science Fiction story. As the virus basically shut down the world for a time I became interested in writing about the Walking Dead franchise. The Walking Dead is a franchise focused on the world after a global pandemic turns most of the population into zombies. Survivors are then shown trying to navigate the new world and find some way to gain a semblance of normal life. The Walking Dead is based on decision making the people are basically proxies for the viewer, they navigate their new world and search for the best in their new reality.
The Walking Dead Franchise is a series of comic books, video games, television and web series. It was created by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The original comic series was first published in 2003. The various editions of the comic and the series in its different mediums focuses on different casts of characters as they try to gather resources, and people to fight for survival. The TV series follows the plot of the comic series closely and is the most popular form of the franchise. The story from the comic and TV series follows Rick Grimes, a sheriff who awakens from a coma to the world in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. He joins a group of survivors which includes his family who then travels throughout America in search of shelter. The comic series was pitched by Kirkman and Moore as an homage to the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead. It was published by Image Comics and ran until 2019.
The Walking Dead story fits the genre of Science Fiction in various ways. I feel it could fit in multiple eras of Science Fiction history including Proto and New Wave Science Fiction. The story is set in a dystopic world based on our own which shows no sign of improvement. This concept is similar to the concept of utopian stories which were prevalent in the Proto-SF era which gave way to dystopian stories. A dystopian story displays a society that is worse than our own. The Walking Dead shows a future society that was altered by a disease that changed the world we know. The Proto-SF era produced dystopian imagery in stories such as H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine which showed a world appearing happy and peaceful while hiding a dark underbelly. Many Walking Dead arcs have survivors together in camps living as normal and attempting to find a stable life and believing they have found one that works for them, then having something change which throws them back on their own. Dystopian works are also found in the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Issac Asimov’s Reason explores the fear of society being taken over by robots. A lot of Golden Age dystopia focuses on the suspicion of technology or government as the motivation of the characters. Though The Walking Dead does not feature a direct antagonist in that way, the characters could be considered to be revolting against the world as it exists as they try to find a cure or some hope of changing their situation.
The video game based on The Walking Dead was first released in 2012 by Telltale Games. The game series ran for four “seasons” until 2018. The game is story based, where the player makes decisions for their characters that effect the story as it progresses. The story advances through the seasons allowing the player some control of the story. The decision making element and importance of human choice is what makes The Walking Dead franchise Science Fiction. Many rules of Science Fiction that have been established over the years apply the plot of the series. In John W. Rules for good Science Fiction he feels the story’s conditions should be different than current times and drive the story’s plot. The Walking Dead fills all of the requirements as well as adhering to science. The Walking Dead also follows several rules of New Wave Science Fiction and it’s shift toward more serious psychological storytelling. The Walking Dead tends to focus more on phycology. The actual violence and acton of killing zombies serves as the constant burden of the characters. The toll of always fighting for survival and it’s mental strain is the main idea of the franchise.
Watching The Walking Dead during this time in the world was interesting. Many SF stories we read during the semester warn of wild futures that are vastly different and dangerous. The reality we face now during the pandemic is the kind of plot we would see in SF. People have likened it to The Walking Dead or I Am Legend. The similarities pushed me to write about The Walking Dead and also my own experience dealing with an altered reality. I personally have not been overly affected by the pandemic. My work and general family life have been stable so I feel fortunate at this point. There has still been a feeling of apathy towards the world and questioning the importance of everyday things if they can be stopped so suddenly. Basic time management and summoning the motivation to do certain tasks have become a process. I think of people with real struggles, who have lost work, and important people in their lives and consider my good fortune, but still getting myself to do things I need to do can be a struggle. I watched The Walking Dead, trying to put myself in the characters shoes and understand their decisions and motivations. I believe that is the best way to experience the franchise as a whole, putting yourself in the shoes of the character. Being in a similar situation as the characters I feel enhances the overall experience of the show. Questioning whether it would be worth rebuilding the world in the show which is often portrayed as having no hope of returning to normalcy was an interesting thought process to consider during this period of time.