Zombiecorn: Like Candy Corn, Only Gooier!

Word on the street is that the peerless Holly Black and her peer, sf historian and YA author Justine Larbalestier, have tired of championing their favorite imaginary critters (unicorns and zombies respectively) in sordid smackdowns through all the back alleys and undertubes of the internet and are settling the matter in the only reasonable way, by co-editing an anthology titled Zombies Vs. Unicorns. That’s high concept so high it smacks of genius. Or some sort of hallucinogen.

I’m a noncombatant in the zombie-unicorn wars, but I have to admit I incline a little toward the widely loathed unicorn. They may have been pop-cultivated into my-little-ponies-with-spikes, but they still strike me as a powerful symbol of otherworldliness. There are no unicorns around here (wherever “here” is): if you see a unicorn you are there instead. I’m thinking of the occasional appearances of the unicorn in Zelazny’s Amber series (the original five, not the saddeningly inept sequel books), or Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. Dunsany wrote a couple of stories (The King of Elfland’s Daughter and maybe the best of all the Jorkens stories, “Hunting the Unicorn”) involving unicorn hunts, a notion which has always struck me as deeply depraved. But at least Dunsany’s unicorns were remarkable beasts, whose presence indicated escape from the fields we know.

Unfortunately, that’s not what most readers seem to think of when they read the word “unicorn”, and it’s audience reaction that seals the deal (or doesn’t), not the writer’s intent.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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12 Responses to Zombiecorn: Like Candy Corn, Only Gooier!

  1. brownkitty says:

    Are they going to be counting a kirin as a unicorn, or are they sticking with strictly Western concepts?

    • JE says:

      Not sure–I’m not acquainted (personally or virtually) with either of the editors. I’m not even sure if the anthology is open to submissions; invitational anthologies are a lot easier for editors to manage in these days of gargantuan slushpiles. There’s a lengthy thread at Holly Black’s LJ (too lengthy for me to plow through last night); some answers might appear there.

      • JE says:

        This just in…

        I read through the thread at ‘s LJ and HB says that neither she nor JL are going to write stories but they are going to “announce the line-up soon”, so maybe we’ll have a sense of the inclusiveness of the stories when we know who the writers are.

  2. Anonymous says:

    And they told me I’d never find a market for “Zombie-Unicorns of the Apocalypse!”

    –Jeff Stehman

    • JE says:

      You know, I hate to say this, but you still might not have. I can see JL shaking her head and saying, “Too unicorny!” while HB brushes it off as “Too zombicated!”

  3. burger_eater says:

    Unicorns up, zombies down.

    • JE says:

      I can see why people don’t like unicorns (though I do, if skillfully written or depicted), but I don’t really see why anyone likes zombies, except as antagonists. That may be part of it, of course: a story with zombies in it is one with more no-holds-barred antagonism than the average tale told nowadays.

  4. phoenixw says:

    omfg, that sounds wonderful. 😀

    I have a real soft spot for zombies, myself. The doctor says if I stop sleeping on that side, though, it should heal up.

    Seriously, I’m sitting here puzzling over why it is, but I really like zombies. I mean, they’re not intelligent – what makes them interesting? I’m going to have to think about this.


    • JE says:

      It’s probably easier to combine dark humor with action in a story with zombies. I’m thinking Army of Darkness or Shaun of the Dead.

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