Physical Isolation and Viral Information in Mira Grant’s Newsflesh Stories

Keywords: knowledge-power, collective action, community, governmentality, pandemic

Abstract

Set in the ongoing Kellis-Amberlee pandemic, Mira Grant’s zombie adventure series Newsflesh (2010–2016) conjoins knowledge-power with the physical and technological apparatuses of control for a group of narratives that place citizens against the government. The ongoing apocalypse is untenable, as exemplified in the radically constricted lives most people live in efforts to protect themselves from people or other mammals who have been transformed into zombies by the virus. This constriction, and therefore the extension of government framing of the pandemic as a crisis condition, consolidates power in the hands of a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) that is actively and secretly working to eliminate human adaptive responses to the virus.

“Physical Isolation and Viral Information in Mira Grant’s Newsflesh” explores the connections between knowledge, scientific authority, physical distancing, and collective action. Given the figural power of zombies, the apparatuses for control of the vulnerable and dangerous bodies in this uncontrolled pandemic substitute – and obscure the need for – widespread sharing not only of facts but of understanding the implications of those facts. Two decades of misinformation and fear campaigns, in Newsflesh, trampled the legacy of “the Rising” and transformed the survivors from collective actors who shared what they learned in their attempts to stay alive into fearful isolationists who lack the knowledge to exercise power or enact community. The abuses of power discovered by the characters in these texts point to possible ways of not merely surviving but of living amid the zombie pandemic.

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Published
2022-08-24