The New Year brings fresh promise and fresh opportunity . . . for Zombies!  Part of the waning hours of 2011, I spent working on a short story.  The premise: zombies in the 4th century Macedonian highlands.  Some of Alexander the Great’s Orestid troops return home in the winter of 334 only to find their village overrun with the walking dead.  Glory and terror ensue as they pit spear, sword, and shield against unholy flesh . . .

A good premise, I thought.  And, upon doing a bit of research, I discovered a dearth of zombie stories written in the BC.  Curious, I thought — mine came about after watching THE WALKING DEAD and wondering, loudly, why no one bothered to hit the library in Atlanta for a couple of books on tactics of the Roman legion, then swing by Museum Replicas and get kitted out in mail, helmet, shield, spear, axe/mace, and a good sword.  THAT led to wondering how our Classical Greek ancestors might have viewed a zombie apocalypse — undead horde versus phalanx, FTW!

A chance comment by my friend, Louis Agresta, got me thinking: wouldn’t it be cool to do an anthology of ancient historical zombie tales?  Yeah, that WOULD be cool.  And because I never go through the proper procedure for these things, I put the word out on Facebook, and my writer friends responded.  Which brings me to this: newbie, pro or in between, if you’d like to contribute a story to an anthology still in its infancy (not secured a publisher, yet, so not sure what rates I can pay), here are the initial guidelines:

1) Stories MUST take place before 1 BC and no earlier than 5000 BC.  No pre-history.

2) Stories must be between 3,000 and 7, 000 words (this is firm unless you have prior permission — or you’re the one true Stephen King).

3) Deadline TBD

Send your submissions in standard manuscript format (txt or doc) to me at scottoden (at) gmail.com.  As an historical author, despite the presence of the shambling and unquiet dead, I must insist on settings and portrayals of the ancient world that ring true.  Do your research . . . then add zombies 😉

And so, to paraphrase the Bard: “Cry Zombie, and let slip the undead horde!”

Edit 1: Revised the lower word count limit down from 5K to 3K . . . otherwise my own tale would be disqualified!

Edit 2: Changed 1st century BC to 1 BC; and added the qualifier of no stories prior to 5000 BC, and no pre-history.

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18 thoughts on “Zombies in the Agora!

  1. Hm, I usually get novel sized plotbunnies these days, but a bunch of undead sounds more like short story material. There’s a reason the Germans buried their dead in bogs. The Roman army under Drusus (so I get a time pre-1 BC) may have made a mistake to just let the lie to rot. 😉

    Happy New Year.

  2. I rarely write short stories or historical fantasy, but I think I’ll give it a try. It took me ten minutes, and I had an idea.
    All I am saying is Celtic zombies in Greece. It will be fun!

  3. Mr. Oden,

    You owe me a night’s sleep.

    I had a germ of an idea. While attempting to sleep last night, the idea fireballed into a blaze of creative singe all around my brain.

    You’ll be hearing from me, Mr. Oden.

    p..s – it might have been the strong iced coffee I had in the afternoon, but it is more fun to blame you.

  4. Dear Mr. Oden,

    Your zombies-in-ancient history anthology sounds very interesting. I’d love to contribute if the prospect develops well. In fact I’m already playing with a couple of ideas … possibly my own established character, Kamose, the ancient Egyptian magician and Archpriest of Anubis, could fit in well. (Around 1350-1300 BCE.) As the god of mortuary rites, mortuary temples and embalming, Anubis would be hugely irked by anything that violated the sanctity of tombs, and raising the dead to grisly unlife would qualify in spades. It’d follow that Kamose would be expected to do something about it.

    Or it might be better to use a time, place and characters I haven’t used before. In that case, an early Etruscan seeking profit on the Amber Road (say 850 BCE) could run into a region afflicted by zombies, and soon find profit coming a bad second to survival.

    But I’m very interested and would love to know more. I hope the project succeeds and you get many writers interested — even including the one true Stephen KIng.

    Best regards,

    Keith Taylor

    1. I love the Egyptian angle, Mr. Taylor! I hope to know more about publishers and rates in the coming days, but for the time being I’m moving forward with it. The idea of zombies in Antiquity is too juicy, IMO, not to act upon it! Your work is well-known to me and you’ll be a most welcome addition to the pages of the anthology.

      Thanks for your interest! Oh, and call me Scott 🙂

  5. Scott,

    I’m formulating a tale set in the Nordic Bronze Age, influenced by a couple passages from the Poetic and Prose Eddas. I’ve scribbled some crude details and two or three snippets for some scenes, but still trying to nail the underlying plot to the floorboards. I can’t wait to hear more announcements regarding this project.

    Also, a funny thing. As I was drifting off to sleep last night it came into my drowsy head that this project sounds like something a certain Keith Taylor would be perfect for. I’m a fan of Keith’s BARD books, and had the pleasure to read a story of his for a pending antho from Rogue Blades Entertainment (hopefully that title comes to fruition). Anyhoo, I was delighted to see the above post by Mr. Taylor. How cool! I’m glad this antho has garnered his attention.

    J.M. Martin

      1. Excellent. I hope to tweak your fancy. In a platonic fashion, of course (for the most part). Solid information for this period is so speculative and incomplete, and so few facts are known, that as I’ve delved, I’ve changed my storyline twice already. But it’s slowly piecing together, especially since I’ve moved beyond Wikipedia and the “witchiness” of Llewellyn Publications into cherrypicking the Eddas and Sagas of the Icelanders and the archaeological/paganistic-based works of Dr. Hilda Ellis Davidson. If you know of any other good resources for Finnoscandia and the Nordic Bronze Age off the top of your noggin’, please hit me up. Anyone.

        Also looking forward to more word on your Secret Project. Take care!

    1. Well… Do you read Swedish? If so, there were a book released a couple of years ago called Bronsåldersmordet ( The Bronze Age Murder), which is really good. It delves into the Swedish Bronze Age. Takes up a lot of things.
      There is also a new series covering Swedish history, with a volume about Bronze age and Neolithic Sweden.

      No idea about English books, though.

      1. I just Googled this all over the place and the premise is very interesting, but I can’t find an English version! At least this finally gives me a legit excuse to learn Swedish. Thanks for the tip, Mikaela.

  6. Hi Scott,

    Just found your new blog…and this post. Are you still accepting for submissions? Funnily enough, I just watched the 1960s “Jason and the Argonauts,” and it got me thinking: Put some rotting flesh on those skeletons and you’d have zombies! But it seems from your clarification post, stories written in the style of the Argonautai, The Odyssey, etc. aren’t what you’re looking for. Is that correct?

    If so, I’ll just have to go with my second idea. One that involves all those hands severed by the Egyptian soldiers after the Battle of Kadesh – Love the late Bronze Age 🙂

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