A Zombie Lament

OMG YOU GUYS it has come to my attention that SOMEONE on the internet is saying that my fictional 19th century zombies are NOT SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND. Naturally, I am crushed. To think, IF ONLY I’d consulted with a zombologist or two before sitting down to write, I could’ve avoided ALL THIS EMBARRASSMENT.

If you’ve been heretofore unaware of my EGREGIOUS CRIMES against reason and scientific probability, but you too would like to criticize my technique when it comes to MAKING SHIT UP about the pretend undead … then boy, have I got a proposal for YOU!

It turns out, there is a SEQUEL to the outstanding MOCKERY OF LOGIC which was the steampunk pulp adventure Boneshaker. It is called DREADNOUGHT, and you can get it – right now! – in an assortment of handy-dandy ways. In fact, I invite you to BUY it, READ it, and SUBMIT YOUR LETTERS OF CONCERN so that I can take them under advisement as I write TWO MORE SEQUELS which are likewise doomed to HIDEOUS INACCURACY without your assistance in this matter.

How will I ever get my zombie science right without you?

Where to Get Dreadnought:

Ebook Editions: Visit Dreadnought‘s listing here at Macmillan and you’ll find digital editions suitable for the iPad, Kobo, Nook, and Sony eReader. Click here for Dreadnought on the Kindle.

Audio Book: Courtesy of Macmillan Audio and Audible, you can pick up the audio book of Dreadnought right here.

Sample Content: Scroll down at the Macmillan listing and you’ll find excerpts, reviews, and other useful things that might give you a better idea of what you’re in for.

General Information: For general information regarding the world-setting of Boneshaker and Dreadnought, visit The Clockwork Century and take a poke around.

Stay Connected: Join the Clockwork Century’s fan page on Facebook.

Last Modified on October 27, 2010
this article A Zombie Lament

48 thoughts on “A Zombie Lament

  1. Erik

    Ur zombiez am are wrong!!

  2. Oh noez!

  3. John H

    Fiction that’s *gasp* FICTIONAL. What’s the world coming to?

  4. Aren’t zombies by their very nature fantasy? Let the haters hate I say :)

  5. Well, really, Cherie. How could you just sit there at your computer and willy-nilly make stuff up? Do you think you write fiction or something? Come back to the real world! Crack open your old biology text and write the truth for pity’s sake. We already hear enough lies from our politicians, now we find out that you writers don’t base your stories in hard scientific facts? It’s too terrible to contemplate. Just stop it!

  6. Y’know, I wasn’t going to say anything, but as a licensed zombologist I did detect a few inconsistencies between generally accepted zombie research and the so-called “zombies” of “Boneshaker”… ;)
    Don’t let the haters get you down, Cherie. You’re a fantastic writer, the zombies in “Boneshaker” gave me fricken’ nightmares, and I can’t wait to start reading “Dreadnought.”

  7. Virus? Voodoo? What happens to rotting flesh in sub zero temperatures? What makes a head shot a head shot? Zombie Squad’s Zombie Biology forum is a must read for the scientific sticklers.


    There’s even a thread about how awesome Cherie Priest is on there. Complete with glamour shots!

    Truly. Deeply.
    Or at least comically and superficially :)

  9. HA! Thanks Kyle – that’s a hoot :)

  10. I read that rather scathing criticism, and to me, it smacks of elitist false authority.
    I mean, c’mon, the author of the offending post claimed his problem with Steampunk was that it was not grounded in science and did not deal with the problems of the era it was supposedly based upon. Really?
    Did he criticize Epic Fantasy for not dealing enough with the plight of peasants in a feudal society? No.
    Did he complain that every Science Fiction story with Faster than Light travel is impossible according to the laws of physics as we know them, and therefore the entire story is rendered implausible? No.
    Lets face it, that guy just doesn’t like Steampunk, and that’s fine. He does not have to. But to speak as if from a position of authority, with standards he does not apply to other genres? That smacks of bitter arrogance.

  11. Hey now, no hating on Charlie. He’s entitled to his opinion, and it doesn’t bother me any. If the metaphoric smiley-face attached to this post isn’t strongly enough implied – then let me just say this:


  12. John H

    And as far as Charlie’s little rant goes, it sounds like he needs a couple Pamprin and a good nap…

  13. John Bridges

    While we’re on the subject of your appalling inaccuracies, I was disappointed that you wrote about airship landing fields in Richmond, VA. As a former resident of that city, I can tell you that Richmond did not have any civil war-era airship landing facilities, for either military or civilian travel. You got it wrong, I’m afraid, and it just ruined the book for me. RUINED IT.

  14. I love Charlie Stross and his blog, but it seems quite obvious that he hasn’t read any of your books. First of all, you’ve clearly incorporates an element of magic into that universe. It’s blindly obvious in Tanglefoot (and quite well-done, I might add)

    Second, the main thrust of his blog post is about the glossing over of the ugly politics and economics of the era. Again, something you clearly don’t do since you place Clockwork Century right in the middle of the worst period of American history and don’t spare the us the horror of the time.

  15. Well, for next time, I’m sure there are zombie experts out there who’d be willing to let you pick their brains… or at least be happy to pick at yours. ;)

  16. Les

    You need a new badge for scientific inaccuracy now. You can collect them like cub scouts/brownies.

    Celebrities can do short 30 second segments between commercial breaks during cartoons about how its ok to be inaccurate.

    Also, that dude is a douche.

  17. Les

    Ooops, i took too long to reply and didnt see the “dont attack charlie” thing. Apologies to all.

  18. Geez, Cherie… how do you expect to be taken seriously as a writer of fiction if you’re just making stuff up? ;)

  19. I will have to make up BETTER STUFF.
    Apparently :)

  20. Kristie

    So, you’re telling me your fiction is, um…FICTION? Dang! Who knew making stuff up was so set in rules of accuracy?

  21. hugh57

    No, you just have to make up more ACCURATE stuff. ;-)

    Got it :)

  23. If this rant was coming from a reader, it would be be merely disappointing. The lack of professionalism some people will display on the internet, truly never ceases to amaze me.

    Cheers to your response though. Well played.

  24. I think the main problem is that Stross is thinking Steampunk is Science Fiction, when it is pretty clearly a fantasy sub-genre.

    Also, making shit up for the win :)

  25. Apparently there are a group of people who want all zombies to be the same. A uniform code of zombies.
    It would soon be a pretty boring genre, but if they want it, maybe we could code books as “non-uniform” and “uniform” so that those folks would not be dirtied by creative thought.

  26. Cathy

    Charlie who? Never read him. I have read “Boneshaker” and “Dreadnought”. I must be retarded. I didn’t catch the inaccuracies in “Boneshaker” or “Dreadnought”. Oops.

    I’m just that annoying fan who read a ton of PR/UF (the Paranormal Fang Fu…. “banger”?). I only JUST started reading steampunk this year.

    Oh yes, I know. I’ve read the remarks of expert readers/writers who know better in forums and blogs. My friends and I have helped pollute the literary world with tons of squeeing and debating over supernatural “hotness” throughout the internet. OBVIOUSLY, I’m no expert.

    I’m also “that fan girl” who is voting for Cherie Priest for an Airship Award during SteamConII. The NERVE right? Like I don’t -know- good fiction or something. I’m even going to TWO of her booksignings this year. Crap, I thought I was so cool!!!

    I’m sorry. My mistake. I like the wrong books I guess. :P I just…keep…buying…them.

  27. I’m deducting fan points from Mr. Stross for getting steampunk fantasy confused with steampunk science fiction… and a few points from you for abusing the poor Caps Lock key.

    Can we all be friends again now? Because I really really really like both of your books.

    Oops. I mean let us all be friends.

    I hope the implied smiley emoticon belonging to this post was implied sufficiently. If not, as above in the comments, I add it here:


  29. Tim

    Zombies not real? Zombies. Not. Real? OK,OK…so how in the name of Beelzebupkis do you explain all of my co-workers at the Medicare Call Center? Zombies not real my ass.

  30. Cathy

    Peace and love. No hate. I don’t mean any disrespect to any author or reader, but I figure if you have strong opinions and post them on the internet, you should be able to handle a strong response. S’all I’m sayin’. ;)

  31. Mindy

    Wow, that was quite the rant. Your response gave me (and the hubs) a seriously good laugh. Personallly, I loved Boneshaker because, among other things, it’s set in my hometown, and the zombies are not the same old everyday Michael Jackson-style zombies… I’m looking forward to Dreadnought (as soon as the budget allows. Keep up the good work!

  32. Alun

    Hang on a minute… All this didn’t happen in the colonies in the 19th century??? I was reading these books as some sort of historical record of actual events that shaped the good old US of A. How could I have been so stupid… I feel duped. I shall be returning my books forthwith!

    In all seriousness, I think you just have to take the rough with the smooth, you can never please everyone. What always tickles me is why people who obviously don’t like something, continue to watch/listen/read it, then complain about it. I don’t particularly like the recent glut of Vampire movies, just not my thing, so guess what, I don’t go to see them!

    Cherie, keep writting exactly how you’re writting, I for one am loving the books (bordering on the obsessive! Will I have to wait a whole year for the next book… phooey!), and judging by the responses here I’m not alone. Keep smilling!

  33. gaelfling

    there is Zombiology? d00d, where do I sign up to study that?

    there will always be someone who thinks too hard about a subject and feels the need to be an ‘official’ on a subject, just the nature of the hairless talking monkey :P

  34. Confidential to Charles Stross: I guess you’ve never read Verne or Wells, right? That time machine in the Time Machine was SUCH bullshit from a theoretical physics standpoint. And the center of the earth! WHAT! How were they not crushed to death by pressure changes or immolated by the air itself?

    I love me some hard realistic science fiction, but sometimes I want 1.21 jiggawatts, zombies, or a farm kid from a backwater planet blowing up a moon that turned out to be a satellite. If it gets people (and in particular kids and teens) reading genre fiction, fantastic.

  35. Marissa

    Scandals involving fictionally inaccurate zombies are hilarious!
    Also love your balanced take on things. Fun blog, here.

  36. Glenn Fleishman

    To paraphrase George Orwell, Keep the zeppelins flying!

  37. Tyler

    Uhhh… What about all this artificial gravity on space ships? If we want to talk about what’s scientific, can’t we address how the **** people figured out how to do this even on the smallest of ships?

  38. So, um, what about the actual meat of Charlie’s objections to steampunk in general, though? The necessary political/economic underpinnings that he doesn’t want to associate with? You don’t even refer to the actual content of the article, let alone address it.

  39. Shawn

    Well, you know, I still like paranormal vampire romance, and proud of it. And I like light and fluffy steampunk, because I enjoy light & fluffy entertainment. I am, actually, aware of the vast ills of the Victorian time period (and lots of other time periods). If other folks want to read the dystopian steampunk stuff, more power to them. Sometimes I do; other times, I really like light & fluffy. (But, you know, I don’t actually read *fiction* when I’m researching actual *history*. That’s what *history* books are for. I’m just sayin’ …)

    Doesn’t make me either ignorant or a bad person. Just one with different taste. And I’m looking forward to all of the stories that authors who are excited about the genre are in the process of writing.

    That’s actually one of the things I like so much about steampunk — there’s something for everybody. Really. Smile.

  40. Ha! A brilliant riposte. :)

  41. José

    Cherie, your response as to the scientific inaccuracy of your zombies couldn’t have been better. Really, Charles Stross, being the SFF author and READER that he is, surprises me on this point. However, I’d have loved to hear you on the other point that he raises, which, although not specifically directed at you, includes you, if I’m not mistaken. I’m referring to what Stross seems to describe as the lack of social consciousness in steampunk.

  42. Rhys

    I love how the bulk of backlashes to this argument is comprised of snarky condescension. Perhaps the steampunk genre is one that wishes to remain solidified in the read-once-and-throw-away pulp category. Sure, this isn’t literature (or even apparently of notable science-fiction), but at least have some decency in response to unanticipated criticism.

  43. So, Charlie Stross doesn’t think your zombies are *accurate*? Have you ever paused to wonder how it is he *knows* this? Makes you wonder where the dude spends his spare time, doesn’t it?

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