Since the dawn of time one question has dominated all others:
Zombies or Unicorns?
Well, okay, maybe not since the dawn of time, but definitely since 15 February 2007. That was the day Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier began a heated exchange about the creatures’ relative merits on Justine’s blog. Since that debate the question has become an unstoppable Internet meme, crowding comment threads and even making it to YouTube.
Here in the real world Holly and Justine are often called upon to defend, respectively, unicorns and zombies. The whole thing has gotten so out of hand that the only remedy is . . .
Zombies vs. Unicorns. The anthology.
That’s right, you have in your hands the book that will settle the debate once and for all.
For Justine it is a question of metaphors: Which creature better symbolizes the human condition? The answer is obviously zombies, which can be used to comment on almost any aspect of our existence. They are walking entropy. They are the dissolute wreck of consumerism. They are the eventual death that faces us all. They are a metaphor for slavery, conformity, and oblivion. What are unicorns? Fluffy, monochrome, sticky tedium.
For Holly, however, unicorns are majestic beasts that are at once symbols of healing and fierce killers with long pointy objects attached to their heads. They were hunted by mythical kings, their image emblazoned on standards by noble families. And they continue to fascinate people today (often in sticker-and-rainbow form, she admits). Besides, between a unicorn and a zombie, which would you rather be trapped down a mine shaft with?
They spend a lot of time having arguments like this one:
Holly: Seriously, you don’t like unicorns? What kind of person doesn’t like unicorns?
Justine: What kind of a person doesn’t like zombies? What have zombies ever done to you?
Holly: Zombies shamble. I disapprove of shambling. And bits that fall off. You never see a unicorn behaving that way.
Justine: I shamble. Bits fall off me all the time: Hair, skin cells. Are you saying you disapprove of me?
Cherie Priest: But Holly, if you ask nicely, a zombie will give you a piggyback ride even if you are not a virgin. And that is why zombies win.
Justine: See, Holly? No one holds with your zombie-hating ways.
Holly: But the horn of a unicorn can cure diseases! Possibly the diseases you might get from accepting a piggyback ride from a zombie.
Justine: Oh, I see, so you’re all for the use of unicorn products. Are you thinking about having a unicorn coat made for yourself as well? I wonder how PETA feels about your unicorn-exploiting ways. . . . Not to mention that zombies don’t have diseases. I’m appalled that you would spread lies about them.
Clearly, we had to gather the finest minds in our field to answer this urgent question.
Because Holly can’t stand to read about zombies and Justine would rather eat her own eyeballs than read about unicorns, we have kindly ensured that each story is marked by a zombie or unicorn icon. No unwary zombie fan will accidentally start reading a unicorn story or vice versa.
We can all rest easy.
Especially those among us who love to read about zombies and unicorns, who now have a book crowded with stories about both creatures by the best talent in the field.
If you’re strong enough to read all the stories, you will know by the end of this anthology which is better: zombies or unicorns!
Justine: ZOMBIES!!!! (I win.)