is an interesting take on the zombie genre from horror/sci-fi power couple, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes. It's maybe not the most unique zombie story out there, but it does have something closer to philosophical zombies than most and of course raises interesting questions about the ways in which humans depend on each other. It took a while, but the characters really grew on me, too. This novel is based on Due and Barnes's earlier short story called "Danger Word."
The basic plot: teenage girl Kendra is on the run from a zombie outbreak (including some heartbreaking scenes involving her family) when she meets up with a small group of other young adults (with some good representation of characters of diverse races and ethnicities). They go on the road in search of a place where civilization has found sanctuary.
Due and Barnes explain in their postscript that part of what they were trying to do here was to delve into the ways that human beings depend on one another. This may seem at odds with the hyper-survivalist ethos of most zombie tales, but notice that in most zombie stories the protagonists get by with a little help from their friends.
But how do you tell who your friends are? That's the catch, of course!
One of the scariest things about this novel is also one of the most philosophically interesting: even after they are infected (usually through a bite), zombies can still talk like their old selves for a while. Creepy!
Philosophical zombies, as popularized by philosopher David Chalmers, are a thought experiment meant to make a point about consciousness: if you could imagine creatures with all the same physiological processes as humans and who act and talk just like humans but without a sense of first-person phenomenal consciousness (or "what its like"), does this show that consciousness cannot be reduced to or fully explained by physical processes? Or as philosophers would put it, does the conceivability of this type of zombie mean that physicalism is false? (For more on philosophical zombies, see here
The zombies in Devil's Wake
aren't quite philosophical zombies in this sense. Eventually, they reveal their zombie qualities (first by biting people, later by creepily standing still). Let's say they're almost
philosophical zombies. (For something much closer to full philosophical zombies in fiction, see Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer
Philosophy (and philosophical zombies) can be plenty scary, but I think Due and Barnes have made something just as unnerving. While you might be interacting with philosophical zombies every day (and thats plenty unsettling to contemplate), at least they're not going to bite you and turn you into one of them!
See my Goodreads review!