The idea that death is somehow not the end permeates human imagination. We’re mortal. We know we’re all going to die, no matter what. That knowledge seeps into our stories, our laws, our beliefs. It shapes our cultures. It’s something we fight, or something we meet with grace; something we transcend by leaving a legacy; something we fear. But what if death wasn’t inevitable? What if… death were a revolving door, or a state-change? Vampires, zombies, ghosts, gods (and the occasional mortal protagonist) find a way to defy what should be the end. And while the first three began as monsters, and as monstrous, now they’re as often the hero as they are the villain.
Now, I like a good (bad) vampire. I wrote my college personal statement about the vampire Lestat, back in the day (and they still let me in). I teach classes about zombies. But my favorite don’t-stay-deads are the ghosts, those echoes of personality, strong emotions: love or hate or rage or grief. At the very least, they float around being ominous and at the very worst, they do physical harm to the living. And sometimes they come back. I could probably blame Poltergeist for my long-running fascination with the impermanent dead, but I think it’s really all Star Trek’s fault. Spock didn’t stay dead, so why should anyone else?