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How the Fungus Zombies Work

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How the Fungus Zombies Work

Postby Floridian Dream » Sun Apr 09, 2017 12:30 pm

This may seem a bit on the cliche side, or not, but I've had this idea for a while concerning a newly discovered breed of cordyceps fungus that behaves similarly to colonial insects. They live in colonies/hives centered around a reproductively active queen, whom I imagine to be intelligent. She is stationary, and therefore tended to by workers, female offspring whose reproductive development is stunted by certain pheromones secreted by the queen; having not yet fully consumed the bodies of their hosts like their queen has with hers (the workers only consume their host's brain), they're more mobile, and those who don't remain within close proximity of the queen to cater to her more immediate needs usually scour the lands for food and potential hosts for the queen to plant her worker spores on.

As I've stated before, I imagine the queen to be intelligent, possibly to a sapient level. One thing I've struggled to decide, though, is whether the workers should share the same level of intelligence as her of if it's better to have them as mindless automatons, since the colony probably doesn't need any more brains than just the queen herself. I've had the idea that unlike most colonial insects, who determine whether a larva is destined to be a queen or a worker or such via the nutrition it gets during certain stages in its development, the workers' ability to reproduce by their own means is suppressed by pheromones emitted by the queen; if a worker, however strays too far from the reach of these pheromones and goes long enough without exposure to them, it eventual gains a craving for a certain substance that upon consumption triggers the irreversible process of reaching reproductive maturation, upon which the new queen-to-be will consume the body of her vehicle host before rooting herself to the ground to become stationary, and then release unfertilized spores that will hatch into male fungi who will fertilize the new queen's batch of spores to produce female workers, in that this new queen may start a new colony of her own.

One concern I have with that, though, is that if the workers know that they can so easily become reproductively independent, they might decide to abandon their current queen (but I'm totally welcome to someone arguing against that). One alleviation I have to this, though, is the idea the pheromones secreted by the queen not only suppress the reproductive maturation of the workers but also contains some chemicals addictive to them, which would most likely compel the workers to return to their queen eventually. So if any of them are thinking of going solo, they'd better be willing to endure a long, painful withdrawal.

Nevertheless, I still question if it truly is necessary, or even practical, for the workers, who are basically just the body of the super-organism that their colony is, to be as intelligent as the queen, who is already the colony's brain. If they are sapient, though, it would probably make humans infected by them a lot less zombie-like (but, again, I'm open to anyone proving me wrong), but on the bright side, I guess it would give this story a more original twist to The Last of Us, right?

So, anyone whose got any thoughts on any of this, let me hear it.
Floridian Dream
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Re: How the Fungus Zombies Work

Postby kingbtd » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:44 am

Hey Floridian Dreams, the idea is cliche. We've got Alien and Borg and, and, and. But with that being said, life itself is cliche and that's what makes it wonderful. Go with it. It also sounds like you want to incorporate some kind of Marxist struggle in there, which sounds good to me: The workers have to free themselves from the fetishism of commodity! I can't live without my iPhone! My car! My TV Shows! Oh, I need these things bad! Ha! I'm just going on my own rant here.
Come up with a narrative in which you can play out some of your ideas and then let us read them! The nascent story sounds interesting. Cheers from Dresden!!
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Re: How the Fungus Zombies Work

Postby WisconsinSFfan » Fri May 12, 2017 11:27 pm

Ultimately, it doesn't matter if the backdrop has familiar themes if you can craft a good story out of it. Who do you imagine to be the central character here? The queen? Some workers? What's the struggle for that character? Play some more "what if" until you find some characters that interest you.
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