ChrisAir Reviews “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse”

2021 Hugo Award Series – Short Story Category

Read Rae Carson’s “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse” published by Uncanny Magazine in their Jan/Feb 2020 issue.

Minimal Spoiler Review

Rae Carson writes a story not only about badass moms, but becoming badass moms during a zombie apocalypse. No misdirection here.

From the first sentence, readers learn the protagonist, Brit, is going into labor. I never considered the Venn diagram of people seeking out stories about births and babies, and people who’re looking for zombie tales, but here we are. As a new parent, I dig this hook right away.

Carson tells the story in first person, and gives the readers an introduction to Brit’s commune through her eyes, as she leaves with Marisol—her partner and the second new mother of the story.

Learn more about Rae Carson.

After, as you might guess, the pair has to contend with the undead threat and safely deliver their baby into this apocalyptic world. The pacing does not lull. Brit & Mari are not short on problems to handle. It’s a brisk 5400 words, and introduces some novel ideas about zombies that’s worth talking about

Well, shoot. I can’t talk much more about Badass Moms without spoiling some of the best parts. Read the story! The 5400 words fly by, I promise.

Spoiler Content Below
Photo by cottonbro on

Right, so Brit & Mari are forced to leave the enclave because flesh-eaters hanker for afterbirth more than normal flesh and blood. I’ll admit I’m no zombie horror expert, but this is the first story I’ve read that draws attention to the undead’s attraction to women due to periods and birth. The connection seems so natural, I was quite shocked (a touch ashamed?) with myself that I never pieced this together.

This is brilliant for another reason, too. I am not in the “Monsters are only monsters” camp. I’m one of those annoying (but fun, right?) people who loves to read into literary representations.

So when we talk about “zombies” what are we really talking about? Plague and mainstream conformity and mindless routine and daily violence.

What a great way to depict patriarchy, right?

Not only do Carson’s zombies kill people, they especially want to destroy women. Consume women. They need to hide their menstrual cycle from the undead. The flesh-eaters complicate their reproductive freedom.

And because of the dangers of zombies-as-patriarchy, even other women criticize Brit for her reproductive choices.

Liz is a character introduced upon the lead duo’s departure. She calls Brit a “selfish bitch” for getting pregnant, giving the reader a secondary character to dislike. Mari even curses out Liz as Brit is in the final pushes of her labor. What can I say? I was convinced Liz sucked. So when Brit is running and almost dead with her son in her arms and Liz shows up and saves her, it really means something.

These moments are more than a simple twist or subversion of expectation. When an antagonistic character risks themselves to help others, the moment builds empathy. We’ve all known a Liz, surely. Someone who has belittled your meaningful desires or motivations as “selfish” or small. And Carson shows her readers Liz is not a blanket “bad” person. She has complex desires of her own that conflict with the protagonists’ but Liz is allied when it comes to their survival.

In January 2020, most readers couldn’t know how urgent this message would be. And if you’ve made it this far without reading the story, I insist that you check it out.

-Chris Airiau

Published by ChrisAiriau

I'm a science and SF content creator, specializing in writing technical scientific concepts in clear and engaging language. Alongside many writing and editing side-projects, I taught English in French universities for eight years. At university, I worked mainly for engineering Master’s programs and science undergraduates – from economics to physics, biology to psychology. My goal is to tailor SF and science content to a diverse range of audiences, and my background provides all the necessary tools to succeed.

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