Diversions and Distractions of the Undead Kind: Zombies!
The Zombie Apocalypse is Coming!
This Halloween night AMC is going to debut a brand new series called The Walking Dead. It is based on the comic book series by the same name and follows the story of the survivors in a world overrun by the ghoulish living dead. AMC is already the home of my latest, favorite television program, the spy-drama Rubicon. If The Walking Dead follows the precedent set by the writing and production values of Rubicon as well as the multi-Emmy award winners on AMC; Breaking Bad and Mad Men, it should be totally and completely awesome.
Aside from the entertainment value, the Zombie Apocalypse has been a favorite Black Swan scenario / What-Would-You-Do-If, mental puzzle of mine for a long time. What other possible situation could create the same all-or-nothing hard choices than an invasion by the undead? I’m not alone either. Apparently lots of other serious thinkers (Daniel W. Drezner at Foreign Policy Magazine, for example) have the same fascination with a situation that forces outside-the-box thinking.
For the most part, the horror movie genre doesn’t really appeal to me (and among zombie movies I prefer the more amusing ones like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland) but there are two really excellent zombie books out there for those looking to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.
by Max Brooks
For any zombie survivalist this is the first, and foremost, book that needs to be added to your undead survival go-bag. It’s information is priceless for anyone thinking about living in a world where the undead could strike at any time. It covers all possible scenarios including strategies for surviving zombie outbreaks of a few dozen ghouls, to a full-on worldwide Zombie Apocalypse. It discusses the relative advantages and disadvantages of all different sorts of weapons from swords and axes to handguns, shotguns, rifles and flamethrowers. It covers tactics for those on the run from the undead, and for those who turn zombie-hunter. Also included are handy packing lists and equipment suggestions that could mean life or undeath when every second counts, efficiency is essential, and dead-weight takes on a whole new level of meaning.
After reading the book, you will know your enemy. You will know their habits and their tendencies. You will understand their strengths and their weaknesses. It even includes historical case-studies of previous zombie outbreaks so that you can learn the lessons of the past and apply that hard-won knowledge.
The other book World War Z is also by Max Brooks (son of director Mel Brooks) and is novelization told in the form of a series of interviews collected by a historian in the aftermath of a worldwide zombie outbreak. It is set to become a movie starring Brad Pitt. The audiobook, even though it is abridged, is also highly recommended and features an all-star lineup of voice actors.
by Max Brooks
World War Z follows a zombie outbreak from its first stages to what develops into a worldwide Zombie Apocalypse. It is framed as a series of interviews with survivors and witnesses, soldiers, politicians, doctors and others who had roles small and large.
What I enjoyed most about World War Z was its plausibility. Granted, the possibility of a real zombie outbreak is vanishingly remote (though you never know what is going on in the bio-tech lab down the street), but the forces that serve to cause the rampant spread of the infected are straight out of a CDC worst-case-scenario. The official response by governments and militaries, foreign and domestic seems completely characteristic. The short-sightedness of people trying to do anything to get away is sad, but believable.
Like I said, this is a great Black Swan scenario with decisions having unexpected consequences and forcing new ways of thinking about problems. My personal favorite image from the book is during the North American offensive, when U. S. anti-zombie forces break out from behind the Rocky Mountains to fight their way eastward. At one point, from behind a prepared defense and using formations familiar to Grant and Lee, the U. S. forces instigate a zombie attack that develops into a zombie chain-swarm, drawing in zombies for miles and miles to be methodically shot down until a rampart of the undead surrounded the camp.
Hat/Tip and Apologies to the guys at Roosterteeth for totally ripping off the logo from one of their t-shirt designs.