Friday, January 26, 2007

You have a 29% chance of surviving a zombie attack

At Dessie's recommendation, I've been reading "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War" by Max Brooks. I haven't enjoyed any other books as much in a long time. It's basically a collection of short interviews with people who survived a fictional worldwide zombie outbreak in the near future. Lots of these stories could function as the bare bones of standalone movies themselves, like the story of the little girl who's family sensibly decide to head north to the frozen parkland of Canada at the first sign of trouble. They survive the zombies but then have to cope with a freezing winter, starvation and the breakdown of society as murder and cannibalism become rife in their settler's camp. Or there's the reality tv show with the rich and famous living in a Big Brother type house, being interviewed 24/7 about their reactions to the zombie crisis. "What are you feeling right now? What are you wearing right now?" When their fortress is invaded, it's not who they were expecting. Or the Japanese computer nerd who spends every waking hour "researching" the zombie crisis on the internet, while the city around him is destroyed. It's only when there's a power shortage and his PC stops working that he's rudely pulled out of his virtual existence. And there's the story of Paul Reddeker, the only man in the world who has a workable plan to combat the zombies - although it's so amoral that implementing it drives him insane. Apart from the Romero trilogy and a couple of other things, zombie films are often derivative, stupid and gratituous. The best ones, like Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead and 28 Days Later actually tell us something about the human condition, about the psychology of society. That's where Brooks has excelled in his book. Sure there are chapters which mainly focus on weaponry and battles, but there is so much political and social analysis in there - the irony of Cuba becoming a super-power for example, and the way that pharmaceutical corporations try to cash in on the crisis by selling fake vaccines to prevent you from becoming a zombie. It's worth a read, if you can stomach it.

You can carry out your own simulation of a zombie attack on a panicked population here. Or here's another one, where the humans try and fight back.

And over at the website of the book you can hear some excerpts from the book and do a quiz to calculate your chance of surviving the Zombie War, if it ever happens. Mine is 29% (I have no survival skills, don't know how to grow food, can't fire a gun and live on the ground floor of a city). How comforting.


Old Cheeser said...

How odd, there was a guy sitting opposite me on the train the other day reading that book and I remember it caught my eye. Sounds fascinating, I might investigate. I have unfortunately been reading a spate of crap books recently. Falling for the blurb / hype, buying the book, reading it and being sorely disappointed. The last one was "Service Wash" by Rupert Smith, which had a pantaloonies ending. But this one sounds like a much better proposition and an intriguing concept.

matty said...

First sign of a zombie invasion/attack -- I'm headin' to the mall! Any mall! The stores and muzak distracts them.

matty said...

I can't seem to find this book here. I wonder if it is like the Pete Burns book and only in the UK.


...well, in the spring I shall order it!!!

Lubin said...

I think you can get it on