Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Light Bedside Reading; the Zombie Apocalypse

I'm reading Max Brook's World War Z.

Let me start by saying that I'm not a "horror" genre fan by nature. I figure that between epidemic disease, war, and the collected work of Toni Tennille the world is replete with horror enough that seeking out horrible things to "entertain" myself is both redundant and insulting.

But I read a review of the film that said "don't go thinking you'll see the book on film; this isn't like the book at all..." and suggested that the book touched on much broader and deeper subjects than the living dead feasting on human brains.

And I can report that, yes, it does.

Not sure which part I've enjoyed more. The Palestinian recounting how his father dragged him to asylum in Israel where he found that the "Zionist plot" was, in fact, the true assessment of the rapacious dead rising from their graves? The former White House chief of staff sneering about misplaced idealism and political "realities" driving the failed response to the Zombie Apocalypse from his current job shoveling pig-shit at a manure farm? The old Red Chinese combat surgeon's tale of the very first "Victim Zero"?

Politics, espionage, corruption, democracy, dictatorship, free markets, hope and fear, delusion, skepticism, credulity...the book does a pretty damn decent job of describing all the ways people deal - or fail to deal- with the immensities of Fate and Nature that we try and pretend can't destroy us with a vast and utter indifference (not to mention the usual human miseries and buffooneries) at any moment.

Good stuff. If you're looking for a damn good summer read, you could do far worse than the "Oral History of the Zombie War".

Then go watch Shaun of the Dead.

Shaun: "Look, I don't care what the telly says, all right? We have to get out of here. If we don't they'll tear us to pieces, and that is really going to exacerbate things for all of us."


Leon said...

Cracked did a really good article on why zombies wouldn't work (http://www.cracked.com/article_18683_7-scientific-reasons-zombie-outbreak-would-fail-quickly.html) aside from the fact that we have really shitty teeth and nails for clawing through anything tougher than cardboard armour.

teo said...

Zombies can not work. But a normal pandemics with a very large mortality rate does not make a good story.
Monsters running after a good looking guy and his female companion makes people interested. Story involving girl dieing of Ebola has a very limited heroic potential. You can't punch germs and save the girl. There is nothing to see.

Reality is far more lethal then films but far less spectacular.
American continent went through a similar case, real version. A cocktail of diseases from the Old World killed something like 90% - maybe more - of the population.
There was nothing a brave hero could do to save his family. Just hope and pray that his beloved will be Darwinian survivals in the eternal fight between humans and germs.
Try making a film/write book about this and get more then a few tens of thousand of people interested worldwide. It has been done.
like : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1491:_New_Revelations_of_the_Americas_Before_Columbus
But we are not having a discussion about a real pandemic but a fantasy one with zombies trying to chew on Brad's significant one.
Number of people interested in one type of story is 1000 times larger than the others audience.
I think that is all the story behind zombie fantasies.

FDChief said...

Guys, guys...

I can't believe you would be skeptical of the notion of animated corpses shuffling across the country destroying and rending everything they encounter, savaging their former fellow humans, as they satisfy their mindless insatiable hungers. To see them all you have to do is turn on the television or open a newspaper!

They're called "Republicans".

FDChief said...

teo: I don't know if you could write a single book about the tragedy of the people that Canada calls the "First Nations", but perhaps nothing seems as comparable to a fictional zombie apocalypse as the horrific spread of infectious diseases through the native peoples in the next two centuries after 1492. It's hard to be sure, but it must rank with the Black Death of Europe's 14th Century as one of humanity's two most terrifying disasters.

I do know that almost every white man who arrived in the Pacific Northwest talks of finding abandoned native towns and villages where the people had died in such numbers that the few survivors simply fled. Jared Diamond talks about how one of the main reasons that the European conquest of the Americas was possible is that many of the native societies were already devastated by epidemic diseases before the white boys showed up with powder and steel...

teo said...

I saw the movie. Except the biting part it really seems closed to the apocalypse we can only imagine which took place in the Americas.
Viewed from this angle it really is scary.

PS. Do not take your boy to see it.