>Its not always about the Zombieapocalypse


Back off man, I’m a Zombiehunter

Though as a card carrying member of zombie squad (motto We make dead things deader) admittedly 97% of my free time is spent with rehearsals, drills, checkinga and re-evaluating my go-bag and every day carry, checking literature, consulting health records, watching for Patient Zero, recharging torches seemingly endlessly recharging torchs, restocking food and medical supplies, watching training films and reading manuals like DEADLINE by Mira Grant.

Occasionally I feel the need to widen my horizons, albeit only slightly. Such as this week when this arrived in the mail.

Don’t think me being in a hardcopy will save you

Its Dr Daniel H Wilsons’s ROBOPOCALYPSE. I’ve lauded his work ever since first his lament to the 21st Century  ‘Where’s my Jetpack? A guide to the amazing science fiction that never arrived. He has go one to write a series of how to texts on

How to survive a robot uprising

How to build a robot army:Tips on defending Earth against Alien invaders, Ninjas and Zombies.

The book even before it became available was Steven Spielberg was committed to direct the movie.

In case you were wondering why I bought it in hard copy and not e-text. Manly because I haven’t chosen my e-reader yet though when this becomes available I will be sorely tempted. The reason is if it on an electronic device that will make it far to easy for Archos to locate me.

Here is the winning fan made trailer for the book.

Most fun to be had in a Zombie novel for a while

Any book which has George Romero honored as savior of humanity and talks about his shambling re-animated corpse locked in a government research centre is ahead in my book, abiet a severed and rotting head.

FEED by Mira Grant AKA Seanan McGuire, (you’ll never see them in the same room together, is the first book in the NewsFlesh trilogy to which all I can say is: Get cracking woman I want the rest of the story.

The world Ms Grant has built is set 20 years after the rising when an experimental cancer therapy combined with genetically engineered flu virus designed to give immunity to the common cold with one heck of a side effect – It raised the dead.

The amount of thought Ms Grant has given to the sort of world after 20 years of zombies giving rise to infection is impressive. The consideration of the fact that when anyone or decent sized mammal dies it re-animates shows she has spent a lot of time researching the kind of stuff I love to read about: Virus, disease control, emergency response planning and of course the best weapons/ways to take down the dead.

Sarah Palin’s America has come to past with Alaska having been surrendered to the zombies, designated a zone 1.  From the book:

“They can only legally bathe you in bleach for a half a minute unless you’ve been in a Level 2 zone. At that point they can keep dunking you until they’re sure the viral blocks are clean. Travel in a Level 1 zone mean’s they are not legally obligated to do anything but shoot you” 

 The protagonists are a brother sister team of news bloggers following the presidential campaign, but its the attention to detail of the world she builds that I most enjoyed. Sure its a world where you survive the car crash only to face a bite from a passenger who died and reanimated, because everyone carries the virus- it just doesn’t activate unless you die or get exposed to activated virus. It’s also a world where children want to grow up to be leading virologists, the most trusted institution is the CDC and nurses stations are hardpoints.

“A good medical duty station can provide an island of safety for the uninfected, even as an outbreak rages on all sides. If you airlocks don’y fail and you have enough ammo, you can hold for days. One duty station in Atlanta did exactly that – four nurses, three doctors, and five security personnel kept themselves and eighteen patients alive for almost a week before the CDC was able to fight through the outbreak and get them safely out”.

One negative point for me is that all the blood testing units that people carry are ‘Apple’ which conjures up brightly colored plastic equipment that is a triumph of style over substance. 

I guess for a book about bloggers no one would be suprised the book has its own website, click here it carries a nice line in pseudo advertisements.

The bond between Georgia and her brother Shaun is a dynamic I hope we get to explore in the next book Deadline due May 2011.

But what I found best about FEED? In a genre that tends towards  the bleak and sad, and don’t miss-understand there is enough tragedy and despair in this tale to satisfy a teenage Emily Dikinson fan. People die in this story, good and bad, important and minor. In its willingness to kill off people it reminds me of that another great Zombie narrative The WALKING DEAD. But after 20 years of a horrific plague that has touched EVERYONE the human race is surviving and adapting. That no matter what may come or how horrible it will be humanity can make it through.

Thats why its the zombie story I have enjoyed reading the most this year. 

Oh and if the dead do walk and you run into a woman called Mira, do what she says and you might just make it through the rising.

Whats your nightmare vision of the future

I been a fan of Dr Daniel H Wilson for a while now. Does anyone know why do the news/blogs leave off his title. The man has a PhD in Robotics from the Carnegie Mellon University. Is CMU some sort of clown college or one of those one-shed divinity mills? I don’t understand why in all the links about him they don’t put on the Dr. If they are worried he might be confused for a sawbones put a Ph.D at the end.
I suspect its because he writes in an entertaining, popular way books like:
  • How to survive a robot up rising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion,
personally I am stocking up on supermagnets and thermite and reading over this wired article How to terminate a terminator.


  • Where’s my (damn) jetpack? A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived Which sums up how I felt on 1 January 2001.
  • Mad Scientist Hall of Fame: Muwahahahaha! -Forget the Nobel this is the pinnacle to which all scientists should aspire, and further developed the_weapon’s interest in Science. My only request is to include Dr Horrible in any future additions.

  • How to Build a Robot Army: Tips on Defending Planet Earth Against Alien Invaders, Ninjas, Monsters, and Zombies much of this excellent advice in summarized on-line  in the wired article How to Stop a 500 foot monster

So yes I am big FAN of the good doctor’s work and have been awaiting his next book, due for release June 2011 called Robopocalypse: A Novel. Which to date all I have been able to determine is

A Novel of Human Survival during an apocalyptic robot uprising, sound like a RomComRob doesn’t it?  

Given that the treacherous sentient machines turning against us is my number 2 vision of the nightmare future, right after the rise of the walking dead, and just before the spread of a Captain Trips like supervirus, this book is eagerly anticipated.

Now it seems I am part of the zeitgeist as this week it was announced that Steven Spielberg has been named as a director for the film of Robopocalypse. And Jack Black will being involved in the movie version of How to Survive a robot up rising.

Seriously with World War Z movie in production I am looking forward to some serious apocalyptic filmage in the next couple of years. Any other moives I need to keep an eye on?  

Books I am torn

This week we were notified that on speech night  The_weapon is to receive an award for Services to the School at the Falcon Academy. I suspect this is in response to his twelve point action plan for any viral pandemic outbreak which included roving ‘Health Monitors’ with FULL AUTHORITY (his capitals not mine) to isolate, detain and neutralize any suspected infected.

The letter about the award came with a book voucher so we hived off to the local Borders and the_weapon got a bunch of books that will be wrapped up and presented to him by the
Teacher-General of the Falcon Academy on the night.

And here is my problem.

I am currently packing stuff to move to another place. Both my wife have always been voracious readers and hence we have a truckload of books we have collected over two lifetimes to pack and move.

I can only hope my son becomes similarly enraptured with the written word. But I think before much longer he will be using e-readers for most of his reading and here is my question. For special occasions such as awards an e-reader text is not going to make much of a memory.

So how do we recognize such an achievement in the world of E-texts? A Platinum Nook, unlikely.

Probably I’d go with some expensive leather bound copy of a book he really likes, but they don’t make a hardened MIL-STD-810 ( its book equivalent) edition of Max Brooks ‘How to Survive a Zombie Uprising‘ and he already has attractive hard back editions of The Art of War and The Book of Five Rings.

Any other suggestions?

Look What I’ve been reading, and no its not After America

Apologies for the hiatus in posts, I was riding my motorcycle to work and got clipped by a truck, even with full leathers, helmet and boots I was a bit banged up and have been recovering. Many thanks to those who called/posted it cheered me up when I was feeling pretty down. Hope I never have to return the favour.

In Zombie News I was very kindly sent a copy of James Phelan’s Alone by the Author. This is the first in his new series Chasers. Nothing I am about to tell you that you can’t find on the back of the novel.

The Australian protagonist Jesse is on a UN Youth Ambassadors camp in New York when his subway carriage is rocked by an explosion. Jesse and his three friends, Anna, Dave and Mini, crawl out from the wreckage only to discover a city in chaos. Streets are deserted. Buildings are in ruins. Worse, the only other survivors seem to be infected with a virus that turns them into horrifying predators

It was a cracker to read, I particularly liked that these teenagers are savvy 21st century types who have grown up with a culture saturated with the post apocalyptic and how to survive it. At one point a character is asked how he knows this stuff, about “..fallback plans, especially once we leave here; more weapons, just in case..” to which his response is “Playstation, XBox’. This exchange sums up why this story works and so many other stories of the surviving the zombieapocalypse just annoy me. The protagonist doesn’t make a mistake, knows what to do and thinks things through logically for the horrific but not unforeseeable situation.

It’s a pacy little thriller I finished in one sitting which I think is a testimony to the author’s readability. My one complaint is that I have to wait until ‘late 2010 to read the next book. Survivor.

Its War of the World WITH ZOMBIES

I’m sticking by my review on Amazon of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, this book is a million times better than the original.

It seems that enough folk were as hot as I was for a literary mash up that includes zombies to earn, what is known in the biz as Elephant bucks for the small publishing press Quirk books. As of this week its 10th on the New York Times paper back trade fiction bestseller list, #15 on Amazon and according to the trade mag Publisher’s Week Quirk has more than 120,000 copies in print.

So is it a surprise to anyone that publishers are scrambling to get out more of these literary mash-ups?

Of course the author Seth Grahame-Smith has been handed a sack of cash by Grand Central Press, reputed to be over half a million, to write Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This may address one of the concerns Flinthart raised in his review about “Grahame-Smith is so concerned with mirroring the original material that the impact of his ‘Now With Added Zombies’ version is all but lost” as there is no such detailed original text.

It doesn’t end there because Coscom Entertainment have released The War of the Worlds: H.G. Wells’s Classic Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies. How cool is that!

From Amazon
The invasion begins . . . and the dead start to rise. There’s panic in the streets of London as invaders from Mars wreak havoc on the living, slaying the populace with Heat-Rays and poisonous clouds of black smoke. Humanity struggles to survive against technology far beyond its own, meeting fear and death at every turn. But that’s not the only struggle mankind must face. The dead are rising from their graves with an insatiable hunger for human flesh. Friends, neighbours and loved ones lost to the war of the worlds are now the enemy and the Earth is forever changed. It’s kill or be killed, if you want to survive, otherwise you might become one of the walking dead yourself.

These sounds like pitches that come up during a game of ‘Grave Robbers from outer space’.

From Z-man games it pays a tongue-in-cheek homage to the Horror and Sci-Fi B-Movies we all love love to hate…or hate to love. Players are making a B-Movie by playing Characters, Props, and Locations in their movie and sending Creatures to attack the other players’ movies in order to kill off their Characters. With cards like “You’ve seen her breasts so her character must die” or “Cabin in the woods – did you leave the door open”. When Roll the Credits is played, the player with the most points wins!

I can only hope this trend for mash ups continues. I’d always though that TV series should have cross overs -like Firefly meets Star Trek, or Lost characters wander into Law & Order. Zombies of course remain an untapped resource. Hamlet’s father as a walking undead or imagine the Hunt for Red October with nazi zombies rising from the bottom of the sea.

Any you’d like to see?

Haven’t we suffered enough

Many media pundits report that in hard economic times people look to lighter, funny more comforting entertainments. A benefit the makers of the Star Trek movie look to reap while the producers of ‘The Road’ agonise over their poor timing. A similar suggestion is floated for books. So of the many tragedies that can be laid at the feet of the Global Financial Crisis (so much more bloodless than The Great Depression – Redux) is it also responsible for why for the first three months of 2009, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books took the first four spots quarterly best-selling books list. Sales of Meyer’s five novels accounted for 16% of all books sold. The fifth being the uncharacteristically interesting ‘young adult’ alien invasion novel ‘The Host’. Worse if you consider she was responsible for one out of every seven books sold in the last three months.

Yeah I know “if it gets the kids reading” argument.

It seems there is a contrary section of the population that when civilization crumbles they crave “Paranormal, horror and especially apocalyptic-themed novels” says St. Martin’s editor Michael Homler. This is reflected in sales of two of my favorites from last year
“Wastelands a collection of post-apocalyptic short fiction just went into a fifth printing selling over 30,000 copies a little over 12 months, and The Living Dead ,over 45,000 copies in six months.

But perhaps the worse effect the GFC has had on book sales. The UK’s Guardian newspaper has reported sales of Ayn Rand’s ‘Atla’s Shrugged’ have taken a marked jump. The Ayn Rand Centre for Individual Rights claims that US-wide sales almost tripled over the first seven weeks of 2009, compared with the same period in 2008.

Haven’t we suffered enough in this GFC, now to have to put up with a bunch of investment banker uber capitalists with copies under one arm and fists full of government bailout bucks in the other spouting about world in which the

“men of the mind” – inventors, entrepreneurs and industrialists – withdraw their labour from a society intent on bleeding them dry with taxes and regulations. Furious at being exploited by the government on behalf of the masses, who are described as “parasites” and “moochers”, the striking capitalists retreat to a camp in the mountains of Colorado, protected by a special holographic shield. Starved of their genius, society collapses and wars break out until eventually bureaucrats are forced to beg the rebels’ leader, John Galt, to take over the economy.

If you don’t believe it read some of

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