|Max Brooks author of “The Zombie Survival Guide,” demonstrates the importance of having drinkable water during a zombie apocalypse.
A good percentage of RIT students will have already put some thought into this question. I know I have. Still, our collective preparations don’t hold a candle to those of Max Brooks, distinguished zombie expert and author of “The Zombie Survival Guide.” Luckily for us, he was kind enough to share a few tips on how to survive when Z-Day happens.
“Thank you for taking an interest in staying alive,” he said as he took the stage. The audience chuckled, but he was dead serious. To Max Brooks, there’s nothing funny about getting your face eaten by the living dead.
When Max started writing “The Zombie Survival Guide,” he had no dreams of publishing it. In an interview before the lecture, he explained that he spent much of his early career writing screenplays. “I was writing script after script that nobody wanted; that I didn’t want either,” he said. “But my agent kept telling me that that’s what the marketplace wanted, so I had to write for them.”
Desperate to get back to writing for his own enjoyment, he started working on the “Survival Guide” on his own time. During this time, he realized no one was really contemplating what could happen if zombies really attacked. Consulting his old ROTC manuals, survival guides, firearm guides and medical texts, he put together a quintessential model of zombie survival guidelines. When a publisher approached him with a proposition, he was insulted that his work had been classified under humor. “I wanted it to be in the self-help section,” he said.
Max’s favorite movie, naturally, is “Dawn of the Dead”. He prefers the classic shambling Romero zombies over modern twists like the fast zombies of “28 Days Later”. Running zombies are too dangerous — they kill you before the anxiety can sink in. Max provides tips for surviving the shambler menace, because that’s when you’ll really need to use your head. Slow zombies are no problem until you get yourself into a bad situation.
So how does one survive against the undead horde? Max had a few key tips for those interested in staying among the living. Tools are better to have than weapons, and clean water is even more important than tools. Movies never show the brave heroes struggling to overcome diarrhea, but in reality you’ll need to spend far more time trying to keep healthy than shooting zombies. Teamwork is pivotal as well: Everyone needs to have a valuable skillset to lend to the group. And if all else fails, manipulate a jock into doing the dangerous work.
When Max isn’t writing or instructing college students on undead avoidance, he finds time for a video game or two. He is somewhat biased, however — he feels that games like “Left 4 Dead” leave players with unreasonable expectations that weapons and ammunition will be conveniently scattered across the landscape, free for the taking. A more applicable game for apocalypse training, he says, is “Plants vs. Zombies,” which teaches effective resource management strategies. Aside from gaming, Max is a dedicated father, which he confesses is “infinitely harder” than dealing with mobs of zombies. “Zombies aren’t going to blame you in 20 years,” he joked.
The lecture ended with a demonstration of Max’s ultimate anti-zombie defense move. A small horde of zombies (comprised of the RIT Players, who had zombified themselves before the show) clambered onto the stage. Max limbered up, assumed a combat stance, and outran the oncoming crowd by briskly walking off the stage. He stuck around to sign books and more than a few Nerf blasters from Humans versus Zombies veterans. While he admitted the game looked cool, he noted that it might be more helpful to practice “Humans versus Dehydration,” or “Humans versus Gangrene.”
As I left George H. Clark Gymnasium (CLK, 003), “Zombie Survival Guide” in hand, I felt well-equipped to make it through the inevitable dawn of the zombie era, or at least not die quite so quickly. All that’s left now is to assemble a rag-tag team of survivalists. So — who’s with me?