Filler content survives zombies

I believe the World War-Z film is out soon, so here is a review posted to the old TTA Press website on 21 March 2008, which would seem pertinent in the circumstances:-

THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE BY MAX BROOKS
(Duckworth paperback, 254pp, £8.99)

This book has an intriguing concept. Subtitled “Complete Protection from the Living Dead”, it operates under the premise that zombies are real, the victims of a virus called solanum, albeit their existence has been covered up by the authorities, and that an outbreak could happen near you at any time. In themed chapters Brooks details how to recognise when an outbreak is occurring, the best weapons to use against zombies, how to run from them and hunt them down, the difficulties posed by various types of terrain, the best structures to offer protection from zombie attack, surviving in a zombie world, should the worst case scenario ever come to pass. And so on and so forth, all of this delivered deadpan and with a potted history at the end of various zombie outbreaks during the course of history

It’s hard to know how to take the book. From the back cover blurbs, it appears most reviewers have approached it as humour, but given the deadpan delivery that reading doesn’t hold water for the long haul. Rather I’d classify it as some bastard offspring of a whole slew of no nonsense survivalist manuals and publications like the Star Trek Encyclopaedia, books that take you deeper into a fictional world by pretending that, yes Timothy, it is all real. On that level The Zombie Survival Guide is a lot of fun, certainly, and I enjoyed reading it, at the same time regarding the book as an ideal companion to Brooks’ World War-Z: this book dealing with theory and that one showing the theories put into practice. Brooks is a convincing guide, two parts Ray Mears to one part George A. Romero, and able to fake the necessary urgency for the message he is endeavouring to put over. He does an admirable job of infusing the zombie archetype with verisimilitude by thinking the unthinkable, making the ultimate ‘what if’ scenario seem not only credible but a done deal. If there ever is a zombie outbreak, I want him to have my back.

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