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Penguin's Journal of the Mundane
Here Be Swimming Bird
EWZSG Part 2 
13th-Jul-2008 11:16 am
Hellsing Manga
After weapons and protective clothing, the next chapter goes on about defending your house from zombies.

Brooks starts off with some generic advice that can go either way, like not trying to escape the city immediately as the roads will be clogged. Most of it can be taken at face value since it mostly deals with reacting to Brooks' take on zombies. The trouble is, as always, in the details.

Funnily enough, he mentions burglar alarms as being something you shouldn't rely on because in the event of an uprising, there's no guarantee they'll bring help. A rather guarded fact is that in reality, burglar alarms rarely bring help under everyday conditions anyway.

One of the things he constantly harps on about is destroying staircases, complete with an illustration of a man with a fire ax attacking his staircase and working his way backwards up the stairs as he does so.

Yes, this is exactly what I want to do as the shambling hordes approach: Get myself all sweaty and exhausted trying to adequately destroy my staircase, over-commit myself on a swing and go tumbling headfirst into the basement. There are far, far easier ways to render a staircase impassable without risking life and limb. Options will vary, though, depending on the home's layout.

Another bit of advice that's a bit more subjective, but still questionable, is that it recommends living in an apartment building over a private residence, given that they are more easily defensible and provide a larger population to defend the area. Given that he talks of fire escapes and elevators, Brooks clearly has New York style high rises in mind. Of course, why an apartment complex with concrete staircases on the first floor would be preferable (given his penchant for destroying staircases) remains to be explained.

Apartments also bring in a major vulnerability beyond "additional social conflicts": too many hands in the cookie jar. Under survival conditions, without power and surviving on appliances like camper stoves, one family's brief mistake could spell disaster for everyone else.

He then goes on to bring up supplies.

His weapons loadout is largely flawed (500 rounds is actually a very low stock for survival situations, especially for .22s) but we've already gone over why his overall rationale on weapons is bunk, so let's move on.

The equipment/consumables problem poses significant problems, both in terms of storage space and legality. For example, Brooks advocates storing 20 gallons of gasoline. Try explaining to your landlord why you want to keep 20 gallons of HAZMAT in your apartment, in a setting where the existence of zombies is still largely considered myth and covered up by the government.

The book goes on to discuss different types of refuge that one might seek out in a zombie uprising, and finally goes on to recommend the inner city over the suburbs, as the inner city is more likely to be full of buildings full of anti-burglary devices while homes in the suburbs will emphasize aesthetics.

What.

The zombies in this book are caused by the outbreak of a virus. The zombies basically become the virus. Inner cities are the last place you want to go to avoid disease, given the close proximity to other people that one is constantly in. Take a high population density, throw in a virulent disease, and add the fact that its carriers will attempt to aggressively spread the virus, heading into the inner city would be suicide. The only way I can think of it as a good idea is in a post-apocalyptic landscape where everyone's dead or moved on, like in I Am Legend.

The book goes on to detail possible "fortresses" one might claim in the wake of a massive uprising. Though most of them are rather questionable in the details (how does one get to an offshore oil rig under these conditions?) I'll set them aside for now. The next chapter is called "On the Run" and is about surviving while moving from one location to another.

Again, Brooks' spotty research shows. The supplies he suggests taking are largely inadequate (for example, if your primary weapon is a Ruger 10/22, his recommended 50 rounds is just two 25-round magazines). Since he also recommends breaking up into 3-man teams to travel and avoid detection, 150 rounds between three people against an untold number of zombies is certain death. Perversely he advises avoiding urban areas. Remember his recommendation to get into the inner city in an outbreak? Well, I guess it just sucks to be you if you took his advice in the previous chapter, because in this chapter he's telling you you're fucked.

Maybe that's the humor of the book that I haven't managed to find.

Brooks then brings up vehicles with another "Ha ha Americans are fat" intro. I almost get the feeling from reading this section that he doesn't have a driver's license, but whatever. The thing Brooks seems to value most in this context is off-road capability, followed by mileage. His advice is vague, and pretty questionable when it comes to armored cars. He obviously favors going on foot. In fact, one of his points is "Never use four-wheeled vehicles!"

By the time he gets to aircraft, it's downright laughable, and I can only hope that was the intent. I mean, take this bit about blimps:

Airships have been used four times during zombie outbreaks - once for escape, once for study, and twice for search-and-destroy missions. All were resounding successes.

Plus, another inconsistency. Zombies are too stupid to climb ladders and manipulate doorknobs, but...

4. WATCH YOUR ANCHOR LINE!: Too often, people feeling secure in their boat have stopped at night, dropped anchor, and dozed off. Some of these people never awoke. Zombies walking on the bottom can hear a boat approaching as well as the sound of an anchor hitting the mud. Upon finding the chain, they can use it to climb all the way up to your boat. Always leave at least one person on watch for this, and be prepared to cut your line at the first sign of trouble.

I've got a simpler solution:



And that's it for Part Two. Part three is up here.
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