Night of (defense against) the living dead

Forget Mayan prophesies and global warming — everyone knows the real threat to humankind is a zombie apocalypse. The College Union Board, foreseeing the inevitability of such an attack, brought in Max Brooks, zombie expert and New York Times bestselling author of “The Zombie Survival Guide” and “World War Z,” to teach students a few survival strategies on Friday, Oct. 21 in Kendall Hall.

Brooks greeted the crowd by commending them for their preemptive “Z-Day” preparations.

“Thank you for taking an interest in staying alive,” he said.

(Photo courtesy of Vicki Wang)

He went on to complain that his books are placed in the humor sections of book stores. “I find nothing remotely funny about being killed and eaten by zombies,” he said, completely straight-faced.

Brooks explained that zombies are scary because they “don’t obey the laws of conventional monsters.” Unlike ghouls, who dwell in haunted castles or remote caves, zombies have no problem attacking cities and homes.

Once he had established the dangers of a zombie attack, Brooks offered a series of helpful tips for surviving in a post-apocalyptic world.
First and foremost, he encouraged students to disabuse themselves of zombie entertainment.

“We blur the line between entertainment and education,” Brooks explained, noting that zombie movies are often not a reliable source of information for viewers looking for survival tips.

He went on to dispel some popular survival myths, stressing that what would-be survivors need more than anything else is water. He also encouraged hand-to-hand combat weapons over guns and bicycles over cars. “We’ve yet to build a car that runs on fear,” Brooks said, reminding the crowd how difficult it would be to find fuel in a zombie-ravaged future.

Once they’ve stocked up on water and weapons, Brooks warned, students should avoid overpopulated areas. Instead, he suggested going to the hottest, coldest or “most jungley” part of the world they could find and learning to live with its natives. Those planning on going to Canada would be out of luck.

“The maple leaf curtain is going to slam shut like a guillotine,” he predicted.

A question-and-answer session followed his lecture, with the audience asking for advice on everything from surviving in groups with children to what the ideal zombie-killing weapon would be. (For the record, Brooks plans to arm himself with a machete.)

One student, perhaps a bit confused on the topic of the lecture, asked Brooks about what he would do in the event of a vampire outbreak. Looking just slightly exasperated, Brooks replied, “I would give them the right to marry.”

In an interview before the show, Brooks stated that he does not believe that the United States government is ready for a zombie attack. That’s not to say, however, that all hope is lost.

“I think we’re pretty good at surviving. We’re good at outlasting our enemies. I think we have endurance, surprisingly, for a country that has such a short attention span,” he said.

Brooks ended the night by teaching the audience his “zombie self-defense” move. After removing his jacket, rolling up his sleeves and crouching into a defensive position, Brooks proceeded to bolt off the stage. Sometimes, apparently, running away does solve a problem.