Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead Paperback – September 1, 2008
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"Candid, eye-opening, cutting-edge, startling . . . the existence of zombies may not be so far-fetched after all." ----Rue Morgue
About the Author
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This book is for you.
Jonathan Maberry has done exhaustive research, conducting interviews with over 200 experts in various fields who have as much of a fascination with zombies as he does. This book serves as a research tome for not only the zombie fan but those who might direct a zombie flick or write a zombie story. No stone was left unturned in the process of going through a theoretical zombie apocalypse...well, a lot of it argues the validity of the idea of an apocalypse actually occuring if we are talking about a plausible scientific explaination for zombies rather than a supernatural process. Slow vs. fast, spiritual vs. plague infected, it is discussed here and far beyond that.
My favorite parts of this book had to be the smaller insertions, including the ongoing debate of fast vs. slow zombies as discussed by numerous authors, directors, and other experts in the field. There is also a great deal of zombie art in this book with the artists comments on what they were conceiving and thinking about when they created a particular piece.
I have always felt that in many zombie movies the police and military are treated with limited respect-they are made to be less than competent so a zombie apocalypse is that much more likely. This book presents a fair and balanced view of how the police, SWAT, and the military might actually respond. Good stuff for a real zombie zealot but the author still acknowledges the excitment that goes along with the fantasy that is zombies. Perhaps this book peels back too many layers of this onion in exposing what is realistic and possible but the author says more than once in the book, as a reminder to the reader, that we are talking about zombies here, the modern variation concocted by George Romero in Night of the Living Dead, not something we have ever really seen or that has ever actually really existed...as far as we know.
This is the book for the zombie fanatic. Perhaps a little too dense and complex for the casual zombie observer, someone who digs the occasional zombie flick or book. But if you really are fascinated with everything zombie in all its gory incarnations, if you can imagine hunkering down in a bunker cleaning your guns waiting for the undead to break down your reinforced doors, then this book is a great read.
The focus here is on law enforcement, and other government and medical authorities. Experts in these fields are interviewed and asked to imagine various zombie scenarios and comment about the response to it, and the final outcome. This is both the greatest strength, and greatest weakness of this book.
The strength is obvious, these people know what they do inside and out, and are far more qualified than most to imagine these scenarios. The SWAT and legal experts, in particular, had some detailed and interesting ideas. That's why I devour books like this, to see what actual experts with real world experience will say.
The weakness comes from the fact that most of these experts seem incensed at the idea of being overtaken by the undead. To take this book's word for it, every cop is expertly trained and always cool under pressure. Most probably are, and they usually do get unfair treatment in zombie stories, but I've met enough cops to know that not all are (one actually told my friends and I that we made him nervous... and I am NOT a scary or aggressive person). I also thin that a bit too much faith is shown in the abilities of the CDC and WHO to react to and contain a fast spreading virus. Not that I doubt their abilities so much as I don't really buy that they could react fast enough to most of the zombie scenarios depicted in movies. There are dissenting opinions present, which is good, but the author is definitely on the side of "the authorities will handle it."
Finally, some points are raised that have been addressed in some works, but those works are not referenced. One specific example is the fact that zombies will eventually rot to the point of not being able to move. In the World War Z world (which is referenced other places), the zombie virus retards the decomposition process by making the flesh of the undead inedible to bacteria. Maybe not a likely scenario, but it would have been nice for that to be mentioned, rather than holding up eventual decomp as a likely way we would win.
I don't mean this to sound as negative as it does, I loved this book start to finish. The ideas and perspectives presented are fascinating, and the artwork scattered throughout is mostly of very high quality. It gets you thinking in new ways about old scenarios, and that's worth the price of admission right there.
PS: One last, minor quibble: The author mentioned the old "science can't explain how bees fly" notion to suggest that while science is exact, is it incomplete. The sentiment is right on, but the example is all wrong. We can explain exactly how bees fly, there is no mystery there (their wings create a tiny vortex above then that essentially sucks them up), we just couldn't explain it back when linear aerodynamics (which can explain how birds fly) were all that was known. Foolish ideas like this, and the idea that we only use 10% of our brains, just refuse to die.
Top international reviews
However, for me, it comes across as someone not really into zombies, riding the back of the zombie wave. I hope that does not sound unfair - it is just the text looks like it has been put together by an author with access to significant publisher resources & with so much opinion, the author seems to get lost in all the data & the result I think is slightly confusing.
Some areas of the volume are better, for example the sections on forensics are strong but overall, I am not sure where this book fits into our beloved field of zombie books.
One can't help feeling the author should have used all that research to write a great zombie novel rather than this guide.
I would like to see a follow-up; where the zombies are the newer faster kind and the horde has been amassed - I want to see a true military reaction force damnit!
I would definitely recommend this to people that like to know how the police would handle an outbreak of Zombies