W = Weaponized (Zombies), X = (SE)X

WBiological warfare began when some wise guy got the idea to use a catapult to throw dead men into a besieged enemy city— dead men who died of the plague preferred. It got more sophisticated in recent centuries. And the causative organism that makes zombies would make a dandy weapon.

You become a zombie by being bitten by a zombie. So there is some infectious agent in a zombie’s mouth that transmits the disease, whether virus, bacteria, prion or something else.

Scientists could identify this agent and grow it in a lab, aerosolize it, and create bombs or other weapons that spread the agent in the air where people could get it in their eyes, noses and mouths and become infected. This could be lobbed into enemy lines, and in a few days or hours you would have many dead soldiers reanimating and infecting their comrades.

If the side using weaponized zombies has spies in the enemy capital, those spies could have zombie bombs smuggled to them. The bombs could be activated in subways or other crowded places for maximum effect.

Of course, these possibilities depend on the enemy being wholly unsophisticated about zombies. Otherwise, the enemy would retaliate with zombie bombs of its own. Most military forces are smart enough to know that bioweapons— zombie or other— are no fun at all when both sides use them, and would not use them unless the enemy had used them first.

XThe zombie organism is in the bloodstream of zombies, and of those bitten by zombies. What happens when a zombie bite victim, in the time period before death, gets lucky in a sexual way?

The scientific answer would seem to be that the sexual partner runs the risk of a fatal zombie infection. In most zombie movies, EVERY bite results in a fatality, no matter what treatments are tried. So one might expect that a large percentage of zombie victims’ sex partners get infected, even when safer sex practices are used.

If one grants the possibility of slow moving zombie infections— perhaps mainly in people who got the infection through sexual transmission— you could have lots of people who are infected and don’t know it spreading the infection on. So— life in the zombie apocalypse is going to be a lot less sexy than you’d think.

This is a post in the A to Z Challenge: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Note: I’m planning next month’s blogging. I am thinking of picking 5 topics or so and rotating between them. If you have any suggestions for topics, drop me a comment.

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V is for (Zombie) Vulnerabilities

VWill zombies take over the world? Has the human race no hope? Actually, there is hope, and that is because zombies have vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities limit what zombies can do, and can be exploited by humans. Here are a few of the vulnerabilities.

Low Intelligence – Zombies cannot think. Even mentally retarded humans can outsmart a zombie. Heck, a good border collie can out-think a zombie.

Clumsiness – Zombies have poor motor skills. They don’t walk, they shamble. They can’t climb fences. They can’t open car doors. They have trouble climbing stairs. If they break a window to get at humans, it is an accident caused by a zombie crowd pressing against the glass.

Non-healing – Zombies either don’t heal at all, or they heal very, very slowly and perhaps incompletely. Wounded zombies are less effective at harming humans, especially if said zombies have lost limbs.

Soft skulls – On The Walking Dead at least, it seems like zombies have softer skulls. That’s why even women are able to kill a zombie by punching a short-bladed knife through the skull. With humans, you can shoot them in the head with a .22 and it might not crack the skull.

Attracted to fire and gunshots – This is a rather silly addition to zombie lore made by The Walking Dead. If zombies will walk into fire and toward gunshots, it’s fairly easy to dispose of them in large numbers with a little pre-planning.

Eat their ‘children’ – How do zombies reproduce? They bite humans, who die and turn. What do zombies eat? Humans. On The Walking Dead we’ve seen zombies swarm a person, eating away, pulling out intestines— what kind of zombie will that person become when reanimated? Zombies just can’t think about the future.

Decomposition – If zombies are really decomposing, they are a self-limiting phenomenon. They can’t digest food if their digestive system is rotting. And in time, a rotting zombie will fall apart and ‘die.’ All humans would have to do is lock themselves in bunkers for a few months and the zombie problem solves itself. (I would opine that the apparent decomposition of zombies is either limited to some external parts or that it is some other phenomenon altogether.)

Zombies are vulnerable. Even The Walking Dead acknowledges it— the only time zombies are a real threat is when they come in large groups so even the experienced zombie-killers can’t keep up with killing them.

This is a post in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ I’m not doing so well keeping up. I’d like to thank the folks that have commented on my posts. It makes me feel like my blog matters, and maybe I even matter.

I is for Infected


In the popular television series The Walking Dead, zombies are never, ever called zombies. Mostly they are called walkers, though other groups of people use other nicknames for the undead menace. In the spin-off Fear the Walking Dead, zombies are called ‘infected.’

I forced myself to watch episodes of Fear the Walking Dead yesterday, along with the season 2 opening episode. It still sucks. How can the same people that produced The Walking Dead produce this dreck? (Pardon my Yiddish.) They seem to have forgotten how to create compelling characters. Or they outsourced the character-creation job to some elderly Hollywood hacks.

Think of The Walking Dead, which from the first was centered around Rick Grimes. He was working for the Sheriff’s department and got shot in the line of duty. He woke up in the hospital, with no one around him except walkers. As a man with a wife and a child his first goal is to find his family. It’s a setup for a legendary epic struggle.

Fear the Walking Dead, on the other hand, starts of with a slew of stereotypical Los Angeles characters. The central ones are two school teachers— yeah, people who stay in school for their career and don’t know much about the real world. Each of the teachers is head of a fragmented family with one or two out-of-control teens. Neither parent seems to have been effective in training values or responsibility into the kids. These two families are connected by the fact that the parents are in a LIS relationship (cohabiting.)

This sounds more like a family melodrama made for the Lifetime channel than a zombie epic. Worse, after having watched the whole first season and the start of the second, I haven’t made an emotional connection to any of the characters, except for a vague interest in the junkie. They don’t seem like people to me, they seem like cardboard.  And the zombie menace doesn’t seem as real in this series, even the characters haven’t perfected their zombie-killing techniques.

What about you? Have you watched Fear the Walking Dead? Are there any characters YOU connected with? Do you think the characters will improve over time?

This is a post in the Blogging from A to Z challenge— yeah, I missed a few days. But I’m hoping to get on track now.  If YOU are also participating in the challenge, please give me your blog URL in a comment and I will visit you.

E is for (zombies, the ideal) Enemy

EThis is a post in the Blogging from A to Z challenge: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Enemies. We used to know how to have enemies. In WW2 we called the Japanese the Japs or the Nips. We called the Germans the Krauts or the Jerries. We didn’t care what they thought about it. Even though in the US the German-American seg

Now we get attacked by Muslim fanatics, and we force our public school kids to learn the Five Pillars of Islam and recite a Muslim prayer— even though our own majority religion is still off limits in the public school and ignorance of the simplest aspects of the faith has led to a rise in ignorance-based atheism.

So if we want to have an old-fashioned war story, we have to turn to zombies. They are the perfect enemy. They don’t have their own culture, society or religion. They are less intelligent than the average frog. They are not people, but have transformed into a walking, biting disease germ.

We don’t have to worry about what our zombie enemy thinks of us. Zombies don’t think. So when we want to have war fiction that doesn’t offend the political correctness rules, we use zombies.


What Windows 10 did for me:

Killed one computer

Slowed my productivity to a crawl on the new one.

So: be warned.

D is for Death Zones

DIn fiction based on an apocalytic or disaster scenario, there are some places where survival is pretty much impossible. In a nuclear war story, any character who is at the location where a nuclear bomb is dropped either dies outright from the blast, or if at a slightly greater distance, from a fatal dose of radiation.

In Christian end-times fiction, people who are in the Antichrist’s headquarters are likely to add to the body count sooner or later. And in zombie apocalypse tales, the natural Death Zone is the city. Any city will do. Live there, stay there, and you die.

Why? Zombie-ism is an epidemic. Cities have high population densities— more people to become infected, become zombies, and infect others.

Cities also have slum areas— places where people are accustomed to wait hours for even emergency medical services, and to call the police and not have them show up until the crisis is over. Many of these people have been trained by government social programs to be passive and to wait around for the government to get around to helping them. These people are, sadly, just zombies waiting to happen.

Cities don’t produce food. It all has to be trucked in. Once a city has a zombie epidemic started, would YOU make a food delivery there?

American cities have stricter gun control laws and few gun shops. I believe Chicago got rid of their last gun shop. So guns will be confined to police/military, who will be swarmed and killed in the line of duty, criminals, who if intelligent will get the hell out of the city, and the bodyguards of the rich, who will also leave town— with their employer, their family, or possibly with both. So: more defenseless people in the cities. Also, more people who couldn’t hunt for food on their journey to a safe space.

People in the cities, once their level of hunger gets high enough, will leave. Freeways will be blocked with stalled cars, so the journey, for most, will be on foot. They will walk through suburbs, and even through the farms that provide city farmers’ markets with fresh food. These areas will also become infested with zombies seeking prey.

Where is the Life Zone in a zombie apocalypse? Rural areas, and ones not too close to infested cities— even small infested cities. They must not be in touristy vacation areas— too many refugees will show up there. These refugees will scare off the game in hunting attempts, overfish the rivers and streams, and trample grain fields and raid gardens.

A good rural area will have working farms, woods and streams, and people who know how to hunt, fish and farm. A small Amish settlement would be helpful. Even though the Amish are indirectly dependent on technology that won’t be available, they know how to farm with horses and actually have the horses and horse-drawn equipment.

Rural areas tend to be full of armed citizens who at least hunt once a year during gun deer season. Most hunting families have quite a few guns— because different prey often requires different guns, because some older guns are replaced by newer models but kept for sentimental reasons, and because guns are a good investment. And they have ammo for target practice. This will help rural areas keep their smaller numbers of zombies at bay.

So— when the z-apocalypse hits, remember— cities are death, rural areas are life. And good luck in getting to the nearest life zone!

This is a post in the A to Z blogging challenge: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

A is for (Zombie) Apocalypse

Ever notice there is never a zombie exterminator around when you need one?

Ever notice there is never a zombie exterminator around when you need one?

This is a post in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

A is for apocalypse. Which can mean ‘an unveiling’, or be the name of the last book of the New Testament, or it can refer to the Christian end times. Or, it can mean there are undead guys roaming your backyard and you have to find the crossbow before the chickens get eaten.

Why is the zombie apocalypse, as in The Walking Dead, so popular? My theory is it is because many of us have seen the signs and know that it’s quite likely that human society as we know it will collapse during our lifetime. Only if you talk about your actual concerns— fiat currency, terrorists hiding among refugees, college students who demand to be protected from the knowledge that some people vote for a different candidate than they do— that’s not politically correct. And that can cost you your job, home, business, family and/or survival supplies. So: let’s pretend we are prepping to fight zombies, instead.

So: zombie apocalypse. It may not entirely make me forget about the priest who got crucified on Easter (supposedly), but at least when Daryl gets murdered by Dwight I don’t have to worry that I’m next, or fret that I am running low on crossbow bolts.

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator by Karina Fabian. Funny, smart, and full of zombies, order it so you have something to cheer you up in the wake of this Sunday’s Walking Dead episode.


Bad Guys in the Zombie Apocalypse

walking-dead-dwightIs it better to be in a group of bad guys or one of good guys in the zombie apocalypse? A lot of people just assume bad is more powerful and good is weak, but where is the evidence for that?

A group of bad guys, looking for survival supplies in the apocalypse, can find, create (with things like food) or steal from others to get what they want. They even have the option to kill people they steal from to prevent retribution. Pretty sweet, huh?

But their reputation will precede them. Other groups will hide from them. Stronger groups will fight them. They might even decide to wipe the bad group out, as Rick’s formerly-good group on The Walking Dead planned to do with ‘The Saviors.’

A good group does not have to be a pacifist group. It is morally permissible to fight back against murderers and thieves. They cannot get the survival supplies they need by stealing from other groups without turning toward the dark side, but that route has its disadvantages.

What a good group can do is arrange trades with other groups. No other groups will willingly trade with evil groups like the Saviors, the Wolves or the Claimers. That wouldn’t be safe. But most groups would be glad to trade with a group that acts in a moral way, once they are convinced that the group really does have moral values and isn’t going to enslave or kill their group  members.

A good group also has the ability to take in new members more easily. Rick’s group on TWD has absorbed both individual stragglers and remnants from other groups, and has also merged with the Alexandria group. An evil group can take in new members, as when the Claimers took in Daryl Dixon. But the Claimers didn’t win over Daryl’s heart and mind— he only stayed because they would have killed him otherwise. A wiser evil group would not have touched Daryl. But if an evil group is too suspicious of potential new members, they can’t replace their casualties.

Another big advantage of the good group is that they can, and often will, show compassion to smaller groups and to individuals. Remember in TWD when Rick’s group rescued the faithless Episcopal priest Father Gabriel?

A group that becomes known for showing compassion is a group that is likely to find compassion from others. Imagine a good group providing food to a smaller group that has lost much of its food supply to theft. In addition, the good group teaches the small group better methods of growing, hunting or foraging for food, and helps them have better security. If the good group falls on hard times down the road, or needs help from a medic, gunsmith, electrician or plumber, isn’t it a certainty that the small group will help if they can?

A big disadvantage the evil groups will have is that after a number of good groups have learned to survive, have developed trade networks, and have grown in numbers, the next item on the agenda is eliminating the local evil group. And because of the circumstances of the zombie apocalypse, they won’t have the option of arresting the bad guys and putting them in a jail. The bad guys will be killed in the battle, or captured and executed (formally or informally). If one of the good guys has thoughtfully built a jail cell or two, it will go to more innocent members of a bad guy group, such as children, or women who claim to have been forced to join the evil group.

My conclusion, then, is that being in a bad guy group in the zombie apocalypse is something that has no future in it. Human beings need to be part of a community to survive and thrive, and that community can’t be based on doing evil to others. In time, evil groups will be dealt with.

Questions: how should writers deal with good and evil choices in fiction? Do some writers make evil too attractive or too powerful? How could one make a good guy character strong and powerful without corrupting him?

Story starter: In the zombie apocalypse, there are two groups, one good, one evil. Both need an object possessed by a third group for their continued survival. Third group’s headquarters is an old military bunker— they are a strong group. Show how the two group compete for possession of the desired object. You can make the third group willing to trade the item, but the price will be very hard to come by.

Walking Dead fans: Will we see Daryl Dixon on the ‘In Memoriam’ list next week? If so, who will kill Dwight?

The Walking Dead: Deanna’s Final Choice

Who's Deanna?

Who’s Deanna?

It was the mid-season finale on The Walking Dead last night, and for a bit it looked like Deanna was going to be a victim of a zombie-related suicide. You know, where someone gets bit by a zombie and they decide since they are dying anyway they might as well check out early  with a bullet to the brain.

I hate zombie-related suicides because they are part and parcel of the culture of death, which teaches that when the end of your life is in site you might as well be ‘brave’ and commit autohomicide. We are expected to ignore the life that person might have had left and also the fact that other people may be applauding the act due to selfish reasons.

But Deanna, though she had planned to self-murder, changed her mind and used her gun to blow away some nearby Walkers. Her aim improved considerably in her final moments.

Deanna wasn’t perfect— she was probably a Democrat given her community’s absurd gun-control law— but in the end she showed us that even when you are dying, you can still do things that are a benefit to other people. And that’s a good thing to know, even if there isn’t currently a zombie apocalypse.

Ding, Dong, Our Glenn’s NOT Dead!!!


Glenn’s not being killed, he’s just grossed out over what the walkers are doing with Nicholas.

Last night we finally found out the truth about Glenn Rhee’s ‘death’ on The Walking Dead— he survived after all. The guts that the walkers were pulling out in front of Glenn came from Nicholas. And Glenn managed to crawl under the dumpster and stayed there until the walkers got bored and wandered off. Because walkers have an even shorter attention span than millennials.

OK, it’s kind of silly to get caught up in the fate of a fictional character from a show that’s famous for manipulating the emotions of the fans. But that’s how I work. I love my fictional friends and it hurts when they die, or seem to die.

Glenn is a character that’s close to my heart, in spite of his moral flaws. (Moral flaws— he was the one that fetched the abortion pills that Laurie used to try to kill baby Judith before she was born.) Glenn is a man who changed from his weaker, pre-apocalypse self into a warrior who has not sold out his soul and his ethics due to the circumstances.

Some people said Glenn was for sure dead because his comic book character died. But the comic book and the TV series are not the same. Baby Judith died in the comic books. Also, in the comic books Carol died, but her daughter Sophia lived, and after her mother’s death was adopted by Glenn and Maggie. Somehow I don’t think the TV show is going to be able to do that story line.

Walking Dead fans: how do you feel about Glenn’s survival story? Of all the character deaths in TWD, which one hit you the hardest?

The Walking Dead: Is Showing Mercy a Weakness?

glennTWDRecently I’ve been visiting a number of fan sites for The Walking Dead, reading opinions on the ‘What really happened to Glenn’ issue. And I was saddened to see that a widespread interpretation, not only to do with Glenn and Nicholas but also about Morgan’s failure to kill Wolves, was that ‘in this world’ showing mercy to anyone, giving anyone a second chance, is an unforgivable act of weakness.

But this idea cannot be applied universally in the world of The Walking Dead. From the first episode major characters survived due to the mercy of others. Rick, helpless and uninformed, was shown mercy by Morgan in the first season. To keep himself and his son safe, Morgan could have chosen to kill Rick.

Daryl seemed like somewhat of a loose cannon at first. The other characters might have feared that he was more attached to his bad-guy brother Merle than to the group. But they decided not to kill Daryl or banish him from the group and he proved to be a good man to have around.

Carol chose to kill two sick people, one of them the girlfriend of Tyreese, to prevent them from spreading their illness. The illness spread anyway. Rick, when he learned of it, banished her from the group. But later she met up with Tyreese, and after a tragic event Tyreese forgave Carol. When she rejoined the group she proved to be a major asset— not only because she’s good at killing Walkers but because of her cookie-baking skills.

The fact is that we are all here in the world because someone showed mercy to us. As infants, when we could contribute nothing to society or to our families and we caused our families to do a lot of work just to keep us alive. But we were shown mercy— we were not killed or abandoned to our fate. We all have made mistakes, done wrong to other people, lost our tempers— but we’ve also experienced being forgiven for our mistakes and wrongdoing.

The fact is that human beings need one another— we need other people even more during the zombie apocalypse. But since no one of us is perfect— we all have flaws— we cannot become part of any survival community without being willing to do some degree of forgiving.

Of course, we cannot forgive everything. When young Lizzie stabbed her sister to death in order to prove that Walkers were not evil, just different, Carol concluded that there was no way to keep this dangerous child alive without endangering others. When the people of Terminus were revealed to be cannibals preying on those they offered sanctuary, Rick and the others killed them for their crimes.

In the zombie apocalypse as in the real world, there is a time to forgive and a time to get tough on others. And without God-like levels of knowledge we will never know 100% what a given situation really calls for. Which is why calls to always reject the idea of showing mercy are not the right way to go.

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