Monday, August 2, 2010

Review: The Zombie Combat Manual

Roger Ma, 2010, Penguin Australia

When the bombs stop falling, when your ammunition runs out, when the dead are still attacking the living...will you be ready?

The Zombie Combat Manual, as the title suggests, is yet another entry into the increasingly-popular 'zombie guide' subgenre (along with such titles as Max Brooks' uber-serious The Zombie Survival Guide, and David P. Murphy's satirical Zombies for Zombies). It's also one of the best such guides I've ever read, striking exactly the right balance between providing serious information on how to protect oneself against the walking dead, and entertaining the reader (an aspect often lacking in other 'serious' guides). This is not to suggest that TZCM is a humorous, or even particularly light read; highly detailed chapters on combat techniques, choice of weapons, exercise regimens, and identifying the relative strengths and weaknesses of zombies are intercut with informative and occasionally quite moving 'survivor interviews' that serve to illustrate the points being made in the instructional text, as well as to break up large sections of dry (though still fascinating) information.

To say that author Ma has put a great deal of thought and effort into this manual is to severely undersell the publication: the book covers not only the obvious aspects of defending oneself in a post-Rising world (such as exactly where to hit 'em with that baseball bat), but also such things as survivor diets (being fatter has unexpected advantages), psychological issues (expose your kids early for maximum toughness), and the dangers of relying upon standard combat techniques (martial arts have little effect upon a foe who feels no pain).

The Zombie Combat Manual is a tome that every zombie fan should own (particularly if you're into the whole 'zombie survivalist' movement), and is bound to become regarded as a classic of the subgenre. Grab a copy now, before things get ugly out there.

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