Monday, September 19, 2011
Ed. Christopher Wortzenspeigel, 2011
Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse is something of an oddity: a book on zombies composed entirely of articles, links and references taken from Wikipedia, presented almost exactly as they would appear online. This obviously results in a fair amount of repetition of information (as certain articles reference the same sources), which - in a publication of a mere 125 pages - doesn't exactly scream 'value for money'. Additionally, the lack of any major effort to reformat and expand the information for print, in order to more obviously justify republishing free web content in a physical, comparatively expensive format, does beg the question of whether doing so has any real point.
This is not to suggest that online content can't make for a great printed book, as evidenced by the works of David Wellington, Madeleine Roux, and others. However, there's a world of difference between reading a self-contained piece of fiction in book form, even one that has been wholly transposed from the Internet, and reading a piece of non-fiction containing references and links that the reader is incapable of immediately accessing (or, if they own a mobile device of some sort, fully access...which again begs the question of why the book was needed in the first place).
At the end of the day, Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse certainly contains some intelligent and fascinating information...but ultimately there seems little point in purchasing what amounts to a hard-copy printout of a bunch of Wikipedia articles. I'd suggest that even the publishers are aware of this shortcoming, as the back-cover blurb fails to mention zombies at all, instead waxing lyrical over the 'convenience and utility' of a 'real book' that 'utilizes the unique characteristics of the Internet - relying on web infrastructure and collaborative tools to share and use resources in keeping with the characteristics of the medium'.
Field Combat Manual For Zombie Slayers is a slim volume falling into the 'survivalist' subgenre of zomfic, and which leans more to the serious side of the market, containing bona fide advice on survivalist techniques with genuine everyday applications. While there is a background story provided against which the necessity for zombie-slaying info is set, this background is not explored in any great depth. There's also a fair bit of authorial intrusion, as the 'character' of the author often mentions personal experiences that support specific pieces of advice, and also tends to sermonise at length (with religious fervour) on the destiny of humanity to reclaim civilisation, etc. Ultimately, the book fails to satisfyingly balance the fictional and non-fictional aspects, although there is certainly entertainment value here.
In a nutshell, Field Combat Manual For Zombie Slayers is one for the die-hard survivalist types only. For a more inventive, entertaining and in-depth take on similar topics, stick with Roger Ma's The Zombie Combat Manual.
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