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Headscratchers: The Zombie Survival Guide
  • Many high-velocity rounds like the M-16 or M249 SAW fire can cause "Hydrostatic Shock", meaning that a massive pressure wave goes through the body, rupturing organs and quite likely the brain, from a center-of-mass shot. Why does this not affect zombies?
    • As zombies don't replenish their fluids, their bodies would necessarily be rather dehydrated, and hydrostatic shock may not affect them to the same extent as it affects a living organism.
      • Dehydrated tissue wouldn't absorb force as well. One. 223 round starts ripping good-sized holes in the target.
    • Plus there's the fact the author was strongly against fully-automatic weapons and wasting ammo on center mass shots. Which is a good point. Enough hydrostatic shock might be able to cripple a zombie's central nervous system, but any time going straight for the head would be more efficient, you might as well.
    • FMJ bullets in .223 caliber should not be overrated in their effect either on a living or an undead target. They may tear flesh and rupture internal organs by shock at very close ranges, but they are light (almost 4 times lighter than a .30-06 round), they are easily deviated by wind beyond 200-300 meters and in many countries they are legally limited to game the size of a roe deer (or a whitetail, for American readers). If you deal with a target which does not register pain and has no functional internal organs, better get a headshot and ask questions later.
      • How necessary those headshots are has been enthusiastically debated on the World War Z page, but, overall, if you can disable a zombie (be it via spinal damage, leg damage or indirect trauma— organs don't count) with 2-3 shots reliably rather than trying to get a headshot on a moving target at distance with whatever weapon you can find and/or have ammo for, I personally prefer the former

  • Why is it so important to dispose of the corpses? Brooks' zombies are considered taboo by animals, thus scavengers won't eat them and spread infection, they are noninfectious in 48 hours anyway, and the time you spend disposing of them is time you could be gathering food, ammo, or supplies, or getting the Hell out of Dodge.
    • He does mention that although most animals find zombie eating taboo, insects like flies or maggots do not (at least once the zombie is properly 'dead'), and although the zombies aren't decomposing too quickly, their rotting flesh does still present very obvious and potentially deadly safety hazard.

  • Why is Brooks so against dismembering the zombies? I don't care if they can still bite me, I care if they can get to me to bite me, and thus a spinal shot or one to the knees would be best.
    • A legless or paralyzed zombie can still crawl. Worse, a zombie lying down can be more difficult to spot, especially at a distance. An able-bodied zombie, for instance, you could see coming at you from a good distance even if it's wading through long grass. A zombie that's had its legs blown off, however, you might not see it at all until you're right on top of it and its teeth are in your leg.
      • and... suddenly that assholish groan is gone?
      • They only groan once they've got eyes on prey usually.
      • This point does at least matter less if you're on the run, and not intent on clearing out an area or defending it. If all you're after is getting away, and a non-fatal (for a zombie) and immobilizing shot would prove more efficient at stopping an immediate threat and preventing pursuit, then the crippled zombie would become someone else's problem.
      • Remember, even if the spine's completely severed, a zombie's head can still bite. The Guide advises completely DESTROYING zombies whenever you bother fighting them, as even missing both legs, an arm and most of its face a zombie will follow you forever, moaning to attract others.
      • My first thought on hearing that a given patch of ground is full of crawling, crippled zombies is 'Somebody get me one of those minefield-clearing trucks that's designed to actually drive over the land mines; I'm gonna go out there and do donuts until all the zombies are paste.' Or a steam roller. Or a bulldozer. Or a tank.
      • That might work, Brooks did admit it. The thing is EFFICIENCY. A standing zombie is taller, easier to spot, would probably make more noise from stomping around and would die from a good blow to the head. To kill zombies effectively with a vehicle, it would need to hit them at speed to break bones, then turn around and go back over them once or twice to make sure the skull cracked and the brain was destroyed. A steamroller would work, but that would take a ton of fuel.

  • Why shouldn't spears be used in a zombie outbreak? Also, shovels are never mentioned. Wouldn't you want a weapon that can smash in a head and chop through a skull from a safe distance? And chances are you will be needing one anyway...
    • Mostly because using a long pole-based weapon on zombies gives them something to grab and drag you down with. Even if that didn't happen, a point is made that stabbing weaponry can get stuck in a Zed's head, probably knocking you off-balance. It's also stated that shovels are decent (well, a type of "battle" shovel from China and used by those monk zombie hunters) Zed-killing tools.
    • Spears were used in one or two of the recorded attacks. In the same vein as rapiers and thrusting swords, the only way to guarantee a kill would be a stab through the eye as the human skull's pretty tough. Enough force could sever the spine or throat and cause severe damage of course, but as long as the brain's intact the zombie is a threat, however immobile.
      • In one case, improvised pole-weapons were used to keep zombies at bay from the top of a staircase. They worked fairly well, however eventually they either stuck in the zombies' flesh or were grabbed and pulled away.

  • Why is the use of automatic weapons downplayed? Ammunition can be found by the thousands in the back of any gunshop and in the millions in any military base.
    • Ammunition will eventually become scarce if people waste half of theirs on impractical or unnecessary shots.
    • he does rather Hand Wave away the "scythe theory", though. It's not that that bad an idea.
      • How is it Hand Waved? He makes a perfectly valid point against it; zombies aren't all the same height. Attempting to mow them all down by aiming at their head level may result in some lethal shots, but a great deal of your bullets will end up either missing entirely or hitting the zombies in non- vital areas, like their chests or shoulders. Either way, you're wasting a ton of bullets.
    • And now good luck finding thousands of rounds in stores these days, thanks to the shortages.
      • The shortages are because people are buying all that ammo and hoarding it by the crate; you don't even need to go to the store anymore, the gun enthusiasts already have their stockpiles.
    • In some places, such as urban Australia for example, it may be possible for someone to go their whole life without ever seeing more than three bullets in one place. Even if you did find a military base full of ten-million rifle rounds for your weapon of choice, how would you carry them? Plus, if you always act as if ammunition is scarce... it never will become so.

  • Brooks goes to the trouble of discussing Hollywood and Voodoo zombies, but why does it completely neglect actual, real-life zombies? I'm talking about parasite-based insect ones.
    • The book's not about them. It's about classic Hollywood style zombies, and the voodoo zombies are only really mentioned because they have the same name and are made from people.

  • The book claims that Egyptians may have removed the brain of a dead pharaoh so that a zombie cant reanimate it. But didn't he also say an already dead body could not be reanimated?
    • Yes, but the Egyptians didn't know that.
    • Not so a zombie could reanimate it (can't infect a corpse which zombies ignore anyway) but so that the corpse wouldn't reanimate if already infected. If a someone was infected they would be dead (or at least unconscious) for a few hours before reanimation. The entombed zombie that was found likely reanimated after being sealed in.

  • In the world of the book, the existence of zombies is common knowledge. So why do governments around the world continue to cover-up zombie outbreaks?

  • Brooks states that it takes up to five years for zombies to decompose due to most of the bacteria in the body getting the hell out of dodge once solanum enters the system. But they still rot, meaning that some bacteria remains. With all the detail Brooks goes into explaining how lethal and how terrifying solanum is and how everything in the animal kingdom will flee from its presence, one has to wonder just what naturally occurring bacteria in our bodies is Badass enough to not give a damn and just carry on business as usual?

  • It has been a while since I read the book, but I remember specifically that the survival guide said that not all microbes were killed how by a zombie's body system. This just raises new questions like 1: How come the microbes that remain inside a zombie that are unaffected by Solanum don't replicate out of control and speed up decay? 2: How does the cells of a zombified being get nutrients to live if the zombie has no circulation and digestive system to speak off. Finally 3: How do zombie cells not kill themselves with their own waste products from metabolism if they (again) have no circulation?
    • Because Solanium turns the body into a perpetual motion machine. It outright says so in the book. It's a Lampshade Hanging to how impossible the zombie-phenomenon is in Real Life.
    • At a couple points in World War Z it's even noted that they're not sure how it works. Research has proven inconclusive, and dissecting dead Zeds can only tell you so much. And Zach ain't big on talking.

  • The book says that whenever you're on the move, your clothing should contain absolutely no straps, pockets, pouches, or anything else that a zombie could potentially grab onto. It also has a ridiculously long list of items and equipment that it insists is essential to carry with you when on the move. If your clothing has no pockets, and you can't carry bags or packs because of the straps, where are you supposed to keep the 40+ pounds of gear you've been told to carry?
    • Presumably it means loose straps, pockets, and pouches.

  • How exactly would one go about destroying a staircase? The book mentions this constantly but it's obviously something that's borderline-impossible for someone who doesn't have a bulldozer in their living room.
    • Perhaps, if your staircase isn't part of the structure (like these for example), you could take an axe to it or find some way to smash the stairs. If it's more like these on the other hand...
      • Just board it up and put human-operable locks on it. Or take down the railing and build a smooth arched covering over it, which zombies can't crawl up.
    • Easy stairs tend to be hollow. Smash in the steps and you've now got a hole, a good sledgehammer will do the job.
      • That only works if the stairs are made of wood. Most apartment-building staircases are solid concrete — safety codes usually demand no less — which makes Brooks' assertion that apartments are "always" safer than houses a bit of a puzzler.

  • Brooks mentions that pistols, while ineffective at long range, can be an absolute life-saver if pressed against a zombie's temple at close quarters and fired. For this reason he calls them essential. However, earlier in the book he mentions that a common hatchet can play almost the exact same role. However, hatchets have some obvious advantages over the pistol (lack of collateral damage, can't run out of ammo, etc) and if pistols don't work at long or short range, then what are they for?
    • A pistol is a sidearm, more of a fallback weapon. If you're suddenly driven to the ground by a zombie, and it's pressing you down into the dirt, you're not gonna have much room to wind up and chop it with a hatchet. On the other hand, putting a pistol to use (provided you can draw it fast enough) is as easy as shoving the barrel against the head and tightening your finger. Though, keep in mind, jamming the muzzle against something and shooting can cause the action to fail to cycle properly, making your gun non-functional... Unless it's a revolver.
    • Guns Do Not Work That Way: a lot of training (as in "thousands of rounds in a military range") is needed to fire a handgun accurately to a target as small as a moving head. Shoulder-fired long guns on the other side can easily be taught 10 times faster to a green recruit. So an ordinary citizen who lacks the needed training can only use the pistol at very short range, against the zombie's head.

  • Just why is the book shelved in the Humor section of any given bookstore?
    • It's about zombies, and zombies (probably) aren't real. So it must be a joke. The book does contain a bit of black comedy here and there, after all.

  • The soldiers at Fort Louis Philippe stay under siege from zombies for three years - and not once, in all that time, do these presumably at least partly trained soldiers cotton onto the fact that a bullet through the head will kill their besiegers??? It's not as if they didn't have loads of ammunition, guns and a safe place to shoot from; the fort being very well supplied was the reason they were able to last so long in the first place. How dumb were these people?
    • If the zombies were crowded together closely enough, a head shot might not cause its target to drop immediately, because it'd be wedged between the others. The fort's spotters would've had to keep a very close eye on such a carcass to notice it wasn't moving any more, or to see it gradually slip down out of view to be trampled by the herd.
    • The book (at least the comic anyway) mentions they exhausted their ammunition within the first few days. During this time they were too panicked to realize the head shots were the only thing that stopped the zombies.

  • Plate armor is mentioned in the book as being cumbersome, but that is far from true. One did have to be quite fit to move properly while being in the armor, but once one gets used to the armor he'll be able to do more-or-less everything than an unarmored person can - including swimming.
    • Key words being "once one gets used to the armor." The modern person generally doesn't have the opportunity to get used to armor, and once there are already zombies, taking weeks or months to get used to something that cumbersome means being vulnerable for those weeks and months.
Young WizardsHeadscratchers/Literature    

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