What happened to Australia!? Seriously, we know about every other continent, and there's an Australian astronaut in one chapter, but no mention!
Oceania was mentioned in several chapters, with it being made fairly clear how the fared (not well, what with all the seaborne zombies and boat people.) Australia itself did okay since it's able to provide him with a hospital bed.
The book does say the Aussie government moved to Tasmania, same chapter.
There is also mention in the book of traditionally-armed Aborigines facing down 'the Auckland horde', implied to be far more successful than the Battle of Yonkers.
The battle at Yonkers. Not about the planning, or that the US military fouled up so badly, but nobody in the tanks thought of the obvious: RUN THE ZOMBIES OVER? A helicopter tried to mow them down with his propellers, what where the guys in the tanks doing?
I think the main point about that sequence was that the army was so tied to doctrine that when everything that they had been trained, or ordered, to do failed, they panicked. Unless tank crews are routinely trained to run over people (and I suspect they are not, not even Chinese ones), it probably wouldn't occur to them.
Except that just about everything they were doing was against doctrine, not to mention sense. For one thing, the idea of fighting a battle for propaganda purposes and filming it in real time. For another, the MLRS rockets mentioned have a range of over the horizon, but they were using them first in visual range of the soldiers. For a third, fighting a battle to kill millions of zombies, but not actually having enough ammo to kill millions of zombies. Or, for that matter, not putting charges on the bridges. Not having fallback positions. There is no conceivable way Land Warrior would happen broadcast the camera view from one soldier to all of them just when he runs into a zombie; that is literally not how the system works, nor would it be practical in any way. Even the "Cold War Static Defense" calls for shedloads of artillery fire. And as long as we're here, most news companies are headquartered in New York. New York had been overrun. Where were these guys operating out of?
Judging by the number of zombies, there were not enough tanks present to run them over before they all get get stuck on the bodies of several hundred zombies or run out of fuel. I m sure some tanks did try though(this troper works in a armored regiment and can attest that it is the dream of most tankers to run people over, but driving straight through a zombie invasion of millions is a very bad idea).
Modern tanks can keep driving with entire trees stuck in their treads. There's no reason why something as squishy as a human being's corpse should slow them down.
I think the tanks were also generally placed in "dug-in" fortifications, like larger fox holes, that made it more difficult for them to simply start driving over a bunch of zombies. Not to mention that the roads ahead aren't described as being clear - a tank could potentially get stuck amidst zombie corpses and wrecked cars, and then require rescue.
A half mile worth of zombies is a lot of zombies.
A half mile worth of zombies is about one minutes' work for a B-52 arclight strike, which have been known to entirely depopulate (and defoliate, and remove most of the topsoil of) entire valleys.
Brooks establishes that this wasn't just a "crowd" of zombies numbering in the tens of thousands, this was more like a deeply packed human wave extending for miles: even if the tanks could ran over that, they'd run out of gas before too long. But look at the Battle of Hope: so many zombies came that their corpses made a *wall* 20 feet high, new ones climbing over the fallen. And that was just a random area of New Mexico, not the 8 million strong, deeply-packed horde coming out of New York. Some of the scariest parts are when Brooks points out that zombie mega-swarms are a seething mass crawling over each other, literally like African driver ants.
Realistically, a five-million human swarm pouring out of New York and tromping toward Yonkers would have begun to spread out quite a bit. They would have begun to bunch back up once they met resistance, but the fastest zombies would have pulled out ahead of the main force and the slowest would have trailed behind them, spreading them all out over the distance between. The initial headwave of the swarm would have easily been vulnerable to tank charges, and the center of the swarm would have been extremely vulnerable to air strikes. The only reason the Air Force doesn't massacre the main swarm to the point that the tanks can easily crush what's left is because Brooks smacked the military with the Idiot Ball.
Speaking of Yonkers: Why didn't they didn't bring enough ammo? I get that the point of that was to show that conventional warfare didn't work against zombies, and that the military was totally unprepared to fight them, but come on. Having ammo ready at hand for combat operations is pretty goddamn basic no matter who or what you're fighting.
I got the impression that they thought their artillery would be a lot more effective than it actually was, so that the rocket launchers wouldn't need much ammunition to destroy the zombies while the tanks wouldn't need too many rounds to pick off the straggling groups. They apparently based this supposition on what would happen if regular humans came at a modern army massed like the zombies did, but failed to take into account the biological differences between zombies and humans.
I think it's more that they grossly under-estimated the number of zombies they would have to fight. They probably figured that they'd only have to kill a couple of thousand zombies to get their big PR victory, which is why they wasted their artillery (described as highly effective) on the more thinly spread-out initial waves of zombies. Nobody knew about how zombies could form "chain swarms" yet, and they suddenly found themselves swamped by millions of zombies.
Not only that, but in the Battle of Hope sequence, it is noted that the army has Humvees full of ammunition, which is obviously more so than the standard combat load of any soldier. It is entirely possible that the Army troops at Yonkers had a standard combat load of ammo (~180 rounds is what I heard for the average rifleman) and even then, that wasn't enough. So in my opinion it wasn't that they were carrying less than the normal amount of ammo, it was that the normal amount of ammo simply wasn't enough against the million-strong chain swarm.
Except they also had to know that zombies are attracted to noise. Also, they had satellite coverage.
It also kind of never occurred to them up to that point that zombies are physically incapable of being afraid. Maybe they thought they had animal-level instinct, and would start tapering off or fleeing. More probably, they just didn't think about it. A human army facing that much artillery would get torn to shreds....but artillery is meant to churn up meat, not destroy a cranium. When was the last time that a full scale artillery barrage had to be sustained for over an hour? Even if the enemy has a lot of men, they'll get afraid and pause to regroup. If you face a million zombies, they'll charge head first directly at your guns even if 999,999 are dead, and the last one kills you. As for why no one even though to count how many anti-tank rounds they had? ....my only guesses are that 1 - they didn't take into account the obvious biological differences between humans and zombies. 2 - The Great Panic extended to the military command staff and they weren't thinking clearly; keep in mind that some major cities, particularly New York, had been overrun a matter of days before.
Except they had highly effective anti-zombie black ops. They should know quite a lot about zombies already. And they should've had some charges on the bridges out of New York, against something precisely like this happening. Also, if they lost because they didn't use enough gun, the obvious answer is to try again with more gun.
If I recall correctly, a point was made in the book that detailed intelligence concerning the Zombie threat did existe, but very few people with authority seemed to care.
Keep in mind that the Battle of Yonkers took place three months after the Great Panic started. Considering the chaos we see in the "highway traffic jam" chapter, proper logistics was likely much more difficult (if not impossible) in that situation.
No, not really. The US military is the world's most efficient logistics engine. They can readily supply half a million soldiers overseas in terrain that makes any American traffic jam look like clear ten-lane highways. They have plans for logistics supporting combat operations across the entire East and West Coast in case of invasion, and those plans takes mass panic into account. (For one thing, mass panic clogging the highways does not affect the railroads, especially considering that the combat engineers will throw stranded train cars right off the tracks and into the ditch if that's what it takes). Supplying Yonkers should have been completely trivial by comparison to a potential Soviet invasion that the plans were drawn up to handle.
Here's a bigger question; if this was "a giant undead snake stretching back to Times Square", the entire NYC horde....why didn't they blow the bridges along the Harlem river, to take them on one chunk at a time? Not even at first, I mean when the army was getting overrun, didn't they pause to think "maybe we should blow the bridges, like in I Am Legend?" Granted that zombies would just walk underwater to cross, but that takes time. How many were in the Bronx already? Probably wouldn't have saved the battle completely, but still.
Overconfidence. If they blow the bridges they have to rebuild them at some point, but they thought they could just lure the horde out and destroy it, then move in and mop up stragglers. Boom, a few months of clean up and NYC is ready to live in again. The leadership at the time just didn't want to admit that the situation really that bad, and by the time they did they either didn't have the resources in the area to blow up bridges or it wouldn't have made a difference.
I know he said Yonkers was mismanaged, but the fact the tanks had any anti-tank armaments AT ALL is pushing it to me. At the LEAST, there would be extra rounds of the "tank-shot gun" stuff and just a few DU rounds.
Heck, just the rockets and arty should've taken out hundreds of thousands of zombies, at least, not just tens of thousands, made up "balloon effect" or no. If the zombie goo was strong enough to resist explosives that turn normal folk to paste, they should have been too stiff to move.
Well, a lot of kills from artillery are from shrapnel, not blast overpressure: a normal human infantryman that catches enough shockwave to blow out his eardrums, or shrapnel that pokes out an eye, takes off the jaw, shreds an arm to the bone, etc will usually be hors de combat most shortly. Zombies ignore such wounds and keep advancing, although bleeding black goo: attributing surviving the blast to the black goo is understandable.
Agreed, but the problem is that those wounds would mainly be occurring to those well away from the initial area of impact, caused by the blast and its' side effects shooting out in all directions, scything through anything in the immediate vicinity. We'd only remotely begin seeing non-neutralizing (for Brooks Zombies) wounds several feet away, where the power of the blast and the shrapnel's lessened enough to make avoiding brain damage from such wounds plausible. Until that, the power of the blast would all but certainly account for the brains.
Keep in mind also that it's not going to be a case of only a few shells hitting a target. Against a massed horde of zombies you're going to be seeing artillery completely carpet the entire area, such that most zombies will be getting torn to pieces by the shrapnel from the hundreds of thousands of artillery shells that will be ranking up and down the horde. This will be during, prior, or after the massed bombing by aircraft (especially A-10s) and after its over with, all that will be left would be to bulldoze the leftover parts into trenches for burning.
With all the advanced weaponry available to the US Army at Yonkers and knowledge that they should destroy the head, no-one considered giving them some kind of melee weapon such as a machete to decapitate their enemy when it came to close quarters?
I don't get how this disease managed to get worldwide. It moved through human bites, and organ transplants, with a 24 hour incubation - but that still doesn't add up for me how this disease managed to get global.
That's an simplification of it. You're neglecting the ignorance (nobody knew about it, ergo nobody knew to watch out for it) and denial (What, me, infected? You must be joking.)
The fact the book says so little about how the outbreaks spread is at least somewhat justified. Whoever was on-scene at the start of an outbreak, and could've potentially told the narrator about the details, is either eaten or a zombie. It's a sampling bias in the sources' testimony that ensures we mostly hear about the aftermath.
There was a period of at least a year where attempts to contain the zombie epidemic were a complete mess. China was trying to keep everything secret, and failing catastrophically. Thousands of refugees (either infected or with infected relatives) were fleeing into the Developed Countries due to rumors of a cure, and the Developed Nations (particularly the USA) were complacent about the outbreak due to the false security created by Phalanx. By the time it became clear that decisive action was necessary, it was already too late.
That sums it up very well: there's a period of over a year or more when people just deny that it exits, allowing it to spread in small numbers around the world - he said that in the USA they started in inner city slums, which is where illegal aliens would try to disappear, but over time even when people knew the bites were a fatal form of "rabies" or something, their survivor instinct kicked in, or people tried to save infected relatives. A major point is, would you honestly take out your own parents or children? That is, before it was well-known exactly what zombies were? Or even then, wouldn't you hope for a last minute cure? They only felt motivated to get off their asses and take costly "emergency measures" when it was obvious, but when its obvious is when its too late. Its a tacit criticism of that Hurricane Katrina thinking: "why didn't you give more funding to the dams earlier?" "The dams weren't obviously broken earlier" (even though hydro-engineering people working on the dams explicitly warned that they were going to break if something wasn't done).
Katrina was a few blindspots N'Awlins had gone, literally, decades without caring about until it came on them like, well, a sudden flood. Solanum was an entirely novel biological threat requiring massive incompetence or ignorance or OOC on the part of just about everyone. Millions of people, at least, across the world. The news media would cheerfully publish a story where the biggest medicine in Western history is a placebo, panic or no. The internet alone would basically implodenote On Conspiracy Theories:Mr. Brooks, they don't work that way.. There are clinics in ghettos, with doctors who are trained to notice things just like this. And think about the hysteria about Bird Flu, which kills much less people than regular flu. People tend to overestimate disease severity, and Solanum looks a lot like rabies to the uninitiated.
One of the key issues tackled in the "prequel" Zombie Survival Guide notes how the incubation period is usually 24 hours, but can vary by several hours or even a day depending on the location of infection and strength of the immune system. There's also the issue of people taking their infected love ones (Brooks pointed out one Chinese businessman who smuggled his already-zombified family to a nearby country). And while some of the infection started from China, Zombie Survival Guide implies that there were patient zeroes all across the planet, they simply took off after the first wave of infection caused the Great Panic and crippled the infrastructure.
The slow incubation period is actually an asset to the disease, as it has a 100% mortality rate. If it spreads fast and still had a 100% mortality rate, it'd die out almost instantly since it's host won't be able to spread it farther than a walking distance. The fact that it needs up to and possibly over 24 hours to fully turn means that it can get across the globe, as an infected person can do a hell of a lot in the 24 hours before he/she turns. Also, while it spreads by bites, it technically spreads by fluidic contact, meaning victims are walking biohazards.
Why weren't body shots more effective? according to the Hydrostatic Shock Principle, Zack could have his decomposing brain hemmoraged by a pressure wave from the chest shots the soldiers were going for, and with the M 855 A 1 5.56 NATO bullet the soldiers were using, the chances of that happening approach 1.
The Solanum virus fundamentally changes how the brain works, so it's possible that said principle wouldn't apply to zombies, or may not be as severe as in humans.
Brooks gets some of the physics of gun- and artillery-fire wrong, particularly in the Battle of Yonkers. .50 caliber machine guns shouldn't just go straight through zombies' bodies without really damaging them - they should be tearing them to pieces (a well-placed .50 caliber machine gun shot can tear you in half if hits you in the chest). There's some hand-waving in that zombies seem to be different on the inside, with their blood being replaced/changed into a strange, thick, dark substance that's compared to a gel.
Well, he also said that the ones blown literally in half were still a threat because it just made them a small target. Even if its a head attached to a neck, shoulder muscle, and arm, those body parts will keep trying to claw their way towards you. He calls it the "Scythe theory", and it didn't work. It slowed them down, but didn't immobilize them.
There's a massive difference between having seen a movie and experiencing something yourself. We've all seen Die Hard, but I imagine if you were in a real hostage situation you wouldn't suddenly turn into a badass because of your knowledge of genre conventions. The very real possibility of death or worse tends to massively override whatever you've seen on TV.
Anyone with a little know-how can be a zombie fighter. That's a major point in every zombie work and Brooks even points it out in the Survival Guide.
And as for soldiers (and police officers and anyone else trained to use a gun) every last minute of their training was based on shooting in the centre of mass. It's easy to say "just aim for the head," it's harder to ignore all those years of training telling you to aim for the torso.
It's not that hard if the target is moving toward you at a shamble.
Plus, if you put two shots in the chest of something and it doesn't even blink, you adjust your aim. If center-mass shots aren't slowing a creature down, blind it.
Still overlooking that not everyone is a marksman and they train people to aim for the centre of mass because headshots are hard. It's not a problem if you're only going against one zombie, but there's rarely ever just one zombie heading towards you, so people freaking out because this is a horrifying situation, combined with adreline, and you're not going to have a whole lot of people who can pull off decent shots to the head fast enough.
Additionally, you don't just have to hit the head you have to hit the brain, making the target even smaller. Add in panic and the fact that it may be family members, friends, or comrades that you are gunning down, you might lose your nerve.
This troper always assumed that in Zombie fiction, that universe does not have zombie fiction or at least only has a minority of zombie fiction. The only movie that I've seen people acknowledge that they knew what zombies were was Shaun of the Dead. Every other current movie, show, or book, always has the protagonists asking "what are these things?". We gain a hint that they might have had zombie fiction WWZ in that people were reluctant to call the Zombies "Zombies" because it sounded silly to them.
The Standard Infantry Rifle. Why would you dedicate the immense resources needed to produce and integrate a brand new semi-automatic 5.56 weapon system by the millions when you already have one?
The new-model anti-zombie army only went on the offensive about seven years after the initial outbreaks. Human civilization almost collapsed that first year, when they were barely holding the passes in the Rocky Mountains and there were still hordes of zombies in the Safe Zone. So the SIR was part of what was admittedly a long-term project to completely reform the US military, even down to uniforms. We have tended to switch to entirely new rifle systems when prepping for major wars in the past.
The M-16 is a famously persnickety rifle, fragile and prone to jamming. The SIR was designed to never jam, and be the most durable gun out there.
It's only prone to jamming if you don't clean it, which the military is trained to do every chance they get. It can actually take more physical abuse than the AK-47, due to being made out of milled parts rather than stamped ones. The SIR is implied to be an AK clone chambered in 5.56. This cannot be true, because 1.) It is described as accurate, something anyone whose knowledge of guns goes beyond Call of Duty knows does not apply to the AK family. It is also unlikely because even if the M-16 series were the glorified peice of shit the book says it is, it would still be more practical to at least use the magazines, something the AK series is quite fundamentally incapable of doing.
True, the very first M-16 series rifles were prone to jamming problems, but that was largely due to insufficient training on how to maintain them. Every weapon needs to be regularly maintained, AK series rifles included.
Further, if they were looking for a reliable, semi-automatic rifle with a heavy stock, they already had the M-14 as well. True, it fires the 7.62 round, but that is readily available from ammunition depots and gun stores as well.
This troper can attest that the M14's performance perfectly matches a description of the SIR
Additionally, the vast majority of the 'persnickety' M16's jams are because of the cheaply made, poor quality magazines. Anyone familiar with weapons knows that a well-maintained M4 or M16 with P Mags jamming is a rare, rare occurrence.
You have to take into account the resources at the time. Complex weapons with polymer frames were just not as easily produced in mass. You are talking about needing to make tens of millions of the weapon that needs to be easy to use, have a standardized munition, and modifiable for various roles. The SIR was said to be made out of wood (plentiful) and steel (readily available) for its production. Add in the industrial complexes, much less molds and blueprints to make an M16 or M14 may not have been there so they started from scratch.
The explanation for the battle of Yonkers is total crap. If this is a "publicity battle" then why are the military units under supplied? Every single scrap of ammo should have been removed from every installation in an insanely large area to supply such an important propaganda battle. Since when are men in frigging trenches a decent propaganda image? The media outgrew such a conception after world war I. Massive artillery salvos, and bombing runs are a much better propaganda image today. Why are MLRS salvos being wasted on a few dozen zombies that can be dispatched by riflemen. Why are do zombies, in a bizarre twist of insane troll logic, suffer less casualties from an MLRS barrage when they cluster together. Why weren't barbed wire and deep ditches, two insanely simple and to zombies nearly insurmountable obstacles, not deployed? They weren't given enough time? Utter crap, as they managed to find all the showoffy ECM vehicles and such. The battle of Yonkers is completely unrealistic and there is no way it could have happened like that.
Just imagine the way the real world military would react to a zombie attack. They're incredibly undereducated about zombies, especially the older commanding officers who weren't exposed to the fiction around them. The man telling the story about Yonkers is just a soldier. He had no control over the strategies and tactics of the battle, which is probably why he complained about it the whole time he told the story. The operation at Yonkers was just put together horribly from overconfident military leaders and an undereducated population. Hindsight's 20/20, right?
That's assuming that chain of command stopped working somewhere. Okay, the politician's stupid. The general's an overpromoted idiot. The Colonel doesn't understand what zombies are and gets the battalion killed. The Captain (usually youngish if he's commanding a company) gets his company killed? The LT (not very long out of college at all) is . . . stupid? The Sgt, who is a few years older than his fresh-out-of-high school troops is what exactly? Chain of command is represented as breaking down in the novel, but chain of command *always* has someone else to pick it up. Everyone, down to the last man is an idiot?
Surely the whole point of Yonkers is not just that the men are undersupplied, but that they're undersupplied in the things they ended up needing? The military have prepared this whole 'shock and awe' thing without having fully thought it through, and it comes back to bite them. Furthermore, Yonkers initially looks like a success — they wipe out a whole load of zombies in the first go — but no one's considered the possibility that more and more and more might keep coming?
Exactly. It's specifically mentioned that the artillery and tanks are under-supplied in munitions, which they quickly used up destroying the initial first waves of the zombie attack during the battle.
Which is not an excuse from what we understand alone. That only happens because A: by dint of authorial fiat, artillery does not work like it does in the real world or any 'verse remotely aping the real world, B: it is not USED like it would be in anything like the modern world would be (50 targets out front would be a waste of an MRLS strike when they are subpar combatants that lack a lot of the threat that makes a living person worth leveling huge chunks of a city to get at) C: a massive, massive misunderstanding of what Western logistical systems are like since at least the Madhist War if not the Napoleonic ones. The US is an absolute logistical beast, and for pretty much the entirety of its' modern existence its' been trained to fight massive numbers of enemy, often in the form of totalitarian superpowers as capable of fielding a balanced force as the West is. Even Yonkers is simple in comparison to supplying-say- Operation Torch.
"If this is a "publicity battle" then why are the military units under supplied?" Because the military wasn't planning on their troops having to do anything other than mop up survivors. This isn't the first time a military has underestimated how the tide of battle would turn and paid for it. Read the chapter again; the plan was that the zombies would be almost completely destroyed by artillery, with the troops on the ground only having to mop up stragglers. From that perspective the troops on the ground had enough ammo forwhat they were intended to do, why give them all the ammo in "an insanely large area" when they wouldn't use it while other fronts could need it? Again, the military plan was to kill most zombies long before they got within firing range of the troops, so pretty much everything that bugs the OT is accounted for. "Men in trenches?" Vast overstatement of what actually happened. "Barbed wire and deep pits?" Overconfidence, they planned on the zombies being eliminated from long range. The "insane troll logic" idea that zombies would suffer less damage from a MLRS barrage when clustered together? Conventional weapons are designed to kill through shock, blood loss, concussive force, etc. etc. Zombies can only be killed by brain damage. The problem was that while plenty of zombies were killed in the barrages, there were plenty more who only suffered damage to their limbs or torsos, which at most reduced them to crawling. With all the zombies packed so tightly it also meant that each zombie effectively acted as a shield for the one behind it. And finally, they were fighting the entire zombified population of New York, several million zombies in fact, and they had to stop the great panic by showing they had the situation under control. So in short, overconfidence in the effectiveness of their artillery, a need to show the world (which at this point is in a state of near-complete anarchy and terror) that they could control the situation, and a lack of understanding how zombies work combined with the fact that everything they had and trained for was dealing with human enemies.
Nope. You're conflating troops and units. If this was a Hail Mary, the military should've gone balls out. They had effective anti-zombie black ops, which means, by definition, they have intelligence on zombies. The men who went on those missions and their reports should be extremely valuable. And there is nothing stopping them trying again with an appropriate amount of ammo. If the military plan was to kill all the zombies, they should've bought enough ammo to kill all the zombies. Even if they didn't know about the chain swarm, they should know zombies are attracted to loud noises, such as artillery. Brooks underestimates the effectiveness of MLRS severely; even a single broken limb means a much less combat-effective zombie. A crawling one is effectively mission-killed; anyone can walk up and shoot it at leisure. There is a reason the MLRS is nicknamed the "grid-square removal system". You can't have a zombie that can be decerebrated by melee weapons and still have it resistant to explosive damage without physics-defying magic.
Also, even if the generals are supposed to be thinking only in terms of 'Shock and Awe' and not giving a damn about operational reality, that's still no excuse for the skimpy ammo supply. We do remember what "Shock and Awe" actually meant in the real-world example of such recently, right? It meant 'bomb the living fuck out of them over and over and over and over'. The entire point of Shock And Awe is that you are making an overwhelming display of force; it is entirely incompatible with the notion that the high command would want restricted ammo loads and limited firing time.
Bull. Shit. Massive explosions (like the ones created by the military's favorite shock-and-awe weapon, the MOAB) don't throw around and overpressure bodies— they rip them apart. No zombies would be getting back up, because no zombies would be in less than seven pieces. The MOAB can level city blocks, the zombies would be a game to it.
This was in the middle of America's Biggest City, which they were hoping to eventually re-take without destroying it in the process. They didn't want to devastate the city if they didn't have to, hence why they held off on using air bombs (such as the Fuel Air Bomb at the end of the Yonkers chapter) until the battle was essentially lost.
Saying that the military is uneducated about fighting zombies is like saying the US navy in uneducated about fighting wooden frigates. Technically true but irrelevant since actual soldiers, or even actual insurgents are far, far tougher to kill. Over confidence is one thing, balls to the wall idiocy is another. An overconfident commander overextending himself and getting flanked is understandable. An overconfident tank commander getting his company blown up after entering a city without infantry support is understandable. A command capable of getting high tech equipment and air support failing to contain a group of shambling unintelligent enemies is populated with complete and utter idiots. Since when is the brain immune to concussive force from artillery? Food for thought: You know why infantrymen were issued helmets in WWI? Not to stop rifle bullets since they weren't strong enough to do so at regular combat ranges but to protect soldiers from artillery, since the head is the most likely part to get hit by shrapnel from air burst munitions. The zombies being tightly packed would make them vulnerable to artillery and bombs, plus it would allow more powerful weapons like 50 cals and 20mm cannons to take out multiple enemies with one bullet. And not you do not have to take out the head to neutralize the zombies, a zombies that has been expose to enough fire will simply fall apart. Plus, if the first rank of zombies falls, the next rank will have trouble going over them and so on until a literal wall of bodies have been formed.
As has been mentioned up-thread, they did take out a ton of zombies with the use of artillery and tank-fire. The problem was that there wasn't enough of it to destroy the following waves (due to supply issues, mostly likely coming from the fact that Yonkers happened in the middle of the Great Panic), which they didn't anticipate because they didn't know about "chain swarms". They were only expecting a couple thousand zombies, and instead half of zombified New York City ended up shambling after them.
No, no they did not. You aim artillery at the *center* of the horde, where it will do the most damage. You leave the men with the small arms to mop up what's left after the heavy weapons and support weapons have done their work in leveling huge chunks of the horde (in ways that fulfill the magical brain kill scenario) and breaking the rest up into more manageable chunks to defeat in detail. This isn't revolutionary. In fact, it's actually at *least* older than WWI, with the Western Armies that went up against the Madhist Sudanese doing very little *but* spamming heavy weapons at Omdurman so that the piss-poor surviving fanatics (with their medieval weaponry) would be disoriented, weakened, and in clear range of the well trained, well equipped, *well supplied* men with the rifles. Yes, Yonkers is vastly bigger than anything the Madhists or even the powers of WWI or the Chinese in Korea could put into the field, but that is hardly an excuse. Particularly since they're also several times *less competent* than said enemies were, and the defenders were using inferior technology to what was deployed at Yonkers. There is absolutely no reason for anybody to not know about the chain swarms, since the humans have *absolute* aerial superiority, and basic recon would have revealed the shambling, unintelligent hordes stretching for miles. Also, Great Panic or not, the American logistical system is not going to go kersplat without a LOT more serious set of stressors. This thing was built to survive little trifling like waging global world wars and dealing with the Soviets trying to ape the Redcoats by sailing a huge fleet up into New York.
But...the military had no experience in fighting zombies. It just...didn't. That point was made pretty clear in the book when the whole "shock and awe" show of force fell flat. Your whole explanation of how or why the zombies shouldn't have won flies in the face of, again, what happened in the book. The strikes took down a lot of zombies, more showed up. Brooks made a pretty big point about that - the advanced military technology was great against targets that would stay dead, but against an undead hoard that is simply incapable of stopping? All that high technology is next to useless.
I don't know what point you're trying to prove here, but whatever it is it doesn't change the fact that all of the above is pretty much indefensible and stupid on both a meta and narrative level, and indefensible even in-universe.. Yes, Brooks emphasizes that. Brooks is also woefully ignorant in many ways. He has frequently dropped the ball on a *number* of times on military basics, not the least of which being the effects of shrapnel being able to mimic a headshot (in the sense that *the zombie's head gets mulched*) quite reliably. It completely forgoes how even PR Ops in the military work, and the officers and grunts in charge have absolutely no reason whatsoever to conclude that the job was done quickly if they had sent even one chopper up ahead to see the chain swarm.
Did you conveniently forget the lines that suggested that the grunts knew exactly how moronic and dumb the entire operation was handled? I don't know what point you're trying to prove here.
The point is that the grunts knowing how moronic and dumb the entire operation was does not actually *justify* the moronic and dumb writing of said operation. The criticism of Yonkers stands, for it involves the author willfully abusing at least a century and a half of military doctrine in order to prove a sloppy partisan point. That does not serve as a valid, in-universe reason for the military collectively dropping the ball at Yonkers. The only reason the grunts have a reason to complain is because the battle was staged *to give them* a reason to complain. There is no valid in-universe reason for the monumental failure of Aerial Recon *and* logistics *and* basic defensive doctrine *and* magical inept candy shell artillery *and* military organization *and* human nature. One or two might be excusable, but all of the above leaves no possible explanation beyond severe ignorance of the military on the writer's part, because the reasons given in-book contradict each other multiple times, and don't stand up to much scrutiny at all.
Wait, your argument is that what should have happened in the book doesn't make sense becasue it didn't happen in the book? We've discussed this before, shock and awe isn't shocking the enemy you're facing, it's about shocking the guys who heard about that massive gun that wiped out entire battalions of their soldiers.
To further deal with this, it's simply not true. Anti-Zack special operations was in gear for quite some time, and were by all accounts quite effective. The term "briefing" should have come up, with the veterans of the previous engagements and the data they provided being relayed in general. This would not have necessarily eliminated all the psychological problems for a unit facing them when they hadn't ever before, but it would have eliminated any reason for lack of information about the enemy. Furthermore, just because yourself, Brooks, and the Book do not have any inkling about Shock and Awe or the force multipliers of modern technology does not mean that said ignorance becomes a justification. Take a bloody look at Omdurman; for all Brooks's love for shuffling modern soldiers into 18th/19th century block formations, it's painful to know he has very little idea how that actually *worked.*
The special-operations guys were apparently ignored. It's easy to miss, but one of said operators mentions that his report had been more or less round-filed, and he had been black-balled and said to have been exposed to "unknown chemical agents." It's also mentioned that nobody was sharing intelligence with anyone due to turf wars. The lack of knowledge still doesn't make sense with how ingrained zombies are in pop culture, but it's a little less horrendous than it seems.
It doesn't matter that the military was under-supplied and unprepared. By all rights the first wave of zombies should have been blown to smithereens, and the resulting wall of bodies causing a massive pileup preventing the rest of the zombies from advancing further. The zombie virus is one big example of Artistic License - Biology and Artistic License - Physics.
Except that the first wave of zombies was more or less pulverized by the bombardment (no bodies to form a barrier), and the other zombies can crawl over the corpses. That's actually what they did do later in the book, when Wainio describes how they destroyed a zombie swarm in formation - the zombies formed a giant "wall" of corpses.
Firstly, accepting that the virus makes no sense is one of the first things you need to do in a book about zombies. Secondly, the bodies would only form a massive pile up of bodies if there was about 100% efficiency (as in the Battle of Hope) and no zombies got through the lines. Apart from the fact that stuff like the balloon effect or SNT doesn't effect zombies, once zombies hit the main line everything goes to shit.
Plus, the first wave was blown to smithereens. That's why they initially thought it was a success. The point is that simply that the zombies kept coming anyway; the 'wall of bodies' contained zombies who were only 'injured' (i.e. didn't receive a necessary wound to the head) and so could keep coming, thus creating holes that enabled others to break through, and the zombies weren't deterred from coming through anyway because they can't be deterred.
Except the very idea that they thought it was a success would have required them to have a level of competence far less than the average RUSE player. By virtue of not using some of the most important advantages available to them: namely *yo quiero ABSOLUTE AERIAL SUPERIORITY* that would allow air support and air recon (and things like satellites) to pop in and check on things no matter what. Which would have immediately revealed things like the Chaim Swarms *days* if not weeks/months before the preparation for Yonkers, and which renders most of the usual justifications used for it absolutely indefensible. It matters not a damn bit about lack of deterrence, if anything the lack of deterrence would be a godsend to humanity simply because the Zombies lack the survival instinct that makes humans difficult to kill, and would allow a decisive battle of annihilation if and when the resources are properly used. The history of the Japanese military in World War Two and that of the Madhists in the Sudan War are particularly good indicators of this.
In artillery warfare, you don't shoot one salvo at an enemy you have line-of-sight on. Hell, watch a large-scale war movie, especially older ones. You will hear the phrase "We're getting pounded by artillery out here, Sir!" Artillery is based on being 20 miles away, blasting at the enemy with salvo after salvo after salvo. There is no "wall of bodies" formed, just a field of body parts and blood. You think getting liquefied (at worst) or being shredded with shrapnel (at best) magically leaves your head intact? you think just because, by some miracle, they avoided getting that magical head shot that the rest of them could keep coming? And just because you added italics to your phrases about how zombies can't be stopped by the evils of modern warfare for extra drama doesn't make them any more true. Pay Attention— This applies to the arguments by many of Brooks' Fan Dumb against Shock & Awe— "Shock & Awe" doesn't mean "Shocking and Aweing the guys getting shot at", it means "Shocking and Aweing the guys who heard the next day that a few battalions of fellow soldiers got flattened by a big shiny 'splodey thing the other side just got."
It's literally been mentioned several times, but I'll repeat it - they didn't know about the chain swarms. That's why they wasted what heavy artillery and tank fire they had on the first couple of waves. It has nothing to do with "artillery being aimed only at line of sight targets", and everything to do with a miscalculation of how many enemies were going to show up to the battle.
Then why didn't they expect a LOT of zombies? Recon? Planes? ANYTHING?
This. There is no excuse whatsoever for not knowing about the chain swarms. NONE. ABSOLUTELY NONE. This is why Yonkers is insane on the face of it; there is no way in hell that any competent artilleryman since the invention of the modern, beyond-eyesight practice would have resorted to the bombardment of the weaker initial waves when there's an enormous, snaking, tightly packed force of millions behind it that would be far more effective. And why the very deployment of the MRLS would *mandate* FO that would detect the chain swarm coming out of NYC which would immediately result in the arty being deployed there save to prevent the overrun of a unit. Again, the idea that the military would run out of munitions is bumpkiss without further explanations, by dint of studying lovely things like actual stressors the US- and most sWestern and even modern— logistical systems are built to cope with.
Cloud cover making aerial recon impossible, with there being no good spots for ground-based recon. And the point of Chain swarms was that if one zombie saw something, it'd moan and move after it. The moan alerts every other zombie in earshot, who moan themselves and follow the initial zombie. The leadership just didn't think that every zombie in New York City would head to Yonkers, or how damn resilient zombies are to damage.
It was more than just cloud. This is important. Most of NYC was covered in clouds and smoke from burning cars, bodies, what have you. It's mentioned that the planet basically went into a miniature nuclear winter because the smoke from burning bodies blocked out the sun.
Except that we know they had aerial visuals on the oncoming million-Zack swarm, because that's exactly what the Land Warrior link showed the ground troops that turned a fracturing defensive line into a rout. We also know they had satellite visuals, because the Australian ISS astronaut specifically named Yonkers as one of the battles he and his crew got to watch via military sat feed.
Zombies aren't resilient, the weapons are depicted with incredible inaccuracy. And cloud cover? Really? 21st century here.
Hell, the first planes used for artillery spotting from the air? Piper Cubs. Against an enemy that has no anti-aircraft capability, you can do aerial recon literally with anything with wings. Including an entire category of things that can fly low and slow and beneath the cloud cover, unless you are talking about pea-soup fog that literally goes all the way down to the deck.
Cloud cover is no justification. It's only been a major historical problem for air forces due to one of the best ways to avoid enemy fire being to stay the hell *above* the problem while doing their jobs. Which cloud cover would naturally interfere with and make ineffective. There was never any magical problem coming in underneath my cloud cover for aerial technology, it's just that they were afraid of being detected and/or shot. On top of that, cloud cover's been slowly becoming more and more irrelevant as technology marches on, and even during WWII and *WWI* it was hardly an insurmountable barrier. Zombies have NO aerial or anti-aerial capabilities. Because of this, cloud cover is irrelevant; low altitude flyovers are absolutely invincible. What's more, Zombies even lack a preservation instinct that might remotely complicate things that might make a low flyover against actual sentient difficult (for instance, scattering into smaller groups, hiding, etc). There is no reason they would not have known about the Zombie swarm heading through to Yonkers well ahead of time if they bothered to use their known advantages. Furthermore, zombies are not that resilient. Outside of being capable of withstanding the pressures of the ocean floor and not being permanently killed save for head damage, they are still just tissues even if altered by Sol. We know this because of all the numerous ways zombies are successfully killed in the books. Some basic briefing from the Special Operations outfits and info sharing would have rendered their resilience to damage (such as it is) effectively moot.
All of the arguments about how "the US military knows nothing about zombies!" keep ignoring something. And not just the part where in the story, Special Operations Command was supposed to know a shit ton about fighting zombies. They also ignore the part where the military knows a whole hell of a lot about fighting human beings, and zombies are just like humans — except infinitely stupider and more limited. The only aspects where zombies are superior to humans is in immunity to fatigue and emotional stress, and somewhat greater resistance to physical damage of certain types, and all of the above is intuitively obvious to anyone who even hears the word "zombie", even in a world without zombie movies. Its not like its hard to figure out what a zombie is — its a pretty simple concept! And its not like 'how do we deal with a massive human wave attack from an enemy with unshakeable morale' is a scenario the US military has never encountered before, and that was from enemies who actually were able to shoot guns. (Banzai charges, anyone?)
RPG Net had this brief character sketch in a discussion thread that summed the whole thing up:
Captain of Marine Armor: "The enemy has absolutely no capacity for independent thought, tactical or strategic planning, they never take cover or camouflage themselves and can only fight hand to hand. They have no hand to hand weapons apart from teeth and fingernails. They have no vehicles of any kind and they can only move as fast as a human can run. Sometimes."
Tank crew: "Fuck, sir, we'll be back in time for lunch."
There's a famous moment in the book where a housewife rips a zombie's head off with her bare hands. Pretty sure their bodies don't have a magical resilience to anything but a hammer or bullet to the skull. If anything, the artillery strikes would have had a LONGER lethal range than expected against them, as their decomposed bones and decaying flesh would have been pulverized by the pressure alone.
Said housewife says she's absolutely certain her kids were making 'you ripped its head off' up.
She also says she's not sure what happened, and people in stress situations can do incredible things. Such as kill someone and blank it out.
Which is strange, considering that they had highly effective anti-zombie black ops being performed, but ran out of time. Yet when Yonkers comes around, the same leadership completely loses all knowledge of zombies, such as how they're attracted to stimuli such as artillery fire and explosions? In fact, I'm pretty sure they explicitly mention satellite cover at some point. And aerial recon is perfectly plausible, considering that they explicitly have helicopters. And what does New York have quite a lot of? Why, helicopter landing pads on rooftops, most with securely locked doors! They can at least find a few that can support a military chopper. Zombies are only as resilient as they are due to author fiat (they can still be decapitated easily by melee weapon), not consistent physical properties.
It's noted that the reports were stuck in a desk someplace thanks to inter-departmental turf wars, and the operators themselves had been ignored because people just didn't want to accept the fact that holy shit there is a goddamn zombie apocalypse brewing. The Obstructive Bureaucrat at its finest. The problem is that while this is an explanation, its still not a good explanation. Its the sort of behavior that ends up deserving an entry in What an Idiot, which is why its being brought up in Headscratchers in the first place. If there were AZB Os, that means someone in the military or gov't had to have ordered and oversighted them. That means someone in the military has to have wanted them. Which means their reaction when they learn about the whole Yonkers thing is going to be "great! I have detailed intelligence on our foe. Want me to go get it? Or, if we can't get to it, how 'bout we find the operators and just ask them?" Or, heck, just call Israel. An Obstructive Bureaucrat who doesn't bother to learn anything about the enemy because he thinks he already knows it all is one thing. An Obstructive Bureaucrat who actively hangs up the phone on someone who is trying to help him for free is something else again. The last time this happened in actual warfare is when the Japanese lost Guadalcanal because the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy refused to even talk to each other for about six months, and they make everybody study that particular bit of military history in OCS precisely to lampshade 'This is what happens when interservice rivalry gets out of hand; don't fuck up like they did.'
Several parts of the book go into depth about America having just gone through a long brushfire war and a massive economic recession (where have I seen this before?) Its entirely possibly that more ammo than was supplied was deemed "wasteful" or some such nonsense. This also fits with the theory that the military wasn't expecting conventional tactics to be as useless as they were. However, the problem is that yet again the book entirely ignores actual military doctrine and recent military history, which is a recurring complaint. IRL, doctrine for a "brushfire war" is to carry more ammunition because you have to worry about the possibility of ambushes 24/7 and irregular opportunities for ammo resupply. Troops in Iraq typically carried an ammo load of approximately 250-300 rounds, and went nowhere — not even to the latrine — without an absolute minimum of 30 each for their pistol and rifle. Over the past decade the US Military expended approximately 250,000 rounds for every insurgent killed (source). The core philosophy of US military logistics, particularly for combat essentials such as ammunition, can be summed up in one sentence: "Only Too Much Is Enough".
It got so much Dan Browned is not even funny: The resistance of human body to the Shock and Awe weaponry (answer: is not much), handwave the rest of the armament in existence, the effect of heat and cold in meat, metabolism and mobility in dead bodies, The overuse of incompetent government (Chinese government in real life while somewhat fascist, actually had a competent internal military and there are more competent Generals than those show in the book in the U.S) and this troper been a psychologist can tell that the way of the use of Moral Damage, the reaction to danger from civilians and its ramifications is pure crab. Doing Handwave and making some Bittersweet Ending is not a Deconstruction.
Acceptable Breaks from Reality. Everything you just described is present in every large-scale zombie story in existence. Zombies do take damage from shock and awe weaponry, just not on an effective scale considering the size of the hordes, if you're honestly complaining about the effects of heat and cold on dead bodies than the Zombie genre is not for you, China wasn't incompetent at all (they managed to fool the entire world into thinking the zombie outbreak was just rumours and that they were planning something completely different), and I'll take your word for it, but last time I checked Max Brooks made no claim to 100% psychological accuracy, or in fact 100% accuracy in anything. First and foremost, this is a work of fiction, and while he did do a lot of research for the book, a good story teller knows not to let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Consistent use doesn't make something any less inaccurate, especially when the plot relies on it. Just saying.
Furthermore, I'd beg to differ on a couple parts. One of which being that it is an ''Acceptable' break from reality, given that it violates the most important tenant of "serious" fiction by shredding the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. The second being that it's present in all zombie fiction. It's not. There are exceptions, and while in general zombie fiction relies on a fair bit of handwavium this is not always the case. Pace Dead Space.
Yes, but the entire genre of zombie stories relies on it. It'd be like complaining about Science Fiction stories not being 100% scientifically accurate.
Shaun of the Dead had people act logically in response to zombies. The whole thing was basically over in about a day or two. The military just shows up and shoots the zombies. The fact that the entire genre relies on it also does not excuse it. Brooks requires people to act in entirely improbable fashion even when not under the influence of panic. You cannot look at the news reports sensationalizing bird flu or the economic crisis and then say that the mainstream news would voluntarily suppress reports about the living dead. The book becomes full of holes once you look at it with any sort of objective critical eye.
Exactly. That, and as we've shown, the entire genre does *not* rely on it. Again, Dead Space comes to mind. So does Timesplitters, and a lot of the Voudon derived Zombie Apocalyptic works.
The human body is not very resistant to Shock and awe weaponry, but I'd say the human skull is. And against Romero-style zombies, it does not matter how much you electrify, gas or burn them, you need to damage the brain.
The skull is no more resistant to shock and awe weaponry than anything else. It can transfer pressure waves into the brain, and in extreme cases, be shredded into shrapnel that grinds the brain to paste. This is with a human skull, not even a decomposing, rotting, brittle-ly dehydrated skull.
Zombie cliche #2501, a zombie's brain can function through injuries that would kill a normal human. So long as it exists the zombie lives. Unscientific, but again if you're complaining about scientific facts zombies can not exist at all. It is biologically impossible.
And again, you'd have a point, if Brooks weren't so insistent on claiming the realism gambit. You're claiming zombies don't have to be realistic, he's claiming his zombie story is realistic, so who's right? You, in which case you know better than the guy that wrote the book, or him, in which case he's wrong?" Details, please.
Realism, to be fair, doesn't necessarily have to mean "absolutely and unarguably real in all respects" — if it did, then Brooks wouldn't be able to write his story in the first place, because zombies are fundamentally unrealistic. It simply means "attempting to represent and portray something in as 'real' a fashion as possible." In this case, it means portraying the zombies as the result of a virus, not, say, a voodoo curse or the result of Hell being full. They're still fundamentally unrealistic, but the point of the story is to take this unrealistic element, frame it in recognizably 'real' terms and put it in a real-world setting to see what would happen. At some point, Willing Suspension of Disbelief still has to take over.
Moreover, Brooks at least has his characters acknowledge the weirdness that is a zombie. There are several instances in the book where POV characters wonder why the zombies haven't been destroyed by freezing-and-thawing cycles or crushed by deep sea pressure.
The basic problem the story has is that the author claims to be aiming for realism in a Zombie Apocalypse story, something not at all impossible. The problem is that what we actually get is extremely unrealistic even compared to other zombie stories. There's a difference between "taking something that doesn't exist, trying to portray it how it would exist in our world and possibly taking some Acceptable Breaks from Reality," and what this story actually does, which is more like "make shit up to make the zombies as dangerous as possible and then claim realism." There is nothing realistic about these zombies, even by zombie standards. The entirety of their tissue being lethally toxic to everything that lives? Being able to walk around on the rapid current, crushing pressure that is ocean floor like it's a clear Spring day? Being unaffected by weather, including being frozen solid or not being practically melted by desert heat? Never rotting or decaying? The only things that were left out were the ability to fly and shoot lasers from their eyes, because they'd be about as realistic as any of those things, even in the context of giving them to zombies.
Which would be a lot more forgivable if it didn't entail underestimating how modern weaponry *works.* Which would even be more forgivable if the "solution" to the brilliant problem didn't involve moronically aping Smoothbore era armies while ignoring the fact that they used it out of *Technological Necessity* rather than desire, and it leaves the force open to things like the fate of the Braddock or the Hicks Pasha expeditions (the latter done mainly using medieval weaponry, most of it melee) by virtue of being swarmed and eventually broken apart like the Habsburgs at Rocroi. It also ignores how even mass formation generals would have *preferred to fight* when they had the opportunity, as shown by Lord Kitchener's mowing down of the Islamist Sudanese at places like Omdurman.
"this troper been a Psichologist can tell that the way of the use of Moral Damage, the reaction to danger from civilians and its ramifications is pure crab." Details, please.
Has the OP really though about the sheer numbers of zombies? 8 million people live in NY. Even if only a quarter had become zombies, that's 2 million enemies that don't tire, don't scare, don't stop until their head or limbs are obliterated. And 2 mil is a ridiculously low estimate. Even if 500,000 are destroyed, you have 3 times that amount still coming, and they will crawl over almost any obstacle you are capable of building on short order. I don't care how effective these weapons are, there is not going to be enough ammo unless you've taken these numbers into account in advance, and even then...
But these are shambling type zombies, they shouldn't have the motor skills for that and unless the zombies allow them to ignore some basic biology the zombies would still die out from lacking basic nutrients especially since cannibalism isn't very effective and with that in mind the zombies are basically perpetual motion monsters
Except that's not true. Again, basic looking at the Madhist War or WWI or Korea would tell you the problems with this. Being able to crawl over almost any kind of obstacle is both true and irrelevant since that will only happen if you're daft enough to not offer resistance. The Anglo-Egyptians curbstomped the Madhists with a combination of superior quality forces and a defensive line made out of *biscuit cans.* Couple that with modern engineering being able to throw up fortified positions crazy fast (we're talking hours and days, not weeks or months) and you can create a fortified and eminently defensible area almost anywhere with some advance notice and resources. It would not be the Maginot Line, but it wouldn't have to be in order to wipe out Brooks zombies. Just a well constructed location with secure flanks, ability to resupply, clear firing venues, and enough men, equipment, and ammunition. The number of zombies only becomes a problem if A: your logistical umbilical cord somehow snaps, as shown by the huge amounts of firepower the average Western army is capable of throwing out in things like WWI or Korea, and B: you for *some* damn stupid reason wed yourself to one position, without keeping basics in mind like defense in depth or the ability to fire off your load, wipe out as many as possible, and then pack up and scram using your superior organization and mobility before the horde gets to you. Attrition will ultimately tell in your favor, and tell overwhelmingly.
The Zombie Survival Guide handwaves it with the way the virus works in that setting. Remember, just because it's slanted towards realism doesn't mean it has to be 100% realistic, since zombies are a medical impossibility.
Include all the other plot-contrivances, and we're not dealing with anything close to 100%. Not even 50%.
In the end, it seems that Brooks is trying to have it both ways: it's realistic except when it isn't, and when it isn't, it's for no reason except to enable the story he wants to tell.
And how many of those zombies are going to be, say, locked inside buildings they can't escape? Or just accidentally walk into a river? They move at below human walking speeds.
Even granting the absurd things required for a quarter of New York's population to become zombies in the first place: do you have any idea how large, unwieldy, and slow a mob made of 2 million people shuffling along would be? This isn't some stealth force that is going to take the military by surprise. There is no "not taking the numbers into account"- this is the most basic amount of reconnaissance failing to happen. Even a single zombie, moving at its fastest across flat terrain, would take an hour to travel from the point where you can see him with a pair of binoculars to the point where he's a threat to you. Also, no, they're not going to crawl over any obstacle, because they're stupid an uncoordinated. They're not going to be getting over a wall of concrete that's twice as high as they are.
In addition, if you have a horde of 2 million+ zombies concentrated in one place, then the odds of any survivors within that zone is nil. The usefulness of any structures left in that zone is nil. You have a gigantic cluster of targets, zero to worry about re: collateral damage, and no fear of retaliation in kind if you use WMDs.note The neutron bomb and the tactical nuclear warhead were originally invented for the purpose of destroying entire Soviet/Chinese army divisions at once rather than try to conventionally defend West Germany, South Korea, or wherever else vs. overwhelming odds. This idea was rapidly abandoned because people figured out that nuking the Russian army would rapidly lead to Russian ICBMs flying back the other way. But Zed obviously doesn't have a strategic nuclear deterrent capbility, nor does he have any allies who do. This sort of situation is what low-yield nuclear warheads were invented for. Stand upwind, push the button, toast the grid square, move on.
Brooks at one point lampshades some of the stupidity and insanities people do. When he was interviewing the indian businessmen who went to the "shipyard" to find a working vessel, he notes just how stupid the people were when they tried to actually set sail on the beached hulks rather than just pull up the ladders out of the zombies' reach. The Businessman then corrects him, saying that we can only see this with the benefit of hindsight; the people on those ships and in the other stories were terrified and irrational. In addition, Brook did lampshade the whole idiot-ball-ness of the situation; it's hinted that all of the errors basically lined up in the most horrible way possible (everything that could have went wrong that day did go wrong).
But the excuse of "People are irrational" only accounts for individuals who have not been trained for survival. Such people do not even have to be in the military, but anyone who's been prepped for a life or death situation will be making smarter and more rational choices. Sure, fear can throw the idiot ball at civilians (and politicians are civilians), but trained military personnel are not going to panic badly enough to avoid basic reconnaissance. Especially since zombies are no more dangerous than any other enemy we face naturally on this planet.
While your overall point is good and I have been one of the people ripping into Brooks for this, the idea that the military is somehow immune to panic or stupid decisions isn't true. There are painfully numerous cases where trained military personnel have panicked badly enough, not done the most basic research, not made rational choices, and what have you. Often inexplicably (like Braddock randomly dropping the highly effective skirmishing tactics he had used to screen his expedition just before they got hit). The problem is that things like Yonkers require everything and everybody to suffer from that at the exact same moment. There's a trope for that.
Exactly. There's 'people are not immune to stupidity' (and they aren't), but then there's also 'trained professionals can be reliably expected to remember at least the most basic skills of their profession'. Given how easy it would be to spot a large chain swarm of Zed with so much as basic naked-eye reconaissance, let alone anything technical, failure to do so is not a mistake in the category of "I forgot something complicated under stress", its a mistake in the category of "I forgot that you aim the muzzle towards the enemy, not my own face". Its just too fundamental a mistake to be believable for anyone except a completely untrained amateur; even a stupid professional is only stupid, not also ignorant.
Why would the Israelis take the chance to rescue the Palestinians; Even fighting a civil war against their OWN PEOPLE for them? That's the most implausible part of the book for me, especially when they could just let the Zombie Apocalypse wipe out their enemies for good.
When Israel sealed its borders and began constructing The Wall, the zombie outbreaks had only just started spreading. The near-collapse of human civilization in the Great Panic began about a year later in the following summer (they also state that the US administration didn't listen to the Israeli warning because it was an election year, so the report must have come out before November, which is when the US has elections). In that window of months to a year at the most, it seems Israel was concerned that if it simply sealed its borders and refused to take in Palestinians, surrounding Arab countries would immediately attack it in protest. Sealing their borders, but making a big point to let Palestinians in, seems to have been to try to convince the rest of the world that this really wasn't another step in the Arab-Israeli conflict. They also withdrew to pre-1967 borders so it wouldn't look like a land-grab (also pragmatically to shrink to a smaller and more defensible perimeter. As for the "every Palestinian outside the Wall is one more zombie" theory....Israel is located on the same landmass as India, China, and ultimately Europe. They're not Ireland or Cuba. They'd be facing hordes of zombies numbering in the hundreds of millions: if the Palestinians outside the wall got infected, it would be just a drop in the bucket. As for "they should kick out the Palestinians to remove their enemies"....their immediate concern, on a completely pragmatic level of Realpolitik, was that in the months before human civilization collapsed, its Arab neighbors would feel threatened by this quarantine and make an all-or-nothing invasion. And Israel kind of wasn't hoping that human civilization would start collapsing as quickly as possible; who knew how long they'd have to placate surrounding Arab countries? What if the plague was successfully contained? They were trying to avoid another round of wars because they wanted to focus on the zombie problem.
It's also strange that Israel must've told its biggest ally, the US, about the zombies, and the US laughed it off, apparently. And authorized anti-zombie black ops. Which is it, Brooks, did they take it seriously or not? If the threat was so dire, what's to stop some Senator or Congressman from announcing it publicly out of concern for safety?
Just because they ignored the report, doesn't mean that they could not later develop a zombie ops force when the gov't realizes the threat is actually real. It's not as if this happened in a week's time. The initial outbreak are happening over a 1 to 2 year period. By the time the zombie ops force was utilized, the threat was probably known at that point, so there would not be a need for a congressman to announce a zombie plague that everyone knew existed at that point.
This. Israel's bugbear has always been manpower and diplomacy. Even if the number of infested Palestinians/Lebanese that would have otherwise been zombified are just a drop in the bucket compared to the hordes that are ravaging greater Eurasia, that isn't much of a consolation when A: they're right next to Israel and Lebanon itself, B: Every additional zombie is a threat to all of humanity and would require thaaat much more cost to deal with, and C: even if it's just a drop in the bucket for the Zombies, it would be a MAJOR boost to Israeli manpower. Can you imagine the additional advantages available to Tel Aviv in the long siege if just a large fraction of the Palestinians or-say- their old allies from Lebanon fled into there? The only reason why the Israelis would seriously avoid doing this is to enact some sort of Final Solution on the Palestinians and the greater Middle East, which is something no major Israeli leader has seriously been interested in doing. Even ex- guerrillas like Moshe Dayan- who waved off being compared to Rhodesia's apartheid- ultimately stressed that they aren't that keen on being hypocrites of *that* magnitude. Furthermore, on a strictly pragmatic level, there's another reason why this is just a good idea for Israel. In doing this, they CAN have the zombie apocalypse wipe out their enemies for good..... The defense of the Israeli Wall is obviously going to center around Israel, while everything else can and will go to hell. Anybody who wants inside- and who thus presumably is at least willing to co-exist with the Little Satan- can get inside. While the vast majority of the die hard loonies would stay outside the wall. And get eaten by Zack. So the zombie apocalypse allows Israel the opportunity to eliminate its' enemies by *assimilating* them, so that when the Zombies recede the major institutions that have bothered them for so long are *gone.* All that's left is a hodgepodge Israel-Palestine-Lebanon-miscellaneous ME survivor commonwealth posed to straddle the Levant if not the Middle East. Under *Israeli* leadership. Now, ain't that a lot better than just letting Zach eat everybody?
I only listened to the audio book (unabridged unavailable, sadly), but there's a lot of talk of how hard it is to defend against zombies, with the Redekker plan and similar being portrayed as super important. What about a Big Wall? It seems like the simplest of medieval fortifications would thwart zombies with ease. A deep moat with some spikes in it, a pallisade, a wall more than 12 feet tall...? Do they try this in the full length book?
There's a chapter devoted to this in the regular book, about maintaining a castle. It does mention that castles generally tend to be good for keeping out zombies, as zombies can't climb walls, and that the real enemy was staying supplied, and keeping everyone alive from secondary threats. For example, one castle, falls when pneumonia breaks out among the defenders, killing them all, and another when the defenders accidentally detonate some explosives, blowing apart their wall.
Its sort of implied that as many if not more people died from starvation than from the actual zombies. In every town in the world, people would hide behind "big walls" or on rooftops....with no rescue party coming. You're safe in your castle...but the zombies control all the farmland. It was literally a siege, and the deciding factor in sieges is starvation. The chapter on European castles mentions this, and Todd Waino mentions that they encountered survivor enclaves which *didn't* fall to the zombies...they found nothing but human skeletons which had obviously been picked clean with knives, not eaten by zombies. Isreal *did* built a country-sized wall, around their farmland too, but that isn't something you can build in a hurry; they had to do it long in advance. Think of all those people in New Orleans, "just go somewhere high" — standing on rooftops for days and dehydrating to death.
One of the reasons why Zombie Survival Guide is considered a decent read before this; in that book it specifically mentions that Castles (the genuine articles at least, not tourist traps built in modern times) are the perfect zombie defense. However they also noted that Castles were designed to survive sieges from humans, who had to be supplied, took breaks and possibly consider the siege to be costing them way more than it's worth and just up and leave. Zombies had none of those drawbacks and on top of that could cause people to go insane from the 24/7 moaning (this is the same universe where people would lie down and die from hopelessness) meaning you either had to literally outlive the dead (which could range from a handful of years to several decades) or had to have rescue come for you. Brooks also notes that on top of those castles being rather rare nowadays, most of them are also crumbling due to being so old. There are also a few "Recorded Attacks" about how the people inside went insane and killed eachother, still having enough rations to last for years, due to madness from the moaning and isolation.
Why were the US newspapers so keen to make Phalanx seem effective? This troper is British, and maybe it's just English nature, but our newspapers are programmed to believe the worst of all pharmaceutical companies and I just find it so over the top that it would take all that time for someone to break the news.
One, the American news tends to keep to the party line. Two, ad revenue.
What party line? That's a gross generalization, and not really reflecting how American news actually works. Half the American news might support whoever's in charge, but the other half would be trying to paint them as Satan.
Any theory that assumes that (for example) MSNBC and Fox News will both be equally as invested in covering up for the goofs of the same Presidential administration at the same time is really, really, really asking for a lot in the suspension of disbelief department.
It was supposed to be satirical of Americans having short attention spans, the media being superficial, and the government being beheld to corporate interests (as well as short-sighted and looking for a quick fix). There's obviously some exaggeration involved, but I think you can chalk a lot of it up to a misunderstanding of the situation. We know that the Great Panic really got off in April, which is around the time through most of the continental US when it gets warm enough to stay above freezing temperatures. Since zombies freeze solid in freezing temperatures, it's not a stretch to imagine that zombie cases dropped heavily when the previous winter showed up, and the media incorrectly attributed that to Phalanx and its knock-off drugs.
So, wait, zombies were publicly attacking folks in large numbers, yet almost no one caught on or really called them zombies? That just raises even more questions.
Satire is funny "justification" in book that claims realism
Um, and? Satire and realism aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, a lot of the best satire is incredibly realistic.
Reality Ensues is a trope entirely about realism and satire, specifically how using the realistic consequences to satire another fiction trope. For example, there's an episode of family guy where Peter offhandedly blows up a children's hospital for a gag. At the end of the episode where Peter goes to claim his reward, he is instead arrested. His adventures did give him development, but at the end of the day he blew children up, children that existed in his world. It satirizes how some cartoons would do heinous things for gags and just forget about them when they become irrelevant to the plot at hand.
Why did China want to keep it a secret? Maybe this is obvious, but...this troper just can't get it.
Totalitarian governments are fanatical about secrets, especially those that make them look weak. Consider the Chernobyl disaster: The Soviet Union didn't reveal anything was amiss until they started picking up radiation in Sweden, several days later.
It's another satire of how China tried to keep an avian flu outbreak under wraps a few years back, and only made things worse.
More than avian flu, look up the Chinese government's history with AIDS/HIV, and you'll see a much darker picture more in line with Brooks' book.
Who do you suppose the in-universe author was symbolically killing in the separate chapter "Closure, LTD"? I suspect it was a parent (Brooks' in-universe alter ego would have been a child or teenager when the Zombie Pandemic first occurred), possibly the "mom" he mentions at the end of World War Z.
How did so many zombies actually come to be about? 200 million zombies are mentioned in America, but here's the problem: in order to be infected, one has to be bitten, escape, stay safe for 24 hours, and reanimate. I can accept that this disease is 100% infectious, no one is immune and it never simply kills the victim, but for that many zombies to form, this means that nearly everyone who was bitten had to get away, and stay safe for a day. They can't be killed by the other members of their party, if they have one. They can't commit suicide. They can't be found/caught by other zombies (not unlikely, since they're wounded) or simply stumbled upon and eaten while they are "dead" just before reanimation (zombies prefer fresh meat, they will still eat carrion). For 200 million zombies to form, this would have had to happen (taking into account the chaos, those who survived, etc— nearly 100% of the time.
The burn period varies. It could be as little as two hours.
In addition to that, The Zombie Survival Guide explains that zombies stop eating after the victim is infected, for the same reason that they don't eat other zombies. Also, Solanum does kill the victim. It just reanimates the corpse afterwards. To explain the lack of suicide and being killed by party members, you have to remember that infected individuals are most likely in denial.
Which still wouldn't stop people from constantly spot-checking members of their party. Think the testing scene in The Thing (1982). Also, couldn't an infected victim then be used for suicide runs until they turn, if zombies ignore them? Just hand them an assault rifle and a few mags, and have them walk around headshotting zacks at point blank? Give benefits to the loved ones of people who come forward as Very Special Forces. Once their heart stops beating, an explosive collar automatically detonates. You could even put a radio tag in the collar for reuse. Or just make them a squad, which each member killing the others as they turn. It's a Voodoo Shark; an attempt to patch a plot hole just creates another, larger plot hole.
No, they couldn't. At the absolute best, a victim might last a week or so, and even that is *very* generous and assuming a miniscule initial infection - maybe an only-just-infected skin graft, for example, like the surgeon early in the book mentions. Once the war starts and people start getting bitten, the infections and reanimations happen much, much quicker. There's just no time to put together Very Special Forces(which would involve the victims having to stop denying infection, come to terms with it, and come forward, which may well not be a quick process), equip them with explosive collars, transport them places, and have them kill zombies for maybe a few minutes or hours before turning. It would be a huge waste of resources, and a big risk to uninfected people involved in the process as well - what if someone reanimates, say, on the plane taking them to a drop-off? Or close to a populated area? It might work better with smaller groups of ordinary survivors, but you have to take into account people's sentimentality, ignorance of zombies' responses to infected victims, and the victims' denial - and anyway, maybe they wouldn't want to go on a suicide run.
If only there was some way of easily detecting the infected, like dogs, which Israel had already been using. Oh, wait. If the infected are going to be quarantined anyway, all you have to do is come to them and give them a choice. They say no, and remain locked up. They say yes, you give them a handgun, lower them outside the gates, and then give them ammo on a rolling cart. I'm not talking about long range, I'm talking about "right outside the gate", and anyone transporting an infectee without restraining them is an idiot. Even if they reanimate, even without boom collars, they've still killed dozens of zombies. I'm talking about after the great panic, when the infection is common knowledge. The biggest expense involved would be the gun; bullets are really, really cheap. Heck, you could put a cardboard box on a Radio Flyer and dump ammo in it. And if zacks don't attack the infected, aren't there going to be groups of people who were overshambled by the zombies with miraculous survivors, which get carefully examined for infection? How many people have to say "I had that already!" during the seven years between Yonkers and Hope before someone cottons on? Heck, if Brooks figured it out, couldn't someone else, especially if the ZSG was written before the outbreaks?
So you're giving a loaded weapon to someone who is nowhere near a good state of mind, you're proposing wasting time and effort on a rolling cart idea when you can barely keep your own infrastructure intact (bullets aren't that cheap when you don't have any of your modern arms factories pumping the bullets out), you already have perfectly fine people carrying out the clean-up efforts, and zombies only ignore the infected after they've died.
You can find carts at any hardware store or supermarket or toy store. You don't give the ammo to the person until they're outside your perimeter where they can't shoot you (like I said), America has shedloads of ammo (some cost pennies), and we've just established that according to the ZSG zacks ignore the infected. If that's true, my plan works. If it's not, zombies should be tearing even the infected apart, just like everyone else, meaning less zombies. Also, there are going to be lots of people who can accept that they're going to die without being in a "poor state of mind". Even if they decide to shoot themselves, you're just out a single bullet. The VSF could be organized by simply having a dedicated group of people to arrange things for the Volunteers, with as little paperwork for them as possible. If it's not a quick process, so what? They're locked in a box. If they turn, shoot 'em.
Why waste a gun? If the zombies won't attack them, give them an axe and say "have at ye". No ammo limit. No expensive bullets, just a poor soldier taking exploiting his last few hours of life in a video-game style God mode.
Some of those 200 million were probably refugees from Latin America or overseas, hoping the U.S. had a cure or at least the means to defend itself. Herds of zombies that followed such refugees from the south added to their numbers.
Why are The "Holy Russian Empire"'s soldiers described as fighting in a (and I quote) "brutal and sloppy" manner, engaging in the evils of using all the weapons at their disposal such as flamethrowers, tanks, and machine guns. It's one thing to subvert/avert Mother Russia Makes You Strong, it's another to make them into the subhuman brutes the Nazis thought they were, or make them cowardly enough to require decimation to keep them in line in the same conditions that other armies adapted well to. Not to mention that their weapons are described as being "crude" and had a massive tendancy to misfire. This troper can attest that Russian milsurp ammo and weapons are usually in quite good condition, mostly due to the annoying-as-shit-to-remove cosmoline they're caked in before storage (if the book had mentioned that the misfires were do to the fact that the soldiers didn't clean the cosmoline out, it'd be another story).
The Russian military's fight against the zombie is only sloppy when compared to other countries. Where America had the "One shot, one kill" doctrine, Russian soldiers did whatever it took to kill the zombies. Sloppy refers to the fact that the Russians couldn't afford to use such a policy and therefore wasted resources. As for the decimations, the problem wasn't that the Russian soldiers were cowards. The problem was that they had no loyalty to the Russian government, and were more interested in protecting their families, friends, and themselves. The decimations did nothing to increase the bravery of the Russian soldiers, but by tying the fates of the soldiers and the government, it kept them loyal. As for the misfiring, I would assume that that can be attributed to a biased viewpoint. While in the narrator's unit perhaps the weapons were improperly stored, or the soldiers removed the cosmoline improperly, it's possible that other units got along just fine.
Yea, Max's research, While good, is not perfect. Remember, he thought the modern M16 was basically the same thing as the vietnam era ones.
It makes not a whole lot of sense for the Russians to use WW 2-era weapons against zombies, since they have crazy amounts of Cold War-era semi-modern weapons. Especially with a relatively small number of survivors. As well as the whole inability to figure out how to fight zombies efficently.
Really, I think there's some justification to how the "Holy Russian Empire" behaves in-book, even if it's not the greatest. Russian Imperial doctrine makes a certain amount of sense, in large part because it's similar to the sort of vintage doctrine built up from experiences like Yser, Omdurman, Chosin, and Dien Bien Phu. It's just infinitely sloppier, less effective, and more costly than that ever was even under idiots like Cadorna. It certainly makes a hell of a lot more sense than relying strictly to the inane 18th century SIR tactics that would in reality get swarmed and wiped out by the zombies. It's just that when you really get down to it, the Russian military and government are *not* benevolent or benign. We know this precisely because of their prior records in waging modern wars on their home soil, as shown by WWI, the Russian Civil War, WWII, and the conflicts in Chechnya and the Caucasus. Totalitarian regimes (be they Absolutist Monarchies, Communist Dictatorships, Religious Theocracies, or some bastard hybrid or other type) generate deadweight democide in situations like that, and they do it by the boatload. Couple that with the fact that Russian weapons production generally *do* tend to use secondhand or obsolete weapons (check out the vintage weaponry in Cryostasis for a support unit in the 1960's or 80's, which is actually quite accurate for what Russian military doctrine uses), and the fact that Russian doctrine tends to value mass levying and undervalue emergency conscript training. The problems are more or less threefold. First comes from the fact that Brooks has such a skewed view of tactics that he thinks infantry blocks are a *good* idea against hordes of melee combatants that can hit you from any side (when in fact they are not) and thus is liable to skewer the frankly reasonable if probably more inefficient (but not necessarily *ineffective*) and brutal than need be tactics. Secondly, we have the fact that the Imperial military would in fact be (sensibly) levying huge amounts of manpower to make up for the material problems they run into in terms of supply and production, which would easily see a lot of the reserve weaponry (like the WWII vintage) that they *actually* have being pressed into service. There's no reason not to; a (wo)man with a gun- ANY gun- is better than one without, and it's not like they'd suffer a disadvantage like they would against the West or WWII Axis for doing so (since the enemy are non-sentient, slow, stupid zombies). Finally, *on top of* that, we have fact that Russian governments tend not to be very benign towards anybody, their own people and foreigners included. There's no reason to believe the Imperial regime would be *more* benign than Putin's with the world going to hell, especially if he's actually Tsar, and the resulting measures to retain power and solidify the situation would be horrible by *anybody's* standards, especially since they're well beyond anything that can probably be justified legitimately. Which- need I say- would harm nobody more than the common Russian themselves. Think less echoing Nazi propaganda about the Russian people being subhuman brutes, and more echoing the Nazi propaganda about the Russian REGIMES(S) being subhuman brutes. Which-if I may be so bold- is actually accurate even if it is a massive case of the Pot Calling the Kettle Black.
The government needing to tie their fate to that of the soldiers is not at all a good explanation for the decimation policy, since their fate is already tied together - they're all interested in not being eaten by Zombies. So the implication of the Russians needing brutal decimations, while other nations' soldiers know what is at stake and are prepared to fight, is that either the Russians are utter cowards or as undisciplined and self-interested to the extent that they don't care what happens to their nation, as long as they can save themselves. Which isn't that far from the Nazi opinion of the Russians, especially when coupled with the stereotypical absurd exaggeration of the Russian government's brutality and aggression (taking measures that would appall Stalin or planning on expanding after Russia has lost most of its population). And of course the US army is not faced with massed desertion and mutinies when they decide to abandon most of the country, despite many of their soldiers having joined the army for similar reasons as the Russians. Even China is apparently able to send human waves of conscripts for some time without needing to carry out mass executions.
It's been a while since I've read the book, but regarding the decimations I think something might need clarifying. They aren't there to tie the Russian people to survival, it's to tie the Russian people to the regime. Russian people- like everybody else on the planet- have a vested interest in eliminating the zombies, staying alive, and rebuilding. The problem from the perspective of the Holy Russian Empire is that none of this necessarily involves them being around to rule over the ashes, since not only does wanting to continue living not necessarily mean they will gladly support the regime afterwards, the same drive to survive the zombies would likely lead many of them to trying to get out form under the thumb of the oppressive, totalitarian theocracy and start anew like the Cossacks. This might cause some damage to the war against the zombies because of troop desertion from the most effective force anywhere near the neighborhood, but it would cause far more serious damage to the Holy Russian Empire with countless people- most of whom have survival skills and some level of armament- either lashing out against it or moving elsewhere to set up parallel powers. They had already seen an abundant case study of that in the South when China rebelled against its' government during the apocalypse, so they already know what can happen. In the worst case the Imperial regime believes that if people are allowed to do that it will break the united front and allow the zombies to devour them all, in the best case scenario they will still win the war but they will no longer be the ones with the power. So the decimation are not only- or even primarily- meant to keep morale and discipline up, they're meant to solidify the Tsar's death grip over the people.
And of course there is no reason to expect Putin's regime to be more benign during an apocalyptic Zombie war than during peacetime, but there is also no reason to believe that of the US government. But apparently the basic structure of US society is intact, elections are held, the death penalty is barely used (again, desertion is apparently not a problem) and militant theocrats don't gain influence (much more likely in the US than the far less religious Russia). All in all, it's obvious that the author didn't let logic and reason interfere in punishing the countries he disliked, while being generous toa those he liked.
First and foremost, I share your opinion of the author's favoritism and I don't mean to defend it. Any doubts that he was letting logic, reason, or basic common sense get in the way of that went by the wayside when we got his treatment of Fidel Castro the modernizing liberal. However, I think that the issues you are specifically pointing at have actual justifications, even if they are in spite of Brooks rather than because him. You are right that we also have no reason to believe that the US would behave better in the middle of a zombie apocalypse than it is now, but there is a difference between the US Government now (in all its' screwy wonder) and Putin's government now. The former has a lot more room to fall before hitting the same lows. This is especially since there has been extremely extensive contingency planning and installments to do exactly what you said: keep the basic functions of American society and government intact and working during a crisis. The fact that they succeeded in the US and not Russia isn't in and of itself godmoddy (even though plenty of other stuff in the book is): it's those contingencies and the dedication underpinning them slipping a bit but holding while in Russia that lack of care or dedication allows- say- Putin or whoever the Tsar is to make a power grab in the chaos to basically turn things back into medieval Muscovy. Finally, the idea that "militant theocrats gaining influence" is "much more likely in the US than the far less religious Russia" is a Critical Research Failure that manages to overlook the historical role of the Russian Orthodox Church, especially recently under Putin. Even if militant theocrats in the US could overcome all other obstacles (which is a big if) to gain power they would still have to fight ad kill each other over what kind of theocracy they want first. Or wind up with something like The Republic of Gilead, which nicely illustrates how a "compromise theocracy" would be a dysfunctional and probably short-lived mess. Whereas in Russia having the church seize power or be co-opted by ambitious forces in the government is far, far easier. Especially since there is one overwhelmingly large church and it already has a lengthy history of being a handmaiden to totalitarian government. Whether this is a case of Brooks actually doing his research and not letting his biases override it, or him being Accidentally Accurate is something I don't pretend to know so you'd have to judge for yourself, but it made sense to me and I'm not exactly an apologist for him.
In all honesty, the Russian version would actually be more effective against a swarm in the open or coming through a bottleneck then the American variant. Got a chain-swarm coming towards you? A rolling barrage of heavy artillery, thousands of guns lined up wheel to wheel, will tear it to shreds inside of an hour. Thats how I justify it: the Russian method actually worked pretty damn well in the open, it was in the cities that things got tricky.
Except that's actually more or less a Western invention. Compare/contrast the performance of the Western Allies to the *first* "Holy Russian Empire" in WWI. But agreed. It certainly makes a hell of a lot more sense than fighting in tight formations that are liable to get everybody obliterated ala Braddock.
It's stated that, as a Reserve unit, that unit (and others like it) drew the incredibly short stick and were stuck with guns and ammo, left in terrible conditions, from World War 2. The Spetsnaz unit and other battles implies that they did field perfectly modern weapons, just not perfectly modern tactics. (Also, the Holy Russian Empire didn't appear until after.)
Is anyone else having a serious case of Fridge Horror after reading the book or listening to the audio version? Humanity more or less survived and beat back waves of the undead and reclaimed the planet for itself, but the damage to the ecosystem has been done. Widespread pollution has changed the seasons, heavily polluted the atmosphere and certainly the bodies of water, and that's just the man-made damage. Take into account that there are countless numbers of zombies in any sizable body of water, doing nothing but slowly decaying away. Max Brooks made it painfully clear that the solanum virus is toxic no matter how minute the dosage is and the virus seems to remain active for extended periods of time. That means sooner or later the zombies are gonna be disintegrated and their solanum contaminated flesh is going to spread throughout the rivers and the oceans and whatever fish are still presented will be dead. The various oceans are going to become toxic graveyards, the ecosystem is going to be decimated even worse than before, and it's just a matter of time before the planet can no longer support any form of human life. Humanity might've won the battle against the zombies, but that's about all they won.
That's the point.
Yeah, this is made explicit in one of the last interviews. "Tell it to the whales."
How are zombies such a surprise? It's made clear in the zombie survival guide that zombie outbreaks have been happening since Ancient Egypt, and were still going on through to the 1980s. If there was already recorded proof that the walking dead existed, the zombies shouldn't have come out of the blue like that.
WWZ and the survival guide take something of a Broad Strokes relationship with one another.
The ZSG also notes that most of the zombie outbreaks were not recognized as such after the fact. The one in the Caribbean was thought to be a slave revolt and the one in South Central a gang war, for example. And the true cause was lost to history.
Where the hell did all the zombies come from at the beginning? Within like 15 minutes they went from stuck-in-trafic to "We have lost Boston." Did the zombies just teleport into the entire US Eastern Seaboard?
Did that garbage truck have a teleporter? The long shot of the police motorcycle driving up to Gerry's car before he gets creamed shows the entire gridlocked street for maybe 100 yards all the way to the T-intersection, and there's not a single garbage truck plowing through the cars hard enough to clear a path for an SUV. But less than 10 seconds after the shot cuts, the truck is now here and smashing through everything in its path. It was also 100% silent until it hit the cop, at which point it made all the noise expected of a giant truck crashing through gridlock for hundreds of yards. The only possible explanation is that a wormhole opened directly behind the police officer and deposited a truck from another dimension.
There's a trope for this: Surprise Vehicle. (I just added it to the page after seeing the movie last night, I was surprised it wasn't added already.)
well now we know where that Garbage truck Transformer from Dark of The Moon vanished to....
A minor example, but why the heck did a Welsh WHO laboratory have a baseball bat? Nevermind the presence of sports equipment at a research facility, but unless the Welsh have recently taken up America's pastime, that thing had no business being there.
It was just one bat, and so could be there for any number of reasons. Maybe one of the researchers was from America or was just a fan of baseball and had it hanging on his office wall or something.
Baseball is not completely alien to and unheard of in the United Kingdom; it's just a lot less popular.
On that note above, the axe Gery was using is a wood splitting type, indicated by the protrusions on the side. This makes for an effective tool for making firewood, but why would it be stored inside the WHO? It serves no purpose as a fire axe, making it even more confusing why it's present and painted red.
Why did Brad Pitt's family flee Philadelphia for Newark? Newark isn't particularly close to Philly, there are far more rural areas in between that you can easily access from 95 (meaning fewer zombies and competition for supplies), and Newark is a city with high crime rates, meaning if the zombies don't get you, the other humans will.
So the hobo near the beginning was...a hobo, so the zombies don't touch him cause he has probably twelve different kinds of sickness. Fair enough. The sickly kid probably had some sort of cancer or leukemia. Also fair. The old dude still in Jerusalem was...old. And maybe sick, hard to see the difference tough. The soldier with the bad leg...had a bad leg. Apparently the Zack were really looking for the cream of the crop. I wouldn't surprise to hear they didn't eat the fatsos, that they steer the heck away from anything looking like an hospital or a retirement house, and that in a bit of black humor, country like Somalia were the safest place ever to get away from the choosy zombie threat. Seriously, what did the zekes had against the otherwise fit US marines with a bad leg, it was not under any circumstance, except open combat, presented as a life threatening problem.
Actually, and this is a guess because I agree he did seem a bit out of place, but I recall the soldier saying something like "It's been burning me all week." And it struck me as an odd phrasing. Maybe he'd injured the leg and actually had a really bad infection from it, which would burn, and the zombies could sense that rather than just the injury itself.
For all we know, that guy was suffering from early-stage bone cancer, and the discomfort was just the earliest symptom he'd noticed.
What happened to the infected at the WHO center? Sure, they've discovered a way to camouflage themselves from the zombies but surely they need a way to clean things up.
The surviving WHO staff presumably locked them inside again after Gerry came out. Zombies that are safely confined wouldn't be a high priority to eliminate, and the lab was already trashed, so reclaiming its facilities isn't going to contribute much to developing the "camouflage" inoculations; the lab Zacks can be dealt with later.
One can assume that they inoculated themselves with some of the virus' carried back by Gerry, allowing them to walk in safely and bash the zombie's skulls in, reclaiming the lab.
When they entered B-wing, they've crossed a cafeteria when the outbreak occurred. It looked like the place was sealed up for some time but the food looked like it was still fresh, rather than rotting.
What makes you think they didn't seal it up yesterday?
So it's speculated that the zombies don't attack the ill because they're not very good at spreading the virus. Why? They die, get up and chase after people like everybody else. Hell, you could argue that they'll die even faster because of their illnesses and thus are faster to get back up and go.
This troper has a LOT of issues with how the movie zombies work. These are supposed to be dead zombies, right? Not like the Rage zombies, who are really alive. But the time from receiving a bite to being a dead zombie biting other people is supposed to be 12 seconds? And (this is another plot point) it has to be a bite. Getting zombie blood on you won't turn you. And the zombies only seek 'healthy' hosts - but when you're killing your victim and raising them as a zombie, why do they need to be in perfect condition first? Sure, a one-legged zombie would have trouble hunting, but a zombie with leukemia? Why wouldn't that work? In this troper's opinion, the only way these zombies make sense is if it's not a virus, but instead some kind of necromancy/voodoo thing going on.
I'm entirely unclear why the above troper thinks that a virus, of all things, is picking its victims with reason and logic. Sick people, perhaps with terminal illnesses, might give off a certain smell or something that the zombies will ignore. Also, why it has to be a bite: Human skin blocks diseases. Including nasty stuff like AIDS. You can have a full-blow AIDS person bleed all over you, and as long as your skin doesn't have an open sore, you'll be fine. The virus presumably must transmit from saliva to bloodstream. Lastly, while 12 seconds is ridiculously fast, there are hints that it's a mutating virus. The first few victims in Korea, and the doctor, didn't seem to start acting up for days. The soldiers there said it took hours. The fast-reproducing virus was the one that... well, reproduced the fastest, and ended up being the one that actually caused the super-pandemic after the "slow" variants were already spread by airplane across the globe.
Speaking of HIV, what the hell does the zombie virus do about people who have a terminal illness or another disease with a long latency period but are presently asymptomatic? Like someone with HIV who takes their medication and is as far as anyone can tell a perfectly healthy individual. Or someone with an early stage cancer who doesn't even know they're sick? What about someone in remission? Scratch that, what about someone with a benign tumour? Hell, what about even something as simple as goddamn chicken pox? If you've had it, you still have it, but your immune system keeps it at bay indefinitely. Let's face it, this particular zombie strain is an utter wallbanger.
Additionally, How It Should Have Ended points out that wouldn't they notice sick people aren't being attacked, for instance hospital wards?
They mention at the end that they've developed a neutered version of meningitis, which would imply that those inoculated with it are technically infected but won't die.
Or they're possibly pulling a similar gambit to that of the Grey Wardens in Dragon Age? By deliberately infecting themselves with a deadly virus that will kill them eventually, they can ensure their ability to combat the horde "safely", without fear of being hunted and with low risk of infection due to being Beneath Notice to their enemy. They can now totally focus on wiping out the zombies in the present, whilst giving the scientists enough time to figure out a way to find a cure?
You guys don't get it. These are not the "Undead rotting corpse" kind of zombie but a "Mutated Virus/parasite" Zombie, and like any virus, they need a LIVING Healthy Host, which is why they ignore most of the unhealthy guys(though HOW the zombies know that is a mystery). My belief is that they infect themselves with a virus that is fatal-but curable long enough for them to take out the virus. In fact it is shown in the ending that the military over the world are pretty much killing zombies. Its just that they have to find a way to stop infection from spreading and to root out the smaller groups of zombies that are hiding in urban areas(which can be done by getting a couple of infected soldiers with machine guns)
Except nowhere in the film says the above is the case. Really, the problem with the film is that it never makes clear what's going on with them, seeming to switch between Rage Virus or Undead from scene to scene? Really, it would have made more sense to say they are not dead, but simply infected with a virus that causes rapid necrosis, making them appear dead.
It actually make sense, remember the setting is presumebly set in the real world where zombies,are just the stuff of science fiction, and then a zombie apocalypse,which was considered impossible, just hit. The main characters have no idea what hit them or what it was as they never seen a real-life zombie. Heck it actually shows a scene where a bunch of scientist are trying to understand what is happening. All they know is that it spreads incredibly fast and they look like dead people.
Nobody's guarding the most important wall in the nation
So Jerusalem has a huge wall that keeps the zombies out. And everyone can see that this is really important, because zombies are taking over the world. The zombies start rushing the wall in a human-anthill formation because people are singing on the other side. Does no one notice this? Is there no one looking over the side of the wall, or monitoring the area with helicopters? This wall is the only thing protecting your entire nation from the apocalypse; you should keep a look out! As soon as that anthill starts forming, there should be soldiers firing assault rifles and dropping grenades. And somebody should go tell the singing people to shut up! Shoot their speaker system if you have to. In fact, shouldn't there already be rules in place against making noise near the wall? Everyone knows that the zombies are attracted to loud noises.
We only see the part of the wall that was breeched. Considering how long the wall must be (surrounding the entire nation!) they likely had a shortage of manpower or materials to set up proper outposts. Also, helicopters don't fly without fuel, and with most foreign imports cut off, you'd want to be careful to not burn through your fuel stockpiles too quickly.
For example, the U.S. can barely patrol its Mexican border( 3,145 km/1,954 mi) even with a population of 300,000,000. Israel has a border of about 1,017km, but only 8,012,400 people. Even with the smaller border (plus the much higher priority of keeping the zombies out) thatís still a crapload of territory to patrol
But USA patrols its wall against individuals or small groups of living, thinking, cunning people. How could they possibly NOT see a huge mass of mindless bodies piling up against the wall? They weren't entirely prepared, fine, but seems they were completely unaware of the problem until it began to spill over the wall.
The design of the wall also utterly fails to take into account the possibility that the zombies might be able to figure out how to scale the structure. There's a reason that throughout the centuries, castles and forts were often surrounded by moats and cheval de frise to prevent enemies from getting close enough for this to happen! Considering the entire project was implemented as a result of outside-of-the-box thinking and planning for worst case scenarios, this comes across as even more of an oversight!
Remember, the entire plague hit the world so quickly that almost every nation across the world was blindsided. Israel did act faster than any other nation, but walls like that donít just spring out of the ground. The logistics, labor, and resources required must have been staggering. They likely planned to build a moat, but they werenít able to construct it fast enough with zombies nipping at their heels. For all we know, they DID build a moat in some areas, just not that segment.
An extra barrier wouldnít have stopped them anyway. If they had the numbers to swarm over a 100ft wall, even a large pit or moat would have only been a speed-bump.
A horizontal shelf projecting several yards outward from the wall's top, with spyholes to observe the herds beneath and portholes to drop incendiary devices on them, could've stopped the ant-piles cold, however, and given the defenders a head start in wiping them out.
Speaking of the wall ... so the zombies make an (in)human ladder to scale it. They then fling themselves over the top to get at the humans inside Israel. How, exactly, are any of them intact enough to bite anything following a 100-foot drop onto concrete when they're basically leaping face-first off the top? I could see a few surviving the impact with enough intact pieces to still be dangerous, but the entire nation is INSTANTLY overrun. We could even see the fences, armed and supplied soldiers and checkpoints inside the wall where people were being processed! How did that entire system collapse in five minutes?
It technically wasn't the whole country, just Jerusalem that was overrun. The system collapsed because a ton of zombies got through while a massive number of refugees were still in the space between the city proper and the wall. Using the 1967 borders there's going to be a nice choke point to contain the breach.
Yeah, that seems to be the point. Why is there a ton of zombies capable of anything more then crawling after a 100-foot drop?
They don't have to get their whole swarm over the wall, just enough to start chomping the people on the other side. The first few to splatter cushioned the fall for the next ones' skulls to stay intact, and those bit enough ankles to start the infection spreading. Heck, even the ones that did go "splat!" might've infected people who got hit by bone fragments.
Getting instructions at the end
At the end, Gerry has to inject himself with something deadly, but he doesn't know which vial to use. He writes a message on a piece of paper and shows it to the security camera: "Tell my family I love them." But wait, here's something else he could've written: "I'm gonna hold up some vials. Move the camera to nod 'yes' or shake 'no'". Or he could have told them to call the phone outside; one ring for yes and two rings for no. (Since he can't reach the phone directly)
Good point, when I saw the movie, I actually expected his message would be something along the lines of, "Lets figure out some way for you to tell me what to use here". But, no, and the doctors on the other end even say OMG if he uses the wrong one he'll DIE! Aside from Segen being there, I am pretty sure none of the researchers need to tell each that out loud-they already know. Rule of thinking out loud I guess. Also, its interesting to note Gerry doesn't even attempt to READ the actual labels-they were labelled after all. He may not be a virologist, but even this troper would put a vial labelled say, EBOLA on it, in the Do not Inject pile. Gerry just grabs one at random without even looking at the labels.
It's implied that Gerry, while a genius with tactics and information gathering, is completely ignorant of virology. He probably didn't even know that those vials could contain uncurable strains, they certainly didn't warn him beforehand otherwise he would have actually watched before he just dumped the contents into a case. Not to mention the zombie was right there (and for some reason almost completely inert) meaning if it attacked, that glass wall isn't going to hold for long (at least, not if the zombie manages to call it's friends).
As was said Gerry had no idea whether or not the camouflage gambit would work. He had no idea which disease would work, whether it would work, and he was putting his life on the line by being the lab rat. He likely figured either the disease would kill him, or the zombie at the door would. He likely realized the situation could be lose/lose no matter what. So why bother trying to figure out which diseases were incurable and which weren't?
The plague cannot spread this fast
They mention early on that the big cities were hit hard by zombie-ism, because the airlines worked as perfect carriers of the virus. But wait, that makes no sense at all! It takes 12 seconds for a bite victim to become a zombie. If you're already a zombie when you approach the plane, nobody is going to let you board. (Violent people are not allowed on planes, after all.) If you get bitten and then you get on the plane, you'll become a zombie before you've even had a chance to find your seat! There's no way that plane is taking off. It'll be evacuated post-haste. This holds true even for the early version of the virus, when the transformation took 10 minutes. So infected people can't fly on planes. Heck, they can't even drive cars for more than 12 seconds (or 10 minutes, or whatever.) And the disease is strictly transmitted by biting; there is no aerial component. So realistically, the disease should only spread at human running speed. Yes, one zombie can make 10 more, and each of those can make 10 more etc., but the overall geographical spread of the "infection horizon" should move no faster than, say, 15 miles per hour. You could still kill millions of people this way, but you are not going to cause a worldwide apocalypse. As soon as the military realizes what's going on, they're going to quarantine the infected area and stop the virus from spreading further.
A possible explanation occurs: the virus began with a slow gestation, a couple of days to a week. During this time, several dozen people were infected through the methods outlined in the book (but not mentioned in the film) like black market organs etc. Somewhere along the line, the virus has mutated, perhaps with some sort of hand-wavey explanation about cross breeding with some other, more virulent virus like Ebola or whatever. This newer strain of the virus manifests in only several seconds. The reference to the airlines refers to the original strain. Remember that part of the angle of this movie is that the whole thing has been building up in the background for several months, but that people in the western world weren't paying attention, so they (and by extension, us the viewers) are sort of being dropped right in the middle of it. However, that's merely supposition.
This is one of those "pay more attention to the movie" headscratchers. When he was in Korea, he specifically asked the soldiers how long it took a person to turn. The captain told him it was hours. The doctor went out to investigate an AWOL soldier who'd been sick for days. The virus is obviously mutating, the original strains could have been much longer than that.
We have to go into B-wing
We have to sneak into zombie-infested B-wing, so we can get the vials we need to make a zombie camouflage serum. It's very dangerous, but we have to do it. But wait...didn't we use a satellite phone just a minute ago? Didn't we call the U.N. guy? Maybe we should ask him if he's in contact with any other healthcare facilities around the world. Maybe there's a facility someplace that isn't infested with zombies, and those people can try the camouflage plan without any risk! Seems like we should at least give it a try...
The problem is that most of the world is OVERRUN BY ZOMBIES! The other healthcare facilities are probably overrun with zombies, injured people or are in defunct due to multiple governments collapsing as a result of the Zombie Apocalypse. Besides who would listen to him? There are probably hundreds of professional doctors and biologist testing dozens of possible cures for it, And are they going to listen to some random guy who claims to be from the U.N who doesn't know jack-shit about microbiology? Also remember that every second thousands-if not millions- of people are getting being turned into zombies. Even if they decide to tell someone the camouflage plan it might be too late, by the time of the movie it already show over THREE BILLION people are infected. Better to test it out right now then to do it later when it becomes too late.
He's also asking someone to risk their life twice (once for injecting themselves with a lethal virus, the next is to go tango with a zombie) for what amounts to a hypothesis he made on the fly. Even the scientists standing next to him seems to be shocked at how potentially stupid this is. Gerry seems already decided that he would be the one to test this out; he's already potentially lost everything (his family being escorted off the ship) and from what his superior told him on the plane, this lab is actually in amazing condition compared to the others.
No one is interested in keeping in contact. Heck, zombies have only taken over for a few days - most of the power grid and telephone system should still be chugging along, unless the zombies are trying to knock down phone poles. The Internet should still be up and running (parts were designed for exactly that), satellites are still up in orbit, the International Space Station can still contact the ground and relay messages, etc. But... it's a movie.
Gerry calls his wife instead of the people who sent him on a mission - when he needs to talk to them, he calls his wife who physically runs the phone over - he doesn't have a number for the ship or his superiors.
Israel, despite welcoming everyone in their walls hasn't used satellites to contact any of the probably several armadas of floating colonies to share intelligence.
"We don't need a doctor in the house!"
On the plane, Gerry dresses the soldier's wrist personally. Not a single call to this crowd of over a hundred passengers if any of them are a doctor/nurse/etc, who may have more professional experience with amputated limbs.
If he felt confident enough to do it by himself, why complicate the issue?
No fat zombies
All the zombies seem to be about the same body size. None seem to be overweight or even have a beer gut - however with so many people getting bitten and changing, you'd expect more variety.
Cutting corners with the CG
They're in the back. You can't expect an out-of-shape zombie to keep up with more fit ones, can you?
Well, yeah? Fridge Logic time; an overweight zombie isn't going to feel tired, feel pain or suffer a coronary. Maybe a morbidly obese zombie would have trouble moving due to a simple gravity, but an averagely overweight person wouldn't have that problem. All the things preventing them from being as fast as other people died with them. If anything, an overweight zombie could in theory do more damage and be harder to stop than a thin one. Force = mass + velocity. An overweight zombie running as fast as the others is going to be a juggernaut compared to the others, capable of crushing humans and other zombies with the power of its own inertia.
It's also worth mentioning here that a body can remain fat for several months after death, as fat decomposes slower than muscle. This is especially the case if the breakdown of fats by bacteria becomes too acidic, halting the process. So a fat zombie ain't going to lose weight from all that running, either.
Zombies attracted to loud noise. A liability or an asset?
Why isn't anybody taking advantage of the zombies' attraction to loud noise? Why not put an alarm on some vehicle to make a lure? Then they could've driven zombies away from the population hubs and whereever they wanted, say, into some deep chasm, into the sea, or simply into the firing lines.
They were taking advantage, in the end of the film, one of the scenes the army were using loudspeakers to attack them to an abandon sports stadium and then sending predator drones to take them out.
This was the biggest annoyance for me both in the book and the movie. The zombies are ridiculously easy to manipulate with distractions. Why bother with giant walls or Redecker Plans when you can just use drones with loudspeakers in overrun zones to attract all the zombies in the vicinity to jump down from the nearest tall cliffside, and afterwards bomb them with napalm?
We've seen what the film zombies are like—fast, aggressive, and completely relentless when there are living humans nearby. So how on earth did a small closet on a crowded airliner contain one? How did it get in there in the first place? Considering that Israel was supposed to have screenings, it's unlikely that he managed to get onto the plane while infected.
Maybe he'd barely escaped a zombie that touched his face but didn't manage to bite him, and he'd gone into the bathroom to clean himself up. He starts to wash his face, not realizing he has an open cut on his hand and residue from the virus on his skin...
Single Lab Zombie
Our intrepid heroes make it to the Welsh WHO lab and discover that half the facility is infected, along with one extra. Her presence in the safe lab is odd, to say the least. How did she get inside the glass cell? Why is she the only one infected outside of B-wing? Was she bitten while they were blockading the doors, and neither opted with suicide or asked her colleagues to kill her?
She was clearly there as a live specimen. She was probably brought in within a couple of days of the outbreak by the military, along with all the samples that infected the staff in B wing; as for why the military didn't think about leaving a token force to protect the place searching for a potential cure on the other-hand...
The doctor's statements - e.g., that killing the zombies only makes them mad - implied to me that they had some experience fighting zombies, maybe they brought her back with them when they fled B-wing or she was infected just as they fled and the doctors managed to get her into the glass cage before she turned (maybe a ten minute change).
Aside from the fact that the plane turns from a C-130 to an An-12, it flies from Jamaica to Korea, all without stopping for fuel. And then, after about two minutes of refueling in Korea, it manages to fly to Jerusalem. What.
I'm with you on the magic range, but AN-12? C-130? Wasn't that a P-3?
Nope. Personally, I never saw it as an An-12 and only saw the C-130, but it definitely wasn't a P-3.