If you spend as much time as I do worrying about the coming zombie apocalypse (and let’s face it, you’re reading GeekDad so in all likelihood it’s at least in the back of your mind), clear some space on your bookshelf beside Dr.Spock and pick up a copy of The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide To Fighting The Living Dead, by Roger Ma. Not only will you learn how to defend yourself against the shuffling menace, but Ma dedicates a chapter of his book to the critical topic of protecting your children during a zombie outbreak.
The Zombie Combat Manual was a great read that I completed in only three sessions -not because it’s shallow or particularly short (for the record, it clocks in at around 300 pages), but because it was entertaining and quick paced. Author Roger Ma presents the book as a combat manual that focuses on hand-to-hand fighting or small weapons use, based on the premise that while guns may be more effective at a distance, Murphy’s Law dictates that at some point during an outbreak, you’ll be facing a zombie without the benefit of a firearm. And survival favors the prepared. Covering everything from an effective exercise regimen to zombie vulnerabilities, weapon selection, defensive equipment, child protection and even the reality of decapitation during combat (it’s much harder to achieve than you might think based on what you see in movies), the book is also sprinkled with sections where survivors recount their experiences. Underestimation of the undead is a common theme in these stories. Gamers will appreciate the way weapons are presented as different classes, each complete with a ranking of effectiveness against zombies, an expected lifespan (measured in zombie engagements), skill level required, availability and cost. Using this system, a common screwdriver, for example is considered to be highly effective, good for 100+ zombie engagements, requires a very high skill level (best results are achieved when close enough to drive the blade up from under the zombie’s chin), but it’s very common and very inexpensive.
Since this is GeekDad, a few words on the Child Protection chapter might be in order. First of all, in case the talk of decapitation and driving screwdrivers into zombie skulls wasn’t a strong enough clue, let me point out that the book itself is not for your kids. Besides the graphic description of zombie combat, it’s complete with black and white illustrations that effectively showcase the results of different attacks, so keep the book to yourselves. Among Ma’s advice to parents: always have a stroller on hand (because the energy needed to carry a child to escape a zombie outbreak would be better spent on foraging, security and defense), avoid close-quarters fighting if you’re carrying a child strapped to you in a carrier (duh!) and, as parents, it’s important to inform kids about the zombie life cycle so they know to run should their guardian be turned. It’s not a pleasant topic, but it’s important that they understand the dangers the living dead present. And I thought “stranger danger” was a tough conversation…
In all seriousness, The Zombie Combat Manual succeeds because it doesn’t try to rehash everything there is to know about zombies, it concentrates on hand-to-hand combat survival techniques. There are just enough encounter sections to keep things moving and Ma’s sense of humor prevents the book from getting too dark, despite the often gruesome subject matter. Y.N. Heller’s illustrations are the prefect accompaniment, adding an element of gory camp to the equation. The funny thing is, I was reading a novel during the same session that prominently features the undead (Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker), and found myself wincing when her characters did the “wrong thing” (according to the combat manual) when encountering rotters; I guess I did pick up on the techniques. Check out the Zombie Combat Club website for more tips, pointers and hints.
Currently selling for $9.99 on Amazon, the book could be the best ten bucks you spend on zombie preparation. If you like the cool “Zombie Combat Club” emblem on the book cover, T-shirts and decals sporting the logo are available from Zazzle. Roger sent me one of the decals and I can’t decide where to put it (kind of a throwback to grade one and the whole “sticker hoarding” issue), so I’m thinking of just ordering a shirt so I don’t have to make the decision.