Synopsis: With over 300 pages and 90+ illustrations of zombie anatomy, weapons, and combat techniques, The Zombie Combat Manual is your go-to guide for fending off mobs of revenants in hand-to-hand combat. (From The Zombie Combat Club)
It’s safe to say that I love zombie books. Movies, I’m not always a fan of, because I prefer my horror to be suspenseful instead of gory, and most zombie flicks seem to think they can cover gaping plot holes with a pile of torn off limbs. Books, on the other hand, don’t usually have the option of typing [INSERT FLESH RENDING HERE] over and over again. There has to be plot, description, and character development, even if it isn’t very good. Zombies as a genre has become mainstream enough to include things like zombie poetry, graphic novels, adaptations from historical literature, religious thought, and cook books.
So I was pleased to see a book which promised to be both zombie-related and actually useful. Roger Ma foresaw the comparisons to Max Brook’s Zombie Survival Guide and swerved around them by focusing on the human body itself. It doesn’t assume that you have access to a variety of guns, swords, or other military weapons – in fact, among those it does list are notes as to how realistic it would be to assume that you could find one. It also handily points out the destructive power and flaws of the everyday items you might have at hand, saving you from making a risky attempt to get past a shambling horde for something like a chef’s knife, which would actually require a “very high” amount of skill to use. Make sure to take note of the lifespan of the items as well – it doesn’t do you any good to rely on something sharp and dangerous which will certainly break after the second time you use it to bash in a head.
If the undead apocalypse does come, there will probably be more than two zombies in it.
One of my favorite sections was Ma’s discussion on combatant body types. He gives the pros and cons for three kinds of zombie fighters (based on the tradition of diagnosing people as eco, edo, or mesomorphs), and follows it up with workout routines which can get you into fighting shape. His “Zombie Basic Fitness Circuit” can be done in a small room with nothing but your own body required. His “Combat Exercises” only require an old tire and a tree (to swing a small axe against). Even better, Ma gives you a reason for each of the exercises he recommends, showing how jumping jacks can save you from a broken ankle, and your deltoids are necessary for thrusting swords or spears.
I would recommend this to any serious zombie fan looking to expand their book collection, writers who want to add an authentic voice to their tales of the undead, or people hoping to spice up their workouts by envisioning themselves preparing for the next zombie war.
Roger Ma, The Zombie Combat Manual, Berkeley Press. 2010. Illustrations by Y.N. Heller. 300 pages. ISBN 0425232549