Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Thoughts on a possible zombie apocalypse

I have something of a moral opposition to the idea of arranging one's life around a television schedule, and yet still I find myself regularly watching two shows when they are in season: Doctor Who, and Walking Dead. I've been watching far too much Walking Dead lately--catching up on the first two seasons, since I started on the third. I love the show, but now I've got zombies on the brain. I've been staying awake at night running back over the show, thinking about courses of action in the event of an apocalypse, eyeing buildings on my way around town and assessing which are the most defensible, wondering which kinds of people would fare better or worse.

I started thinking about what would actually happen, you know? Generally in talk and stories the zombie apocalypse is treated as an extinction event, and also generally (in my experience) isn't thought through to the end, or in a particularly logical fashion. For instance: These things are always set in populated areas. Even if they're set in the countryside, they're in the countryside near populated areas. Know why? Because that's where there would be enough zombies to be scary. What about Mongolia, where a third of the population is nomadic? What about communities isolated in the Amazon, far enough from civilization that corpses would rot or be eaten before reaching them? What about everyone who lives at high latitude? I don't care what people are wearing when they die--I doubt even the most warmly dressed zombie would produce enough heat to keep from freezing solid in the winter, or any time above the Arctic Circle. A lot--or even most--of the world would go to hell in a handbasket, I'm sure, but enough would survive. Gradually people would build safe havens, learn to protect themselves, begin to repopulate, and the next generation would be bred for intelligence and physical fitness and luck, or maybe even immunity. And slowly they would beat back the tide, retake the world, turn the power back on (probably renewable power this time, having learned a little from past mistakes), and start work on a cure. If things had followed the trend of Walking Dead, and people turned when they died, then the new world would take better care of their sick and elderly and mentally handicapped. They'd do a better job of making sure no one was alone. They would develop accountable communities out of necessity. They would be better than we are.

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