Social cohesion in a zombie apocalypse

The collapse of a society in the event of a zombie outbreak of any sort is inevitable should the causative agent reach multiple points in a nation before the problem is detected.


Events such as Katrina shattered the local infrastructure but were contained because its limited scope in terms of the nation meant that organizations from outside the affected area to restore order.


In a zombie outbreak the very nature of the outbreak will strike hardest at the medical and emergency responder fields. Besides this high attrition of trained specialists, the impact on the organizations as a whole will be threatened. Will the average EMT, firefighter, nurse, or police officer remain on duty in the face of a rapidly-worsening crisis, or will they depart to secure the safety of their families?


Some will stay, some will have no significant attachments, and others will either arrange for their families to get to safety without them, or return to duty once their families are safe, but the disruption to the organization is obvious.


The military will be equally affected. While the troops at the cutting edge will likely stand their ground, it will be tough for a mechanic or supply clerk in the support environs to do his job in Nevada or Iowa when his family in Texas is exposed to attacks by the walking dead.


Modern society is a highly complex structure that requires the daily interaction of scores of governmental and private organizations to function. As history shows us, it can adjust to temporary dislocations (Katrina) and prolonged disruptions (the various strategic bombing campaigns), but it has never faced anything akin to a zombie outbreak, where the effects will be most dynamic where people are most concentrated.


While zombies are vulnerable when faced by a modern military, those militaries require an extensive logistics ‘tail’ to support them, and a functioning society as a foundation.


Therefore for society a zombie outbreak is truly a ‘death from within’.


Posted a short story on a separate page-see above. Just a little riff I was playing around with on my drive to & from work.

Weapons of Choice

Zombies: the head shot quandary, or, what the smart survivor will be carrying in 2012

When dealing with a zombie threat, we have to examine the circumstances of the attack:

Single or small number When facing one to three zeds the survivor should think of speed of employment. Melee weapons are quick, but they expose the user to blood splatter and the risk of infection, and require a high degree of conviction and physical strength. The plus side of melee is that there is no requirement to reload, minimal skill level, and they are easy to come by. Avoid power tools because of the noise and spray; whenever possible, stick with blunt objects. The baseball bat is a favorite, while the crowbar, albeit heavy, can also be used as a universal key.

Firearms are a survivor’s best friend, and in the USA they are easy to come by and fairly easy to feed. Close in against limited targets, a shotgun is perfect for an adult large enough to handle recoil; semi-autos are faster, but a pump action is much more reliable. Double barreled weapons should be avoided as zeds have been known to come in groups of three or more. Revolvers and semi-automatic handguns also work well against a few targets or close-in.

Larger groups When facing larger mobs of zeds the survivor should look for magazine capacity, speed of reload, and rate of fire. In this scenario the .223/5.56mm assault rifle (in semi-auto) is the number one choice, as it fills all three categories to the T. While the ultra-common .22 Long Rifle is lightweight, easy to use, a decent skull-popper, and in the case of such weapons as the Ruger 10/22 carbine, fast to reload, these weapons should be avoided unless nothing else is available. The rim-fire .22 cartridge is highly susceptible to jamming in semi-auto weapons, particularly when employed in rapid fire.

Shotguns are too slow to reload, as are revolvers. Semi-auto pistols are decent if the shooter is skilled, and for taking out zeds go for lighter calibers such as 9mm for minimized recoil and larger magazine capacity. Conversely, man-stopping calibers such as .45 ACP firing hollowpoints could be used to target torsos for knock-down: remember, in most cases escape is the survivor’s goal, and knocking down a zed not only makes that possible, but in a group situation it will often trip up those following behind.

Specialty weapons Flamethrowers are popular in depictions of zombie outbreaks, but in reality they are extremely uncommon-the US Army only issued two per infantry battalion, and they have long since been pulled from service. If you can find one, loaded and ready to go it will weigh seventy+ pounds, and provides eight to ten seconds of flame, normally expended in half-second bursts.

On the other hand, the tried and true gas bomb or Molotov cocktail is a sure cure for massed zeds; be warned, however, that it is not an idiot-proof weapon. A careless or over-hasty user can spill burning gasoline on himself or a bystander, have it bounce instead of break (if using similar bottles, test one filled with water to establish what it takes to break it), or just go out in mid-flight. Additionally, they do not transport or store well.

The wrist-rocket, or forearm-braced slingshot is an under-rated weapon in the survivor inventory. Loaded with half-inch ball bearings or even marbles, it can drop a zed at out to thirty feet, and silently. If the ammunition is positioned carefully, it can also fire rapidly. Its only drawback is the short range and the degree of skill required.

The compound bow is an excellent weapon, having a decent rate of fire, range, and effectiveness, but it is limited by the high degree of skill required to use under combat conditions. The crossbow is much more forgiving in terms of skill when a serious model can be found, but it requires strength and time to reload.

The Zone

This site is devoted to various ruminations on the zombie genre, and to my novel, The Zone.

Click here or on the buttons to the right to read a sample:

The headings are devoted to my thoughts on the genre.

The Zone relates the challenges faced by Martin D’Erin, a medically retired Texas police officer caught up in the wreckage of his personal life and the chaos of a city given over to the walking dead. It is a story of choices, priorities, and hordes of mindless creatures bent on death and mayhem.

Please post or e-mail your opinions and suggestions on my novel, and share your thoughts on the genre.


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