Popular fiction writer explains underlying threats through the undead

Kristin Slomiany

One of the world’s foremost experts on zombie preparedness spoke to an audience at Kent State’s Stark campus Monday night about how zombies help people talk about important issues that are either too scary or too boring to deal with.

Max Brooks, author of pop culture zombie survival novels “World War Z” and “The Zombie Survival Guide,” explained to nearly 500 audience members at the Conference Center in Timken Great Hall that the world would die, not from a bite or attack, but from the deterioration of our country’s systems.

“In order to effectively write about the end of the world, you have to understand how the world works in the first place,” Brooks said. “We have food, water, sewage, electricity, roads. We have all these things (that) if there was a zombie plague would all come crashing down.”

Brooks went on to say the United States would revert back to an 18th century existence within a year.

“So a zombie plague for me as an artist, as a writer, made me really think about civilization and how complicated it is, and how it’s really on tiers, and how it can all come crumbling down,” Brooks said.

Brooks said while writing “World War Z,” he began realizing how fragile society is, and he began to appreciate what it meant to live in a country that was not only rich but also independent.

“To be healthy and safe and free takes a tremendous amount of effort on everybody’s part and we all have to do our part,” Brooks said.

He believes that without everyone helping out, the world can’t adapt and stay alive.

Brooks is a part of a military think tank called the Modern War Institute at West Point, a U.S. military academy, whose whole idea is that you need to adapt to stay alive.

Brooks explained that the modern military understands its needs to get out of its comfort zone and talk about uncomfortable things to protect its country.

“If you do take out the zombies, you do see a pattern with how societies fall,” Amy Nutter, a member of Brooks’ audience, said.

Brooks explained that the military is able to lift our society up to the ideals we strive for and hope to achieve someday.

“Freedom is not free, and if you ever doubt that, look into a face of a zombie,” Brooks said.

Kristin Slomiany is a regionals, commuters and student affairs reporter. Contact her at [email protected].