Zombietopia - The Best Case Scenario for the Apocalypse

admin April 25th, 2011

A while back I ran a post-apocalyptic novel book club, which was a lot of fun although it tends to peter out (my fault, of course). It allowed us to get our doom on at low stakes. Now I’m not, strictly speaking, a hard doomer. I suspect most of the likely scenarios involve gradual declines in resource availability and increasing poverty. In some ways this is more depressing than the grand and more dramatic scenarios that writers love to create - you can win against the zombies, but it is tough to win against the enemy “crushing national debt and gradually increasing world temperatures.”

I think most apocalyptic novels are fun thought experiments, but they go for big and shiny when what we are facing is dull and slow. But I retain the right, as your Apocalyptic Blogiste, to occasionally amuse myself with “when the zombies come” scenarios like those commonly found in novels. “When the Zombies come” on this blog basically means “when the really bad-ass stuff hits.” It covers meteors, war, collapse, ice age and reversion to mammoth hunting and, of course, the undead. I find it extremely useful, given that rather dreary nature of the real disaster going on, to get my zombie on once in a while.

What I’ve been thinking about lately is what the ideal zombie scenario would be. I mean, sure, it would be awful and all, but most post-apocalyptic novels work on the premise that Our Heroes are 1. super and 2. extremely lucky. That is, they get all the good stuff mostly going their way - they weren’t standing under the meteor. They had a genius astrophysicist on hand to fend off disaster by figuring out something no one else could have. They are smart enough to respond immediately - they never think “well what if the power goes back on and we’re embarrassed that we went straight to cannibalism?”  They are always right. Unlike the myriad of red shirt characters invented to die horribly, they get to live, and usually there’s some kind of happy ending - that is, in the end, they get to Zombietopia.

Now most of the novels focus, on some level on Zombietopia and its ideal principles (not dead yet, reanimating society), and what struck me, when I was thinking about my own vision of Zombietopia involved some of the same major miracles (not being under the meteor or on top of the volcano, having my own private astrophysicist).  Still,  I’m much more concerned than the characters in novels with very small quality of life issues, which IMHO, can make the difference between leading a mostly happy and plucky band of survivors in your silver lame suit and saying “fuck it, I’m joining the cannibals and getting a prion disease.”

It seems clear to me that the characters in novels are much more high minded than I am. They are thinking of much more important things in their utopias than laundry. So what are the requirements for my own, personal zombietopia, the very best case scenario for me and mine (the rest of you have to get your own zombietopia, but I’ve no objection if they exist simultaneously ;-) )?

1. The zombies have to come ashore somewhere else, ideally somewhere inhabited only by the only grizzled old seaman to have actually known zombies before, who then recognizes them for what they are, and raises the alarm. This will give me time to get my zombie-preps ready. This is particularly important if they come in the middle of the night, since I’m not a fast waker. I need a few minutes and a cup of tea so that I’m not completely betwattled.

2. My child needs to stop bed wetting and I need to be caught up on laundry, so that I don’t immediately have to face the pile of hand washing that will inevitably result from this grid going down.

3. I want there to be a 12 hour period where we know the disaster is occurring, but most people don’t, where the power is still on and the merchants are still taking credit cards that will never be paid off (assuming, of course, that the collection agents aren’t already zombies). Then I can get one of those “shopping for the end of the world” scenes that pervades every single apocalyptic novel. These scenes are like porn for doomy girls, and hey, I want one. In the books, miraculously, no one ever declines your credit card and you’ve always been able to get out plenty of cash, or perhaps the grocer is just extraordinarily noble.

4. When I have to go out on night zombie hunts, I’d really rather not be partnered with my neighbor who will explain to me at some length how this is all Obama’s fault.

5. I don’t actually want to wear silver lame.

6. I would like to discover a secret talent for ninja fighting that I never knew I had. And Scrabble.

7. I want to develop the secret knowledge that all book characters have. The moment the grid crashes or whatever, they know. They know that it will never come back, and act accordingly, unlike all the rest of the stupid fools who hang around waiting to see if this is doom or just a power outage. Moreover, I want this knowledge to be absolute and certain, so that I never accidentally begin leading my plucky band across a smoking landscape, only to see the lights come back on and everyone go about their normal work.

8. I also want the special gift for meeting exactly the right people. It must just happen that wandering down my rural street is an expert in zombie demolitions, or a doctor who has previously treated the zombie plague. It seems much more likely that on my street, we’d run into a couple of construction guys who had read World War Z and maybe a hairdresser who definitely saw Night of the Comet, but if the novels get the Navy Seals and the master-archers, I want them.

9. My neighbors and I will instantly pull together and form a noble group of pure-hearted allies who always do what’s right. What is right will instantly be clear, and if someone occasionally points out that it would be easier to do the wrong things, whoever is leading us will always speak for the, the truth and the goodness. We will never get into stupid debates about whether Josie’s ex was an asshole or not, who is in charge or who broke the scythe blade. More importantly, it will not be me who broke the scythe blade.

10. My children will recognize that this is a heroic and important moment, and rise nobly to the cause, behaving gracefully under pressure. They will not whine, pick their noses at meetings or distract us from zombie fighting by fighting with each other.

11. We will find the secret stash of goods that we really, really needed. Whether taken from a recent museum exhibit or found in an old attic, we will never be without the pre-modern tools needed in this new age.

12. Bruce Springsteen will not be killed by the zombies, but will live and write awesome songs about the heroic resistance. Leonard Cohen, who writes awesome songs but already looks kind of undead will rise again to write (but not sing) the zombie’s soundtrack lyrics.

13. In my Zombietopia, all the women of middlish age will not have to bring coffee to the hot warrior chicks and guys in their 20s, the way they do in all the books. Indeed, it turns out that middle aged geeks with agrarian tendencies will somehow be just what is needed.

14. That which does not kill us will make us stronger. I’m hoping that that which doesn’t kill me also makes me thinner, more organized, less irritable and more heroic.

15. My zombietopia will bring people together - while the zombies can be DWMs if they like, the side of good is always multi-ethnic, non-heterosexist and culturally diverse. My little rural town will be the nexus at which the Rebel Amish, the Agrarian Radical Faerie Zombie Hunters, the Asian-American Neo-Pagan Society for the Destruction of the Undead and even a few members of the Republican party come together in a new era of understanding and common interest. After the undead are defeated, they will create a new Utopia, based on the cultivation of turnips and love of their fellow men.

16. Publishing will reanimate in time for me to write a kick-ass memoir of my days as a zombie fighter. Zombie-Oprah, kept around for sentimentality’s sake will have me on her show.

That’s my fantasy - what’s yours?


27 Responses to “Zombietopia - The Best Case Scenario for the Apocalypse”

  1. dixiebelle says:

    Thanks for the chuckle!! In my Zombietopia, I will always be having a good hair day, there will suddenly be a wardrobe full of cool black army-type clothing, and they won’t invade until my kids are older, who by then can walk a decent length without whinging that their legs are sore.

  2. Johhnytrash says:

    The zombies will be slow, dumb, and easily overpowered and all the other survivors will be attractive and promiscuous bisexuals. Oh, and for some reason, the pluming still works and I happen to be next to a giant toilet paper warehouse.

  3. MEA says:

    In an amazing display of pre-zombie ESP, as I was lying awake all last night trying to digest the news that my parents (from the noble motives of not wanting to be a burden) are planning on going into assisted living rather than AIP in place with me (thus screwing the plan of my brother who is halfway trough getting an RN in gericatric nursing) and justifying it on the grounds that doom did not come fast enough and that in a year or two my father will be completely dead and my mother competely lame, I tried to distract myself with thoughs of why does all PO doomer fiction have PO PLUS something or somethings else (most of which are logical, if extreme, results of PO, or things at would be compunded by PO) to tip us into fast crash.

    And I decided (in between worrying what I’d do if they moved far enough way that I couldn’t retreve them after the EMP) that slow crash isn’t fun. If you don’t have some bad guys to worry about and have a really cool fight with, you don’t have much action.

    So I planned a Janite PO novel.

    We have, as Jane so often does, several families, and are concerned with their everday doings.

    In Chapter One, Hans Golightly-Weston, the only son of the devoted couple Robert Golightly and William Weston, is planning on slaughtering his prize hog. (The hog won the prize at the social event of the season, The 4-H Fair, which has evolved into a combo animal show/hiring fair/change to snag a mate event.) There is much discussion among Mr and Mrs James Smith and there 3 daughters as to which of the girls will be presented with the bladder, a noticeable mark of affection, indeed almost a proposal of marriage.

    Jane, the eldest, has proven her fertility with a young daughter fathered by a passing traveler and valued for her outsider genes.

    Eliza, still unmarried and childless at 22, is a strong as an ox, and while she tops most men by several inches and outweights them too, no one can deny that without her to pull the plough her family farm would have failed long ago.

    Mary-Kitty-Lydia, known as Merkat, is by turns hyper religious and superflertations, making her an easy mark for any oversexed-nature worshipers.

    Mrs. Smith (her given named vanished long ago with her youth) believes that either Jane or Merkat will be given the coverted bladder.

    Chapter II

    Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the forest, lives a humble woodchopper and her daughter, Matilda. For reason know only to her, the woodchopper allows noone to see her or Matilda, leaving chords of wood to be collect by her customers who leave plucked chickens, homespun clothing and other such items for her.

    This is relayed to the reader in a passage in which the Smiths, Robert and William, and their neighbors, Harry the pigherd, a recently widowed and now very desireable mate (though some find that with 14 children under 12, he is too much of a family man), George, an unattached farmer, and Gigi the lovely shepherdress, who manages a sheep to shirt in the course of the chapter, and her two nieces, discuss the woodchopper and manage to touch upon the histories of the various families over cups of mint tea.

    Oddly enough, only the race of Gigi (of African decent) is mentioned leaving the reader to assume 1) that the author forgot to describe the others or 2) the must be some sort of Euro-type. Likelywise, only the sexual preferences of Robert, Willian and once niece is mentioned-are we to assume that hetro is just too, too dull.

    Chapter Three

    As the hour of the hog slaughter grows near Eliza make herself useful by building a tripod, lugging a huge cauldron, fill it with water and sharpening various knives while her sisters and assorted other young females work out what they will wear and if they should wash their hair or if it is still clean since their spring bath only 6 months before.

    Harry, by virtue of helping her, shows that he is deeply and quietly in love with her, while his ability to tell his children, including a 3 sets of twins and 2 sets of triplets (all indentical) apart shows that he is a fanastic parent.

    And this point I decided that after various plot twists the following would happen.

    1) James would believe himself in love with Matilda, only to learn that her mother hids herself because she is his genetic mother.

    2) Thinking she can never wed her half-brother, Matilda offers herself to Sam.

    3) At the last minute, it is revealled that Matilda is adopted, so there is no impediment.

    4) However, James realized that he is oddly pleased not to have to marry Matilda after all, and rushes to Eliza’s side, only to see her

    5) accept a rather inferier bladder from Harry.

    6) heartbroken, he rushes to the gay niece, offering his stud services to her and Merkat who are about to unite.

    7) he is on the verge of committing himself with an unbreakable vow when Eliza come galloping (without benfit of horse) over the hill, to present the two brides with the bladders supplies by Harry.

    8) between great sobs of laughter, he accepts Eliza’s proposal of marriage, at which point, Jane shyly asks if she can have his now unneeded hog’s bladder, which she lobs modestlty in the direction of Harry, who realized that he has loved her along along.

    9) At the reception for this tripple joining, Mrs. Smith recalls, after several mugs of moonshine, that her given name is Gertrude Mildred and that is while she calls herself Mrs. Smith, while Matilda and George (who after the mint tea sceen as been off tending farm) exchange speaking looks.

    Oh, my version of Zombitopia — I’ll get back to you.

  4. RuneDimmick says:

    Hi Sharon,

    That was an interesting post. I don’t read much in the way of Doom Fiction, but I think doom in one form or another has been around as long as man has.

    You can find a lot of doom in the Old Testament, at least doom for those people that are in the stories.

    For instance: Noah was a great prepper, and all he got was ridicule and grief. When the rain started and God shut up the door, I can’t imagine them feeling much doom smugness. Also I don’t think I would have liked to be shut up in the arc like they were with just family was for a year or so, animals or no animals. I don’t think my siblings and maybe worse, their spouses (we do fine in small doses) would survive the experience.

    In the Book of Mormon, Lehi leave Jerusalem with his family and they escape the Doom of Babylonia. But they are so sick of each other when they get to the new world that they split into two factions and start fighting anew.

    Abraham and Lot….whole houses in contention and competition - dozens or maybe hundreds of servants playing mean tricks on each other. Abraham tells Lot to take his choice, and he chooses the best land near Sodom - I can’t imagine that decision drawing everyone together.

    Even if you are not a literalist about biblical stories, the human nature part is pretty strong, and the the Zombies (Philistines, Moabites etc.) are coming for a visit, everyone is pretty worried, and then when the trial is done, they still have to live with each other, and often don’t do a very good job of it.

  5. Mavis says:

    Hilarious! (both MEA and Sharon!)

    I too will hope that the women of middlish age will not have to bring coffee to the hot warrior chicks and guys in their 20s, the way they do in all the books. Indeed, it turns out that middle aged geeks with agrarian tendencies will somehow be just what is needed.

    In my zombietopia, the filled-with-self-doubt-about-her-choice-in-career musciologist will become the hero by figuring out which frequencies and rhythms are repulsive to the zombies, and the community will come together to create an anti-zombie orchestra, and all the kids who whined about music lessons will thank their parents for all the years of nagging them to practice. Someone will realize that the chronic anti-zombie soundtrack of our lives makes for good contra dancing and we’ll fill some of our electricity-lacking time with a good time!

  6. russel1200 says:

    That strange golden amulet my Uncle Herman left to me (and I am conveniently carrying on my persons) is found to be the talisman of ultimate zombie control.

    I now have my own personal zombie army! A cackle in mad delight as my zombies chase down everyone who ever gave me of the least sort of grief.

  7. [email protected] says:

    Good for plenty of laughs, thanks.

    Since we want one anyway, we could bring an unbroken scythe blade when we try out your snaths for fit and action. I would never ask any questions at all about how the scythe blade got broken.

  8. Kerrick says:

    In your Post-Apoc fiction series, did you read The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi? I just read it (belatedly) and I think it’s a good one to include. It’s a little more far-future/sci-fi, set in a possible Thailand where the Calorie Corporations rule the world and the Thai Kingdom has been able to fend off widespread genetic plagues only thanks to determined isolationism. Large helping of sex slavery, too, but that’s not the only thing women are there for, so perhaps better than some such works.

  9. Devin says:

    Hail Sharon,
    A wonderful story as always. My version would also involve my son finally kicking the bed wetting habit and stepping up to the plate instead of our current, it was some other person’s fault that I dropped the plate and no one else was around.

    I also hope for the AIP, neighbors banding together to live a quiet and peaceful life as the zombies pass on by to visit the SUV crowd.
    In Frith unless the zombies come for a visit,

  10. Raye says:

    Thanks for the uplifting nod to the middle aged geeks with agrarian tendencies. That made my night much better!

    I suppose my zombietopia would involve the aroma of duck poop being excellent zombie repellent.

  11. JRB says:

    Heehee! I don’t know you from Eve, but *hugs*!

  12. Jess says:

    #11 and #14 are very high on my list as well =)

  13. Rete says:

    Love #14!!

  14. Lynne says:

    In my Zombietopia I have lost 20 pounds effortlessly because I’ve been forced to truly eat locally, my consumptions of greens has skyrocketed, I have to walk the 100m to the creek multiple times per day to fetch water. I still have my job (I’m a nurse), but somehow there is way way less paperwork and charting to do because the computers can’t generate the literally 100′s of different forms I have to fill out. I have to walk the 5 km to work, but that is no problem because as above, I am now fit and slim. I’m also getting lots of rest because the electricity is off and my computer doesn’t work so I go to bed early. And in my Zombietopia I enjoy doing all of this and do not miss slugging out in front of the computer eating a Green and Black’s chocolate bar with hazelnuts and raisins….like I did yesterday.

  15. madison says:

    In my version of “the zombies are coming!” it’s TEOTWAWKI, and we gather all the now unmedicated ADHD children, arm them with Lego weapons and let them practice their “Kung Fu Panda” fighting on the unsuspecting undead, then we eat pancakes.

  16. Naomi says:

    I too am hoping that the Zompocalypse holds off until both my babes ( 14 and 26 months) are out of nappies and have the toilet thing down pat…

    I’ll tackle just about anything, but washing two babies worth of nappies every day by hand? My head explodes just thinking about it!

  17. Christina says:

    I’m shocked that you need Scrabble skills - not what I expected to hear from a former Shakespearean scholar!

  18. April says:

    “will create a new Utopia, based on the cultivation of turnips ” !?!?

    Turnips? You have gone mad.

    Rutabaga and parsnips are so much better.

  19. risa b says:

    In my zombietopia all the zombies eat only slugs and snails and excrete seed-ready potting soil. Bagged.

  20. admin says:

    Christina, I’m married to a man who is a natural Scrabble genius - I’m ok, but it isn’t my thing. I’m good with language - fitting words in holes is a slight different skill set ;-) .


  21. queen of string says:

    That made me chuckle. In my version, when it hits, all the kids and us are home, not dispersed around the district. I remembered to buy dog food. DH has miraculouslly got lots of insulin in, and it keeps, despite no fridge. It’s warm outside, not the middle of winter. Husband’s ex wife is away visiting relatives. I so know she doesnt have a single prep and would end up on my doorstep otherwise. I am not down to my last $20. I dont get pregnant, despite there being no contraception and us both having ace mojos, due to being thin, fit and joyful to be alive.

  22. Jen says:

    Your writing is brilliantly funny and astute. Thank you for a big morning laugh. And, if you find yourself caught in England when the zombies hit, you’re welcome to join our plucky band of straight-shooting Obama supporters. We’ll even make you a cup of coffee.

  23. admin says:

    Jen, I actually would be much happier with tea, so we’re good! I never did like coffee!

  24. lifeofliberty says:

    Are you nuts? The zombies are already here! Just look around, they’re everywhere! They’re on television, walking down your street, in your mall, at the supermarket, hanging out online, they’re even in the White House!

    You can spot them from a mile off. They’re slow, dumb of wit, uncomprehending, drive badly…

    Need some hints? Go hit your local supermarket. You can identify the zombies by the screaming kids, stuffed shopping carts and overweight moms shuffling down the aisles… or the glassy eyed stare of the fat man as he struggles to make his daily choice for sustenance…

    My daughter could tell you all about zombies, she has to deal with them every day… they all seem to hang out at McDonald’s, screaming for the chicken McNuggets, stuffing their faces morning, noon and night on the greasy crap that they serve there.

    America is infested with zombies, you don’t have to look far at all, they’re everywhere. Eyes glued to the idiot boxes, night after night, stuffing their fat faces with garbage you wouldn’t feed a goat… hanging out at the bars, drowning their deadened brains…

    There are zombies everywhere — if this were not 100% true, then this country would be in full blown rebellion from coast to coast, but we’re not. We’re barely able to roll out of bed in the morning and make another pathetic stab at the new day…

    The next zombie you see might even be you, staring back at yourself, hollow-eyed in the mirror…

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  27. Jennifer says:

    Is there any chance you will pick up where you left off on the book club? I’ve read the previous posts but was really looking forward to the discussion on Alas, Babylon.

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