Dead Inside: Do Not Enter — Notes from the Zombie Apocalypse



I’m probably the biggest fan of George Romero out there, but I wish people would consider other apocalyptic scenarios. Lately the only ones people seem to be thinking about are the zombie one and the killer virus (non-zombifying) one. Whatever happened to the creativity that people like J.G. Ballard had? He had a series of books about the world ending in various strange ways and survivors trying to get by. Probably the most creative apocalypse I’ve read lately was Yahtzee Croshaw’s “Jam” about the world ending with a flood of carnivorous jam.


But if there are survivors, it’s not the end of the world. Maybe it can be the end of Burger King. That would be bad.

Fair enough. “End of Civilization” would be better. But I like the idea of mini-apocalypses based on chains closing. You could write some very realistic near-future fiction about the last Radio Shack closing:
“And then Bob had a sinking feeling as he realized that he could only buy resistors over the Net and not in a brick or mortar store. He and his fellow survivors would have to adapt to this new world.”


doesn’t that just mean that your last stand should be at a fulfilment center? Although with the power out and no computerized inventory system finding useful stuff could be very difficult…

It pains me to say it, but one of the better scenarios for the end of the world was the beginning of L. Ron Hubbard’s novel Battlefield Earth. Basically humans are carrying on with their lives, then some unidentified craft show up and systematically wipe out 99% of the population within about 10 hours to allow for resource extraction. No ‘invasion’, no last stands, no Jeff Goldblum magically hacking a completely alien computer system to save the day. Just sudden, undeserved and unexpected apocalypse.

The rest of the novel was basically rubbish, and the movie made me want to claw my eyes out, but the opening always haunted me.

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On the one hand, yes, if an alien civilization capable of interstellar travel wanted to destroy us, there would be no warning and no opportunity. There would be bombardment from orbit, then nothing. It would be pretty easy for them to sterilize the biosphere.

But why come all the way to Earth for mineral wealth? In energy and equipment costs, it would probably be cheaper to go after rogue planets (those not part of planetary systems, hence not in a stellar gravity well), or starlift hydrogen and transmute it in giant fusion reactors, or build a Dyson swarm around an impending supernova and catch the output of material, or send ramjets through mineral-rich nebulae before planets form. Better yet, take a nearby unoccupied sun with planets, build a Matrioshka brain, and compute every possible chemical process needed to build whatever your civilization requires in a way that uses only or mostly lighter elements. And those are just the ideas a present-day human can come up with in 5 minutes using known physics.


One of the things that continually bothers me about the ongoing popularity of zombie fiction is that it exists in no small part because it’s a guilt-free excuse to kill other people, because they’re not really alive, you see.

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The grass that mysteriously remains well-manicured…

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There’s always xenoformation. I’m listening to the audio book on my commute.

You can have my Battery Club Card when you pry it from my cold, un-recharged fingers!

Thanks for the recommends, I’m going to check out some J.G. Ballard!


He was quite a diverse writer and some things (like “Crash” and “The Atrocity Exhibition”) may be a bit “experimental” for most. But the apocalypse novels he wrote in the 1960s (“The Wind From Nowhere”, “The Drowned World”, “The Burning World”, “The Crystal World”) are quite accessible and influenced later works in that he realized that a lot of the drama in an apocalypse would be the competition between bands of survivors.

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