Wednesday, July 22, 2009


They're big in the fiction world these days. The Twilight series (Oops! That's vampires, not zombies). The Zombie Survival Guide. World War Z. And now, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:

My interest in zombies began several years ago, when my son and some of his online friends developed a Wikipedia alternative, called AwesomeWiki, that details the history and facts of an alternate world. This is a world in which Switzerland has conquered and assimilated most of Europe, we live in the Federated American Union, the English language still uses "æ" instead of "e", and they've developed the process of zombification - particularly for bringing back dead præsidents to rule the country.

During this past Christmastime, I spotted the Zombie Survival Guide and, thinking of my son, flipped through it. The book had such useful information as which weapons are effective at killing zombies, with the caveat that if you decapitate a zombie, you should be careful because they can still bite. Since I didn't know if my son still had a thing about zombies, I decided not to buy the book for him.

I noticed World War Z, by the same author as the Zombie Survival Guide, about a month ago and talked to a guy who was going to buy it. He'd already read the Survival Guide and had a buddy who loved WWZ. Good to know that it's recommended.

Then last week, as I was at B&N perusing the display table with the sign that said, "School Required Reading," I notice that World War Z was one of the selections. I asked an employee what school required its students to read that book, and she said that it was on a list of books the students could choose from. She said it was too many words to make a sign that said, "School Required Reading and Books on the Recommended Reading List." That made sense, and it's good to know that schools are letting kids read fun books.

A few days ago, when I was hanging out at Barnes and Noble with my daughter, we saw Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on a rack as a "Recommended by our Staff" book. My daughter, who read Pride and Prejudice (without zombies) during her senior year of high school, decided to buy it, and she read the first page to me over the phone last night.

It takes Jane Austen's story and weaves in the zombies, using the language of Regency-period England. The recent spate of zombie attacks are properly referred to as a scourge or other euphemistic language that suits the time. Just the first page sounded delightful, and I get to borrow it after her roommate friend finishes it after my daughter finishes it.

But in an act of kindness (mercy?), last night my daughter Facebooked me a link to an article entitled, "A Harvard Psychiatrist Explains Zombie Neurobiology." Here is how Dr. Steven C. Scholzman describes the function of the frontal lobe and its effect (or lack thereof) on zombies:

This part of the brain is involved with "executive functioning" - enabling us to think carefully and solve problems in an abstract way. Clearly, there's not much going on there if you have the misfortune of being afflicted with living deadness. But we do know that zombies can see us and sense us. Schlozman concludes that zombies possess just enough frontal lobe activity to "listen" to the thalamus, through which sensory input is processed.

But the frontal lobe function most relevant to understanding zombie behavior is the control of "impulsivity"-the general term for when you do something and, if you had two more seconds, you might not have done it. For instance, if in a fit of rage you have the sudden urge to punch your boss in the face, the frontal lobe intervenes and allows you to consider why that might be a bad idea.

He goes into more of the parts of the brain, including explaining why "the infected" creatures in 28 Days Later are actually NOT zombies, all of it extremely useful information, much like the Zombie Survival Guide.

Because you never know when you'll need it...


ChuckL said...

OK, this gets linked to my son who is "into" these stupid things. Alas.

ChuckL said...

So I wonder how much in federal funds said Harvard psychiatrist receives in order to study the neurobiology of zombies?

Malott said...


Lovely picture, but I prefer the Keira Knightley look for Elizabeth.

"Every woman wants to find a man that looks at her like Mr Darcy looks at Elizabeth."

I wish the girl adorning your post God's speed in that endeavor.

SkyePuppy said...


I was under the impression that the good professor studies the neurobiology of zombies on his own time...

SkyePuppy said...


Yes, the lovely lady will definitely need God's (or is it the devil's?) help attracting a man.

Tsofah said...


Although I'm not into Zombie's and the like, this is rather funny.

The Harvard professor has answered a long standing question for me:

Do super smart university professors on staff at super smart universities have any capability for creative "right brain" activities?

I'm not talking about "gutter" activities - just in case anyone's mind goes there! ;-)

Malott said...

But did you recognize my quote?

I listen to you...

SkyePuppy said...


Yes, I definitely recognized it and was impressed.