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Ch. 1: Warnings 
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
DWill wrote:
Goes to show, you couldn't possibly predict a cultural phenomenon, I mean no way, no how. Zombies suddenly becoming omnipresent in the culture? The "why" is so hard to puzzle out; you've made a good stab, but maybe the answer is simply that people are weird creatures.

I'm a little edgy about the upcoming Lincoln zombie movie. Our youth already know so little about history. So we'll supply them with some "information" they might not have the ability to filter. Brilliant.


Responding to an earlier post . . .

I laughed when I saw the trailer for this movie. What's next. George Washington: President by Day, Werewolf by Night? That said, I was surprised to see that the author of the "NPR: You Must Read This" essay about Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way ComesI had written the book which the movie is based on.

We're all looking for the next hybrid genre, but I'm not sure Historical-Supernatural will be it. Although Dan Simmons, who is a very talented writer, seems to be taking a stab at it with many of his recent novels, based on historical events.

I will say one of the most amazing genre-twisters imagined was the Kung Fu television series in the 1970s. The main character practices Taoist-style meditation and is highly trained in martial arts. So he's first and foremost a philosophical man who is by nature an extreme pacifist. But due to very unusual circumstances. Caine is forced to kill someone and becomes an outlaw in his native China. Placing this character in America's old west was a stroke of pure genius. You have a man who truly lives and breathes Faulkner's concept of the "human heart in conflict with itself." I'm not sure the series aged well, but I have always been drawn to that show.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
johnson1010 wrote:
. . . His treatment of government action is a bit cynical, but i can see where he gets it. I don't think you could crystalize it any better than the nonsense of airport "security". The illusion of safety is far more important than the actual production of a safe environment.


Yes, let's take off our shoes before we fly. So much safer now.
:clap2:


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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
One thing I've noticed is how important it always is to find the "appropriate" names for attrocities and horror, Where they be called "uprisings", "The Troubles", WWII, The Great War, The Holocaust, World War Z or whatever. Brooks spends quite a nice paragraph on this in his introduction.....exactly what should this be called and why. Naming something seems to take a least some of the terror out of things. Familiarity helps to cope.


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Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:26 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
The format of this book is very similar to the format of an Infectious Disease Management class that I took last year. Each week we were presented with a new portion of a case study that held clues to the etiology of the outbreak. Of course for my class it was not the living dead, it was just a fairly simple e-coli outbreak, but the type of narrative was similar.

The number of characters presented throughout the chapters and the presentation of the book as a series of interviews is more reflective of an actual outbreak study and helps to make the book feel more real, and less of the typical campy zombie tale.



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Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:35 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
geo wrote:
Brooks, the author, takes a cynical view of politics in general, imagining a scenario of catastrophic outbreak and how ineffectual the government's response would be. He also describes the general apathy we have towards impending disasters. People will generally try to downplay the seriousness of things they don’t really understand, be it global warming, avian flu or zombie apocalypse. And by the time we’re ready to take action it's far too late. Brooks seems to be particularly cynical about our politicians, how they are concerned only with their own re-elections. I see parallels with the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, slow to act and with a bureaucratic indifference to human suffering.


Geo, I think your comment here explains the core theme of the book. Ineffectual apathy towards impending disaster is a central issue in world politics, and Brooks uses it later to raise searching questions about the capacity of democracy to respond to existential threats. If people habitually lie and conceal an infectious fatal disease, out of a misguided sense of compassion, how can political leaders respond in a way that will be in line with collective best interests?

You mention the global warming parallel which Brooks raises in this chapter. I suspect he intends this as an important subtext, with the idea that people can go into denial about something that will be catastrophic, and that our social instincts are not adequate to providing rational response to global problems.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
Robert Tulip wrote:
geo wrote:
Brooks, the author, takes a cynical view of politics in general, imagining a scenario of catastrophic outbreak and how ineffectual the government's response would be. He also describes the general apathy we have towards impending disasters. People will generally try to downplay the seriousness of things they don’t really understand, be it global warming, avian flu or zombie apocalypse. And by the time we’re ready to take action it's far too late. Brooks seems to be particularly cynical about our politicians, how they are concerned only with their own re-elections. I see parallels with the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, slow to act and with a bureaucratic indifference to human suffering.


Geo, I think your comment here explains the core theme of the book. Ineffectual apathy towards impending disaster is a central issue in world politics, and Brooks uses it later to raise searching questions about the capacity of democracy to respond to existential threats. If people habitually lie and conceal an infectious fatal disease, out of a misguided sense of compassion, how can political leaders respond in a way that will be in line with collective best interests?

You mention the global warming parallel which Brooks raises in this chapter. I suspect he intends this as an important subtext, with the idea that people can go into denial about something that will be catastrophic, and that our social instincts are not adequate to providing rational response to global problems.




It is more than just apathy though. There is an admission of the limitations of government, although I believe this touched upon more in the second chapter than the first. The government relies heavily on the placebo effect- a vaccination for the flu, or zombies-duck and cover for dropping the bomb. Rather than admit the the government doesn't know what to do, or can do nothing, they make up a fake solution that keeps people from questioning reality.



Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:43 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
i like stories that change the p.o.v of the characters. however if certain characters return, i think he should give more of an indication at the start of a section to make it easier to follow. Maybe give each interview a number or something like that to make it easier to keep track of? Cause while i enjoy a book that makes you think, i also find it a bit hard to follow

other then that i'm really liking it. I like the concept and i do agree with the government's way of acting in the beginning, it does take kind of a cynical view of government. but i agree with the point about the cover up to avoid a mass hysteria



Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:07 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
I really, really hate to admit this, but I've found myself actually lenjoying the book. Whether Zombies, chemical warfare or pandemics--of which we have had a few scares in the last couple of years--the book touches just enough on reality to actually make it scary. I don't know whether or not I'll continue on enjoying the book (so far it is taking on the timbre of Killer Virus disaster movies) but I'm plugging on and liking it. There, I've said it!


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Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:50 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
I'm finding it hard going. the comments here help do make it more interesting.


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Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:53 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
deathscythe210 wrote:
i like stories that change the p.o.v of the characters. however if certain characters return, i think he should give more of an indication at the start of a section to make it easier to follow. Maybe give each interview a number or something like that to make it easier to keep track of? Cause while i enjoy a book that makes you think, i also find it a bit hard to follow

other then that i'm really liking it. I like the concept and i do agree with the government's way of acting in the beginning, it does take kind of a cynical view of government. but i agree with the point about the cover up to avoid a mass hysteria
My sense is that WW Z is structured in a deliberately scattered, confusing and interrupted way to reflect the disorientation of a society under attack by the living dead. The character confusion may be key to the author's message because it depersonalizes, its hard to get to know characters or have any relationship with them when they are all mixed up together and pop in and out in almost a nonsense way. I think it takes a skilled writer to use a structural device like this but still carry the story thread sufficiently and keep the readers interest. We'll see if Brooks can pull that off. As to government inaction, I'm looking out for any citizen action and responsibility - 'government' provides us with a convenient 'other' to blame for inaction and ineffectiveness and thereby duck citizen responsibility.



Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:37 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
There was a lot of talk about Phalanx, and how that basically everyone but the consumer knew it wasn't doing anything to stop the spread of disease. All the same, the government continued to encourage people to take phalanx for the placebo effect of a false sense of security.

This reminds me heavily of George Bush's urge for us to just forget all about the terrorists and go shopping.


Brooks later returns to some of these characters, the ones who had a part to play, or were witness to multiple important events in the course of the plague, but those interviews are broken up chronologically. So, he is playing it like he interviewed a character about their whole experience during the plague, then breaking that interview up and splicing it in where it belongs chronologically.

Some of these character swaps do get lost in the shuffle, but if you do remember them from earlier, it helps to see how people are emotionally evolving to deal with their new world.


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Fri Jun 22, 2012 8:31 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
johnson1010 wrote:
Phalanx ... everyone but the consumer knew it wasn't doing anything to stop the spread


I thought this was brilliant satire. This Phalanx guy is basically saying "fuck you buddy, I made a shitload of money and I'm laughing all the way to the bank. That's the American Dream. Who gives a flying fuck that I personally caused the total destruction of civilization by lying and fraudulently promoting a pill that I knew did not work, even in the face of certain knowledge of clear and present danger of a deadly infectious and unstoppable zombie epidemic. So I distracted people from possible genuine actions. So What? Money is more important than people. Governments are for sale, and I bought them. Politicians are a pack of whores and everything they say about security is pure bullshit. Ha ha ha! :lol: "


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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
Yeah.

That's the thing about this book. It's all centered around a crazy idea, but even the more heavy handed characters, like the guy who put out Phalanx, they ring pretty true to me.

That really COULD happen! (The pacifying fraud that keeps people from real action)


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Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Are you pushing your own short comings on us and safely hating them from a distance?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?

Confidence being an expectation built on past experience, evidence and extrapolation to the future. Faith being an expectation held in defiance of past experience and evidence.


Fri Jun 22, 2012 11:04 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
johnson1010 wrote:
That really COULD happen! (The pacifying fraud that keeps people from real action)


Not only COULD but DOES.

This book is a biting satire of how modern idiocy fails to engage in strategic assessment of real security threats.

The main example is climate change. People imagine that personal action, such as turning off lights, might help prevent global warming. It won't. The only thing that will prevent global warming is global industrial action. But the energy industry is just like the Phalanx pill guy in the zombie war, selling a seductive dream of a non-solution.

So the USA spends trillions on weapons and allows Hurricane Katrina to destroy New Orleans because the nation fails to see that levee maintenance is a higher order security issue than wearing shoes on planes.

HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and the cultivation of superbugs through failure to regulate antibiotics, are similarly high order security problems. But as Brooks points out in WWZ, the harsh anti-democratic measures required to win against a serious plague are simply off the political radar in the modern world. Lets hope it stays that way. But the real threat is that if you deny a problem for long enough, you eventually get to a situation where practical measures are seriously unpopular, and implementing them requires military dictatorship. Preventing the degeneration of democracy into tyranny requires lively public debate and contestability around policy choices, so that people understand the consequences of their decisions and unpalatable political choices never become necessary.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: Warnings
Did you guys know that Max Brooks is Mel Brooks' son?

Image


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Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:17 pm
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