This book was put together by Robert Smith?, who is an associate professor of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Ottawa, and Master Troll. Why “Master Troll”, you ask? Because the “?” behind his name is of his choosing, forcing everyone who comes across his work to stop for a moment and discuss it. Personally, I think the question mark is hilarious and rather genius. Think about it, you’re not likely to forget his name are you?
So what is this book about? Well it’s about giving you real world lessons on science, culture, law, psychology, theory, etc. through the filter of a world with zombies. I like to think of this book as a non-fiction fictional book, as it mixed realism and fantasy. It sounds like it might be confusing, but the lines between the two are clear. The next thing you know, you just read something that both educated and entertained you.
One of the first questions you might have is what’s the point? This is answered right off the bat on page six:
“So why bother? For the same reason we do lots of intellectual exercises. It strengthens our mental muscles. When we explore the consequences of fictional ideas, we become better at thinking through the implications of a hypothesis.”
The information they presented was chapter by chapter focusing on different topic. While Robert Smith? is the main fellow behind this creation, there is a long list of contributors – twenty-five by my count – that contribute to various chapters. Each chapter brings a different personality and style of reading that kept thing interesting, which is important when you’re dealing with such a large volume of information.
Did from Academics to Zombies accomplish its goal to both entertain and educate? I would say so, and in a very clever way. For example, one of my favorite topics was in a later chapter called “Zombies, Disability and Law”. We learn about the social and legal issues of organ harvesting and what constitutes “dead”, including the complications of the all the gray areas. It sounds like a strange topic, but it can become very real should you or anyone else you know ever be faced with a organ transplant. Another topic I found interesting was Alzheimer’s, which teaches about brain function, but turned into a discussion about the undead.
Aside from the title playing on the zombie “brains” joke (I would willingly give a year of my life to never hear that one again again)
, the one area of the book I felt misfired was that it lacked a proper index. However this is not a big issue, as each chapter gives a clear source for all references at the end. And lo and behold they have added one into all upcoming e-book editions. Nice clear reference so you can see what has been said about certain subjects if you’re looking for anything specific!
While at times dealing with heavy subject matter for zombie and real world catastrophic scenarios, this book can easily appeal to anyone and not just die hard apocalypse fiction fans . There really isn’t any subject or social concept that isn’t discussed here. Just like pure fiction books some of the topics are rather terrifying. Such as government modeling behavior leading to any sort of outbreak going from bad to worse not leaving the reader which much confidence. There aren’t very many books like this and as this genre grows I hope to see more serious subject matter like this coming out with the academic slant tied in.
Braaaiiinnnsss!: From Academics to Zombies is available from the University of Ottawa Press
This sounds really interesting.
The great thing is a book like this takes ages to read so its more than worth the money. Tons of ideas in this.