Episode 273: Break The News Gently

Zombie Cliche Lookout: Tact

There are a lot of different ways of breaking bad or embarrassing news to someone, but on popular entertainment these tend to boil down to the same two choices you get with band-aid removal: tear it off, or slowly peal it away. How a character chooses to disseminate this information tends to reveal a lot about them. Someone who slowly peals it away is likely sensitive and cares about the other person’s feelings, but they can also be coddling and underestimate a person’s ability to cope. Those who tear it off are the opposite, they are likely to feel the person is more than capable of handling this news, although they may have come to this conclusion because they never actually considered that person’s feelings in the first place.

About this Episode:

I tried out a couple faces for Clark, eventually setting on the paniced scream. I think this is one of the best expressions LEGO® has made. It’s great for someone screaming in fear, but also works well for angry, confused screaming as well. So I’ve more or less got my screaming bases covered.

Other News:

We’ve got some exciting bonus content this week. Zombie author Bryan James has given us an awesome short story, “Pilot” to run. You can read “Pilot” here. We’re hoping that this is only he beginning, so we’ve created a “Zombie Short Fiction” section of the site to house this, and hopefully other stories from some of our favorite writers.

Discussion Question: Zombie Animals

We all know that humans are quite susceptible to zombies. We can be devoured or infected, and neither choice is terribly appealing. But what about animals? Do zombies try to eat them? Can animals reanimate? All animals, or only certain ones? Depending on what movie, game, book, or comic you ask, the rules are all over the map.



Yeah, no hard and fast rule for that one. Let’s use principals of virology here: if a virus is mutating fast enough, and is close enough to a similar strain, making a cross-species leap is assured. Bird flu from chickens to people. HIV from chimpanzees to people. Swine flu. The list is ongoing.

If it’s the dead that walk the earth because there’s no more room in hell (my preferred trope), then no, it’s just of the people, by the people, and for the people.

There’s room in the world for both kinds of zombies; and a good author is free to have both or neither at his/hers/its convenience. I just prefer my zombies undead.


Correct me if I’m wrong here, Bo, but even fast mutating bugs tend to stick within a few species, no?


Viruses tend to trade genetic material when they contact one another; so a flu that normally infects pigs may contact a similar virus that normally infects people, and swap some mRNA (I think, it’s early) and one or both of them may be able to infect the other one’s species. That doesn’t mean that either of them will be able to infect a third species.

Admittedly, my virology is rusty; and I never had a lot of education in the field anyway. I think it’s just another field that preppers get a bit of an interest in, especially after the H5N1 scare.


Very interesting; I wasn’t aware of that at all, but it makes a hell of a lot of sense.


That was the whole crux of the movie Contagion (and another great inspiration for future zombie fiction, in my opinion): the flu strain was present in bats, who had become tolerant to it. Then a bat falls in the pigpen, where it makes the jump to swine. Then the botcher handles the raw pork; and it makes the jump to people.

It wouldn’t be that simple or quick in real life/ The point is that viruses are incredibly adaptable and resilient. The HIV virus did make a similar jump, likely with native Africans butchering chimpanzees for food. The chimps got the virus from monkeys, whom they were hunting for food. It’s only a matter of time before another super bug makes the jump and we’re back in the fourteenth century.


Indeed it was, but I didn’t know how accurate it was. Hollywood and science tend to be diametrically opposed.


Contagion was close enough to fact that we showed it at a Salt Lake Valley Health Department employee meeting to indicate how people would likely react to a full-blown pandemic. The only part that wasn’t realistic was the last act, showing how quickly the government could synthesize a vaccine and how life would just return to normal after. That part was hooey. The beginning though, was spot-on.


Huh, that’s fascinating.

Yeah, the end was a total “Hail Mary touchdown pass with 1 second left on the clock” sort of deal.


My teacher last year decided to show it to the whole class as a learning experience as to how it all worked. But before hand I wanted to go watch it in theaters so we did. My mother and I enjoyed it but my father had fallen asleep on us. I was surprised by how little I actually learned, but it did pose a nice medical mystery that would of been great.. But nope! They had to take the easy way out and give it a “happily ever after” ending.


I’m quite surprised at the instances of this film being used as a teaching aid. I honestly had no idea it was so useful, barring the ending.


I reckon the chances are better than average that Clark’s lost his memory, mind you if there were memories of Ted in my own memories I’d want to lose them, albeit permanently! 😀


If Gilligan’s Island has taught me anything, all he needs is another closed head injury and he’ll be all better.


Depends on if it’s a parasite, bacteria, or a virus.. WHICH!? So many questions..
Since I’m big on the theory of Parasite.. I think that just about everything with a spine is susceptible to being controlled.. But that would be like me saying humans are just as probable to get heart worms as much as a dog might. Truth it no matter what, I guess, everything effects all living organisms differently. Where a mind controlling parasite might take over our brain, it might consume the brain or spine matter of another mammal.


Sort of like that parasite that makes zombie ants; it doesn’t jump to other species.


There’s also that one that’s in cats that there’s a good chance it’s all in us too, but can’t take control. Personally I’d hate to have any Zombie Animals of any sort, and surprisingly that’s not having an effect on my view on what might go on.


I’m not aware of this cat parasite. Do you have a link by any chance? I’d like to read up on it.


Sorry I didn’t get to this comment till just now.. I’ll look you up some information.


I’ve always preferred the zombie rule that animals are immune to infection but are definitely on the menu for hungry zombies.
I never understood why people think zombies would ignore animals as meat sources, especially since humans eat all kinds of animals daily. Granted, zeds may prefer to ignore animals in favor of a nearby human, but in the absence of people, why wouldn’t zeds eat whatever they can catch?
Of course, if we define what is and isn’t considered edible to a zed, we also have to define what speed of zed we’re dealing with because obviously fast zeds will have a better time catching swift animals than slower zeds. Also to consider is whether the zeds are stupid reanimated corpses that just mindlessly stumble after prey or infected living humans who may be better able to organize with other infected and trap fleeing animals. By “trap” I don’t mean set physical traps, but herd a fleeing animal towards some compatriots and trap it between bodies.


We’re of a pretty similar mind on this on Darg. It annoyed me that the zeds in Dawn ’04 ignored that dog.

Silver Fox

Since most like the Hollywood Zombies and that image… I honestly think the zombies would and should go after anything living. I also think in the case of predatory animals, they should be able to fight back too. And it all is a matter of if the author chooses to have whatever agent that causes zombies effect animals.

I think it’s all a matter of what the author wants, how they present it and what people are choosing to read.


C’mon Dave, I’m already sold on this idea, now tell it to me! 😀


I’ve never been in anything exciting in my life, thats the only reason that i want the zombie apocolipse, something to help awesome up my life. cant get more exciting than an epic War ignst the zombies and humans, and only 1 can live! im bored, im going back to class


So you want the world to fall apart because you’re bored? You want babies in intensive care units and geriatrics on insulin and all manner of other medically fragile people to die so you can have a rush?

OK, sport, answer me this, what makes you think you’ll live past the first 72 hours of a WCS event? What separates you from countless other Walter Mitties and video game tough guys in the country that think that they, too, are the best thing since Bear Grylls because they finished Resident Evil 4, or whatever the franchise is up to?

You’re not Max Rockatansky. When the Crunch does happen (and it seems to be a statistical certainty) pray that it’s not as bad as I think it’s going to be, because it sure as hell is not going to be an episode of Revolution, or even The Walking Dead. It will be much, much worse, like Somalia or Liberia or Sinaloa.


i sleep with a baseball bat next to be at night, teddy bears are for adults. ill probibly only live 72 hours anyway, but who cares?


Whoa, Bo, whoa calm ya tits man It’s not an unexpected thing to be said by a young person. People of young age seek that excitement and adventure, outside of the every day norm and don’t tend to think of the future as much as say.. A good survivalist or a survivalist in training might.

I myself have even looked at it with a bit of a brighter mind set than I do the future of our current world. It may sound gruesome, but I’ve been harshly honest with myself.. We live in a world now that has stress levels that can kill a person just as fast as a natural born disease or disability can (There’s a better word for it). Me and my friend both have been survivalist in training for the last 2 years trying to get everything right and we aren’t in it because its ‘cool’ we find it practical.. Admittedly we both find practicality to be the coolest thing which kinda retracts my last statement.. Kinda.. Hell admittedly I’m still unsure about my understanding and knowledge.. But I sure as hell can tell you I’m even more unsure and in bad hopes for the future of living in ‘Modern’ society. To the both of us the end of current civilization as we know it would be the biggest relief on us. Of course that’s going really far and it may just be an escapist thought.. I would love to go on and learn from a college and come up with a good career but to be honest? Nothing fits for me nothing appeals to me. Because there’s not as much adventure in the world as there use to be.. If any it is very little.

Yes I over glorify something that could result in ones death almost instantly on a random action.. Which just makes it that much worse that I so desire it. But can you blame one for wanting to lived a full filled life that one can tell actual stories about? Doesn’t help I was indeed raised in a house hold that always read adventure stories, played games, and my parents (grand parents as well) would always tell me stories of their adventures through life.. Even the bad ones, BUT they always inspired me.

Back to my point.. Especially when we are young we all want that adventure, and for each generation or era.. It’s different… Some time back in the 1500’s there was a teenage boy who dreamt of fighting sword in hand along side brothers in arms.


I’m sure I had a dozen more points to throw at you, but I got a bit passionate on that writing.


Yeah, the zombie apocalypse would definitely be a sure cure for boredom, but so would getting torn apart by a pack of wild dogs.


The older one becomes, the less he will thing that kind of “adventure” is worthwhile. Sure, it’s fun to fantasize when one has no commitments. Then you get a wife, a dog, a mortgage, and kids. Giving up material possessions is one thing; but the thought of traveling through a post-apocalyptic landscape with a wife and two small children is a literal nightmare. It’s hard enough as a provider without thinking about fighting off the MZB horde.

Survivalism is more Grapes of Wrath and less Mad Max. Think about that for a minute.


That is a damn fine analogy right there, and I would strong encourage folks to read that, and anything else about the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. There’s a lot there that can help inform you on how a slow collapse of society might look in the beginning stages.

Agreed 100% on the wife, kids, mortgage thing. I need to get another dog. I miss my old one (named Max, coincidentally, but not by me).


Agreed, most of my worst fears these days revolve around my ability to keep my family safe and protected. I have found enough to satisfy my need for adventure in my various outdoor activities, although I have to bear in mind that I cant put myself at too much risk. I have noticed that once you reach a certain point in life your life doesn’t really belong to you anymore. Basically by deciding to have a family I have taken out a mortgage on my self and I need to pay it. BTW Dave, we recently got another dog to replace our beloved black lab (also named Max but not by me) The new dog (named Moe by the rescue people by some crazy coincidence) is nice, but I still miss Max.


Yes I know Bo I’m just kind of defending the younger mind set, and the desire for adventure. I’m sure I’ll be like this for a long time because that’s what my family had always been about.


Regarding animals, we’ve seen that apes can become “infected”, but I feel like most animals (Animals I live around, anyway) don’t or wouldn’t find human flesh healthy. Also, is anyone getting Black Ops II? I know I am, but only for zombies!


Are you referencing the apes at the beginning of 28 Days Later, Nikolai?

As to Black Ops II, not me. I’m not much of a FPS player.


Max Brooks says in his books that animals are also targets, and will be devoured, but human is the preferred “meat” for zeds. Whereas Dawn 04 the dog was ignored. Can’t remember if Romero’s movies cross this bridge… haven’t seen them in a long time.

In my opinion, you have a new “species” of human, which is part of the food chain, so everything would be fair game for the zeds to eat.

So I guess like a few other posters have said, it depends on the writer as to the scenario with animals.


In Night of the Living Dead, the zombies eat animals, including mice and bugs.


I think I’m with Ted here. They need to get the hell out of there as soon as possible, they don’t know exactly how many are around. We know there’s at least the four that were chasing Clark, and there could have been more attracted by the sound of the van. There shouldn’t be too many around outside of town – you only get zombies where there are people, after all – but if you’re lacking on firepower, you shouldn’t take the chance.

I guess I’m kind of in favour; after all, humans are just another animal. An incredibly smart animal, sure, but it’s not like that’s something we have with zombies.

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