Ask the Experts

Ask The Experts | Joan De La Haye

Joan De La Haye is a South African author whose post apocalyptic zombie novella Oasis comes out later this month.

So since it’s obviously been on her mind we invited Joan to share her thoughts about the apocalypse with us.

________

What’s your favourite apocalypse scenario and why?

I love the Resident Evil movies! I find the idea of human mutation, whether by natural means or test tubes, fascinating.
Can you imagine mutating into something really cool, but deadly? And then doing that on a global scale?
Every living breathing person mutating into something either absolutely amazing or completely horrific.
Oh! The fun I could have with that …

Name one thing everyone should do to be prepared for the end of the world?

Learn how to shoot! If the end is coming, you’re going to have to be able to shoot to kill, whether it’s to defend yourself against Zombies or other people who want your stuff.

Sooner or later you’re going to have to pull that trigger and you’ll live longer if you know how to aim properly.

Where’s the line between being prepared and obsessing over uncontrollable future events?

Good question! I think having a survival kit under your bed is probably a good idea and just being prepared, but spending your life savings on a bunker under your house may be a bit excessive. But then again, if the world really does end in an atomic war, you’ll be glad you did and the rest of us who thought you were bat shit crazy will be begging you for a place in it.

What’s in your survival “bug out” bag?

I’ve got a space blanket, a swiss army knife, hiking boots, camo cargo pants, a machete (it doesn’t run out of bullets), a revolver and spare amo. And because I’m a writer I’ve also got an empty journal and a few pens. A writer has to write no matter how bad the shit is hitting the fan.

Which cultural institution would you die to defend? Electricity, the internet, printed books, etc.

I think Electricity and running water are the most important ingredients to civilisations survival. If we can defend those two, everything else can be rebuilt.

What’s the most important thing the survivors have to remember above day to day survival?

That even when things are at their worst, you still need to find a glimmer of hope. Hope can be found in all sorts of places. It can be found in a simple smile, in a child’s giggle.
Laughter and hope go together. So stop and find something to laugh about. Sing and dance and make music. I’m a firm believer in that old saying: Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.

When do you open the door, i.e. how do you pick and choose between refugees, or do you leave them to their fate?

Obviously family and good friends come first. It also depends on how much food and space I have and what those refugees have to offer.
If they’re hysterical and are going to get me and everybody else killed, they can fend for themselves. Harsh, I know. But we are talking about survival here.

How do you make sure you aren’t caught short when the day comes, i.e. avoiding “I left my apocalypse kit in another car”?

By having more than one survival kit and then stashing them in a few places, that way I’ll never be caught short.

For what person or thing would you break all the rules and go back anyway?

I’d go back for my dog, Tolstoy. He’s too beautiful to be left to be turned into a zombie dog. Plus he’s a husky, so he can pull a sled with all my survival gear. He’ll come in handy.

Ask the Experts: Alasdair Stuart

This issue of Ask the Experts we present genre-fiction expert and culture blogger Alasdair Stuart.

Alasdair is a freelance journalist who first found out about the end of the world from the seminal BBC drama Edge of Darkness and family discussions about the best ways to deal with nuclear fallout. This instilled a healthy respect for doom in him, which grew into a fascination with horror and genre fiction. He has unleashed countless Armageddons upon us all as the host of Pseudopod, the Parsec-Award winning weekly horror podcast. He’s preparing for the end of the world by climbing, cycling, swimming and studying several martial arts.

What’s your favorite apocalypse scenario and why?

I have two. I always rather liked a New Zealand movie called The Quiet Earth where everyone bar a few people simply disappear. The world is intact, everything’s there it’s just most people… aren’t. That’d be interesting, in a very Twilight Zone-ish sort of a way. It’s a lonely apocalypse rather than a noisy one but it’s an apocalypse nonetheless.

My other favorite has been and always will be the ‘Earth gets knocked off orbit and plummets towards sun’ premise of The Day The Earth Caught Fire. Aside from having one of the best endings in movie history, it’s a fascinating, unflinching look at what we do to survive, to cope, when everything else is falling apart around us. Plus, the arid, barren wasteland much of the Earth would become does lead to unlimited Mad Max cosplay opportunities.

Name one thing everyone should do to be prepared for the end of the world?

In the immortal words of Rockhound, ‘Embrace the horror!’. The world’s ended. You are not okay. No one is okay. That’s okay. Which may of course be the title of my Post-Apocalypse Therapy Book. Get safe first, if you can, get some provisions, get some heat and then take your brain off the hook. Everything’s over, and you, lucky or unlucky, are still here. That means you have stuff to do. That means you’re going to be working, hard, for the rest of your life. That also means that you need to take some you time because it may be the last time you get it. So freak out. Trust me, you’ll get bored and come back to the world way sooner than you think.

Where’s the line between being prepared and obsessing over uncontrollable future events?

The point where you find yourself watching the news 24 hours a day.

What’s in your survival “bug out” bag?

-Clif bars. Protein heavy, small, lots of flavours, plenty of variety, good emergency currency.

-Climbing harness, shoes, and watermelon helmet. Which is a helmet that looks like a watermelon not a helmet made of watermelon. That would be weird.

-MMA gloves. Not because I’m planning on stepping into the cage post-Armageddon, although let’s face it, somewhere in Australia, Tina Turner will already be building the Thunderdome. I’d go with these because they’re warm, they’re tough, they’ve got near total finger mobility and if I do get into it, I’m much less likely to break my hands on a zombie’s face if they’re wrapped.

-Water purification tablets.

-A windup torch.

-A windup radio. The BBC will, let’s face it, be one of the last things to go so as long as I have access to them, I’ll know how bad things are.

-Glow sticks or road flares.

-A map marking the nearest high ground, and routes out of the city. If possible, and let’s face it this is doubtful, it would also map out gas stations, supermarket warehouses and reservoirs.

-A silver foil emergency blanket, because sometimes you just have to.

What three things will you most miss about modern society?

The constant stream of information. I live in America, without cable, as I write this and even now I’m swimming in signal. Internet TV, podcasts, radio, social media, newspapers, TV and music all bounce around me and that sense of being deep in a pool of signal, and potential, is something I love. I’ll miss that the most, so I suspect I’ll be one of the people helping build oral histories.

Tea. I know, I know it’s terribly Arthur Dent but I love tea, nothing else gives you that weird combination of wakefulness and relaxation. So there will be regular raids on supermarket warehouses or I’ll just learn to make nettle tea or something.

Really good bread. I know we’re going to end up with bread again, pretty quickly in fact, but I’ve seen The Hunger Games, I know how inexact a science that is. Give me paninis or… give me paninis later when we can make them again.

Which cultural institution would you die to defend? Electricity, the internet, printed books, etc.

Cinema. Doesn’t matter what either, but somehow there has to be a way to project stories on a big wall and take people away. Escapism isn’t just a luxury it’s a necessity and at every single bad time in my life, cinema has helped me get out of my head for a couple of hours and escape. Plus, post apocalypse, cinema has an added educational element to it, one which a couple of post-apocalyptic movies, like Reign of Fire and The Postman, have addressed. Cinema takes us out of our heads and teaches us how to live with each other and crucially, does that as a group. It’s entertainment, history, escapism and community building all in one.

What’s the most important thing the survivors have to remember above day to day survival?

Patience. Hell isn’t just other people, it’s the only other people you’ll ever know, so try and be patient with your fellow refugees. One of the best ways to do this is be honest, tell people when they’re irritating you and tell them to do the same. The group might splinter, there may be fights, but it’s better to get it done now rather than six, seven months down the line. Society is rebooting itself at every level all at once so the good news is you don’t have to be polite about the guy in the SUV’s flatulence, but the bad news is he doesn’t have to be polite about you making stirring speeches all the time. Work it out, bleed if you have to, but work it out because your lives depend on these people.

When do you open the door, i.e. how to you pick and choose between refugees, or do you leave them to their fate?

Someone once pointed out that inside ten feet, a knife will beat a gun in most fights. Adrenalin cuts off higher motor functions once you get above 170 heartbeats per minute so in the time it takes you to warn the knife wielder that you’ll shoot them they’ve closed with you and suddenly it’s their ballgame. Outside ten feet, the knife wielder has other options, the most important of which is running the hell away.

That’s a good maxim to work with. If the zombies/robots/zombie robots/time displaced zombie robot pirates/delete as applicable are under ten feet away from the door, keep it closed. However, let’s face it, no plan survives contact with the enemy, and the cold, hard decisions are the ones we tend to be pretty bad at. So, very aware as I am the consequences of this, I’d open the door for anyone who could get to it and wasn’t part of why the reason for the apocalypse. It’s the flawed, dangerous, human thing to do.

How do you make sure you aren’t caught short when the day comes, i.e. avoiding “I left my apocalypse kit in another car”?

Keep a list of what you need, and know where you can get it if you don’t have it on you.

Keep, at the very least, your phone with you and have a message, detailing where you are and where you’ll be, pre-written to send to your loved ones just before the networks drop.

Keep moving towards your destination, and be prepared to go around if through isn’t an option.

For what person or thing would you break all the rules and go back anyway?

I’m going to Kobyashi Maru this question, twice, no less. Firstly, my girlfriend, I strongly suspect, is the lady driving the tank I’m about to jump INTO so I have no worries about having to go back for her. My family live far enough away that they’ll either be fine and we’ll meet up further down the line or it will already be too late and in terms of stuff? I travel pretty light these days.

So I’m going to say my iPhone, because I figure it’s going to take at worst, three to four weeks for the communications grid to drop all the way. Even then, hopefully, we’ll have met up with a couple of grizzled First Responders who can give us access to their encoded networks which means we can jury-rig a transmitter of sorts, leave recorded messages for any survivors and post regular bulletins about what’s happened, where’s safe, that kind of thing. Throw in a windup charger and I’m good to go.

Thanks Alasdair!

Keep Your Powder Dry,
Green Valkyrie

Ask The Experts | Mike McDaniel

Welcome back to Ask the Experts and our expert today is Mike McDaniel or @purpleskypub

Mike McDaniel lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, two
children, and a cat who hates him. (The cat is a really eye-opening
education for dealing with heartless, mindless creatures.) His book, The
Zombie Hunter’s Guide To Physical Fitness, can be found at
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/974893098/zombie-hunters-guide-to-physical-fitness

What’s your favorite apocalypse scenario and why?

I’m definitely partial to the zombie apocalypse, because it is the
ultimate collapse of society, and there’s no going back. Your friends,
family, and neighbors can all be turned into ravenous monsters in an
instant, and you’ve got to either find a way to deal with that or throw in
the towel.

Name one thing everyone should do to be prepared for the end of the world?

The biggest thing to me is getting yourself in good physical condition.
When the zombies come, it’s inevitably going to be slow and the weak who
go out first. Society has made life so easy for us, most people couldn’t
even walk at a steady pace for an entire day without collapsing from
exhaustion. What if they had to do that for days on end, just to stay
ahead of the shambling undead nipping at their heels? Getting in shape,
making yourself quicker and stronger, will give you a huge advantage in
overcoming the hardships ahead.

Where’s the line between being prepared and obsessing over
uncontrollable future events?

Probably somewhere between a having bug out bag or having a
concrete-reinforced underground bunker. You just can’t be prepared for
every possible scenario, but having some extra food, medicine, and weapons
around probably doesn’t hurt anything.

What’s in your survival “bug out” bag?

I’ve always been fascinated by first aid kits, so I keep several of them
around. Other than that, some easily carried food and a weapon.

What three things will you most miss about modern society?

1. Running water, because that’s something we all take for granted, and
it’s going to suck when it’s gone. Along those same lines, toilet paper.
Sure, there will be enough around for quite a while, but eventually it’s
going to run out.

2. I like good food, and I think that’s probably going to be in short
supply when everything goes to Hell. Have you ever tried canned meat?
Ugh.

3. The carefree attitude of modern society will be a very hard thing to
let go of. Most times of the day, you can go out in the world and see
people who don’t have a thing to worry about. They’re well-fed, rested,
and generally happy. Once the apocalypse happens, we’ll probably never
see that again.

Which cultural institution would you die to defend? Electricity, the
internet, printed books, etc

I don’t know that I’m tied closely enough to anything external to be
willing to lay down my life defending it. Electricity can be generated,
mass communication and information sharing become almost meaningless in an
apocalyptic scenario where small groups of individuals have to just find a
way to survive, and there won’t be anyone around to read the books, will
there? Let it all burn!

What’s the most important thing the survivors have to remember above day
to day survival?

Being human, probably. The end of society doesn’t have to mean the end of
decency, although they do seem to go hand in hand. Even if you’re
well-prepared, you won’t be able to help everyone, but that doesn’t mean
you have to be cruel either.

> When do you open the door, i.e. how to you pick and choose between
refugees, or do you leave them to their fate?
Leave them. It’s as simple as that. If you have a core group that you
intend to keep alive, bringing in more people just means a bigger drain on
resources and more drama to deal with. It’s not ever going to be worth
it.

How do you make sure you aren’t caught short when the day comes, i.e.
avoiding “I left my apocalypse kit in another car”?

Educating yourself on where and how to obtain things, and keeping yourself
in shape can take care of a lot of the issues that might arise from being
caught slightly off guard. As long as you know where to go for food,
water, and shelter, and can get yourself there, you can probably weather a
day or two of chaos until you are able to get to your stockpile.

For what person or thing would you break all the rules and go back
anyway?

I have a wife and two kids. Without them, surviving would be
pointless, so there aren’t enough rules to keep me from finding them and
trying to keep them safe. Plus, rules? It’s the apocalypse!

Zombie Advice from the Experts

In a twist on ‘Ask the Experts’ I thought i’d include this part dramatic and part instructional video with advice on the zompoc from Dave Moody, Wayne Simmons and Jasper Bark. Also featuring as heroine, my own Girl Friday Kat Heubeck.

Enjoy.

Ask The Experts : Pandemonium Pt 2

Welcome to part two of Ask the Experts with the Pandemonium authors. If you would like to read a whole bunch of awesome apocalypse stories by the Pandemonium Girls, one of who is one of our own Apocalypse Girls (looking at Lou) then the details are just below this and just before the rest of the interview. Enjoy.

Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse collects eighteen original stories of the end of the world, as inspired by the artist John Martin. From the terrifying to the comedic, Pandemonium presents the Apocalypse as you’ve never read it before. The ebook is available on Amazon and the very beautiful limited edition hardcover is available in Tate Britain’s shop.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pandemonium-Stories-Apocalypse-ebook/dp/B00624EIBK/
http://www.pandemonium-fiction.com/apocalypse.html


What’s your favorite apocalypse scenario and why?

Chrysanthy Balis: My favorite scenario is the real one– at least for this world- when the sun dies out and becomes a cold black dwarf. Alien invasions, zombies– bring it! Life would certainly be a lot more interesting, despite being suddenly quite shortened. Plus, there’s always a chance you just might survive to begin a new civilization.  But there’s nothing more properly horrifying than the truth. There will indeed be an end to the world. As Allen Ginsberg once said, “The sun’s not eternal. That’s why there’s the blues.”

Kim Lakin-Smith: It has to be the rough ‘n’ tough apocolyptica of the wild west. A personal obsession with America’s landscapes of mountains, dust and tumbleweed means that I am naturally drawn to the spirit of the wild west. The image of the lone gunslinger up against the local outlaw gang is edge-of-the-world dangerous and desperately cool. Add in saloon girls with pistols in their garters, grizzled bar tenders, an alcoholic doc, tetchy pioneers and Timothy Olyphant as marshal, and, to my mind, there can be no finer way to live out those rootin’-tootin’ post-apocalypse days.

Sophia McDougall: I think my favourite scenario is probably the killer pandemic one. I got terrible, months-to-get-over-it flu around the time the reboot of Survivors came out, and I was stuck in bed vaguely wondering if I’d die and thinking of how annoyingly contrived most of the conflicts in the show were  and how no one was doing anything sensible like stealing a road tanker and a generator and making electricity. So I lay there planning the crops I’d sow and the library I’d build and the defenses my fortress would need. Possibly the idea of this happening against the backdrop of a pandemic was appealing mainly because it involved the flu happening to other people. And it has the advantage of leaving a lot of infrastructure intact, and the climate will still be fine, even if all those corpses will become extremely hazardous pretty quickly.

Name one thing everyone should do to be prepared for the end of the world.

Chrys: Die. That is, if the end of the world is actually in progress. Experts in survival say that in crisis situations it is she who can quickly come to terms with her imminent demise who stands the best chance of survival. Considering that I froze up and went into a resigned stupor the time my car broke down next to a mechanic’s shop,  I’m fairly certain I’ll never stand a chance.

Kim: Grow our crops and learn to forage. It terrifies me that in a potential future world where money means nothing and survival everything, I might not be able to tell my wild garlic from my deadly nightshade.

Sophia: WEAR LAYERS. Raid the best and hardest wearing natural-fibre clothes from shops. It’s going to be a while before the heating comes back on. If in Britain, drive or walk through the Channel Tunnel, unless it has collapsed. I’m buggered if I’m spending an apocalyptic winter here.

Which cultural institution would you die to defend?

Chrys: I’ll go with electricity. It’s not very clever of me, but it’s honest. And I have Ashton Kutcher to thank for that conviction. By God, the man’s right:

“And people are going to go, ‘That land’s not yours, prove that it’s yours,’ and the only thing you have to prove it’s yours is on an electric file. Then it’s like, ‘What’s the value of currency, and whose food is whose?’ People’s alarm systems at their homes will no longer work. Neither will our heating, our garbage disposals, hot-water heaters that run on gas but depend on electricity – what happens when all our modern conveniences fail? I’m going to be ready to take myself and my family to a safe place where they don’t have to worry.”

I’m not sure what place that would be, but there’s a very good chance it will be quite dark. And cold.

Kim: I would maybe, most likely, in all probability, die to defend rock music, given that the genre represents alienation and rebellion in glorious Technicolor, and is as dear to me as breath in my lungs. There are many reasons why rock could face censorship come Judgement Day – a leaning towards religious zeal; rejection of the scene’s darker imagery in favour of pop’s escapism; accusations of inciting hatred; a need to control the masses, especially men who like eyeliner…Rock has always been the surly bastard standing in the corner of music. But it is also born of expressed aka theatrical aggression, violence of viewpoint and intensely human sensuality. Take away our music, extricate our souls. Didn’t we learn anything from Footloose, man?

Sophia:  Electricity and the internet are very nice but I find it hard it hard to imagine a scenario where heroically sacrificing myself for them would help. The physics of making electricity won’t go away, we can work it out again later. Anyway, you don’t die to defend utilities. You die to defend principles, such as the freedom to live in peace  and harmony in your little agricultural fortress/commune without any post-apocalyptic warlords coming along to enslave/rape/kill you. So I guess I die to protect the principle that humans have certain rights not to be messed with, but I’d try very hard not to die for that first.

What three things will you most miss about modern society?

Sophia:

a. Long distance communication. We’re very used to being able to find the people we care about, even if they’re on the other side of the world. I’ve made lifelong friends over the internet and I’ve often thought how little it would take to cut those ties irrevocably. And you’d go the rest of your life never knowing if your friends were alive or dead.

b. Variety of foods, and being able to refrigerate it. We’ll probably only be able to have meat occasionally and we won’t be able to rely on imported spices and condiments. We’ll probably go weeks living on nothing but potatoes and nettles and desperate for chicken curry.

c. The tea is going to go stale and run out and then there will never be any more, at least not here. Walking through the Channel Tunnel might not be enough — we’d better make for India.

How do you make sure you aren’t caught short when the day comes?

Chrys: Don’t think I haven’t already seriously thought this through. I’m obsessed with survival kits, bomb shelters and Mormon food storage habits. Unfortunately I have been forbidden to stockpile weapons or dig in the backyard, so that leaves me with just an emergency kit and my sharp wits.

I’m reminded of the time when said kit, which lives in the trunk of my car and is quite large, once had its contents destroyed by flood. One of the survival water pouches inside it leaked on all my mini-solar panel chargers, walkie-talkies and beef jerky. I choose to think of it as an important dress rehearsal discovery– have survival kits everywhere you go so if one is either destroyed or inaccessible, you have another handy. And keep your water stored elsewhere.

Always having a kit handy allows you to collect all sorts of wonderful multi-use survival gadgets to keep in one’s home, car, boat and mountain top camp in Bugarach. I currently carry around one the size and shape of a credit-card. But it’s best used for surviving, say, a day at the mall.  Recently, however, I’ve discovered a nifty little item that’s shaped like a sardine can. It’s “pocket-sized, it floats, you can cook in it, bail water with it and drink from it.” It contains a “compass, whistle, matches, fist aid instructions, a razor blade, pencil, and non-aspirin pain reliever, fire starter cube, adhesive bandages, energy nugget, wire clip, tea, safety pin, reflective signal surface, fish hook, fishing line and spool, duct tape, note paper, sugar, salt, gum, reclosable bag, antibiotic ointment, and an alcohol prep pad.” Hot damn! It may not carry you through to repopulating a wasted earth like my dream bunker would, but it’ll keep you going long enough to say, “Oh! So this is what a post-apocalyptic world looks like!”

What person or thing would you try to save, even if you had to break all the “rules” of apocalypse survival to do so?

Kim: So, I am a mother and a wife. I can take the easy way out and say I’d save both my eight year old daughter, Scarlet, and my husband, Del, but doesn’t that seem kind of cheating? The challenge here is to force myself to choose between the two – because that’s what happens in the movies, right? And the winner is…my husband, Del.

Surprising, I know, but hear me out here. Scarlet is a child. That gives her extra brownie points in terms of apocalypse survival. Think Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, War of the Worlds (according to Spielberg), The City of Embers, Terminator 2, The Tribe…She has also been raised on a diet of bad sci-fi and self-survival code. Dora the Explorer knows the value of a well-stocked backpack. While her peers have stayed baby-soft thanks to their obsession with High School Musical, Justin Bieber and Sylvanian Families, Scarlet has built space rockets from household debris, designed robots, and channelled her inner Indiana. Come apocalypse, my money is on her evolution into Sarah Connor’s true spawn as opposed to Edward Furlong’s mop-haired wiener.

Del, on the other hand, is apocalyptic cannon-fodder. Not only is he an IT worker – T2’s Miles Dyson anybody? – but he’s the honourable type à la Sarah Connor’s squeeze, Kyle Reese. Chances are, he’s going to need a human shield when the world ends. Luckily for him, I’m his wife – and everyone knows that, in accordance with apocalyptic movie law, it’s the writer who always saves the day.

—–

Chrysanthy Balis is an award-winning screenwriter, best known for her adaptation of Asylum, starring Natasha Richardson and Ian McKellen.
http://chrysanthybalis.com/

Kim Lakin-Smith’s latest book, Cyber Circus, was released in September 2011 from NewCon Press. Her next book, Queen Rat will be the first release in Murky Depths’ new line of young adult fiction. http://www.kimlakin-smith.com/

Sophia McDougall is the author of the writer of the Romanitas trilogy, published by Orion and Gollancz. The final volume, Savage City, was released in May 2011. Meanwhile she’s pondering various new projects that may or may not involve cavemen, a barge floating down the Thames with angels on board, post-apocalyptic England, the Book of Genesis, aliens and flying American blue-eyed fish-robots. http://www.sophiamcdougall.com/

Ask The Experts : Pandemonium

Welcome back to ‘Ask the Experts’. This time we are visited in two parts (they got a bit carried away) by the fabulous female authors of Pandemonium. Enjoy today’s installment and come back for more of this tomorrow.

What’s your favorite apocalypse scenario and why?

Archie: The Slow Burn. Something is very, very, veeeery slowly killing off An Important Resource, maybe along the lines of the potato blight, but affecting every form of vegetation in the world, and totally incurable, so that people have to live their lives knowing that, eventually, everyone’s going to starve to death. In this scenario, we all know the end is coming, but we’ve got a good couple of decades to angst about it. I like this apocalypse because it isn’t all about machine guns and reactionary politics: people have to continue living their lives, knowing that there’s nothing they can do. I like my apocalypses to be nihilistic both personally and abstractly.

Lauren: Monstrous giant bugs (ideally sans actual nuclear fall-out)!  Because bugs are squicky and terrifying when they’re bug-sized let alone the size of a house. (Also because my three year old daughter really, really loves them and I’m hoping she might have a psychic connection and be able to tame them to her will and then we can totally take over. See also answer below).

I also really loved the Sigur Ros music video where the kids in their hazmat suits run out to make powder angels in the black ash that’s falling like snow.

Sarah: Tempted to say zombie outbreak (simply because I live in Cape Town which is perfectly equipped for a zombie apocalypse – loads of malls, zombie-proof paranoid security estates and tons of readily available illegal AKs), but the smell would be ghastly and I’ve eaten brains and they taste like crap. So it would have to be an alien invasion with a twist, like in Damon Knights’s  stellar story To Serve Man (see link for clip from the classic Twilight Zone adaptation).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIufLRpJYnI

Lou Morgan: I suppose the honest answer there is “a preventable one”! I’m a big fan of the highly-unlikely, massively over-the-top apocalypse. Give me an end of the world scenario where the core of the planet has stopped spinning & only really bad science can save us and I’m happy. Anything which strikes me as being within the bounds of possibility (which, in my head, covers almost every viral eventuality from the T-virus to Captain Trips) and I start getting a bit twitchy.

Name one thing everyone should do to be prepared for the end of the world.

Archie: Learn how to start a fire without a match. That way you can keep warm, cook, boil water, set containment fires, and make useful weapons out of the rags, empty bottles, and moonshine you’ll have been stockpiling.

Lauren: Have an exit strategy. Mine involves keeping my car serviced and with a full petrol tank, knowing where the motorbike shop closest to the highway is, so that I can steal one at gunpoint if the highways clog up, and race to my brother-in-law’s farm in the mountains, dynamite the pass so no-one can follow and live off the stockpiled canned food, paying strict attention to BPA contamination issues.

Actually, screw it, that all seems terribly complicated and involves getting hold of a gun and dynamite, which, whatever you’ve heard about South Africa isn’t actually that easy. I’ve revised my exit plan. Now it’s get bitten early, rise up to become Queen of the Zombies. Overthrow the world. Rule in brain-munching happiness.

Lou: Learn to pilot a space shuttle. Then, come A-Day, you can make a dash for it and ride the whole thing out in orbit. Come to think of it, aren’t there a couple of shuttles knocking around on eBay…?

Sarah: Stock up on leather trousers and/or get a Harley Davidson. Everyone knows that in whatever apocalyptic situation – nuclear war, zombie attack, bio hazard etc – you can’t be a proper survivor if you don’t dress like an extra from a 1980s Guns N` Roses video, complete with bandanna, leather vest, grizzled hair and customised Harley/ Camaro/other muscle car (see Mad Max, Book of Eli etc).

Which cultural institution would you die to defend?

Archie: I’m honestly not sure there’s any cultural institution I’d die to defend. That sounds terribly dark, but really. If everyone is going to die; if it’s really The End? What’s the point of taking a bullet for the internet when I could be stockpiling moonshine?

Lauren: Printed books. Because your SAS survival manual on your iPad isn’t going to do you any good when the sunspots wipe out the Internet and the zombies over-run the coal mines and the toxic waste monstrosities standing in as parables for environmental ruin gobble up all the electricity in big gulps of volts.

Lou: Long-term, anything which tells survivors (I’m an optimist. I like to think that even if most of us don’t make it, *someone* will) what the hell we did to ourselves and how to avoid being so monstrously idiotic again would be useful. In the shorter term, Gerard Butler’s totally worth saving. Just, y’know, because.

Sarah: None. As a social mediaphobe I can’t wait for the internet to go down. Often have fun thinking of the world’s last tweet (OMFG they’re breaking into the cellar:(  #goforthehead)

Where’s the line between being prepared and obsessing over uncontrollable future events?

Sarah: There is no line. You can never be too obsessive or prepared about these things – an apocalypse situation is no laughing matter. I even have a ‘what if giant spiders attack’ scenario in place (it involves a biplane, a Raid factory and a very large shoe).

What’s the most important thing the survivors have to remember above day to day survival?

Lauren: Oh man, I’m going to go all serious on this one. Remember that people survive worse every day. Genocide, rape as a weapon of war, having their kids killed in front of them, tsunamis, earthquakes, industrial accidents, human slavery that’s actually the worst it’s ever been in the history of mankind. In many, many places in the world it’s an apocalypse right now. Be strong, know that others have suffered more than you ever will and some of them have come through on the other side.

What’s in your survival “bug out” bag?

Lou: I have one of those magical handbags which seems to be able to take everything I sling into it, so I’ll be relying on that to get me through. This may mean that I’ll be forced to survive on old Tic-Tacs or biscuit crumbs, but I will also have a pen-knife, a corkscrew, several small plastic toys, a book, some sticking plasters, notepaper, at least three pens (one of which might even work) and a pair of folding shoes.

I’m not even kidding about the shoes.

That said, I don’t think it matters what you’ve got in the bag if you’re on your own. No-one could make it through the apocalypse alone, so the most important thing you can have is other people: your posse, your apocabuddies, your own private security force… call them what you will – come the end of the world, what you’ll need most is your friends.

When do you open the door, i.e. how do you pick and choose between refugees, or do you leave them to their fate?

Archie: Realistically, I’m too tender-hearted to ever turn anyone in need away. I’m not even going to pretend that I’m the kind of self-sufficient, gung-ho survivalist who could hole up in some mountain shack with my dog and my shotgun and make do. Everyone, if the end times come, just pop over to my place. I’ll share my last can of beans with you. Unless you try to eat my dog. No one touches my dog.

——

Bios:

Lauren Beukes is the author of Moxyland and Zoo City, and has been recently announced as one of the writers of Fairest, the new Fables spin-off series from Vertigo. Zoo City won The Kitschies’ Red Tentacle on its way to picking up the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award.
http://www.laurenbeukes.com

Archie Black lives and works in London. She is currently writing a book about Dorothy L. Sayers. http://archnoir.blogspot.com

Lou Morgan has plenty of experience when it comes to making things up: just ask her son about the Plughole Monsters who live under the bathroom sink. Her short stories have been published by the British Fantasy Society, Morpheus Tales and Hub Magazine, and her novel Blood and Feathers will be published by Solaris Books in 2012.
http://loummorgan.wordpress.com/

Sarah Lotz is the messy, sweary half of horror writer persona SL Grey (author Louis Greenberg being the better-behaved other half). She’s also published a young adult zombie series, Deadlands (Penguin), written with her daughter under the name Lily Herne, and a legal thriller series under her own name (Exhibit A and Tooth and Nailed, Penguin). She can be found drowning in caffeine in Cape Town most of the time.
http://slgrey.book.co.za/

Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse collects eighteen original stories of the end of the world, as inspired by the artist John Martin. From the terrifying to the comedic, Pandemonium presents the Apocalypse as you’ve never read it before. The ebook is available on Amazon and the very beautiful limited edition hardcover is available in Tate Britain’s shop.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pandemonium-Stories-Apocalypse-ebook/dp/B00624EIBK/
http://www.pandemonium-fiction.com/apocalypse.html

Ask the Experts: Zed Defense

Welcome to the “Ask the Experts” series, where the Apocalypse Girls present interviews with fellow survivors. This week we present Charles Shepard, founder of the Ascension Martial Arts in San Jose, California. In addition to instructing Shaolin Kung Fu, Charles runs an annual Zed Tactical Response Force seminar where he teaches a zombie defense course.


“Ascension Martial Arts is dedicated to training people to live a better life. We have created a fusion based on more than 20 martial art systems to achieve your goals. We have even created zombie-specific empty-hand and short weapon techniques for the upcoming apocalypse. These techniques are easy to learn, easy to train and will be handy when you run out of ammo. After this training, you will not fear the zombies knowing you have the ability to beat the unlife out of them.”

What’s your favorite apocalypse scenario and why?

I think of all the Doomsday scenarios; Alien invasion, Communist take-over, Smurf movies, it is the Zombie Apocalypse that is the most alluring. Simply put, thinking creatures will make mistakes and you can capitalize them. The Zeds are unthinking, untiring and every encounter creates more of them. We are talking about being in the moment 24/7. This is the Zen of a Warrior.

Name one thing everyone should do to be prepared for the end of the world?

Move! Not move to the mountains or your fortress of solitude, but move yourself around. When you go to the store, park at the back of the lot and walk. Carry your groceries back to your car. “But carrying ten bags of groceries sucks!!!” Yeah it does. But trying to carry 70lbs of guns, water, tools and being chased by zombies is really going to suck ass. Being able to move will keep you alive and if you can move like a Parkour expert, you’ll live a lot longer.

Where’s the line between being prepared and obsessing over uncontrollable future events?

The Samurai believed in practicing with their katana daily and then letting it rest in the saya the rest of the day. Being prepared means you have your daily packs ready and a storage cache ready. Weekly training with your tools and weapons. Be obsessive is taking your Mossberg tactical shotgun to work everyday. Keep your sword ready, but never drawn.

What’s in your survival “bug out” bag?

I have two “bags”. The first is a day kit for 1 -3 days of survival time. It has water purifier, iodine for nuclear fallout, knives, antibiotic cream, duct tape, non-perishable MRE, smelling salts, and Claritin-D for my asthmatic episodes. This kit is to keep me alive long enough to reach my cache. My cache is a large version of the “day kit”. It also includes weapons, rounds, solar charging station and heavier items I do not feel like lugging to work everyday. The CDC website has a great list for survival gear in the event of a catastrophe.

What three things will you most miss about modern society?

Triple shot, Double Dutch Mochas
Super BurritoZilla from Iguanas (The four foot long one)
Honey Red Mead
And no, not going to miss facebook.

Which cultural institution would you die to defend? Electricity, the internet, printed books, etc.

Tough question. This implies a siege to defend. Zed’s will overcome any siege due to the fact, they don’t feel and they know the food is hidden inside. If I were to take a stand to defend something, it would be a viable water supply.

What’s the most important thing the survivors have to remember above day to day survival?

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Paying attention to your movements, to your rest, to scavenging is going to pay off. One mistake could cost you. This will be your greatest asset and your greatest obstacle to success.

When do you open the door, i.e. how to you pick and choose between refugees, or do you leave them to their fate?

Our humanity is what separates us from the monsters. I cannot stand by and leave people to the Zeds. I think the greatest compassion will be opening the door to all refugees. And finalizing the suffering of the infected or the lost. The Zeds will not take another human life on my watch.

How do you make sure you aren’t caught short when the day comes, i.e. avoiding “I left my apocalypse kit in another car”?

Day Kits are not terribly expensive. It is good to have one where I spend more than 10 hours a week. I have four of them, one in each car, one at work and one where I train. Remember, these kits are to keep you alive long enough to get back to your cache.

For what person or thing would you break all the rules and go back anyway?

Family. Anyone who knows me, knows how unhealthy it is to get between me and family.

Thanks Charles!

Rule 1: Cardio,
Green Valkyrie

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