Oh noes, another zombie book! Can the world sustain yet more coverage of the apocalypse brought on by the undead? Well, in this case, it not only must sustain it, but the world will be better for it. You see, we now have a clue, brought to you in this Max Brooks/George Romero-approved journal, of how the plague started and how the disease progresses. What great luck that we also now have a record of the spiritual implications of blowing their undead heads off. Whew!
On an isolated island in the Indian Ocean, a small team has been assembled for a last-ditch effort at understanding the physiology of the zombie. Knowing that their exposure to Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome (ANSD) is certain, these brave souls intend to provide as much medical evidence as possible before they succumb to the syndrome. Or, in layman’s parlance, become ex-people. Unfortunately, it was only by accident that any record of their inconclusive discoveries made it off the island, but even those were tainted by the relative inexperience of the journal’s author, Dr. Stanley Blum.
The project is beset by difficulties, not least of which is that Dr. Blum is an administrator, not a researcher. Dr. Gutierrez, the world’s leading ANSD expert, is also rapidly progressing through the stages of ANSD, although she is able to direct the autopsies. Slowly, the project begins to reveal the medical reasons behind the familiar symptoms of ANSD– the shuffling gait, the insatiable appetite, the ability to remain active despite advanced decomposition. The most serious problem, though, is that the test zombies cannot be sedated, incapacitated, or eliminated, so the work has to be done on animated humanoids, classed as No Longer Human. And they have to be fed.
Schlozman uses an intriguing device to introduce and periodically interpret Blum’s work. The journal is accompanied by a bureaucratic memo reminding the reader that these observations provide the foundation of an upcoming meeting to create a comprehensive strategy. The memo includes a glossary, a copy of the Treaty of Atlanta (laying out the ethics of dealing with zombies), personal materials from Drs. Gutierrez and Blum, and a significant collection of emails.
Schlozman easily moves between voices, adopting the appropriate tone for each. Blum’s handwritten journal alternates between his medical observations and a narrative of his one week in the lab. While the first are informative, the latter are both horrifying and plaintive. The bureaucrat is analytical, even detached; the Treaty of Atlanta is earnest; and those relevant emails are chilling in their specificity. There is one niggling detail at odds with Max Brooks’s description of the earliest outbreaks, but that could be put down to confusion or cover-up over the source and spread of ANSD. Regardless, this is a necessary and readable addition to the scholarly literature, and when it is declassified, should be an essential acquisition for every surviving public and academic library.
Check the WRL catalog for The Zombie Autopsies