Tag Archives: undead monsters

Ways Real Life Is Not Like Video Games

  • Random strangers you meet are not, however tangentially, related to your Destiny
  • You are not athletic
  • You are not flexible
  • Physics has pretty solid limitations
  • You are probably not highly skilled with a bow, handgun, or rocket launcher, and definitely not all three
  • You do not manage to carry a nearly unlimited number of items in only an outfit that has no obvious place for pockets
  • You will not be in a situation where you need to craft a gun from spare parts you “found” in an ancient temple
  • You are not encouraged to break pots in other people’s houses
  • You should not disturb artifacts. They belong in a museum
  • Your grandfather does not come back as a ghost to judge you on your farm quality
  • You are unlikely to be The Chosen One
  • You are not likely to survive an apocalyptic event
  • You will not be asked by said strangers to go on a fetch quest
  • You cannot fast travel
  • Cut scenes are unskippable
  • Resource boxes are not located conveniently just before the Big Boss location
  • Respawn is highly unlikely and unpredictable
  • Save points are possibly nonexistent
  • You do not get to choose your baseline appearance or personality
  • Leveling up does not come with any obvious sound effects and only rarely with badges
  • Additionally, most achievements cannot be shared with friends
  • You will not be known and respected across the land
  • If you slaughter a village of peasants, you cannot load a saved game to restore your honorable reputation
  • Not all merchants will trade with you
  • You are unlikely to make a living by selling natural resources you found by the road
  • Your companions do not have to listen to you or follow your leadership
  • You need to eat just because you burn energy, not just because you got punched in the face or otherwise injured
  • Do not light fires unless you know what you are doing
  • You do not have an awesome, inspiring soundtrack at key moments
  • If you tire of your storyline, you cannot put it aside or switch to a different game
  • Getting a date and getting married are somehow both more and less complicated
  • You are not required to give people gifts in order to make them become your friend
  • You have to take bathroom breaks
  • You are unlikely to encounter werewolves, zombies, or mechasoldiers
  • Weather lasts more than five minutes
  • Climbing a mountain is not the fastest way from A to B. Just stick to the road
  • The controls can be tricky to learn and operate, and the rules seem to be continually changing
  • You cannot draft players onto your sports team. You do not own a sports team, and even if you do, it doesn’t work quite like that
  • Drinking “potions” with unknown ingredients is a good way to get sick
  • Healing takes more than a mouthful of herbs
  • Call for help if you jump in a pipe and end up in a dungeon
  • No one is giving swords to 10-year-olds, and people in caves who try to should be reported to the authorities
  • Important objects do not highlight when you look at them
  • Plants are a poor defense against the undead
  • If you think you are fighting the Greek pantheon, a horde of demons, dragons, or aliens, please consult a mental health specialist
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Movie Review: 28 Days Later — 4 Juicy Brains

I’m a peering-through-my-fingers kind of horror watcher (which is to say, I don’t). But I wrote a zombie novel, so it’s kind of expected that I’ll know, you know, something about some of the major zombie movies. While I don’t think my ignorance has held me back at all, really, it is a little embarrassing to admit. (This is how I explain: “I’m more of a Shaun of the Dead kinda gal than a Living Dead…”)

But I’m working to remedy things. Last month I watched Zombieland. I’ve continued my education with modern cult classic 28 Days Later.

28 Days Later- Zombie Movie Review

Premise: Jim wakes up from a coma 28 days after a zombie outbreak (related to scientists and chimpanzee experiments on “rage”) has swept through London. After stumbling around in confusion, he links up with other survivors: the tough, no-nonsense Selena; the bad-joker Mark; young girl Hannah; and Mark, her father. They seek sanctuary, and Jim hardens from soft, confused coma patient to badass survivor.

Zombie Characteristics: Zombies are technically infected with this “rage” virus. Outwardly, they pretty well match your basic zombie template, with perhaps less rotting flesh. They’re fast, or at least as fast as a human would be. They seem more inclined to rip and tear than actually eat, and there is no indication that they’re after brains in particular. They’re dumb but not totally moronic. The infection is spread by saliva (being bitten) and blood transmission.

Apocalypse Level: Severe. Jim wakes up to a totally abandoned London. It’s pretty eerie. It looks like there may not be any other people at all, but he gets lucky. There aren’t hordes or roaming undead, but it doesn’t take many to be a real problem. Though the radio/TV services are all down, rumor has it that the zombie infection was not contained… perhaps the whole world is infected. There are, however, hints of other survivors.

Gore Level: Medium. There really aren’t that many intense zombie attacks, but when they do show up, they can be visceral. Most of the “gore” and scare factor seems to come from the setting, and the rough film techniques. Isolation is the biggest danger here…after you’ve outrun the zombies.  The worst parts may be the violence of the other survivors.

Overall: It turns out the scariest parts of a zombie apocalypse may be the other survivors. The parts with the soldiers… were deeply unsettling to me. I mean, they’re supposed to be, but I found it more upsetting perhaps than was intended. That was the part that made me mad/scared, more than any of the creepy zombie parts. Zombies are scary and should be avoided, but trust for other survivors may be the hardest thing to come by in the apocalypse. Women, bring your Tasers and pepperspray when the zombies start rising up.

But I can see why 28 Days Later got so much attention. I’m grateful that the creators allowed a speck of hope at the end (though I did watch the two alternative endings, for science). I wouldn’t call it “fun,” but it’s a great movie. Plus it introduced the world to Cillian Murphy, and for that we should all be grateful.

For that, and its importance in zombie lore, I give this movie 4 juicy, blood-splattery brains!

juicy brains

juicy brains

juicy brains

juicy brains

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Zombie Love Song

In which we ask the age-old question, “Is there room in your undead heart for me?”

Plus it’s quite catchy.


Undead Rising coverNeed more zombies? Go buy Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny, available in print and on Kindle. Your choices shape the story! When you die in the book, sometimes you rise again as a zombie, unlocking new adventures.

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March 8, 2014 · 10:49 am

Review: Zombies, Run! 5K Training

I typically exclusively review books, but…I’m gonna make an exception for Zombies, Run! Yeah, it’s an app, but it’s an app that tells a story — it just also happens to teach you how to get in shape and motivates you to run.

It turns out, someone yelling “zombies, run!” in your ear is powerful motivation to get running.

Zombies, Run! is an app for iPhone/iPod and Android devices. I, being a complete non-runner and couch-potato enthusiast, just finished with the beginner level, Zombies, Run! 5K Training. When I bought it, it was $2.99 — the best $2.99 I’ve ever spent.

Basically, it’s a interactive story, in that the voices in your head(phones) will tell you to do things and you’re expected to actually do them. In participating, you unlock more of the story. It’s great motivation if you a) like zombies, b) like British accents, c) have no idea how to run and d) are bored by normal workouts.

In other words, what’s not to love?

Zombies, Run! 5K Training begins when your helicopter crash-lands outside one of the few remaining human settlements. You’ve got to shuffle to the base before the zombs get you. From there, the doctor looks you over and breaks the news: everyone on the base has to earn their keep somehow. Luckily (or, unfortunately, depending on perspective) a slot among the runners has just opened up. Over the next 8 weeks, you will train 3x a week with the doctor until you’re in prime getting-supplies-and-fleeing-from-zombies condition.

Fun, yeah? It’s great. Zombies, Run! 5K Training has action, adventure, romance, tragedy, mystery and tons of humor. It’s so good, I started having dreams that the base needed me on the days I wasn’t running. I hate having to skip a day because I want to know what’s going to happen next.

If you think you have even an inkling that you might like learning how to run while hearing a zombie story, download it. Right now. You won’t regret it.

—–

Now, because I was a total newbie to all things running, I screwed up a couple of times. I’ve made notes that might help someone else. Learn from my mistakes, people!

  • Don’t try to run when the temperature is over 105 degrees.
    I didn’t finish the program in 2 months, as scheduled, because Texas summers are so hot you feel like dying every time you inhale. I had to take a break for a few weeks to let things cool down, totally throwing off my momentum.
  • Buy some cheap athletic clothes.
    When I first started, I had the attitude “I’m just going to sweat in it, who cares what it looks like?” Well, it turns out that stuff made for running is actually more comfortable to run in. Who knew, right? Besides, if you only have one shirt, you are not going to want to put it on by the third workout after it’s been twice christened by sweat. Buy yourself some shirts.
  • Don’t run on uneven paths.Another mistake that delayed my workout–in trying to hide from the painfully scorching sun, I once switched my jogging path to the unpaved, but far shadier, one nearby. Turns out your ankles aren’t supposed to move horizontally when you step down. I was limping for weeks. Don’t do it, kids.
  • Download some heavy-bass music.
    In between story sections, you’ll be able to listen to music. You want to pick something that has a beat you can fall into step with. Look up some running music suggestions — the internet is full of them–and pick the ones that make you happy; you’ll be hearing them a lot. My personal favorites (it’s possible I had a theme in mind):

    • “Bad Moon Rising” -Creedence Clearwater Revival
    • “Toxic” – Britney Spears
    • “Another One Bites the Dust” – Queen
    • “I Ran (So Far Away)” – Flock of Seagulls
  • Buy yourself a case so you don’t have to hold anything.
    The one time I had to hold my phone while I ran was the most stressful sucktastic thing ever. Don’t do it. Besides, you’ll get your sweat all over it. It’s not worth it.
  • Do it!
    It’ll be great, seriously. I feel so much stronger than I did before I started, and I have more energy, too. I can’t recommend this app enough.

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Killer Craft: Build Your Own Zombie

Gorgeously Gruesome ZombiesMy grandmother is the perennial thrift store shopper, and periodically she finds something wonderful and weird. This time, I was the recipient of her bounty: my very own Gorgeously Gruesome Zombies kit!

Basically it’s a little craft booklet with instructions and templates on how to make 8 plushy “zombies” (they’re kinda liberal with what constitutes a zombie, though, thus the quotation marks. Personally I don’t think a construction cone should qualify. Nor a caterpillar, though I guess that’s scary-ish?)

But it combined two awesome things! Crafting + zombies = fun, right?

So, for your viewing pleasure, my very own DIY zombie, in step-by-step process.

First, prepare your supplies.

Assemble Supplies

Second, read the section on the “zombie kid” and discover it doesn’t include all the supplies you’ll need. Be annoyed but grateful you have a ridiculous assortment of scrap/craft supplies.

Read Instructions

Third, trace templates from back of the book and then pin to felt.

Zombie Templates

Fourth: Cut out clothing and body parts. Feel ghoulish.

Body Parts

Fifth: Build your little Frankenstein’s monster body with the help of craft glue. He’s a spiffy chap.

Construct Body

Sixth: Sew monster’s front to his back. Be annoyed that he’s apparently wearing body paint clothes as his back is flesh-colored (grey). Add some blood to his stumpy arm.

Sew Em Up

7: Tell your zombie to stuff it.

Stuff It

8: Make a face. Ignore weird instructions to apply gross eyeball after head is complete and do it now because it makes way more sense. Be squicked out by the dangly eyeball. Love your zombie even more. Make a Face9: Sew him up.

Sew Him Up

10: Make sure he has a fat head.

Fat Head

11: Make a hat! Wish you also had a dashing red top hat of your very own. Be jealous of your zombie creation. A Hat!

12: Attach head to body. No Neck

13: Make him fancy.

Fancy Zombie Creation

14: Electrify.

Just kidding. Don’t add electricity to your zombie. It won’t work, anyway. They’re undead by nature.

Do store your zombie in a safe place to keep your cotton-stuffed creation away from your BRAIIIINS….

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You’re Equal to Me in Every Way…For A Lady

The full cast o’characters.

In fighting the late-summer heat, I recently picked up a new-t0-me video game: Dragon Age: Origins. It’s pretty cool; you are on a hero’s journey to become a Grey Warden and travel from town to town fighting monsters and trying to save the kingdom. There’s a lot of customization, and the choices you make throughout will affect the outcome of the game.

And you have to make a lot of choices. (It’s almost the Starbucks of video games: and would you like whip with that? (I’m easily overwhelmed by Starbucks….can you tell?))

The very very first choice, though, is building your character: Will you play as a male or a female?

In some ways, the fact that it’s even an option to play as female is a great thing; in some games, forget it. You’re just a white-ish athletic dude no matter what. So I always enjoy games that give you more versatility in that way.

The prompt as you choose your playable gender says Fereldon, the world, is a pretty equal place, with opportunities for both men and women in the three playable careers–warrior, mage, and rogue. That’s important, because I like to know when I’m cutting myself off from parts of the game with my choices.

So I built my female human mage with red hair and dark eyes and went happily on my way.

Except I was constantly reminded by other characters (non-playable characters, or NPCs, for you non-gamers out there) that woah, hey! You’re a lady!

In some cases, it made sense and fit with the story: when Morrigan the wild witch met me, she was more friendly because she carries a general dislike for men, having grown up in isolation.

But most of the time, it doesn’t. It’s more like “wow, you’re a fighter and a lady? Whodathunkit?!” In a world that is supposedly equal. And where I periodically see other female warrior/mage/rogues running around.

It just got tiresome. So this happened:

dragonage Twitter

Think about this in your writing. If your character is something different, that’s fantastic! We need more minority characters–not just female, but also non-white nationalities. And that should affect the story where appropriate–as in the case with Morrigan in Dragon Age.

But when all the “NPCs” in your book take time to comment on the difference, you aren’t showing that there’s equality. You may be telling the reader that there is, but what you’re showing is exceptionalism. And it’s pretty tiresome, both in our stories and just to read. (See: Repetition)

(There may be stories of exceptionalism where it is still relevant–“wow, she’s the only one who can do that!”–but I personally think the gender-based exceptions are played out. Do something different.)

Don’t tell me how equal I am: just let me get on with the monster-fighting and world-exploring. That’s how I KNOW I’m equal–because I can definitely kick some undead monster butt if you’ll just let me get on with it.

 

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Zombie Bug-Out Bag

In my last post, I talked about the real-life preppers who kinda sorta maybe believe the zombie thing is real.

This guy probably doesn’t, but he provides a cute look at why the zombie apocalypse works as a good trope.

Also, he’s just sorta silly. And I approve of that.

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August 3, 2013 · 10:00 am