Archive | October, 2012

Why Editing Needs To Involve More Than Just Hitting The Spell-check Button

31 Oct

Below are two sentences which differ by only one letter. The letter in question happens to have been replaced with another one that is right next to it on the standard English ‘qwerty’ keyboard, so it would be very easy to type the wrong one. If you ran them through a spell-checker, it would tell you that both sentences are fine. The same with a grammar-checker. Yet, the two sentence paint very different pictures in the reader’s mind. Here’s the first sentence: ‘Shush, I think something’s moving out there, quick pass me the gun!’ What’s going on here? Is someone hiding from would-be home invaders? Maybe they’re hiding from something darker, like zombies perhaps? (It is Hallowe’en after all!). Whatever it is, the aim here is clearly to build some tension. Why else would the speaker need a gun? Now for the second sentence, ‘Shush, I think something’s moving out there, quick pass me the gin!’ Gone is any possible tension, instead there’s something slightly comical about it. Why would the speaker be wanting a gin just because there was something moving outside? It could still be zombies, but it’s more in keeping with Shaun of the Dead than Dawn of the Dead.

Which ever one was intended, getting it wrong is going to ruin the image the writer was looking to create in the reader’s mind.  It’s the kind of error that’s very easy to make and one you can only pick up by carefully reading through your work.  For me, I find that, for whatever reason, I’m most likely to miss these types of mistakes if I’m reading my work off a computer screen and more likely to spot them if I print out what I’m trying to edit. Even then, I know I’m likely to miss a few, at least the first time round, and (much as it pains to me admit it) maybe even the second and the third times too. There are two solutions to this. One is to find yourself a good editor to proof read your work, but not everyone has that option available to them.  However, there’s an alternative that’s freely available to everyone which I’ve found can greatly increase my chances of spotting all types of errors in my work.  This is to read it out loud to myself.  Yes, it feels a little daft, especially if someone walks in and catches you doing it, but for some reason the human brain is much better at picking up errors if it hears them spoken out loud than if it just reads them internally. I’ve no idea why this should be but try it, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to spot all sorts of problems with your work.

Anyway, I hope this tip helps you with your editing, and if you happen to meet any zombies when you’re out and about tonight, just make sure you know the difference between where you keep your gun and your gin!


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.

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The Things You Do When You Know You Really Should Be Writing

30 Oct

I’ve been meaning to write a post about procrastination for some time, but I keep putting it off. Obviously that’s just a bad joke, but there is a serious point behind it. Procrastination has been the death of many a writing project.  You know you really should be doing your five thousand words for the day, or five hundred, or five, but you suddenly find you have a burning desire to do something more important instead.  Something like checking your emails for the third time in ten minutes, or looking to see whether any of your friends have changed their status on Facebook since this morning, or reading that new blog article that’s just been posted, anything other than actually sitting down and writing.

Unfortunately, modern technology means there’s a plethora of temptations just a click away, and it can take all your will power to keep your hands on the keyboard and off the nearest mouse button. But you can’t blame it all on the internet. One of my friends told me her house has never since been as clean and tidy as when she was meant to be writing her Ph.D. thesis. She even found washing the dishes started having a certain fascination she’d never noticed before. In a similar vein, at one point while working in the middle of nowhere with no TV, phone, internet or any of the usual distractions of modern life, I managed to waste a week when I should have been writing, messing around on a beach stacking stones on top of each other into towers that were about eight foot tall, something inspired by the work of the artist Andrew Goldsworthy. I know what you’re thinking, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – it’s amazingly addictive as you try to make each one taller than the last (you can find some pictures of what the beach looked like at the end of the week here).

So is procrastination your enemy?  Surprisingly, the answer is no, not necessarily. The key here is to accept that procrastination is a normal part of the writing process for almost everyone. Once you have accepted this, you will stop feeling quite so guilty about it, and there is nothing that breeds more procrastination than the guilt you feel about procrastinating. Next, you need to find a way to make your procrastination work for you and not against you. This usually involves having little side projects that you can do when, for whatever reason, you don’t feel up to working on your main piece. Basically, these side projects can be anything that will leave you feeling that you have accomplished something with your day. This is so that you will feel positive, rather than negative, about having done things other than the writing you were meant to be doing.

I tend to keep a range of possible procrastination projects close at hand that I can dip into when I feel the need to avoid working on a specific piece for a few hours (or days, or even weeks in a few extreme cases). By having them in place and ready to go in advance, I can make the most of it when the urge to procrastinate that strikes. When working on academic projects, this usually means having at least two on the go at once so that I can switch back and forth whenever working on one of them gets too much. For fiction writing, this might be having a list of non-urgent things I need to research (a nice way of being able to pass surfing the web off as an achievement for the day), writing background notes on a character, or sketching out a set piece that will be used later in a book. It can even be making some initial notes for the next piece or the next book. This means that even when I spend a day avoiding writing, I still feel I’ve done something constructive with my time. If not, the weight of negative procrastination (you know that feeling when you’re lying awake at two in the morning thinking, ‘Oh God, I just spent the whole day playing Angry Birds. Again!’) will lead to a nasty cycle of ever-increasing pressure to get something done followed by ever-more inventive and pointless procrastination that I know can lead to me abandoning a project because I feel I’ve got too far behind with it. I don’t know if this would work for everyone, but it certainly works for me.

Now I’ve got this off my chest, it’s time to go back to the book I’m meant to be working on. Oh, hang on, I’ve just noticed the dog isn’t wearing any nail polish and I’m sure her nails would look so nice if they were painted with that new stuff my girlfriend just paid a fortune for…*

 

*Please note, this was added for comic effect, no dogs were made to wear make-up in the course of writing (or rather not writing) this post. The guinea-pigs on the other hand…


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.

When The Novel You End Up With Isn’t The One You Started Out Writing…

29 Oct

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to move back to my hometown of Glasgow.  The reasons were complicated, but part of it was because I felt so uninspired by where I was living. This was Aberdeen in Scotland. If you’ve ever lived there, you’ll know that it’s permanently cold and has a nasty habit of being shrouded in fog when everywhere else in Scotland is bathed in sunshine (which is admittedly rare). If you haven’t lived there, I really wouldn’t recommend it.

Anyway, after primarily writing in the dry academic mode for about twenty years, I wanted to stretch my creative wings a little. My aim was to write a novel loosely based on my student days at Glasgow University, but somehow the book I ended up with turned out to be a post-apocalyptic novel involving zombie-like infected (please, no jokes asking how I could tell the difference!).  I decided to ask myself how this happened.  This posting is the result.

I’d had the rough idea for both of these books floating around in my head for some years, but it was the one about student life in Glasgow at the start of the 1990s that I most wanted to write.  It was an interesting little sub-culture, with the potential for lots of intriguing characters.  It was also an interesting time to emerge from adolescence into adulthood.  This was Britain under the last few years of the faltering, and much hated, Thatcher government. Political unrest was in the air over things like the dreaded poll tax and Scottish devolution. So basically, there was a lot going for it that would make it a nice backdrop for a novel.  The trouble was I just couldn’t get into the head of the main character. Really, the issue here was I was having trouble writing from the point of view of an eighteen year old (I haven’t been close to that age in this millennium).  I knew what I wanted him to do, but I just couldn’t get it to come across as real.

This led me to make several failed attempts to get the book off the ground, each followed by several months of avoiding doing anything more with it.  I think I completely re-wrote the opening section where the main character is introduced four times but was just as unhappy with each one. So basically, I getting no where with this whole ‘Move back to Glasgow and write a book’ thing.

Then out of the blue, I heard that some of the filming for the movie version of World War Z was going to be done in Glasgow and that they were looking for extras.  I’ve always been a fan of post-apocalyptic stories, and particularly of the Zombie sub-genre, and so I couldn’t resist trying out.  Also, the money would come in really handy. While standing around on the set waiting for something to happen (there’s an awful lot of that in being an extra), I got chatting to some other Zombie fans and at some point I casually mentioned the idea for a post-apocalyptic zombie-type story based around people being trapped on a boat I had lying in the back of my head.  I was surprised to find that people seemed to like the idea, especially the fact that it would be something a little different from the usual zombie books. More importantly, they told me it was a book they’d probably want to read (and maybe even buy).

After the filming, life got back to normal (well as normal as my life ever is), and I tried and failed yet again to get my book about life as a student in 1990s Glasgow up and running. A bit depressed, I stumbled over an outline I’d put together for the post-apocalyptic zombie book, and more to procrastinate over what I should have been doing than anything else, I started to flesh it out. It turned out I found it much easier to get into the heads of characters facing the complete collapse and annihilation of their world than I did that of a Glaswegian teenager (I don’t know what that says about me!).  In no time, I was up and running and I was finding it fun rather than a chore.  After all, what could be more fun that destroying cities with a few words, wiping out civilisation with a single key-stroke or dreaming up deadly scenarios involving zombie-like creatures infected with some mutant virus that my characters would have to escape from. It also helped that I’d chosen to set it around the northern Bahamas, I place I’d lived on and off for much of the end of the nineteen-nineties and I got to relive my memories from an interesting part of my life.

Before I knew it, I had achieved my aim of writing a novel (well it took about nine months in all – with time off in between to earn some cash), just not the one I’d originally set out to write. Even the zombie book has changed dramatically from the original sketches I had in my head.  It’s much darker and bleaker than I’d originally anticipated, and is more about post-apocalyptic survival in a world turned upside down than the zombies (or more accurately zombie-like infected).

I think the lesson here is that, as a writer, often we look up to find that somehow we’re heading in a very different direction from the one we set out in.  Most of the time, we need to rein ourselves back in to keep things on track, but sometimes we need to accept that this isn’t a bad thing and go in the new direction that we’re being taken rather than fighting it. I’ll go back and write that other book eventually (or at least I’ll dust the idea off and give it another go some point), but for now I’m happily immersed the post-apocalyptic world I’ve created, and in writing the follow-up to For Those In Peril On The Sea. It happens to be set in Glasgow and involves the city being over-run by infected and destroyed by fuel-air bombs. I know, I can already hear you saying it again: ‘How would anyone know the difference?’


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.

Sailing Away From The Apocalyptic, Part Three: Kitting Out Your Vessel.

28 Oct

Once you have selected your vessel , you need to think about what you would need to have on it (see Sailing Away From The Apocalypse, Part Two if you haven’t already done this).  For this most part, this will be the same as for any long-distance voyage.  This means you will need the usual collection of water makers, extra fuel tanks, a nice supply of canned food, a wind generator, solar panels, spare sails, spare parts and tools for your engine and so on.

You will also electrical equipment such as a radar, a depth sounder and a GPS receiver, to help you navigate and move around.  however, you will also need charts, a sextant and a plumb line (and know how to use them) for when your electrical equipment finally gives out. For communication, you’ll need a shortwave radio, a VHF radio, and an AM/FM receiver. These will help you keep in touch with any other groups of survivors as well as any communications from what’s left of the government or security forces.

In terms of safety equipment, you’ll need harnesses and running lines (to stop you falling over the side when its rough), a flare gun and flares, a high-powered spotlight and a well-stocked first aid kit (including pain killers, antibiotics and the tools for minor surgical procedures such as amputating a limb or two – hopefully not your own, but it is possible if you have to).  A life raft is probably optional, after all if the worst happens and you end up in it, you are probably pretty much done for and your death is likely to be long and drawn out over many weeks, rather than being over in a matter of minutes if you go down with your boat.

You will find that a small fast runabout invaluable for going out on foraging and scavenging trips as it will let you get to places you simply cannot get to on a sailboat.  You can also cover larger areas much more quickly. This runabout can either be a small rib that would otherwise serve as the tender for your sailboat or a larger dedicated runabout that you have picked up from somewhere.  However, remember runabouts will use a lot of fuel very quickly and you will need to be careful when you use them or you will soon run out.

Finally, we get to the subject of weapons.  This is a tricky one.  Most people would recommend carrying a veritable arsenal of guns and ammunition.  However, unless you actually know how to use them, I say keep clear of them.  In the close confines of a boat, you will find they are probably more dangerous to you and your fellow survivors than they are to anyone (or anything) that is attacking you. Similarly, while crossbows have a certain attraction (mostly because the ammunition is reusable), if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re likely to accidentally pin your foot to the deck with a bolt as you try to reload it, leaving you as the zombie equivalent of candy floss (a soft, gooey treat wrapped around its own little stick!). As such, they are best avoided by the novice. Instead, I would concentrate on ensuring that you have the types of weapons you can use to stop people, or zombies, or plague survivors, or whatever might be out there, getting onboard. This might include machetes, clubs, baseball bats, swords and so on.  This will ensure that you can fight off any attacks when people get too close.  If they are any further away, your best bet is to try to out-manoeuvre them rather than take them on.

So that’s my advice for sailing away from the apocalypse. I hope you find it useful, and Bon Voyage! Oh and if, in the event of the apocalypse it turns out this advice is no use, I can only apologise, but you can at least die safe in the knowledge that I’m likely to have followed it myself and so to have met a similarly gruesome end!


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.

Sailing Away From The Apocalyptic, Part Two: Your Choice Of Vessel

28 Oct

So you’ve decided that riding out the coming apocalypse at sea is a strategy that will work for you (see the posting called Sailing Away From The Apocalypse, Part One for more information).  Now all you need to do is select an appropriate vessel, and then make sure that it is close at hand when the apocalypse strikes. I know what you’re thinking, a sailboat is a sailboat isn’t it?  Can’t I just take the first one I find? If this is what you’re thinking, you might want to choose another escape plan as it sounds like you don’t know enough about sailing to make it a viable option and its likely you’ll sink and drown long before you start wondering which of your crew members it would be okay to eat simply to break the monotony of all the fish you’ve been living on. If, instead, you’re thinking, ‘Which would be better, that gaff-rigged ketch I’ve always had my eye on at the local marina, or that new yawl my next door neighbour just bought and keeps tied to the dock at the end of his garden?’ then maybe you’ve settled on the right way to survive.

There are three main issues you need to think about when selecting your vessel.  These are its size, its type and its age. In terms of size, I wouldn’t recommend anything less than about thirty foot in length, they’re just too small to live on for any extended period of time, especially if you have to cram it full of food and supplies. I also wouldn’t recommend anything much over fifty feet.  This is because such large boats will be difficult to handle on your own, and its important that you can still operate the boat single-handed, just in case something (disease, mutiny, they all get turned into zombies, that sort of thing) happens to everyone else onboard and you find out you’re the only one left.  Also, larger vessels are likely to have a deeper draft, restricting where you can go.  This means that as tempting and impressive as that tall ship tied up at the docks might seem, unless you have a well-trained crew of thirty or forty people and are only planning on sailing through deep waters rather than coming close to shore, it’s not really a viable option.

In terms of type, well this is really up to personal choice. However, I would tend to go for a multi-masted vessel, such as a ketch, a schooner or a yawl, over a single-masted one since you have more options in terms of sails, and if something happens to one mast, you have the other one to keep you moving.  The only exception I would make for this would be for a catamaran.  Their faster speed, the extra space they provide as well as their relatively shallow draft more than makes up for the fact most of them only have one mast.  In fact, a catamaran would almost certainly be my vessel of choice for these very reasons, and this is why I selected a catamaran for the main vessel in For Those In Peril On The Sea. However, catamarans are not necessarily common, and you may not have this option.  In this case, I would recommend a nice ketch as something that’s easy to sail as well as being flexible and roomy.

Finally, there is the issue of age.  You would have thought that the new the better would be the rule here, but it’s not as clear-cut as that.  Sure new vessels will be in better condition and will probably have newer equipment onboard, but often they are not nearly as strong.  In particular, modern technology allows boat-builders to work out what the absolute minimum thickness the fibre-glass needs to be for a yacht to be sea-worthy, making them more vulnerable to the occasional heavy knock.  In contrast, in the old days, boat-builders tended to take a belt and braces approach, making the hulls much thicker and stronger than the minimum needed.  This can make some of them as close to indestructible as it is possible for a sailboat to be, and so a better choice for surviving the apocalypse in.  For this reason, it might be worth considering that twenty year old ketch  that looks like an old tub over that brand spanking new yacht next to it.

What ever vessel you select, choosing it is only half the plan.  You also need to kit it out properly.  That will be covered in my next post.


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.

Sailing Away From The Apocalyptic, Part One: The Pros And Cons Of Spending The Rest Of Your Life At Sea.

28 Oct

Whether it’s atomic devastation, killer viruses, terrorists, rogue governments, wayward comets or just a good old-fashioned zombies uprising, the chances are if you are reading this you have wondered what you would do the day the apocalypse comes and we are all left fighting for our lives.  When it happens (and can you really be sure it won’t?), it is those who have a well-thought out plan, honed through many late-night, and often alcohol-fuelled, discussions, who will have the best chance of surviving.

Some may choose to hole up in the nearest shopping mall (did you learn nothing from Dawn of The Dead?), secret military bunker (been reading Day By Day Armageddon have you?) or football stadium (as pointed out in Dying To Live, this it’s actually a rather good idea), others are just planning on running for the hills (hardly original folks!). Yet, for me, there has always been an obvious option few people ever seem to consider. This is to do what so many young men have done for centuries when things get a bit too hot at home, and run away to sea.  In particular, a sailing boat has always been my preferred escape vehicle.  Engine runs out of fuel? Just unfurl the sails and carry on.  Roads jammed with cars? Not a problem, you just cruise on by. Running low on canned food? Nothing to worry about, there are, quite literally, plenty more fish in the sea.

The was the position I started from when I began writing For Those In Peril On The Sea. Initially, it was going to be a jolly romp about how easy life would be, riding out the apocalypse on a yacht in a tropical paradise, laughing at all those who’d not been so clever with their planning for the apocalypse.  Yet as I wrote and re-wrote each draft, it gradually became apparent that I hadn’t actually thought this idea through properly.  That, or course, is the problem with basing your bugging out strategy on drunken discussions – what seems logical in the alcohol-fogged darkness of the night doesn’t hold up in the bright, and sober, light of day. By the end of the writing process, I’d realised that it wouldn’t the easy life I’d originally thought it would be.  While I still think that life on a sailing boat would give you as good a chance as any to survive the apocalypse (whatever its cause), there are a number of pros and cons you need to consider before relying on it as your main escape plan. I provide them here in the hope that they will help you decide whether a life at sea should be an important component of your own post-apocalyptic survival strategy.

First the pros. Here’s the big one.  Unlike cars, trucks, buses, motorbikes, planes, helicopters, segways, Sinclair C5s and almost every other modern mode of transport, sailboats don’t need fuel to move around.  Instead you can harness the power of the wind.  If the wind stops, you can just drop anchor and wait for it to pick up again. There are other ways to travel that don’t need fuel, such as walking, or horseback (nicely used in the first episode of The Walking Dead), but both you and a horse will still need food and rest.  As long as there’s wind, a sailboat will carry on.  I think the record is something like one and a half times round the world non-stop.

Next on the list, modern, ocean-going sailboats are also specifically designed to be self-sufficient during long cruises.  This means that are pre-adapted for surviving for long periods away from shore, and whatever troubles might be there. Most will have large fuel tanks to run the engine and the diesel generator when needed.  Many also have solar panels and small wind turbines to charge the banks of batteries that are used to run the electrical equipment and lighting.  Similarly, there are reverse-osmosis machines that can turn seawater into freshwater for drinking and cooking, meaning you don’t have to worry about that running out.  After this, there is the fact that you can carry a reasonable number of people onboard (often comfortably between four and eight, maybe ten at a push), certainly more than a car, and if you are careful about who you pick to join you on your escape from the apocalypse (make sure that they have useful and complimentary skills – one mechanic, one doctor, etc), you can create a nice little self-sufficient community.   Finally, boats often have a surprising amount of space.  This means that you can carry plenty of tinned, food, ammunition, guns, or whatever else you might need. If you are forced to run, you don’t have to worry about packing it all into a truck before the zombies break into your camp, you just pull up your anchor and leave.

So with all these advantages, why wouldn’t everyone choose to escape on a sailboat? Well, this is where the cons come in.  Firstly, and this is a big one, you need to know how to sail. Properly sail that it, not just take a dingy round a lake once a year on your summer holidays. If you don’t, you’re unlikely to survive long enough to learn. And it won’t necessarily be the after effects of apocalypse that will kill you, it may well be the sea itself. The same goes for navigation.  There’s no road signs at sea, and you need to know where you’re going to avoid running aground. For this, you need to know more than how to turn a GPS receiver on, you will need to be able to use a sextant and navigate by the stars.  After all, when the end of the world comes, it’s unlikely that the satellites of the global positioning system will remain in space for long.

You also need to be very careful about who you choose to take with you.  Once they are onboard, you will find it very difficult to get rid of them and it’s not like there will be enough room for you to avoid them (in For Those In Peril On The Sea, being stuck on a yacht with people you don’t like when the apocalypse descends on you plays a pivotal role in the plot).  On land, you can always strike out on your own and leave others behind.  At sea, you don’t really have this choice (unless you’re willing to maroon unwanted people on an island or cast them adrift in a life raft).

Similarly, life at sea is not easy. It’s physically demanding and dangerous.  If something happens to your boat, you can’t just get out and try to find another one.  Instead you are well and truly screwed.  This makes boats a poor prospect in the longer term where damage and decay will start to become a factor. There’s also the problem of staying healthy.  While you can get enough food out the sea to survive, you can’t get all the right nutrients and without them you will risk scurvy and other horrific diseases that result from mal-nourishment.  Also, while you can move around without any fuel, your movements will be very much determined by the local winds and currents.  If they are not going in the right direction, you may find you cannot go exactly where you want to.

Finally, and this point cannot be stressed too strongly, escaping by boat is only a viable strategy if you are near the sea when the apocalypse happen.  There’s no point in having a life at sea as your bug out plan if you have to travel through hundreds of miles of land infested with zombies, or radio-active mutants, or radio-active mutant zombies, or… well, you get the picture, to get to the nearest ocean! It’s always going to be a slow get away. There will be no outrunning bombs, or meteors, raining down on the nearest city if you’re too close when they start falling. This may limit the usefulness of sailboats as a get away vehicle.

In summary, if you live close to the sea, if know how to sail and navigate (or are willing to start learning fast now), have access to a good boat, if can bring together the people you want to spend the rest of your live with at a moments notice, and if can solve the problem of scurvy and other diseases of malnutrition, a sailboat may help to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, at least in short to medium term. If not, you’d better start thinking about alternatives, and you’d better start now.

Click here to read Sailing away from the apocalyptic part two: Your choice of vessel.


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.

Playing Rock Guitar For Zombies

28 Oct

I was playing the new version of Rocksmith (for the PC – got to take some time off sometime!) when I noticed something a bit odd.  There is an option for playing gigs which involves a point of view where you are looking out over an audience.  The audience are meant to be computer-generated humans, but the effect is more of playing in front of a horde of shambling zombies. Why? Well, I think it’s because of what is known as the ‘Uncanny Valley’.  This is where a technology manages to capture the human form well, but not quite well enough.  This results in avatars that look human, but in an eerie and unsettling way, and it’s something that crops up from time to time (the Tom Hank’s film Polar Express is a well known example of this.  In the case of the Rocksmith audience, this effect was enhanced by the fact that they all just stood there staring and slowly swaying back and forward, almost, but not quite, in unison. It was like they were humans but humans with no personality, no individuality, and, most importantly, no soul.

This got me wondering about what makes zombies so scary.  Is it their penchant for brains and soft, sweet, human flesh? That’s certainly part of it, but I think there also something else going on here. The rise of the zombies in modern life has occurred at the same time as technology has changed our lives beyond all recognition. They also tend to trend when we are least certain of where our world is going.  It used to be that we knew who we were because, whether we liked it or not, that was the life we were pretty much born into.  If your father worked in a shipyard, there was a pretty good chance that you would too, same with coal-mining, medicine, lawyers and so on. Basically, you knew where you stood (even if you weren’t necessarily too happy about it).

Now, when there are no longer any jobs for life, when technology keeps shifting the boundaries of what is possible and what we need to know, when we feel an ever-increasing pressure, from the media and from our peers, to be a success, to be famous, to be rich, do we fear zombies because of what they represent?  Zombies are humans that have lost all that makes them individuals, all that makes then unique, all that makes them them. Zombies are people who are powerless to do anything for themselves. Do we fear that modern life will overwhelm us and that we will simply be swallowed up by life to become one of the faceless masses with nothing that makes us stand out from the crowd, that makes us individuals? That we will, in effect, become like the soulless zombie-like humans in the audience of Rocksmith, just standing there, swaying back and forth in unison, each indistinguishable from the next. Maybe. Or maybe I’m over-thinking things here, and it’s just their craving for flesh and brains that makes then so scary after all (mmmmmmm, brains!).


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.