Tag Archives: Zombieland

Of Pizzas And Apocalypses

23 Mar

Of all the food I eat, pizza would be the item that I’d miss the most if I were forced to live in a post-apocalyptic world. I know this for a fact because when I’ve been working offshore or in some remote location for weeks, or even months, at a time, deprived of all but the most basic food (and sometimes not even that), it’s always pizza I find myself craving. If I’m away long enough, I’ll even find myself dreaming about it. That’s how much I miss it. After all, there’s nothing in the world like kicking back with a cold beer and a slice or two, especially with friends.

Now, for many people these days, pizza is what you get from Dominos, or worse Pizza Hut, but that’s not the type of pizza I like. I especially don’t like the mass-produced deep-pan pizza that’s more base than topping and tastes like cardboard warmed up. I know this will be sacrilegious to some people out there, but I prefer mine in the traditional Neapolitan style.

I first encountered these pizzas, with their wafer thin bases, cooked in traditional stone pizza ovens, while staying in a small hotel in northern Italy. Later, when back in Glasgow, in my native Scotland, I was amazed to find that if I sought out just the right little family owned restaurant, I could get it there, too. This shouldn’t have surprised me, after all, Glasgow has a large Italian community which brought us some fantastic ice-cream, deep-fried everything and many, many restaurants, but it did, because the only place I’d ever had pizza before in my home city was in a chain pizza restaurant that favoured something closer to the Chicago style, but even then it wasn’t close.

Now, it might have taken me some twenty years since I first tasted a true Neapolitan-style pizza, but a few weeks ago, I finally decided that, in case civilisation ever came to a sudden, and unexpected, end, I should sit down and work out how to make such pizzas myself (after all, someone has to keep the knowledge alive – even in a world filled with flesh-eating zombies, it’s important that someone still knows how to make good pizza!).

Neopolitan_PizzaSo armed with Google, some search words and some blind faith in my own cooking abilities, I set out to see what I could do, and the result was … passable at best! However, I could see it was a step in the right direction. So, after I’d eaten the first attempt (bad as it was, I still couldn’t face wasting pizza!), I tried again, this time using exactly the right sort of flour the recipe called for (rather than whatever half-used bag I’d found lurking in the back of my food cupboard). This time, it worked so perfectly that even my girlfriend was impressed (okay, I’ll admit it, it took a bit it longer than two attempts, but you’ll have to forgive me for using some artistic licence here to make me look better!).

Now, this has resulted in two problems. The first is that I can now have my favourite pizza whenever I want it, and I’m going to have to try very hard to ration myself, so I don’t balloon up like a … well, a balloon. The second is that when it comes to pizza night in our house, I’m now left with the cooking duties (damn – but it’s a burden I’m willing to shoulder if it means never having to eat supermarket pizza ever again!).

Of course, this is a small price to pay for perfect pizza on tap, and one I’m willing to take, but there’s another issue, too. What if the zombies rise tomorrow? If that happens, I’m going to be left ever-searching whatever post-apocalyptic hell-hole I find myself in searching for the ingredients to make the pizza I’ll no doubt be craving, just like Woodie Harrelson’s Tallahassee and his endless search for Twinkies in the movie Zombieland.

But wait, maybe I could even carve myself out a niche in this post-apocalyptic world as an itinerant pizza-maker, wandering from community to community, bartering my skills for guns, bullets and any other supplies I might need. After all, I’m sure I won’t be the only survivor who’ll be dreaming of pizza once the world has come to an end, and maybe they’d pay anything to get their hands on it again. In this respect, I might find myself following in the footsteps of the last human in the Universe, Arthur Dent, who, after many twists and turns, carves a niche for himself as a sandwich-maker on the planet of Lamuella (for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about – shame on you, now go away and don’t come back until you’ve read all six books in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy trilogy!).

So there you have it: Pizza-making turns out to be an important post-apocalyptic survival skill, not just for preserving my own sanity (after all, I couldn’t face living in a world where pizza would never be made again), but also for giving me a role that would allow me create something I could trade with others to obtain whatever I wanted – as long as I can get my hands on a regular supply of the ingredients, that is!

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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

If Civilisation Collapsed Tomorrow, What Would You Miss The Most?

8 Nov

Imagine something were to happen, whether it’s the dead rising from their graves, an unforeseen epidemic or just plain old nuclear annihilation, and that by this time tomorrow you found civilisation had collapsed: what do you think you would miss the most? By this, I’m not meaning anything associated with the basic struggle for survival, such as food, water and a safe place to hide, or people you might have lost, but rather those little luxuries of civilisation which we take for granted each and every day.

Would it be the warmth of an electric blanket on a cold winter night? Or maybe it would be the ability to pull out an album and listen to the voice of a long-dead singer? How about a still-warm batch of freshly made chocolate brownies, or lying back on a sofa with slice of pizza and a cold beer while watching your favourite movie for the umpteenth time? Would you, like Tallahassee in Zombieland, dream of finding a stash of uncontaminated Twinkies? Or would it be that extra special cappuccino from your favourite coffee place which you treat yourself to whenever you’ve had a really bad day? Would you miss going to see a live band at your favourite venue? Or to a theatre to see a play? Or laughing yourself silly at a stand up comedian? Would the thing you’d miss the most be a long, lazy breakfasts in bed on a Sunday morning? Or Christmas dinner with your nearest and dearest? What about the luxury of a long soak in a hot bath? Or curling up in your favourite chair to watch the latest episode of the TV series you’re currently addicted to? Would it be driving too fast down winding country roads in your beloved sports car? Or would it be dropping into your local pub after work on Friday afternoons to catch up with your mates and have a couple of drinks to get the weekend started? How about intimate dinners in little neighbourhood restaurants? Or dancing all night in dimly-lit nightclubs to the latest tunes? Or would it simply be a large slice of chocolate cheese cake served on a clean white plate?

For me, I think it would be books. There’s a point in the movie 28 Days Later where Selena says to Jim ‘You were thinking that you’ll never hear another piece of original music, ever again. You’ll never read a book that hasn’t already been written or see a film that hasn’t already been shot.‘ It’s almost a throw away line, but whenever I hear it, it resonates with me. While I could survive without books, I couldn’t live without them. They are what I turn to when I can’t sleep, or when I need to escape from the real world for a while. Reading books helps me develop ideas and learn new things. They cheer me up when I’m feeling down, and some are so often revisited that they feel like old friends. Books are a simple pleasure in an increasingly complex world, and if everything went wrong tomorrow, they are the things I’d miss the most.

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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

My Top Ten Post-Apocalyptic Stories

19 Oct

Since my upcoming book For Those In Peril On The Sea is a post-apocalyptic novel, I thought I would put together my top ten post-apocalyptic stories. These have not necessarily influenced my own writing, they are just the ones I like best.  Here they are in descending order:

10. Dawn Of The Dead (2004 film remake rather than the 1978 original): Proving that a remake can, on rare occasions, be better than the original.  The inclusion of fast zombies upped the action, and the rather bleak ending for those who stayed through the credits was a nice touch. This is also probably the first true ‘fast’ zombie movie – or at least the first major one (see later entries for more on this).

9. Children Of Men (2006 film): An interesting take on the post-apocalyptic world.  There’s no big threat (no aliens, zombies, killer viruses, terrorists, nuclear bombs or diseases), just human infertility.  It emphasises how little it could take to tip the civilisation that humans always seem so proud of over the edge.

8. Zombieland (2009 film): Really great tongue-in-cheek zombie movie.  Stands up well as a story in its own right, as well as poking fun at zombie films in general. Great cameo by Bill Murray too.

7. Kraken Awakes (1953 book): One of two John Wyndham books on my list.  This one is a slow burn, building tension as unseen aliens invade the Earth and try to take over.  There are some really nice bits that appear to predict modern environmental concerns, including the melting of the ice caps and sea level rises.

6. I Am Legend (the 1954 book, and definitely not the 2007 film of the same name): One of the original post-apocalyptic stories, and an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic situation. It poses the interesting question: If you are the only one left unaffected by a global disease outbreak, is it you that is no longer normal?

5. Dead Set (2008 TV series): Written by Charlie Brooker, this one came out of nowhere. I think it is fair to say that there has been nothing like this before, but then again before about 2000, its basic setting (that of the TV series Big Brother), didn’t exist either. It is as much a critique of modern society, and especially reality TV shows, as it is about surviving a zombie outbreak, but it’s still a great zombie story in its own right.

4. Shaun Of The Dead (2004 film): Simon Pegg, the writer of this film, described this as a Zom-Rom-Com. It manages to be a great contribution to the zombie genre as well as a good comedy, a critique of the modern world and a homage to classic zombie movies.

3. War Of The Worlds (1898 book, or indeed Jeff Wayne’s 1978 album, but definitely not the 2005 film of the same name): This is the grand-daddy of all post-apocalyptic stories and one that is still worth reading today. While I’m usually not a fan of alien invasion stories, but this one works for me.

2. 28 Days Later (2002 film): In many ways, this movie rejuvenated both the post-apocalyptic genre and the zombie sub-genre.  Credited with being the first modern movie to use ‘fast’ rather than ‘slow’ zombies, the enemies in this aren’t actually zombies, but instead are infected, since they were not really dead.  In many ways it’s a homage to the number one on my list.

1. Day Of The Triffids (1951 book, or 1981 TV series, definitely not the 1962 Hollywood film, or the 2009 TV mini-series): Head and shoulders above any other post-apocalyptic stories (at least in my opinion), and the one that set the standard that so few have even come close to since.  The premise of moving, flesh-eating plants as enemies sounds so bad, yet it works so well, but that is because they are only bit-part players in an ensemble cast of threats that include blindness, disease and different groups of humans with different ideas competing to try and survive. It emphasises how fragile human society is, and how easy it can call apart.  It also proceeded modern worries about genetic engineering by almost half a century.

So that’s my top ten, but there are a few close runners-up that only just missed out. These include: The Mad Max series of films, Twelve Monkeys (film), Dying To Live (book), World War Z (book and upcoming film, hopefully), 28 Weeks Later (film), Doomsday (film), The Walking Dead (TV series), and, rather controversially, Waterworld (film).

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, and available as an ebook and in print in the US from the 21st March 2013. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.