Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Eureka! (And finally a zombie gunslinger related post)
I had the greatest idea EVER occur to me this afternoon!
While I was driving around the North Fork of the Duchesne River this past weekend with my dad I kept telling him how the mountains would be a great hold fast in the aftermath of the zom-pocalypse. There's water, wood, game, fish, and the terrain is far too rough for the walking dead to navigate....thank you Max Brooks and WWZ for the idea.
It's been nesting in the back of my mind ever since. Then whammo!! At work the pieces cascaded into place and formed the zombie-western, post-apocalyptic story of Dead Reckoning.
As always, I wasn't nailed to the idea until a thought up a title that fit just right. Dead Reckoning works on many levels:
1) Wikipedia defines "dead reckoning" as - the process of estimating one's current position based upon a previously determined position. While traditional methods of dead reckoning are no longer considered primary means of navigation, modern systems (GPS) are very widely used.
A disadvantage of dead reckoning is that since new positions are calculated solely from previous positions, the errors of the process are cumulative, so the error in the position fix grows with time.
This applies very well because the whole premise of the story is that the generation (or possibly the next generation - 2 from the zom-pocalypse) following the outbreak has reverted back to Old West style living. They only vaguely know where they are headed based on the previous period of American history. They are learning as they go through trial and error and finding ways to adapt to rougher living, competition with other survivors, and contending with the ever present threat of zombies. A second application is that technology has failed almost entirely because there is no one left to pilot the satellites, keep the ISPs humming, or generally leave the lights on. Therefore a humanity that has become increasingly dependent on mass media, abundant power, and knowledge at the touch of a button is now forced to eek out a living in the wilderness like their forefathers.
2) A definition for "reckoning" is - an opinion or judgment, or the consequences/retribution for one's actions.
This fits because in the story it is not known/no longer known what caused the outbreak to begin with. Some think it was government work/weapons/testing that lost control and others believe it to be God's judgment on a crumbling, immoral world. Either way it just so happens to be that it is the dead wreaking havoc against the clustered pockets of lingering civilization.
The whole thing won't be entirely Old West....that would just make folks think there was a post Civil War outbreak. There will be those with modern firearms, but ammo (particularly brass shells) is running short and people are going back to black powder weaponry. Fuel was mostly consumed as people fled into the mountains from all over the country. Air travel, aside from the rare glider or hot air balloon, is nearly non-existent. Travel by horse and wagon is easier than it was in the late 1800s due to the fact that paved roads still criss-cross the country, but they are falling apart, dead ending in the canyons, or being washed out from repeated storms and no maintenance.
Another problem....beyond the obvious zombie infestation....is that Mad Max-ian bands of cannibals and marauders have formed to pillage and plunder the settlements. And what is a sleepy mountain town without a self appointed, greedy baron out for land, power, and domination. These fat cats monopolize trade, passage, and any source of power (electricity, water, fuel, etc). Perhaps some even construct pioneer style forts which they defend with armies of hired thugs who run amuck and present yet another threat to those trying to pick up the pieces.
Hunting is difficult because some animals have become even more skittish of humans due to the wandering dead, while others (bears, large cats, wolves, etc) have become much more violent and aggressive, attacking any human and tearing them asunder. They do not consume the flesh of zombies...aside from your routine scavengers like carrion birds and coyotes. Animals cannot become infected from the bite of a zombie because they lack the brain physiology of a human which stores the zombie-ism.
Printed books....already becoming a rarity (imagine the future!) are treasured - the most highly sought after being Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide, and what would be the American West without the zealous Bible thumpers clamoring for leadership of their flock.