I like applying science to fantasy and horror stories. Usually fantasy worlds are internally self-consistent and science is just a methodology for learning how things work — whether that world be our own or an imaginary one. The imaginary one should still adhere to being understood through a scientific process as long as experiments yield consistent results. I think it’s fun.
One recent, fun article I came across was putting odds one which US states would fare best in a zombie apocalypse. My own home state, Wyoming, came in only behind Alaska:
No other state has a shared love of zombie movies and guns like Wyoming. While New Yorkers are having their brains eaten in cafes and elevators, the fine people of Wyoming will be sitting on the front porch with a shotgun enjoying a prolonged zombie hunting season.
New Jersey? Forgeddaboutit.
The criteria for the rankings were percentage of people with: Active military experience, past military experience, regular physical activity, martial arts skills, survival skills, knowledge of zombies, laser tag experience, paintball experience, gun ownership, triathlon experience, and obesity. While it might be easy to quibble with the exact balance of criteria and how the states were ranked in these areas, it’s easy to see which skills the authors of the creative piece value.
That’s a good start, but misses additional criteria that I think would be much more important. Some measure of population density, fractions of people in rural vs. urban environments, or a related measure, is probably the most important item in my opinion. Where there are a lot of people close together, zombies will spread most quickly. No matter your skill with a sword or a gun, a herd of a million zombies in New York City would be hard to fight through or run from. In some ways gun ownership is a proxy for population density, and one reason the big, rural states come out better in the original list. Adding my suggestion would only make Alaska and Wyoming fare even better, and make the East Coast States fall lower.
There are other important issues to consider as well. Are we dealing with fast zombies or walkers? Are zombies adversely affect by cold weather? How much do waterways or snow slow them down? Geographic features like mountains? And do they go comatose if they don’t eat within a certain time period?
I think it would be enormous fun to create a zombie apocalypse simulator that lets you set all these parameters, as well as the parameters for the local populations, to see what range of scenarios occur. Outbreak speeds, ultimate victory for one side or the other, or uneasy stalemates. And from the looks of things, I’m not alone. It would be fun to write a science fiction story about what future simulators/video games exist with faster computers and increasingly sophisticated video games.
What factors do you think are most important? In any event, I think it’s going to be hard to beat Alaska or Wyoming, unless we’re talking zombie bears.