Review: The Maker’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse by Simon Monk

When it comes to SF/F/H fandom and the believability of the unbelievable, there’s nothing better than realism and accuracy of the things that are not so farfetched. And sometimes, these realistic elements can become the starting point of things that can impact our real life experiences.

Maker's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse coverRecently released from No Starch Press, The Maker’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse by electronics guru Simon Monk is the type of book that will appeal to the fan of the doomsday genre as well as the handyman who merely enjoys building things. And if the reader happens to be a fan as well as a DIY kind of person, this book just might be the Holy Grail.

The book’s first chapter is dedicated to the zombie premise. Along with some entertaining charts and tables like “Fictional Zombie Varieties” including the titles of fictional works they stem from, there are some informative survival tips that will work in just about any disaster situation. Hopefully the “Weapon Pros and Cons” section will not be necessary, but it is pretty darn amusing.

It should be pointed out that The Maker’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is not necessarily a work of fiction, thought it does lean on the staple “what-if” scenario to provide reason for the fun projects (as if we need them). After all, the basis of the book is a manual for building things around the house that may or may not make your life easier. And if your life can be made easier in a catastrophic situation, think about how cool it would be to do some of these projects in normal, non-walking dead situations.

What can you expect to be able to build using this guide? Listed in the index are instructions for a solar recharging units, a bicycle generator, LED lighting, a battery monitor, trip wire alarms, a PIR (passive infrared) detector, USB webcam monitors, wireless surveillance systems, a remote door lock and door sensor, a quiet fire alarm and a temperature alarm, flash and sound distractors, FM transmitter and scanner and a Morse code beacon.

It’s obvious from the list of items that the author has a knack for electronics, so using the apocalyptic premise gives wonderful reason for scavenging for the necessary supplies. A lot of the materials necessary for these projects can be found around the house or garage (or your neighbor’s house and garage if the Zombies really do take over). There are other not-so-handy items that may require a run to your local electronic store, but the detailed information should make them easy to find (or scavenge) as well.

Along with clear circuitry instructions of the basic constructs, the author also explains the fundamentals of Raspberry Pi (small single-board introductory computer) and Arduino (micro-controller platform) along with some of their rudimentary uses. (The author Monk is scheduled to be teaching a free “how to” webcast on the subject in conjunction with academic solutions provider O’Reilly Media on January 6, 2016 at 10:00 am PST.)

Yes, this is an applicable guide for making real stuff. But it is also a fantastic tool for writers and publishers working in the zombie genre. Give your research librarian a break while you give your hero a step-by-step plan on surviving amongst the undead. As long as you give credit where credit is due, that picky nerd who likes to look for those minute details that can make or break a story’s believability will not only be impressed, they may also learn something useful.

The Maker’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse by Simon Monk is a fun way to learn about basic preparedness and how to craft some essential electronic contraptions to survive the horde.

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