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Thread: Research for zombie fiction.

  1. #1 Research for zombie fiction. 
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    Not exactly a Military Tech question, but; I would like (unclassified) information on communication procedures between the CDC and various military branches. I would also like to know a little about a common soldiers experience of base life and what an "out of the blue, surprise" deployment would be like.


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    Sweet...can you tell us a little about your story?


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    Well, it doesn't start with some guy waking up in a hospital.
    Most zombie fiction does not cover the initial outbreak, and I've always wondered how zombies could manage to overrun a military position. Think two or three M134 miniguns and some air support. It's impossible for even a large horde of standard zombies to win on the scale perpetrated by common zombie fiction. So what needs to happen, or change about zombies, to realistically effect the general collapse of civilization worldwide into disjoint pockets of survivors?
    I'm also skeptical about the levels of human on human violence portrayed in Walking Dead. I suspect that humans would actually be a lot more cooperative in such a situation. Especially if the zombies are sufficiently dangerous to be more than a plot device. I'm also interested in making the zombie paradigm a little more hard-sciency. I already have some ideas about how the zombies "work", but any more on that would be a "spoiler". I guess that I can say the zombies will not be of supernatural origin but will be postmortem animates, as contradictory as that sounds.
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    As for the CDC-military link, every US military unit above the Battalion level as special staff medical officers and supporting staff to plan and execute medical operations. Every potential pandemic, such as the worst flue outbreaks that come along every few years the communication, command and control functions get worked vigorously. The military also has pretty robust pandemic models it uses to plan various scenarios for both military and civilian populations in its operating area.

    As for realistic zombie threats, I think they'd need to retain much of their humanity is as much as still being intelligent and cooperative--perhaps a irresistible behavioral change that turns people into hyper-carnivores with a penchant for uninfected humans. Or perhaps something more subtle like an inability to digest starches--people have to eat meat or starve. The consequences of course being mass starvation, and break downs of civilizations, across the globe as 9 billion try to cope with carrying capacity reduced to half a billion or so. Imagine organized bands that destroy all existing livestock, huge animal drives on natural areas, city dwellers destroying zoos, kids tearing apart old buildings looking for termite colonies to eat, rampant cannibalism to avert starvation, some trying to get by on the last stockpiles of dog food--after all dogs (and every other pets) has long since been eaten.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; November 13th, 2013 at 10:02 AM.
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    @Lynx_Fox; Thanks for the info. If the base commander received orders to deploy on a "medical" operation, would the soldiers be issued weapons, or not? I'm currently assuming that a soldier is never deployed without some armament. I'm also interested in what an emergency deployment is like. Is there a "deploy now" klaxon? How quickly can a base have armed personnel heading out the gate in vehicles? I'm assuming that an assortment of vehicles are always fully fueled, armed, and ready to go? Are real time data systems ubiquitous to every soldier? Is there a good source for this type of information?
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    @Lynx_Fox; Thanks for the info. If the base commander received orders to deploy on a "medical" operation, would the soldiers be issued weapons, or not? I'm currently assuming that a soldier is never deployed without some armament. I'm also interested in what an emergency deployment is like. Is there a "deploy now" klaxon? How quickly can a base have armed personnel heading out the gate in vehicles? I'm assuming that an assortment of vehicles are always fully fueled, armed, and ready to go? Are real time data systems ubiquitous to every soldier? Is there a good source for this type of information?
    It really depends on the unit. For the Army, some units, such as XVIII Airborne Corps, which has subordinate units at Fort Drum, Campbell and Bragg there's always some on a short string that can be deployed in less than a day to anyplace on Earth if needed. Most other active duty units are mechanisms to deploy in a week or so, while Guard and Reserve typically work in time frame of a month or more. This would include all personal and equipment including weapons--though obviously heavy vehicles are subject to available air, land and sea lift assets. You might search under Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercises, EDRE, which is the Army's primary evaluation tool to assess unit preparation for rapid deployment
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    @Lynx_Fox; Thank you again. I'm beginning to get the impression that the military could really be caught with their pants down in the context of a very rapidly developing situation (Time frame of just a few hours). Say that a base under the minimal standard alert level (No expected threat) were to be suddenly attacked? Is there a plan for that, or are we talking a hail Mary free for all?
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    As for the science

    How nitty Gritty would you like to get?

    Are there restrictions (viruses out of the question?)

    Would you like a dumbed down zombie (as Lynx_Fox has said, only partial control over the host) or a typical zombie (both can be fully explained by science but a typical zombie will require hardcore science)
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    I'm pretty sure that real science is pretty hard and fast with a big no on animate dead flesh. But animate dead flesh is what I need if the zombies aren't going down from head shots. If it was mere infected humans they would still go down to other infections, suffer the ravages of a cannibal diet, and still readily exsanguinate. It's the lethal head shot part of common zombie lore that is too glaring a weakness for a realistic apocalypse scenario. I already have a better than witchdoctor explanation for the zombies, but it's still sci-fi, not sci-fact. It is a virus, it has almost no effect on the living host, everybody has already had it for awhile, it doesn't matter till death.
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    Giant. The timeline I laid out was for a deployment, as in preparing to take the unit to an entirely different location they can't drive to.

    If it was as you suggest, needed to response to an immediate threat, such as a natural or natural one, those same full readiness units could assemble their soldiers in a couple hours (they are on a short string), more typical active duty units could probably get over 50% in a few hours and 85%+ in half a day (the rest are on leave or training elsewhere). The reserve and guard units would be a very mixed bag, often times on tiny bases with nearly no one present at first, but a good number of the members living in the same towns as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    I'm pretty sure that real science is pretty hard and fast with a big no on animate dead flesh.
    Is there anything in the laws of physics that state animate dead flesh is a violation of the principles of this universe?

    If it does not collapse wave functions, generate catastrophic paradoxes, violate conservations, then it can be done

    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    It is a virus, it has almost no effect on the living host, everybody has already had it for a while, it doesn't matter till death.
    Dead Flesh = Dead Tissue = Dead Cells = Viruses Rendered Useless (they need live cells to replicate (let's not forget that is the sole purpose of viruses (or any life for that matter)))

    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    But animate dead flesh is what I need if the zombies aren't going down from head shots.
    There are several other methods of doing zombies

    But honestly you do not need animate dead flesh for what you want:

    I am not saying zombies are impossible, I am saying zombies in the way that we see them in movies and generally think of them are most certainly not dead organisms. Also the title undead would suggest "not dead" and personally it would be much easier to make a live organism a zombie than using non-corporeal mechanisms to control a dead body (which in itself raises the question of whether it is sentient, or is just in essence a puppet (which is not the characteristic behavior of a zombie, they may be mindless but they self-behave under a biological purpose (that of the viruses’.)))

    Okay so you want headshots (among other forms of debilitating bodily harm) to not bust a nut. (Which I thought was a zombie’s only weakness; correct me if I am wrong) Zombies need to do 2 things, track and move, all higher brain functions (pain recognition being one of the most important) and unnecessary bodily functions (which are a lot) the virus can manually shut down as well as induce a comatose state of hibernation when not in the presence of air chemical activators or excessive sound, (not sure what you’re after). the virus can have code for a lot of antigens and thus severely increase the immune capability of the host (which brings me to the point of this (and zombies in general) is extremely unlikely to happen in nature, so if you want to be accurate to science in your story I would suggest a deliberately made bio-weapon) and the fact we are talking a virus (who have mutation rates as high as bacteria makes them able to make the host immune to almost all new diseases (although I need to do some more research on this disease topic) And besides they don’t even need to have a long life expectancy, from the perspective of the virus it needs to spread, nothing more.

    Back to headshot thing, they need the brain to move, which means more specifically they only need the primary motor cortex and adjacent cortices, as well as a small portion of the other lobes for sound/sight detection. So if you shoot the head you kill them. Remember the dinosaurs, yeah they had two brains (because they were so large) never the less a similar concept could be applied to zombies ( as well as making the brain/skull more robust) they can have compartmentalized motion centers throughout their body (which would also give them superior reflexes and muscle co-ordination)

    Exsanguination can be tackled by a modified form of Thrombophilia or rapid cellular regeneration like lizards ( although they would not require the whole limb to reform just the severed vessels to be blocked off by a rapid formation of the similar surrounding tissue.)

    Not to forget the slightly superhuman strength, sound acuity.




    All this would require some relatively fast abrupt changes to internal human physiology (they'd still "look" like humans though).



    This is why personally I (with inspiration from the xenomorph) would encode a metamorphosis sequence into the viral RNA so when it splices into human code it will instill and trigger metamorphosis which will then develop all those extra physiological structures I mentioned earlier. This actually serves your purpose, like lynx fox said special units can be deployed in hours so you want the infection to go undetected until it reaches mass population (people travelling in planes to other countries etc.) and metamorphosis is a great way of doing so (especially internal metamorphosis as not many external changes would be noticeable (until a much later stage of course) most symptoms would be passed off as flu or some other common ailments until it is too late. They bite into people delivering more of the virus through body fluids directly into the bloodstream.

    The incubation period obviously can’t be too long (at least for secondary wave spread) or that then becomes a weakness (although you could encode a second sequence within the meta sequence inciting a much more rapid change (you could even have a highly intelligent queen (headshots would do her in though)). That is the beauty of this method you can actually have many slightly different types of zombies that can adapt fairly rapidly.


    All of a sudden you have a wildfire spreading across every major ciy in the world simultaneously.
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    Hmm... Sounds like you got your own ideas for some zombie fiction. You should give it a try. For now the zombie fiction project is going on the backburner, I've got bigger fish to fry. I also suspect that the zombie pop bubble is about to begin deflating (think vampire teen romance).
    Just remembered there is a new episode of Walking Dead now, Yay!
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    Err, vampires.

    Hate them, but I guess whatever sells.

    Check this out, real vampires.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FgQJuq6Hhk

    By the way I remembered another extremely useful method for making real zombies, parasites (and this way does kinda involve dead flesh)
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Well, it doesn't start with some guy waking up in a hospital.
    Most zombie fiction does not cover the initial outbreak, and I've always wondered how zombies could manage to overrun a military position. Think two or three M134 miniguns and some air support. It's impossible for even a large horde of standard zombies to win on the scale perpetrated by common zombie fiction. So what needs to happen, or change about zombies, to realistically effect the general collapse of civilization worldwide into disjoint pockets of survivors?
    I'm also skeptical about the levels of human on human violence portrayed in Walking Dead. I suspect that humans would actually be a lot more cooperative in such a situation. Especially if the zombies are sufficiently dangerous to be more than a plot device. I'm also interested in making the zombie paradigm a little more hard-sciency. I already have some ideas about how the zombies "work", but any more on that would be a "spoiler". I guess that I can say the zombies will not be of supernatural origin but will be postmortem animates, as contradictory as that sounds.
    1. I would suggest reading military books from real life soldiers from any war time. I would suggest "A rumor of war." great book. it details deployment, training, and base life. It even gives great detail into how soldiers act on down time. Personally, if you want to know how soldiers might act during a zombie epidemic - Vietnam and Korean wars depict human nature and psyche the best during unsettling and mysterious occurrences.

    2. of course humans would turn on each other. its like the scene from war of the worlds, where tom cruise kills that other dude. when its your own life on the line and another person may "turn", steal, or deprive you of your needs - like safety...not everyone is a great cabin buddy as you may think.

    3. if you want more "hard-sciency" look into biology threads and look for diseases, parasites, hosts, fungi, etc. I'm guessing that's what you want. Supposedly there's a thing among some ants that causes them to die, but takes over their body too.
    The Last of Us - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Cordyceps - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Yea, I know. probably want to do something on your own, but its just an example of where you could go with what ever you want at your own disposal.

    world war z did something cool with it.

    here's an issue with most zombie flix. if its reanimated dead flesh, guess what...that dead flesh should continue to deteriorate or demand normal body functions. eventually, it dies out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosD.Ace View Post
    Err, vampires.

    Hate them, but I guess whatever sells.

    Check this out, real vampires.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FgQJuq6Hhk

    By the way I remembered another extremely useful method for making real zombies, parasites (and this way does kinda involve dead flesh)
    What I meant was vampire teen romance had already come and gone. Personally I think the whole genre was crap, although I did watch a few episodes of Diaries. Even if I think the story is crap I'm still an addict of what happens next. True Blood was interesting for a few episodes, while the semi documentary feel hadn't staled.
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    I had mentioned it earlier but I couldn't think of any parasites, but I am leaning more towards a parasite now. Think about it the virus situation I gave earlier could be dealt with as it has a major weakness (if the guys at the CDC are smart enough). A parasite on the other hand could animate dead flesh (as you wanted) Tnhey could incubate in water supplies and trigger in third world countres where filtration is bad (Africa, Some Indian Provinces, etc.) One minute, nothing much, the next you have a million zombies simultaneously appear in different parts of the world spreading the infection.
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    If it's a good apocalypse, the CDC ain't no more.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosD.Ace View Post
    I had mentioned it earlier but I couldn't think of any parasites, but I am leaning more towards a parasite now. Think about it the virus situation I gave earlier could be dealt with as it has a major weakness (if the guys at the CDC are smart enough). A parasite on the other hand could animate dead flesh (as you wanted) Tnhey could incubate in water supplies and trigger in third world countres where filtration is bad (Africa, Some Indian Provinces, etc.) One minute, nothing much, the next you have a million zombies simultaneously appear in different parts of the world spreading the infection.
    how would infection spread if its a parasite? parasites lay eggs that leave the body or inhabit the body in some way. perhaps could consider something similar to parasitic worms that enter the body as well? some do so by burrowing into the feet - which is why we wear shoes today. well part of why.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chero View Post
    how would infection spread if its a parasite? parasites lay eggs that leave the body or inhabit the body in some way. perhaps could consider something similar to parasitic worms that enter the body as well? some do so by burrowing into the feet - which is why we wear shoes today. well part of why.
    Zombies love to bite, the parasite could easily deliver its eggs through the hosts mouth or blood to fluid contact. Following a period of long incubation (which would allow the initial water infection to have enough time to travel to more developed countries) the secondary wave would have a much shorter incubation period, or could increase in increments to avoid attention as long as possible. So that when it does come to light it is too late.

    Again in order for this zombie thing to really kick in, some ridiculously convenient features would be required, hence I would still stick to it being a bio-weapon. (the details of it's release are up to you)
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