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Max Brooks brings zombie awareness to Stony Brook

Student HvZ players pose with Brooks during a book signing after the lecture at Stony Brook University. (NINA LIN)
Student HvZ players pose with Brooks during a book signing after the lecture at Stony Brook University. (NINA LIN)

Stony Brook University prepped the student body for an emergency situation that cannot be solved with a drill—a zombie apocalypse. Max Brooks, author of “The New York Times” best-selling book and soon-to-be-released movie starring Brad Pitt, “World War Z,” came to campus on Thursday.
The Student Activities Center Ballroom A, was packed with students who came out to listen to Brooks speak. He treated the opportunity as a chance to talk more about zombie survival, like his first book, “The Zombie Survival Guide,” provides in great detail. Despite his tips on how to stay alive, he kept the audience in hysterics for approximately one hour—in other words, the entire time he was on stage.
Brooks greeted the students with a joke, he followed it up with some serious zombie talk and his take on humanity as a whole. “Thank you all for the keen interest in staying alive, I don’t find anything remotely funny about being eaten by zombies,” and “We are the dominant species.”
His take on humanity is spun from the fact that he believes zombies can be defeated. It is the fault of humans for letting a zombie apocalypse get out of control. With just a little forethought and planning, he believes that humans are totally adept at handling the threat.
This is where the tips come in. He explained the proper location, mentality and weaponry required to survive. He said that survivors need to avoid heavily populated areas, such as New York City; have the ability to pick and operate within a team of survivors; and survivors are going to need melee weapons, not guns, to survive. This includes swords and axes, among other weapons. He warned, though, that these weapons take training time.
The real treat of the hour, however, was his question and answer session. Audience questions allowed him to really get creative with his speech content.
One audience member noted the danger NYC presented and asked the best tactic for leaving Long Island. His response: “Before the dead rise.”
One thing that might disappoint zombie enthusiasts (depending on your point of view) is that Brooks is not a fan of “The Walking Dead,” AMC’s zombie survival hit based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman. He did not like that AMC fired the show’s creator, Frank Darabont, after the hit first season.
Audience members seemed to really appreciate Brooks’ wit and humor. Jesse Griffith, a transfer student majoring in cinema and cultural studies, said he “thought it was excellent and informative,” and that he would “definitely recommend him performing anywhere, anytime.”
This type of sentiment would be appreciated by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), which brought Brooks to campus.
Anna Lubitz, a junior biology major and USG president, said that “He’s [Max Brooks] something we wouldn’t have gotten in the past,” when she was asked about the decision to bring someone so fresh and popular to campus. She said Brooks “is adding to the perception of USG,” which has been marred by student criticism for the handling of of the year concert series.
PJ Abelein, a junior political science major and VP of student life explained why Brooks was brought to campus: “We made it a point we wanted to do a lecture this semester.” Abelein mentioned Ralph Nader when he brought up the lecture series.
Despite the short notice that Brooks would be coming to campus, the USG’s rapid marketing campaign seemed to work as the ballroom was full. Abelein explained why the show’s announcement happened on such short notice, stating that there are many different stages to getting an artist on campus, from bids to contracts, and “we don’t announce until it’s all complete.”
Students did not seem to care. They seemed to appreciate the comedian/author/lecturer/educator who spoke candidly, and had such quotes as “fight the living dead on crack. Go ahead,” no matter how USG got him here.

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