I’ve been reading The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks lately. Just about finished actually. It’s hard to get through though. I mean, I like the premise, the whole, “This book could maybe someday actually exist and not be ridiculous satire” thing. It’s fun to think about, but really, it’s not internally consistent and the author, try as he might, really overlooks some very important physiological functions of the human body to try and explain how a zombie might exist.
Basically, he says that a zombie is created when he/she is infected with Solanum. It’s a virus that changes the genetic structure of nerve tissue and transforms it into an oxygen independent organ. Okay, I can suspend enough belief to keep reading.
But then he goes on to say how the zombie’s body functions quit and the blood coagulates. He tells us that the muscles break down over time when a zombie uses them, so it gradually becomes weaker over time, eventually disintegrating after a period of three to five years.
This would all be well and good if not for two things. One: Muscles require oxygen to work. They can be stimulated by an electrical nerve pulse, but they simply won’t contract if there is no fuel. The fuel for muscles is derived from oxygen and glycogen (simple sugar). If there is no blood flow, there is no oxygen OR glycogen, and a zombie would be forced to use only the energy stored right on site. Granted, oxygen is primarily needed in aerobic exercise, but how many people can do anaerobic exercises for more than a few minutes? Only truly great athletes can do lengthy lifts for more than a few minutes at a time (and they have to rest in order to get oxygen back into the muscles!).
Two: Muscles break down with each use, and if they can’t get a supply of protein and energy, they cannot rebuild themselves. Realistically, if such a virus causes zombieism, as described by Max Brooks, they would be only able to move for, and this is purely a generous guess, a few hours before the muscles in their legs gave out and the zombie were forced to crawl toward food. And even then, would it really have the strength to bite a person before it simply became still, regardless of the state of it’s new virus brain?
Personally, I’m just a fan of the brain parasite zombie scenario. A parasite infects the brain, eating the part of the brain to do with memories, reasoning, deduction, etc, and causes the human host to attempt to spread the parasite through saliva/blood contact. It leaves the motor skills part of the brain in decent condition, so the zombie can run and climb and attack ferociously, but basically turns it into a living psychotic carnivore, only interested in attacking for sustenance and spreading the infection.