Zombies of the World: A Field Guide to the Undead is Ross Payton’s “non-fiction” book about how to deal with the zombie menace facing the world. It’s an enjoyable read.
Payton is a roleplaying gamer (he wrote a couple of supplements for Monsters and Other Childish Things, an Arc Dream game I really like) and it shows. There are lots of good hooks for stories in these pages along with an evident sense of humour. There are several references to types of zombies that have a distinctive style of dress, and how strange it is that part of that zombie species’ characteristics is the ability to find such odd vestments. There are also a few references to Temporally Displaced Robots who caused the Aztec mummies to go extinct.
The book is filled with full colour illustrations in a clean comic-book style. Evidently there were a bunch of artists, but the pictures work very well together. I also really liked the advertising pamphlets from the North American Necrological Research Institute, who are out to understand the zombies of the world and communicate with them.
The writing style is clear and conversational, never dry. There might be a few too many winks to the reader (including the whole idea of the dancing zombie, which I do love) to really take it seriously as a fake reference book. You could completely use it in a contemporary roleplaying game as the work of a crank that turns out to be useful.
One of my favourite things about the book is how it describes a world in which zombies are a menace but haven’t driven humanity to an apocalypse. It’s very hopeful. There are people who are concerned about preserving them as a species (and not solely because they’re the source of almost unlimited energy, if the secret could be cracked).
It’s not quite as “practical” as something like Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide but I really enjoyed Payton’s book and would recommend it to fans of zombies in general, but especially if they’re gamers looking for a good undead-centric setting book.
Note: I received a free review copy of the book from the author.