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Brooks, Max

Entry updated 23 October 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1972-    ) US scriptwriter and author who became known as a writer for Saturday Night Live in 2001-2003; his The Zombie Survival Guide (2003) – a nonfiction Satire of survivalist tracts, containing "documentary" scenarios based on Zombie attacks from pre-history to the present – is as engaging as its title. He is best known for World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (2006), filmed as World War Z (2013). The novel, whose retrospective structure is hugely simplified in the movie version, comprises a series of interviews compiled at some point in the Near Future, after the nations of the world have begun to learn how to cope with a viral Pandemic, whose victims transition almost instantly into fast-moving, effectively decorticated Monsters. In both volumes, Brooks pays extensive heed to the persistent undertext of the contemporary Zombie tale: that Paranoia is justified, not only about the Cold War foes of earlier decades, but including all living creatures, and every institution created by Homo sapiens, anywhere in the world; that faith, family, patriotism and advanced Weapons are no proof against a world made deadly porous through infection; and that defensive Keeps, found in Brooks and throughout the literature, are inevitably breached in the end, but not before exposing our attempts to separate the saved from the fallen as a deep cartoonish Parody of the grotesqueries of Social Darwinism. Though neither text avoids schlock and exercises in the goriest of Horror in SF, both can be seen as exposés of the sickness of the world. They bring to mind Jonathan Swift as vividly as they do George A Romero.

Brooks's second novel, Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre (2020), is similarly structured to provide a hindsight perspective. In this case a high-tech eco-community (see Keep) in the American state of Washington is suddenly isolated by a Disaster, the eruption of Mount Rainier, and then threatened by a Sasquatch or Bigfoot attack; in Brooks's version the species, dislodged by the volcano, is savagely predatory. [JC]

Maximillian Michael Brooks

born New York: 22 May 1972

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