It's only fitting this time of year, zombies were the all the talk as Kent State Stark opened its 26th season of the featured speakers series Oct. 17 with guest speaker Max Brooks.
Brooks, the son of actors Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, is a bestselling author of the "Zombie Survival Guide," "The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks," and "World War Z".
Kent State at Stark Dean and Chief Administrative Officer Denise Seachrist, while introducing Brooks, said the audience would learn more about the "zombies living among us." Brooks is considered to be one of the world's foremost zombie preparedness experts. Seachrist said that, according to the office of Homeland Security, "Brooks is the preeminent authority on slaying the relentless, flesh eating armies that seem to be everywhere these days. He has devoted much of his life to the study of anti ghoul security."
When people ask him why he writes about zombies he answers because they are scary and they are apocalyptic.
The entertaining Brooks said he wanted to talk about zombies as an art form. He uses his stories to talk about the world we live in, which Brooks said zombies play an important role as apocalyptic threats.
"In order to effectively write about the end of the world, you have to understand how the world works in the first place," Brooks said. "Writing about zombies helped me understand all the very complicated systems that keep us all alive and safe in this very rich, comfortable country we call the U.S."
Brooks said he realizes now, how complicated the human body is. He talked about now understanding the importance of vitamins, such as vitamin C, which helped prevent sailors on wooden ships to get scurvy. Sailors would carry limes with them and that is where the term "Limeys" comes from.
"All the stuff my mother tried to teach me about nutrition and exercise, just staying is alive is something we take for granted. It takes a lot of work," he said. "I studied how to keep my body safe and alive."
That is where his book, "The Zombie Survival Guide" came from.
He did not realize how important and complicated life was. He studied water, the Food and Drug Administration and the grid. He expanded on what it takes to protect us and keep our food and water safe. He talked about how the FDA began and the importance of that organization.
Brooks said zombies, for him as an artist and writer, made him think about civilization and how complicated it is, and how it is on tiers and, "it can all come crumbling down. We take it for granted."
Brooks often is asked if the U.S. could survice a zombie crisis He won't say for sure if it would survive, but that we have all the tools in place to overcome one.
"There is nothing we as Americans can't fix. Americans rally, we come back." Brooks said.
Brooks also spoke about writing his book "WWZ" and how it made him appreciate what it meant, not only about living in a rich country, but to live in a free country and to appreciate the phrase "freedom isn't free."
"It showed me that to be healthy and safe and free takes a tremendous amount of effort on everyone's part," Brooks said. "We all have to do our part."
Brooks used humor as he entertained the packed room at the conference center. Because of his use of a fictional metaphor - zombies - and historical events to prompt serious discourse on large-scale problem solving, Brooks explores new ways to attack old problems and concerns. It is his unconventional thinking that has inspired the military to take a look at how it may respond to potential crises.
"The new generation of the army understands it is a different world," he said. "We need to get out of out comfort zone and adapt because if we don't adapt we will die. It is so encouraging to see theses amazing thinkers who want to do nothing more than protect us and they are willing to do whatever they have to do."
Seachrist said the series is the school's gift to the community.
" It is our duty to provide an environment where healthy intellectual conversations happen on a regular basis," she said.
Since the Featured Speakers Series began, it has brought more than 120 high caliber personalities to share their wisdoms and entertain and inspire. The list of former speakers includes Ralph Nader, Beverly Sills, Jessie Jackson, Bill Nye, Spike Lee, Billie Jean King, Anderson Cooper and Jack Hanna.