Brain Waves
Brain Waves

surfzombie Zombology, or the study, development, and classification of zombies, is a rich and interesting field, with a long history. Although zombology has existed for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years, in the form of magical or religious ceremonies which raised the dead, modern zombology did not take form until about 1912.

In 1912, Dr. Otto Standish, known as the Father of Modern Zombology, published Mechanisms and Characteristics of the Undead, a treatise which raised zombology from the level of folklore and myth to a science. Standish spent several years in the field, studying the voodoo rituals which produced the undead, and their effects on undead physiology.

More on Dr. Otto Standish
Growth of the Field
Modern Research
Zombie Classifications
More on Dr. Otto Standish

Otto Standish was the son of missionaries, and spent much of his childhood in the Caribbean. It was there that he developed his lifelong fascination with the undead. This fascination lasted even after his parents perceived an "immoral interest in the black arts" in their son, and decided to move back to America.

Standish attained a medical degree, but was frustrated by the inability of modern medicine to explain the re-animations he had witnessed in his youth. Eventually, he returned to the Caribbean to apply the scientific method to this phenomenon.

With the cooperation of voodoo practitioners, Standish performed various experiments with zombie subjects so that he could accurately record their physical and mental characteristics. He described his procedures in great detail, so that even though his research was limited to voodoo-animated zombies, his methods were later used to study other kinds of zombies as well.

Growth of the Field

After Standish's book was published, he was ousted from the medical community. Nevertheless, some that read his book intending to denounce it were intrigued by his ideas, and impressed by his thoroughness. The book circulated quietly for a while, and then interest died down. Standish moved back to the Caribbean in 1919 and disappeared.

Re-animation was brought back to the public interest after the movie Frankenstein came out in 1931. There was some demand for copies of Standish's book to see if he made any references to electricity in his research. Although Standish did not cover this method of re-animation, readers were again impressed by his methods and thoroughness. Covert research into other methods of re-animation began, and the field of zombology began to grow.

With the advent of the atomic age, even more methods of re-animation were proposed and researched. Eventually, of course, this explosion of research got noticed by the military. After a few ventures which ended badly for most involved, the military decided that the use of zombies in combat was too unpredictable and abandoned the idea, with a few notable exceptions. However, even without government assistance, the field of zombology continued to quietly flourish.

Modern Research

There are many different branches of zombology today. They can be seen in this basic chart.

Although thriving within its own community, zombology continues to be beneath the level of awareness of most of the world. That does not mean that there are not opportunities for enterprising young folk, though. There are always replacements needed in field research, and there is even a growing interest in zombological theory.

One thing to be aware of when entering this field is that it is not very financially rewarding. Commercial, industrial and military applications for zombies continue to go awry, when tried at all. The last such attempt was "My Li'l Voodoo Kit", marketed by the Farley Toys corporation in 1982. CEO and founder William Farley was shortly thereafter put out of business by the various lawsuits resulting from various uses of the kit by children. When asked later to explain his actions, Farley said "Well, when I was little, I raised the dead all the time, and it never got out of control."

At any rate, grants for zombological research are few and far between, so it is not an easy field to make a living in. Many universities still do not recognize zombology as a valid science, so there are no faculty positions available at this time. However, many zombologists will tell you that it is the most rewarding work they have ever done.

Zombie Classifications

Alien Zombies (Zombus Xenus)
This species of possessed zombie is typically used by aliens as a means of warfare. The body is either inhabited by an alien intellect, or controlled indirectly.

Biological Zombies (Zombus Biologicus)
These zombies are re-animated by some form of chemical. Application of the chemical restores some basic brain functions, and occasionally memories of previous lives. Zombies of this type appear to have suffered some sort of mental defect which pre-disposes them to misanthropy and cannibalism. There is a variant of Biological Zombie where the re-animation is introduced through a disease-bearing pathogen of some sort. In these cases, anyone who has caught the pathogen will become a zombie after they are dead. Sometimes the pathogen affects the living as well, causing them to act aggressively toward noninfected people.

Demon Zombies (Zombus Demonicus)
This second species of possessed zombie behaves under basically the same principles as the Alien Zombie, except that the intent is usually more malicious in nature, with no clear purpose other than to cause suffering.

Electrical Zombies (Zombus Electricus)
This re-animation of this rare species of zombie is brought about by applying a large electrical charge to a corpse. Bolts of lightning provide sufficient charge, but there are further intricacies involved which have prevented this type of zombie from being common. The only persons able to reliably produce Electrical Zombies were Baron Frankenstein and one of his descendants.

Mummified Zombies (Zombus Mummificus)
Ancient Egyptians mummified their dead, and then placed curses to take vengeance on those who disturbed the tomb. This combination has been known to produce re-animation in rare cases. Attempts to reproduce the curses have not been successful, so this re-animation is very uncommon and difficult to study.

Radioactive Zombies (Zombus Atomicus)
Radiation has also been known to restore basic brain function to corpses. The resulting zombie is very similar to the Biological Zombie. There are those that argue that these two zombie types are the same species, and that the manner of re-animation is irrelevant. This continues to be a divisive issue in zombology today.

Satanic Zombies (Zombus Satanicus)
These zombies are re-animated by powers that are satanic in origin, such as from a ritual read from a book of dark magic. They are distinct from Demonic Zombies in that these zombies have self-will, and are not merely possessed shells. They are typically malevolent in nature. Those who cast the spell of re-animation are sometimes in control of the zombies, but more often than not, the zombies merely awaken and begin wreaking havoc.

Voodoo Zombies (i) (Zombus Caribbeanus Mortis)
Zombies from this species are closely related to Satanic Zombies. Magic is still used in the re-animation process, but the power stems from a human agent who has much more control over the zombies after they come alive. For those who wish to produce zombies, this has been established as the most effective method, simply because the zombies will almost always do the bidding of their creator.

Voodoo Zombies (ii) (Zombus Caribbeanus Vivus)
There is a variant of Voodoo Zombie where the zombie is produced from a living person, usually through the forced consumption of mind-destroying drugs. These zombies are relatively useless in combat, since they are both slow-moving and can be killed like a normal living person. For menial household chores, though, they are quite useful.

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