The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Roger Ma

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by Roger Ma, an author who specializes in hand-to-hand combat against the undead. He is the author of The Zombie Combat Manual, a comprehensive guide that demonstrates how anyone, from seasoned fighter to average citizen, can become an effective warrior in the inevitable battle against the undead. Its companion piece, The Zombie Combat Field Guide, is a coloring and activity book which will ensure maximum preparedness for the zombie apocalypse.

Join us!

Battle to the death, which weapon do you choose: A) Phaser, B) Lightsaber, or C) Wand?

Lightsaber. I’m all about hand-to-hand combat, and this elegant weapon fits the bill.

Roger Ma Zombie Combat ManualDescribe your favorite place to write.

99% of the time I write in the same place. But I do have one experience of writing elsewhere that has stayed with me. It’s so cliché, but I wrote a section of The Zombie Combat Manual in a cemetery. It was unexpected, as the garage I had my car was across the street from Green-Wood Cemetery. I had to wait 2 hours, so I spent them writing on a bench in Green-Wood. It was a clear fall day, and it was one of the most tranquil and serene experiences of my writing history. I highly recommend it.

If you could choose your own personal theme music to play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?

“The Devil’s In the Details” from the Hanna soundtrack. I probably would ideally like something from Skyfall, but I’m just not that cool.

Do you have a favorite word?

My favorite word is flibbertigibbet. It’s so wondrous to be because it looks like something fabricated for an alternate universe. I love it so much that I try to use it in conversation at least a few times a year. It’s not easy working that into daily life.

Roger Ma Zombie Combat Field GuideStrangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?

There’s a theory that if you strike someone in the head with a sharp, penetrating object, that your weapon will get stuck in the brain case. After speaking with medieval historians and reenactors, I learned that this is completely false. While extremely resilient, your skull, once shattered, craters like an egg, with the soft, gelatin-like brain matter residing below. You’ll be able to extract your weapon pretty easily.

If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your new book, who would it be?

Hans Zimmer. He’s contributed so much to me during the writing process, it’s only fair.

If you could design a line of clothing/accessories based on your favorite fictional character, what would it look like?

I would either model it after Rick Deckard from Bladerunner or Neo from The Matrix. I remember when The Matrix came out, and fashion designers started creating clothing that mimicked the sharp, sleek, dark lines from that movie. It was a good time.

Having finally established communication with a distant alien species, what’s the first thing that we should tell them about Earth/humans?

Don’t trust a damn thing we say.

What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?

How about a picture?

Roger Ma

What literary or film science fiction technology do you wish existed in our world right now?

Remember that lightsaber question you asked before?

Which language, real or fictional, would you like the ability to speak fluently? Who would you talk to?

I have a secret goal of learning to speak Portuguese, primarily so I can travel to Brazil to train in my chosen martial art, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, with actual Brazilians and be instructed in the native language.

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