Walking Dead magazine

The Walking Dead magazine

I have written a feature article for The Walking Dead magazine, about ‘What Comes After‘.

You’ve survived the zombie apocalypse, fallen in with a supportive group, and been able to clear-out a safe zone to begin settling down. Now what..?  You can’t keep scavenging from the leftovers of the fallen civilisation for ever. What practical skills would be most useful, how can you apply a little scientific understanding to keep yourself and your group alive and healthy, and how could you go about rebuilding a capable society for yourself?

The magazine is OUT NOW in newsagents and online

Tying in with this article, The Walking Dead magazine is running a competition. Enter for your chance to win one of five signed copies of The Knowledge. Details on The Walking Dead Facebook page.



How the World Ends

HowTheWorldEndsArtist Sean Mort has produced a humorous take on How the World Ends, along with the rest of the Solar System when the Sun goes rogue… The design is available as a screen print, 24×8 inches, from his website

How To Make your own Gasifier Stove

The design of this ‘wood gasifier’ stove is exceedingly simple and it can be built in under an hour using only empty tin cans and a few very basic tools. It would make a great little maker project with your kids; you’ll have great fun working on building this together, and will have a superb little cooking stove to use afterwards! The gasifier design is also a wonderfully compact and efficient stove, burning twigs you can collect yourself (rather than gas canisters), that’s ideal for cooking during a barbecue in the back garden or even on a family camping trip.

The gasifier stove is made up of a smaller can nestled inside a larger can, allowing air to circulate in the gap between them. Wood is loaded into the inner can as fuel, and as it burns it draws fresh air up through the bottom for a hearty, intense combustion – just like any barbecue. What’s unique about a gasifier stove is that it has a second, higher row of air holes that reintroduce oxygen. As wood breaks down in the heat of a fire it releases lots of gases and vapours and smoke that are all actually flammable, but would otherwise have blown away in a normal fire. But with this second row of air holes, fresh oxygen is drawn in and you get secondary combustion of all these gases. This means a gasifier stove is very efficient and releases all of the heat energy in the fuel, and is also smokeless when it’s running. Gasification of wood has been crucial through history, and can even be used to drive a car or van instead of petrol or diesel – there were over a million wood-powered cars across Europe during the Second World War!

Here’s how to make your own gasifier stove.

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Preparing for the Worst?

The starting point for The Knowledge is a global catastrophe that destroys our technological civilisation and forces survivors to start again from scratch. Such a possible eventuality offers a superb scenario for exploring the behind-the-scenes fundamentals of how our modern world actually works, and how it progressed and developed over centuries and millennia of history. Whilst researching for the book, and continuing still on the web Discussion board after its publication, I’ve had many fascinating and informative conversations with people who’ve been thinking about similar topics for far longer that I have.

Doomsday_PreppersThere is a large community around the world making active preparations for disaster; people who identify as preppers or survivalists. Of course, aspects of this movement cover a wide spectrum.

On one hand are everyday people living in regions vulnerable to natural disasters, such as the earthquakes near San Francisco, taking precautions like keeping a few days-worth of canned food, bottled water and battery-powered lights to wait-out at home a blackout or temporary disruption of other public utilities, or else preparing a bug-out bag to escape the city at the early warning signs.

On the other extreme are those who anticipate global catastrophe within their lifetimes; some moving to isolated, fortified compounds and devoting their life savings to stockpiling consumables and weapons to protect their families from looters after societal collapse. Unsurprisingly, it is this tail of the distribution that TV shows like Doomsday Preppers tend to focus on, but preppers in fact include an enormous range of people with different lifestyles and motivations.

And the movement has been going for a long time, building in waves in response to world events, as this guest post from Chris Ruiz charts.


The Rise and Rise Of Prepping

Interest in prepping has been on a steady rise over the past few years. This is not to say that the idea of preparedness never existed before. People have been actively preparing for emergencies, including possibly life-threatening disruptions, since the first nomadic clan decided to raise crops instead of hunt and gather.  In this article we will look at 3 major waves of interest in preparedness from recent history.  This will give us context for where we are today and show that being prepared is a well-worn road, not just some new fad based on some questionable reality shows on television.

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Sunday Times Book of the Year

SundayTimesBookOfTheYearThe Knowledge has been named the Sunday Times ‘New Thinking’ Book of the Year. For a chance to win your own copy of the hardback book in time for Christmas, retweet the below message by 15th December.


Legacy: Life Among the Ruins

LegacyMost post-apocalyptic films and games focus on the horrors and hardships of the immediate aftermath of a global catastrophe. The Knowledge looks at the longer-term recovery of society, and what you can do over the generations to reboot civilisation from scratch. So this Kickstarter project really caught my eye - Legacy: Life Among the Ruins is a tabletop game where players work together in a changing world to rebuild a life for themselves. The game is very nearly fully-funded on Kickstarter and so if this appeals to you make a contribution right away! This guest post is from the game’s designer, James Iles.

Hi!  I’m the designer of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins, a tabletop roleplaying game about the survivors of a reality-twisting apocalypse, the families they form, and the new world they will create as the ages turn. While most post-apocalyptic media focuses on the immediate aftermath of an apocalypse, with its associated grim survivors making hard choices, I thought it’d be interesting to explore the process of rebuilding: the difficulties people face understanding the old technology of the world before, the new challenges the apocalypse has created, and how the world changes from generation to generation.

To accomplish this, Legacy gives every player control of both a Family of survivors and a Character chosen from that Family to deal with their problems. A Family is created by choosing one of five reactions to the apocalypse – holding on to the old lore, turning to martial strength for security, finding refuge in faith, seeking and trading valuable things, or trying to impose law and order. Each archetype comes with its own playbook of traits and abilities, with customisable cultures, lifestyles, resources and needs. Each Family has something it urgently needs and cannot easily get, and that’s where your Character comes in, picked from one of eight basic archetypes and customised by your choice of abilities and gear. While your Family can accomplish broad, sweeping changes in the world via diplomats, spies, scientists and soldiers your Character excels at more precise, dangerous activities – exploring crumbling ruins, conducting delicate negotiations in enemy territory, and hunting down the horrifying monsters created by the apocalypse.

Legacy promises rapid, flavourful gameplay, with a system that produces tough choices and unexpected opportunities. If you’re interested the Kickstarter has two days left, and provides the current draft text of the game free to all backers. Check it out!


BioLite electricity-generating stove

BioLite The Biolite woodstove is an incredible supereffficient design that will not only boil water in minutes but even charge your phone while it does it. The stove uses a small electric fan to get started and drive fierce combustion using nothing more than twigs as fuel; so there’s no need to carry heavy fuel with you. When it’s going at full-burn it will boil water in a matter of minutes. And even better than that, the stove will even recharge your phone or other device through the USB cable. To do this, the Biolite woodstove incorporates a themoelectric generator to convert heat to electricity – the same technology employed by the Curiosity Mars rover. The whole thing is no bigger than a 1 litre Nalgene waterbottle and weighs just a kilogram. And the stove isn’t just for camping, and the electricity it generates could be vital for keeping devices charged when the power goes out in a storm or other natural disaster. The Biolite woodstove is available here