Your biggest life challenges, addressed: Gray hair, ponies and fantasy overload

The toughest part about being The Postman in post-apocalyptic northwest America? The darned Holnist Army. You know, those jerks led by General Bethelhem whose sole duty seems to be being assholes to everybody. Somehow my job has turned from "delivering mail" into "delivering mail and fighting an actual war" with these guys. They have artillery. I have a sack of mail. I admit I was young when the apocalypse happened, but I'm pretty sure real postmen never had to kill people. Anyways, on to your letters!

Your Post-Apocalyptic Real Estate Guide

Adam B.:
We all know the zombie apocalypse will be plagued with many tough decisions we will all need to make (Should I attempt to rescue my loved ones from the rampaging hordes of the undead? Should I pack my bag with my priceless collectables or with my bourbon? etc etc), but the one that's been really bugging me is where should I choose to go to escape the hordes?... Do I lock myself in my house, make a nice cup of tea and wait for this whole mess to blow over? Do I go out onto the streets and try to team up with a rag tag group survivors with sweet parkour moves? Should I escape to the countryside and attempt to find a kindly old couple who will let me stay on their farm? Or should I just grab my shoulder padded leather jacket and my shotgun, steal a Harley and make the open road my home?

You really only have two options: Stay in one place or go on the move. I can tell you right now that traveling sucks. There are no real advantages, because you're just as likely to find a mess of zombies as you are supplies. You could walk into trouble at any time, and there's no guarantee you won't go somewhere without food, water, or survivors who won't shoot you on site. Basically, travel only as much as necessary to get someplace where you can safe.

I wouldn't recommend your house, though. Every time I move I immediately try to think how the place I'm living would fare in a zombie apocalypse. I feel like any houses, suburbs, directly-open-to-the-outside apartments are death traps, way too easy for zombies break in. Any heavily populated area will have a shit-ton of zombies, obviously, but these places offer little protection and way too many places for a zombie to pop out of.

However, I think any tall apartment buildings - like you find in most major cities - would be very good places to be. They're large but easily contained and protected, they have multiple exist but most of the doors are locked from the outside (and on the off chance you have power you might have security cameras). More importantly, it should be easy to barricade the stairs in sections so that when the zombies do eventually overrun the place - because you know they will eventually - you should be able to have some warning and get away.

However, the very best place to stay after the zombie apocalypse? Gated communities. Goddamned rich people.

Building Code

The World-Dreamer:
Ever since I was 11 I started creating a constructed world. It has been over a decade since then I still keep working on it, writing mostly stories set in it not unlike following the Discworld model of shared setting.

Nonetheless, I worry about myself. I first had the idea of publishing these stories but as they get more personal and I get more meticulous about world-building I feel these would be too dense to be enjoyed. Also I have gotten picky on others, for example, with the Harry Potter universe I'm left wondering if they have wizard political parties.

I felt, a while ago, it was just a coping mechanism to mentally retreat from the daily nonsense life feels at times. A calculated happy place were everything made sense to me; so I tried to stop but I couldn't. It has become part of me.

Is there anything wrong with me or this is just a harmless escapist hobby? Is this like J.R.R. Tolkien and Austin Tappan Wright or Henry Darger and Francis E. Dec?

I'm not a medical doctor (heck, I'm not even a real postman) but unless there's some other side effect you're not mentioning, like it's somehow adversely affecting your job or relationships, or you're having trouble separating your fantasy from reality, I'd say there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. If you enjoy it and it makes you happy, for god's sake, do it.

I think a lot of people don't realize humanity's innate need to alter its perception of reality and/or escape from it. Some people do it by reading books or playing videogames, some people do it with booze or drugs (I'm a firm subscriber to the theory that humans gave up their easy hunting-and-gathering lifestyle for the toil of subsistence farming mostly to make booze), but for whatever reason a great many people like to escape our realities as much as we can without endangering ourselves - and obviously, some people don't mind about the endangering themselves, either. The point is your way is healthier than most, so have no qualms.

Although may I make a suggestion? If you have no desire to share your world with others, that's totally fine, but I wouldn't worry about them being "too dense to be enjoyed." Often it's the world-building that makes a series; readers often love discovering those details just like you enjoy putting them in. GRRM's A Song of Fire and Ice is pretty goddamned dense, and I've heard people seem to like them.

Obviously, you want to start people off easy, but why not let the free market decide? Send a couple stories to a few publishers. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Splitting Hairs

Edward B.:
"Riddle me this, Postman !" I like Esau am anhairy man and also an aging man. Why is it that my facial hair and the scalp hair (what precious little I have left) is all grey and silver, but my body hair is still very dark, especially the stuff on my back. This seems quite unfair to me and I demand an answer !!!!
Alright, a reasonable explanation will do.

Because the Aging Elves start from the top and work their way down.

Honestly, scientists don't seem to know. Oh, they know why hair turns gray - hair follicles stop producing melanin, which gives hair its color - and they know where the process begins and goes - temples and beard, head, chest, batch, etc. But as for why hair grays in this order, they're still working on it.

I have a question for you, though. Why is it that I can have gray hairs and a pimple at the same time? That seems completely unfair to me. I think once you're old enough to start getting gray hairs you are officially old enough to stop having zits. That should be a law.

The Costner Conundrum

Greg B.:
Which would be the worse movie, a sequel to The Postman, or a remake of Waterworld?

I have to say The Postman. Hear me out, though.

No offense to author David Brin, but it works much better as a book. Sure, you could make a more accurate movie adaptation of the story, but then you'd have to deal with that whole sentient computer at Oregon State University thing, which is a storyline that would make terrible second act of a film. Honestly, I I think any Hollywood movie that tries to adapt The Postman would end up looking a lot like Costner's version anyways. No matter what, it's a story about a dude who brings hope to people by delivering the mail, which is bearable on the page but looks incredibly schmaltzy on the screen. I honestly don't think there's much room for improvement, is what I'm saying.

Your biggest life challenges, addressed: Gray hair, ponies and fantasy overload

But Waterworld - well, Waterworld is Kevin Costner's attempt to make a big, schmaltzy epic about a fishman who drinks his own urine. I think there's a lot of potential in Waterworld's weirdness, it just needs a director who isn't afraid to let it be as bizarre as it actually is. Think more David Lynch's Dune, less… uh… Postman. Plus, today's CG could do wonders with the water and ships, don't you think? Please note I don't think this film would make it's money back anymore than Costner's Waterworld did, but it'd be a hell of a lot more interesting to watch.

Resource Resourcefulness

Luke S.:
When the zombie apocalypse comes, which will obviously be soon, what will become (non-undead) humanity's most essential resource? Water? Gasoline? Ammunition? Antiseptics? Please answer because we don't have much time. (We can disregard the theoretical "fast-moving zombie" because we all know we'd have no chance against them)

Water, food, gasoline, in that order. People can live without food for several days, but not long without water. Plus, think about this: If the faucets stopped tomorrow, do you know where your closest source of drinkable water is? I actually do, and it's several miles away. They're be plenty of food stocking our nation's grocery stores and convenience marts for the looting, but far less water, and it's going to run out quick. Finding a renewable source of water should be everybody's first priority.

Gas will be third most necessary, not because it's going to really do anybody any good, but I imagine most people's sanity will be based on 1) finding loved ones and/or 2) finding someplace safe to live. They'll fail on both counts, of course, but they'll want to try. They'll need to try. See the first two seasons of The Walking Dead for details (actually, don't).

For the record, people will want ammunition, but with the abundance (and effectiveness) or melee weapons, it won't be the hottest commodity. As for antiseptics… again, they'd be nice to have, but most injuries will be zombie-related, and thus invariably fatal. No amount of bactine helps when a zombie eats your Achilles tendon.

Although, for the record, I'd strongly suggest booze will be tied for third with gas. Humanity may not need it, but they'll want it, and they'll pay for it, too. Just sayin'.

My Little Brony

J.M.H.:
Rob, who is best pony? And no copouts. Also, where do you stand on the issue of Solar Empire vs. New Lunar Republic? The people want to know which side you'd play in a pony-based rpg.

Kind of a loaded question, isn't it? I mean, if I say any pony from Friendship Is Magic I immediately get branded a brony and you all talk about the erotic MLP fan fic I write, correct? But if I don't answer, then I'm copping out, and the Postman don't play that. So my answer is…

Ol' Pinkie Bastard.

As for Solar Empire vs. New Lunar Republic, I have no idea what you're talking about. Although if you're telling me there's a My Little Pony tabletop RPG out there then I can safely say that is the nerdiest fucking thing I've ever heard of in my entire life. And I'm a dude who wrote a 150-page college thesis on Final Fantasy VII, so that's saying something.

As the World Doesn't Turn

Eliot K.:
What would happen if the Earth just suddenly stopped?

Everything would fly into space. EVERYTHING. You, your pets, your car, your house, your land mass, everything. The earth spins at 1038 miles per hour (less at the poles), so if the planet stopped, our velocity would keep on going. We'd all die quickly and horribly, either because we'd be thrown into outer space or crushed by everything else tossed with us. Which is fine, because even if we somehow didn'tt, the atmosphere would keep on spinning for a bit, basically rubbing the entire planet down like a giant brillo pad. Even if you managed to hang on, you would be ground into a mist instantly.

Ligers and Tigrons, Oh My

Corinne W.:
Dear Postal Apocalypse,
I have a question! What is the difference between a Liger and a Tigron?

Your biggest life challenges, addressed: Gray hair, ponies and fantasy overload

Well, a Liger (pictured) is the offspring of a male Lion and Tigress, while a Tiglon (they're occasionally called Tigrons, but Tiglon is more commonly used) is the offspring of a male Tiger and a Lioness. Since lions and tigers don't generally hang out together in nature - more a problem of habitats than cat racism - Ligers and Tiglons are usually born in captivity.

Tiglons tend to be the size of a female tiger, have short manes, and occasionally spots due to some weird generic code hanging around in their lioness mommies. Ligers, on the other hand, are the largest living cat in the world, outgrowing both tigers and lions, have faints stripes over a tawny, lion-y fur, and are awesome.

Twilight Bites

Greg H.
I was forced to see one of the Twilight movies, and it was the worst piece of shit I have ever seen. How is it possible that anyone would voluntarily watch this? Seriously what the fuck is wrong with people?
Is it possible the apocalypse already happened and I just didn't notice?

Look, I'm no Twilight fan, but when I was conscripted into the Holnist Army or whatever it was called, they had movie nights (I still have no idea where they got the power). Anyways, all the other assholes wanted to see The Sound of Music every. Single. Night. Don't get me wrong, it's a good movie, but hearing "The Hills Are Alive" every night for two solid weeks was torture. And we had Universal Soldier! The dude started it one night, and everybody else booed until he put the goddamn Van Trapps on again! There's no accounting for post-apocalyptic taste.

Although in its defense, I'm going to take a wild guess and say you aren't Twilight's target audience. I'm no Twilight fan, but when I was in my teens I read a great many Dungeons & Dragons books which I now realize were absolutely terrible. I promise you that the characters and writing in R.A. Salvatore's first book The Crystal Shard are no better (and probably worse) than any of the Twilight books. And I also bet you I'm more embarrassed now at how into good-hearted dual-scimitar-wielding dark elf outcast Drizzt Do'Urden (and his magic black panther!) I was than most Twilight-loving girls will later be at their teenage Jacob the Shirtless Werewolf crushes. Just sayin'.

Do you have a letter for or to the Postman? Questions about nerd culture? Queries about Ideas you want to share? Email postman@io9.com!