Zombie Spaceship Wasteland: A Book by Patton Oswalt

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland: A Book by Patton Oswalt

by Patton Oswalt

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439149096
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 11/08/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 205,709
Product dimensions: 5.56(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

Patton Oswalt is the author of the New York Times bestseller Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. He has released four TV specials and four critically acclaimed comedy albums, including the Grammy-nominated My Weakness Is Strong. He put together the Comedians of Comedy tour and television series. Oswalt has also appeared on many television shows and in more than twenty films, including Young Adult, Big Fan, and Ratatouille. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Read an Excerpt

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland


  • In middle school, I started reading.

    I’d been “reading” since kindergarten. It was dutiful and orderly. Point B followed Point A.

    But something happened in middle school—a perfect alignment of parental support and benign neglect. The parental “support” came from keeping me stocked in Beverly Cleary, John Bellairs, The Great Brain books, and Daniel Pinkwater. Also Bridge to Terabithia, The Pushcart War, How to Eat Fried Worms—and the parallel-universe, one-two mind-crack of The Bully of Barkham Street and A Dog on Barkham Street.

    And then there was the blessed, benign neglect.

    The “neglect” grew out of the same “support.” My mom and dad were both busy, working jobs and trying to raise two kids during uncertain times. In the rush of trying to find something new for me to read, they’d grab something off the shelf at Waldenbooks after only glancing at the copy on the back.

    Whoever did a lousy job writing copy for books like Richard Brautigan’s The Hawkline Monster, H. P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, Harlan Ellison’s The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World, and Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (“It’s about a teenager in the future!” said my mom)—thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. You gave me some tangy, roiling stew under the golden crust of the Young Adult literature I was gobbling up.

    So yes, I still love Bellairs’s The House with a Clock in Its Walls, but I always imagine the two bounty killers from The Hawkline Monster in its basement, armed for bear and fucking the Magic Child on a rug. And somewhere beyond John Christopher’s White Mountains are Vic and Blood, hunting for canned food and pussy. And who prowled the outer woods of Terabithia? Yog-Sothoth, that’s who.

    It’s a gift and an affliction at the same time—constantly wondering how the mundane world I’m living in (or reading about) links to the darker impulses I’m having (or imagining I have). The gift-affliction followed me (or was it guiding me?) through my teens, in 1980s suburban Virginia. The local TV station still showed The Wolfman on Saturday mornings—but I’d already read Gary Brandner’s The Howling. So I couldn’t watch Lon Chaney, Jr., lurch around the Scottish countryside without wondering if he craved sex as much as murder. I would recontextualize lines of sitcom dialogue to suit darker needs, the way the Surrealists would obsess over a single title card—“When he crossed the bridge, the shadows came out to meet him”—in the 1922 silent movie Nosferatu.*

    Then the local TV station gave way to the early years of cable TV. My parents’ working hours were such that it was impossible to police my viewing habits. Scooby-Doo and his friends unmasked the Sea Demon and found bitter Old Man Trevers, trying to scare people away from his harbor. But they missed, under the dock, the Humanoids from the Deep, raping sunbathers. Did Harriet the Spy and the Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear run afoul of Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45, Paul Kersey from Death Wish, or the Baseball Furies from Walter Hill’s The Warriors? The Pushcart War took place on the same New York streets where Travis Bickle piloted his taxi. And it sure was cool how the Great Brain could swindle Parley Benson out of his repeating air rifle by pretending to make a magnetic stick. You know what was better? Knowing that, one state over, the bloody slaughter of Heaven’s Gate was swallowing up John Hurt and Christopher Walken.

    Maybe that makes my generation unique—the one that remembers before MTV and after. . . and then before the Internet and after. The generation I see solidifying itself now? They were born connected—plopped out into the late nineties, into the land of Everything That Ever Was Is Available from Now On. What crass acronym will we slap on the thumb-sore texting multitudes of the twenty-first century? The Waifnos? The Wireds? Anything’s better than “Gen X,” which is what we got. Thanks, Douglas Coupland. We sound like a team of mutant vigilantes with frosted hair and chain wallets. Actually, that’s not completely horrible.

    And neither was being “Gen X.” We’ll always cherish the stark, before-and-after culture shift of our adolescence. We had isolation. . . and then access. Drought and then deluge. Three channels and then fifty. CBs and then chat rooms. And our parents didn’t have time, in the beginning, to sift through the “Where is all of this new stimulus coming from?” and decide what was beyond our emotional grasp. Thus, the mishmash. Six-color cartoons, but with an edge of gray and maroon. YA literature laced with sex and violence. A generation gifted with confusion, unease, and then revelation.

    Not anymore, I guess. It seems that every TV show, movie, song, and website for the generation following me involves protagonists who’ve been fucking, killing, and cracking wise about fucking and killing since before anyone even showed up to watch them. I’m sure that will yield some bizarre new films, books, and music—stuff I can’t even imagine. Doesn’t matter. By the time that comes around, I’ll have long had my consciousness downloaded into a hovering Wolf Husbandry Bot. I’ll glide over the Russian steppes, playing Roxy Music’s Avalon, setting the mood for a lusty canine rutting. I don’t care how high my shrink increases my Lexapro dosage—I WANT TO BE A ROBOT THAT HELPS WOLVES HAVE SEX. Otherwise, my parents threw away the money they spent on my college education.

    So thank you, Mom and Dad. Thank you, League of Lazy Copywriters. Thank you, reader, for buying this book. I apologize ahead of time for not even trying to aim at Point B, or even starting from Point A. Comedy and terror and autobiography and comics and literature—they’re all the same thing.

    To me.

    FULL DISCLOSURE

    Stuff l did on the Internet while writing this introduction:

    • Looked up the lyrics to Toto’s song “99”

    • Played two “Armor” battles of Gemcraft Chapter 0

    • Checked the Facebook status of two people I hate

    • Technorati’d myself

  • Customer Reviews

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    Zombie Spaceship Wasteland 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 108 reviews.
    PenNameML More than 1 year ago
    Reads alot like his standup, pretty good stories mixed in with some odd Patton Oswalt type material. A pretty quick read at anout 130 pages but well worth the price!
    matthew254 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    Zombie Spaceship Wasteland was another disappointment; this time, from a very funny guy who could have done much more than this sad excuse of a memoir. Contents include two funny stories; one from a bad comedy tour another from his teenage experience of working at a movie theater. The rest is a hodge-podge of self-important garbage. Really wanted this to be good but it wasn't meant to be.
    mikewick on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    Reading this made me feel like I was the fastest reader on the planet--zoom! Tucked it away in two short hours, during which my wife had to keep asking me why milk was coming out my nose. The essays vary in quality but then again I honestly can say that I didn't understand about a third of the allusions Oswalt made--so who's to say I'm not some uneducated dumbass turning his back on comedic gold. The high points were absolutely hilarious, however and well worth the price of admission.
    wjohnston on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    I know of Oswalt but I'm not that familiar with his work. But, from the reviews I read this sounded like it would be of interest to me.It's a little bit of everything - some memoir, some humor, some meditations on nerd culture. It's not as uproariously funny as I expected it to be. But there are funny bits, and in the end it left me wanting more. (It's a slim volume - not quite 200 pages.)
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Three stars.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A good read for those who enjoy the comedy working of the author. Well worth it.
    The_Dragons_Roost More than 1 year ago
    If you like Patton Oswalt's comedy, you will enjoy Zombie Spaceship Wasteland.  If you don't you will probably still enjoy this title.  The book is equal parts autobiography, extended stand-up routine, and ruination on various aspects of life.  Much of the material is surprising touching.  Oswalt has a gift for word selection and displays great insight.  Much of the book is quite moving.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of laughs.  Some sections had me guffawing under my breath.  In others, like the titular Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Oswalt uses his knowledge of all things geeky to categorize and thereby attempt to explain the world around him (young people are, in this section, categorized as either zombies who relish experiences, spaceships who look to create new experiences, or wastelands who deconstruct the world around them). There are emotional scenes which will sneak up on readers and steal their breaths away.  In a portion in which Oswalt talks about the greatest snow fort ever built, his use of language not only conveys the youth of the speaker (the wall must have been at least 50 feet high.  It was higher than I could jump, so that had to be 50 feet) but also the innocence of youth (the narrator does not understand what it means when his friend's father goes to the young, female neighbors house or why his friend becomes so angry, but the reader does and it is heartbreaking). Other sections like greeting card explanations and the NPR-esque discussion of traditional hobo songs, could have been pulled straight from a comedy routine. In total, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is moving and amusing, heartfelt and full of whimsy, and scathingly humorous all at once.  If I have any complaints, it is that there was not more material. Note on the audiobook: the book is narrated by the author who does a brilliant job of bringing his own material to life.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I was bored:p lols
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