June 27th, 2004

The Librarian


Since there seems to be much enthusiasm for vampire books among you, I looked to see what else my shelves had to offer besides the standard Bram Stoker and Anne Rice fare ...

Fred Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape is the first volume in a series of autobiographical reminiscences by ol' Vlad Tepes himself. "Tapes" is a rebuttal of the Stoker classic "Dracula"; in the 20th century, the Count tells his version of the events for the Harker descendents. Interesting moments include the claim that, in an era where blood types were unknown, Van Helsing's mania for transfusions was what really killed Lucy Westenra, and the Count's opinion of Victorian attitudes ("Really, it was my fickleness, I sometimes think, that they found unendurable. If I had restricted myself to only one of their sweet girls, and married her, and chewed her neck in private, I suppose I might, like an eccentric cousin, have been made almost welcome among family and friends in the circle of the hearth."). Other books in the series ("The Holmes-Dracula File", "An Old Friend of the Family", "Thorn", "Dominion", "A Matter of Taste", "A Question of Time", "Séance for a Vampire", and "A Sharpness on the Neck" tell other tales of Dracula's "life" in both the past and the present.

The Vampire Tapestry, by Suzy McKee Charnas, is something a little different ... the vampire as a naturally evolved, mimetically camouflaged predator rather than an occult creature. The Charnas vampire is not affected by the sun, reflects in mirrors, and has no fangs; he rarely kills, drinking only enough to fill his belly, and lives unsuspected among the beings he considers "livestock".

Another vampire who appears to be evolved rather than occult (I base that on the mention of her vampire parents and siblings) is Miriam Blaylock, the lead character in Whitley Streiber's classic, The Hunger. Miriam has never been able to locate another vampire since the death of her family ... terrified of being alone for eternity, she has experimented with giving her blood to chosen humans, hoping to create an immortal companion for herself. The experiments have never been entirely successful and Miriam now has a collection of locked trunks containing her immortal, but aged and insane, past lovers.

Les Daniels (interview with the author here) returns to more traditional vampire lore with his series of tales about Spanish vampire, Don Sebastian de Villanueva ... "born" during the height of the Inquisition. The tale begins in "The Black Castle", followed by "The Silver Skull", "Citizen Vampire", "Yellow Fog" and "No Blood Spilled".

Barbara Hambly's Those Who Hunt the Night has a vampire coming out of the shadows to hire an investigator ... to find out who is murdering his fellow vampires in Edwardian London. Just thinking about Simon Ysidro enjoying his first ride on an early motorcycle makes me grin. Humans and vampires are reunited in the sequel, Traveling with the Dead.

Mercedes Lackey is well-known for her fantasy universe, but early in her career she produced three books about occult "Guardian" Diana Tregarde (who, quite refreshingly is very un-MarySue, dealing with exhaustion, fear, finances and publishing deadlines). The first ("Burning Water") and third ("Jinx High") volumes take place in the contemporary late 80s/early 90s; the second, Children of the Night is a flashback to the seventies and can be read as a standalone. Watergate is on the news and something occultishly nasty is in town. With her sexy (one of her first thoughts on meeting him is that she wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating crackers ***grin***), French, traditional-vampire lover at her side, Diana faces off with a gaki, a soul-devouring creature that has wandered out of Japanese vampire lore and onto the streets of New York.

Disclaimer: Any typos may be blamed on the fact that the typist was watching "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" intro to "The Meaning of Life" and was giggling at Matt "Max Headroom" Frewer's (YAY!!!! A CANUCK!!!!!) performance as the last suit left alive in the pirate attack. :-)))))))
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