Vampires or Gods? by William Meyers

Book: Vampire or Gods: The True Stories of the Ancient Immortals

Author: William Meyers

Type of Book: Non-fiction (sort of), supernatural, paranormal, alternative history

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: If you were to substitute vampires for aliens in some of the more accessible “alien intervention” conspiracy theories, you’d end up with something like this book.  Also the dude on the cover who is eating grape is… unsettling.

Availability: Published by III Publishing in 1993, it’s out of print but you can still get a copy from second-hand sellers on Amazon:

Comments: Halloween looms so what better time to dig out and discuss this relic. It’s strange at times to consider the enormity of weird information available to us and how normalized such weirdness has become. That’s been a boon for people like me, and presumably anyone reading this, but it’s fun to revisit books that predate the rise of the Internet. This book is a hoot and there’s a reasonably good chance that even ardent readers of this site may not have heard of this title. As time permits, hopefully I can discuss more hidden, somewhat Halloween-ie media that may appeal to those looking for creepy stuff with a nice fringe. We’ll see, I can’t even believe Halloween is this week. I don’t even have pumpkins yet. Time is not so much slipping into the future, to paraphrase Steve Miller, as it is hurtling into some quantum physical state wherein time speeds up and keeps speeding up. Someone tried to explain “Schuman Resonance” to me once and it was like trying to teach a dog stoic philosophy so enough about that. Let’s discuss some vampiric high weirdness.

This is a book that is easy to summarize but very hard to discuss in depth. The concept is easy: William Meyers believes that the old gods, and the new, were actually real people who once lived very long lives, thousands of years in some cases, and they were so long-lived because they were/are vampires. He thinks the historical record, as well as common themes that run through world religions, points to vampirism being a part of our world since human beings organized enough to need or appreciate governments and spiritually dogmatic beliefs.

I walk a fine line when it comes to conspiracy theory. It’s very subjective as to whether or not something like this is harmful. Martin Gardner would think so and we can all agree he was way smarter than me. But I am not bothered by this as much as I am the recent “false flag” trends that cause cretins to harass the families of dead children and deny the existence of bomb victims. This is not as horrible to me as shady purveyors of “non-Western medicine” who convince hopeless cancer victims that medical science is evil, driven only by profits and making them sicker via chemo, and then sell those cancer sufferers very expensive crystals or pyramids or instructions for miserable regimens of coffee enemas out of the goodness of their hearts.

This book is entertaining conspiracy, a form of alternate history that shows how creatively human beings can weave together disparate ideas into a larger tapestry that tries to tell the story of humanity. And it seems to do little harm. I don’t see holy wars or anti-vaccination screeds or weird instructions on how to mutilate the genitals of children springing forth from this theory. And that’s not just because this theory requires both a belief that mythological gods were once living beings AND that vampires are real, something that will require a huge leap of faith in the average reader. Rather, this attempt to explain interesting correlations in religious stories and how they all point to a world shaped and ruled by vampires is not a dogmatic belief system.

It’s the dogma that gets you. It’s always the dogma. And without dogma we’ve got ourselves a fun, sometimes bizarre, interpretation of recorded human history. (And to be perfectly honest, I review this book with the mindset and influence of Mac Tonnies, a brilliant examiner of alien-oriented theories for whom the conversation was as important as the “truth.” I may not believe much but I still find myself examining theories like this with Tonnies in mind, willing to muse about the idea as much as its validity. Well, I do that when it doesn’t seem too harmful, but even so I still cut conspiracy theorists a lot of slack. That I let them leave comments here at all is a testament to the legacy of the importance of discussion that the late Tonnies fostered.)

Just in case anyone thinks that Meyers is just positing and not endorsing the notion that vampires are real and that Set and Cybele and Dionysus and many others were all vampires who actually walked the earth once as humans or humanoids, let me disabuse you of that notion:

…there is the possibility that we are not dealing, in the case of vampire-gods, with humans at all. Perhaps they are a distinct species, related to man as man is related to gorillas. Or the gods were a result of a mating between immortal beings and ordinary humans, as is claimed in the stories of Dionysus, Hercules, Jesus Christ and others. Perhaps the rash of women claiming to have been abducted by UFO’s in the past two decades will find that their children are immortal or have unusual abilities.

One informant who claims to know real “vampires,” humans who do not age or age only slowly, says that while they are not sure what causes their condition, a common theory is that it is simply a rare and recessive gene or set of genes. This could explain why most immortals chronicled in this book were the result of some sort of sexual liaison that today is considered incest.

Yep, Meyers believes gods were living beings and even goes so far as to try to explain their origins. What makes this so awesome for me is that as he tries to offer explanations for these gods, he invokes mainstream science in the form of evolution and recessive genetics AND marries his theory with other stories of external beings manipulating mankind. Alien intervention, alien abduction and possibly even the biblical stories of Nephilim and giants mating with humans can stand alongside Meyers’ vampire-god theories.  I love this sort of synthesis, a combination of all the ways of interpreting and explaining the world around us.

Pompous Skinny Vampires with Really Bad Hair

Vampires have no need for deep conditioning!

Yeah, I am going to discuss Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. I’m sure my title for this entry totally gave that away but, in spite of my initial glib reaction, I like this film. But it has to be said: the main characters are pompous, thin and have the worst hair ever. Tilda Swinton’s weave is one of the worst weaves ever seen in film since the one Michael Wincott was forced to wear in his role as Top Dollar in The Crow.  Hiddleston doesn’t fare much better on the hair front.

Several people told me I would love this movie and I suspect it is because Tilda Swinton’s character, Eve, packs nothing but books when she travels. Or maybe they assumed I shared the current online love of Tom Hiddleston, who plays Adam. Not that Adam and Eve, for this Eve has an annoying little sister named Ava, though it may be justthat Ava is her blood kin via vampirism, so maybe they are that Adam and Eve.  Those who are into Shakespeare authorship conspiracies will find elements of this film charming. Christopher Marlowe, as played by John Hurt, makes it clear who really wrote all those plays attributed to Shakespeare, so Marlovians may want to have a look.

Blood popsicles play no role in the shenanigans. But they are worth mentioning because, you know, frozen blood…

Quick synopsis: Adam lives in Detroit and is a musician who spurns the spotlight, and has done for centuries, yet has influenced and written for famous musicians throughout history. Eve lives in Tangiers, drinking the blood Christopher Marlowe procures for them both, but travels to Detroit when Adam is obviously in distress. The modern world inhabited by “zombies,” as they call humans, with all its increasingly aggressive planned obsolescence, weighs heavy on Adam, to the point that he is suicidal. Eve comes to comfort him, her kid sister shows up, shenanigans ensue.

But be warned – though there be shenanigans, they are sedate shenanigans. Not much happens in this film and what happens is… mostly very calm. Never before has disposing of a body been so tranquil. As much as I appreciated the Jim Jarmuschiness in Only Lovers Left Alive, I did find myself longing for Bill Paxton (of Near Dark fame) overacting. I think we all find ourselves longing for Bill Paxton overacting regardless of the situation – don’t deny it.

I’ve always been fond of Jim Jarmusch. Mystery Train is one of the best movies from the ’80s. No one ever put John Lurie to better use than Jarmusch did in Stranger Than Paradise. But I have to admit that even Mystery Train, one of Jarmusch’s more involved films, has a very minimalist plot. Jarmusch films are atmospheric, stylish and deadpan – you can’t really expect gore or intense story-building in a Jarmsuch film, which I think is what caused this film to seem a bit pompous. All the name dropping of the people these vampires spent time with throughout history wore thin – evidently Mary Wollstonecraft was “delicious” and I don’t know exactly what was meant with that description – surely Adam didn’t drain her. Or did he? Who knows? But he hung around with Byron and Shelley, and during a scene where Eve questions her husband about events in his life she surely already knew about, I was reminded of a lyric from a Rod Stewart song: “I couldn’t quote you no Dickens or Shelley or Keats, because it’s all been said before.” If you’ve been married for centuries, you’ve said it and heard it all before but if you remain true loves – only lovers left alive, remember – you want to hear the stories again. They will always sound new to a lover, if quite pompous to outsiders.

Despite the cluttered and run-down house in Detroit that Adam settled into in his attempt to avoid the zombies, their increasingly grotesque world and their often diseased blood, this is a pretty film. There are scenes where Adam and Eve take night time drives in Detroit that are very visually arresting, and Adam shows Eve the ruination of paradise – the empty Packard factory, the theater turned into a parking garage. Yet of all the amazing places in Detroit that revolved around excellent music, music of the sort that Adam and Eve play and listen to (Wanda Jackson, Denise LaSalle and Charlie Feathers), he takes Eve to see the house where Jack White of the questionably talented White Stripes grew up. Jack is evidently the seventh son in his family, and I guess that matters to vampires, but surely he could have run by Florence Ballard’s house or the Leland Baptist Church where Bessie Smith performed with Louis Armstrong. Except we only see one black dude in all of Detroit and he’s the doctor who sells Adam untainted blood. It’s a strange, discordant note in this film that otherwise seems to pay a lot of attention to detail and name drops so many important people of cultural worth.

The clever jokes in the film also sort of fall flat. Adam and Eve travel using passports under the names “Stephen Dedalus” and “Daisy Buchanan.” Why Stephen Dedalus? Kit Marlowe says in the film that he wished he had known Adam when he wrote Hamlet because Adam would have been a far better model for the suicidal Dane, and Stephen Dedalus, if I remember my college analysis of Joyce, shows Hamlet-like qualities. So that kind of works. But Daisy Buchanan? It would be hard to find a more loyal, faithful wife than Eve, despite living on a completely different continent than Adam. Whenever Adam is in need, she rushes to his side. She has no other lovers. She is no Daisy Buchanan. It’s hard for me to think of a better female literary character for her to use for her passport identity, but I’m no filmmaker, to be sure.

And if it sounds like I am bashing this movie, I may be a little bit, but I tend to like pomposity when it is handled well. Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is one of my favorite books. I love the films of Whit Stillman, one of the most pompous filmmakers ever to breathe life into preppy culture. But it speaks to the nature of this film that the best part is when Ava comes into Detroit and wreaks havoc on Adam and Eve’s reunion. She is a force of chaos in Adam’s very cloistered life, a vampire who loves the modern world as much as Adam hates it, who gives in to her base impulses in a way her sister cannot. The scenes with Ava are the price of admission for this film.

No idea what Kit Marlowe is holding here but it isn’t a comb.

But even as I found myself wondering how it is that Adam made the transition from writing adagios for Schubert to becoming a Detroit rock god, how the fuck their passports made any sense, I still found this film enjoyable. As I mentioned it is visually appealing, even when it is shabby. There is no humor but there is plenty of wit. And the actors are all very pretty – including the aged John Hurt – even if they have terrible hair. I think this is a movie that I felt strangely about when watching, realized I enjoyed it at the end, and will love it the second time I watch it.

This film has also given me a terrible itch to see The Hunger, Trouble Every Day and Near Dark before Halloween gets here. All three vampire movies, all three extremely stylish in very different ways, and I think this Halloween needs David Bowie, Vincent Gallo and Bill Paxton to join Tom Hiddleston in the vampire game. Oooo, maybe I’ll watch The Addiction and add Christopher Walken to the mix, too. And all four of those actors have much better hair than poor Hiddleston as Adam. So if nothing else this movie whetted my appetite for more bloody fare (and bloodier fare, too). If you have a favorite vampire film, share it, and if you’ve seen it, let me know what you think of Only Lovers Left Alive.

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

This post originally appeared on I Read Everything

Book: Dead in the Family

Author: Charlaine Harris

Type of Book: Fiction, paranormal romance, vampires

Why Did I Read This Book: Because despite the fact that the cheesy Sookie Stackhouse series has increasingly made me lactose intolerant, I’m hooked.

Availability: Published in 2010 by the Penguin Group, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Oh, good heavens, this was a terrible book. Terrible, terrible, terrible. Horrible, even. And yet I know that I will be reading the next in the series the day it comes out in hard cover. It’s maddening. I don’t know what bizarre alchemy Harris has discovered here because she’s not even turning base literature into gold. She’s presenting base lit, I know it’s base lit, and I devour it like it’s gold. Almost all of the Sookie Stackhouse books are like this. I know they are American cheese but I seek them out like they are caviar.

But that having been said, the weird alchemy that Harris performs fell short in this book. Her past books were so much better. Where was this book’s equivalent of really steamy shower sex with Eric? Where was the equivalent of the bloody war between the Fairies? Where was this book’s exciting werewolf one-on-one battle for supremacy? Where were the “this book” equivalents of the antics that made Harris’ past books the sort of guilty pleasure I don’t mind admitting? This book was not even American cheese. It was microwaved cheez whiz that has been left out on the counter top with the lid off. The turgid plot lines are what reel me in and keep me reading but this Sookie novel did not deliver. It just didn’t have enough of the cheesy goodness that I long for when I read Harris. There were several subplots that never delivered the visceral, gleeful punch that one needs when reading Sookie Stackhouse tales.

Plot summary: Sookie and Eric still have undead Viking/insufferable blonde human sex and are still uneasy in their relationship and nothing gets resolved. Victor is causing problems and Sookie wants him dead and nothing gets resolved. Claude moves in, with no real point behind it. Sookie babysits her young cousin and nothing comes of it. Jason is still a were-panther but has settled down and Sookie goes to a pointless cookout with her brother and his new girlfriend. Werewolves find a dead body on her property and nothing gets resolved. Eric’s maker shows up with the undead Tsarevich and it’s ridiculous as well as pointless. Sookie finds Lorena’s other “child” and the book ends after this happens and we can only hope it goes somewhere in the next book in the series. There are some little bubbles of interesting behavior but overall, there are a bunch of subplots that rattle around and ultimately go nowhere.

This trend of Harris’ to introduce all kinds of intriguing subplots, like the presence of Hadley’s son, bringing new characters and situations into the mix in every chapter, dangling them out there, then doing nothing with them aside from revisiting them blandly and pointlessly, just telling little stories that have no impact on the plot or give any better understanding of the world Sookie lives in, is wearing thin. This tendency has got to be reined in at some point – I know editors may be reluctant to lay down the law to a proven money maker like Harris, but all these tiny subplots and all these characters milling about and not doing much are diluting the fun.

There were also a lot of continuity problems in this book. If a casual reader like me noticed them, any editor worth his or her salt should have seen them, too. I think as this series grows and with its popularity, there is increasing pressure for Harris to crank novels out. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for a quality book, but I wonder if that even matters. I mean, I am slamming the hell out of Dead in the Family but I know I will continue reading the series. I suspect it will take a lot more than one complete clunker with a bad plot and continuity issues to cause most of us leave Sookie behind in disgust but it would be nice if our unconditional love for this series was respected via tight story lines and excellent plots.

However much I don’t expect the most stellar of writing in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Harris did manage to create a plot line in this book so bad that I honestly have no idea how anyone could have thought, “Hey, this is a good idea. Let’s include this hot mess and no one will raise an eyebrow.” Eric’s maker, Appius Livius Ocella comes to see Eric due to all kinds of vampire machinations. And with him be brings Alexei Romanov, his newest “son” and Eric’s “brother.”

Yes. Alexei Romanov. The one killed by the Bolsheviks. The one whose corpse was exhumed and his identity verified via DNA testing. The one who was a hemophiliac, the doomed adolescent who was shot to death in a basement with his parents and sisters. That Alexei Romanov.

How does Harris explain away all the, you know, historic and scientific evidence that Alexei Romanov died and remained dead and was not turned into a the undead by an ancient Roman vampire? Well, you see, Appius Livius knew that when the mass pit of Romanov bodies were finally discovered, it would only be a short while until they found Alexei. So the Justin Bieber-aged vampire removed his bones bit by bit to recreate his skeleton. Poured acid on the bone fragments and burned them too. Lucky for Alexei vampires can regenerate bone and heal quickly. And that there is no DNA test for vampiricism. Or that 16-year-old vampire bones produced in fragments then burned and buried for less than 20 years looked identical to the bones of Alexei’s sister, who had indeed been buried for over 80 years. Or that the Tsarevich survived the multiple stabbings and the two bullets that were put in his head long enough to be turned into a vampire.

I didn’t really object to Harris’ prior use of Elvis as he is a pop culture icon of questionable gravitas. But it was a bridge too far in terms of common sense, believability and even good taste to resurrect Alexei Romanov, a hemophiliac whose life had been quite bad before he was killed in a basement and his remains defiled, as the new sex toy for an old Roman vampire. Bleah on the whole thing.

So, all in all, this was not a good book. But that won’t stop you from buying it and reading it if you are already hooked. Just keep your fingers crossed that editors with a keen eye, common sense and feel for plot whip Harris’ next Sookie Stackhouse offering into shape before we shell out $25 for the privilege of reading it.

Already Dead by Charlie Huston

This post originally appeared on I Read Everything

Book: Already Dead

Author: Charlie Huston

Why Did I Read This Book: I had put this book on my Amazon Wishlist at some point, probably because it is about vampires, which are always relevant to my interests, and my very good friend Arafat sent it to me. I wanted to read it because the Washington Post had this to say in its review: “(t)his book’s core audience is among the young, the cool, the hip, and the unshockable.” And this folks, is why I review books myself and seldom pay attention to anything any established reviewer says anymore because as a middle-aged, uncool, really unhip woman I can tell you that this book ain’t all that shocking, in a pearl-clutching sort of way. Unless you have spent your life reading Jane Austen with a little Nicholas Sparks thrown in for modern relevance, this book is simply a well-told, nicely updated vampire/detective riff.

Availability: Published by Del Ray in 2005, you can get a copy here:

Comments: This is a book that should have annoyed me but it didn’t because Huston incorporates infuriating writing habits, cliched characters and plot devices in a such a way that they seem fresh and interesting. Moreover, he blends and recreates genre in a way that others have tried and mostly failed to pull off.

For example, I loathe hard boiled detective novels. I find the old school Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane novels to be emotionally flat, unengaging and tiresome but Huston takes this genre and makes it work in a manner I could not have expected before reading this book. Joe Pitt, a vampire private detective, is the main character in this novel and he embodies the sort of emotionally flat, badass, private detective who has a soft spot in his heart for the sweet but damaged Everygirl but gets sucked into a web by a gorgeous, icy, double-crossing dame. Except we understand why Joe is remote and somewhat tortured – he’s a vampire and as demonstrated in the book, one break-in to his refrigerator can cause his death. The sweet but damaged Everygirl has AIDS, and his vampirism makes a relationship hard, all the harder because he can give her eternal life if he wants but has no idea, in the way these sorts of emotionally stunted men can be, of going about it. And the icy dame is icy, to be sure, but also has a Chinatown-style problem that telegraphs to the reader that this is going to be bad news and will not end well, but forces us to want Joe to help her anyway.

I also loathe novels that refuse to use proper quotation punctuation, mainly because it has been my miserable experience that when authors do this, it is the only “innovation” in the novel because they are trying to show their indie cred by eschewing rules instead of relying on good writing. Not gonna lie, this book irritated me in sections because in passages filled with large chunks of dialogue, using em-dashes solely to indicate speech got tiresome and I lost the thread of back and forth. But it was not as intrusive as I initially feared. I would have infinitely preferred traditional dialogue markers not because I am a norm helplessly clinging to the old ways, but because it’s easier to read.

So in a sense, this book had a lot stacked against it from the beginning. But I read it quickly, enjoying it more than the parts of its sum should have allowed.

This is what I think I was looking for when I picked up the Ellen Datlow-edited modern vampire story collection that I panned. This is a modern take on the vampire tale, and zombies are handled in a way that makes sense to me (I am not a big zombie fan either – zombies themselves are seldom interesting to me, though certainly that is not always the case). In the novel, a virus causes vampirism, a need to drink blood to feed the “vyrus” that both holds the victims in thrall to their need for blood, but keeps them stronger and healthier when they do drink. The “Vampyres” in this novel have set up their own society in New York, each clan having inviolable perimeters and Joe refuses to join any clan, remaining a free agent who bumps around in the world of upper class Vampyres, radical rogues and absolute criminals.

When he is hired by a clan called the Coalition to find a missing girl who is attracted to gothic and Vampyre culture, Joe is forced to deal with “shamblers,” people who become zombies due to a bacterial infection that is transmitted a number of ways, including sexually. He also finds himself in a world of intrigue, where he is, of course, double crossed on a dime, and has to make uneasy alliances with humans and Vampyres if he wants to find the girl, deliver her to real safety and get out alive.

I think one of the things that won me over is that Huston gets goth culture right, or at least what I recognize as goth culture from my own experiences. Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box was not a bad novel, but his characterization of goth and death metal culture were way off (yo, they are two totally different things and really don’t cross over as much as one might think – the culture that gave us Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bauhaus is far different from the culture that lead us to Death and Cannibal Corpse). Writers mischaracterize these subcultures more often than they hit the nail on the head.

Amanda, the goth-kiddie runaway Joe Pitt is tasked with finding has the gothic emotional-nihilism-as-a-mask-for-vulnerability-down. The street kids Pitt deals with are more gutter punk, and have the wardrobes and musical references (Skinny Puppy for the win) to prove it. Having once spent years living in gutter punk or drag rat enclaves, I immediately recognized some of the kids in this book. It was a very good thing indeed to see subcultures represented so accurately.

While I have seen this book described as edgy or like a Tarantino film, I didn’t see that myself. While this is definitely not a typical pulp horror story or a sparkling take on vampires, the edginess in this novel does not come from hip pop culture references or hard core violence. I realize my take here may be rendered somewhat questionable because I am steeped in transgressive literature in a way that casual horror readers may not be, but the real edginess comes into play because Huston manages to weave a Spillane-type detective into a new version of the vampire (and zombie) mythos, creating a wholly new and well-conceived merging of genre. Perhaps the true edginess is that Huston made me like a protagonist I knew I wanted to hate, uses dialogue punctuation in a way that would ordinarily make me snert, yet gets so much right in this intricately plotted book that I loved it in spite of the ways I suspected it should annoy me. His characterization, plot management and eye to renewing the old in horror left me with much to commend and with so many writers attempting to recreate genre and failing, perhaps any sense of edginess in this book comes simply from doing it right. I will definitely read more of Huston’s work in the future. His novel Six Bad Things sounds particularly good. It is always fun to come across a novelist I know I am going to like and realizing he or she has a body of work already waiting for me.

A Whisper of Blood edited by Ellen Datlow

This post originally appeared on I Read Everything

Title: A Whisper of Blood: A Collection of Modern Vampire Stories

Author: Edited by Ellen Datlow

Type of Book: Fiction, short story collection

Why Did I Read This Book: I love short stories. I love short stories about vampires. I love Ellen Datlow. I saw this in the bargain section at Barnes & Noble and I love cheap books. (It seems like I love a lot of things, doesn’t it?) It’s actually a book that contains two books of vampire fiction Ellen Datlow edited, Blood is Not Enough and a Whisper of Blood. So really it was a two for one bargain book. How could I lose? So I grabbed it and saved it so I could read it close to Halloween.

Availability: Released by Fall River Press in 2008, it no longer appears to be in print, but you can get a used copy here:

Comments: This is a hard one because overall most of these stories were entertaining and well-written. Yet many missed the point entirely or I am being too strict in what I consider a modern vampire story. I tend to think it is the former. Many of the stories really pushed the boundary of what it means to be a modern vampire story and not in a good way. In a “this really has nothing to do with vampires in any way, shape or form unless one redefines the notion of vampire to have nothing to do with the concept of a vampire in a context in which vampires are recognizable” sort of way. Yeah. Seriously, that mangled sentence is the mental gymnastics one must go through to find vampires in some of these stories.

A vampire does not have to suck blood to be a vampire. Most vampire fans also do not demand a strict adherence to vampire canon in order to find worth and entertainment in a vampire story. But on some level, the vampirism cannot be so postmodern in its interpretation of vampires that an audience has to analyze the story to the point of banality to find the vampiric element and too many stories in this collection demanded that sort of analysis.

I’m not going to discuss every story in the book but I’ll hit what I consider the high lights and low lights.

The ones that did not work for me:

“The Pool People” by Melissa Mia Hall uses rape as a metaphor for vampirism and while the story is intriguing, the fact of the matter is, this is one of the stories that stretches the notion of being a vampire. A teacher being assaulted by students is horrific, not vampiric. This story stretches vampirism into a metaphor for all modern violence and in so doing, stretches the concept of the “modern” vampire to the breaking point.

“Dirty Work” by Pat Cadigan flat out is not a vampire story. Period. Full stop. It’s an interesting science fiction tale but it has no place in a modern vampire anthology. I did my best, I questioned myself and asked if I was being too literal in my interpretation and came to the conclusion that asking for some form of vampiric behavior in a story included in a vampire anthology is not too much to ask. It’s a story of a “pathosfinder” who is overwhelmed mentally by an empath in a futuristic world. This was possibly the most tiresome story in the book for me, 35 pages of not very much happening at all, just… I think the issue is that I am not a fan of this sort of sci-fi, especially when I encounter it in a book ostensibly about vampires.

Interestingly, one of the other stories that did not hit me right was also a Pat Cadigan tale called “Home by the Sea,” wherein people are dead in a sort of post-apocalyptic world but still move around. They’re not really vampires so much as they are sentient zombies. A wife has sex with a man who is ostensibly still alive and he gives her the gift of life. Again, sort of entertaining, but also again, not really vampires in any sense, even modern. Vampires take life, they don’t give it, and given the zombie-like nature of the characters, it was hard to see what the point was of the story exactly other than just existing as a horror tale. It works as a horror tale. It does not work as a vampire story.

The last story I speak of in the “do not want” camp comes from Edward Bryant, “Good Kids.” This one I just plain didn’t like. In it, four girls in night-time child care facility discover their caretaker is a vampire. They turn the table of violence on him when they encourage the rest of the kids in care to act with them in an ending with a TWIST. Bleah to red herring endings and double bleah to precocious kids who as a group don’t speak or act as any kids I have ever known.