Sunday, January 15, 2017

Love in Vein

Poppy Z. Brite, best known in the vampire realm as author of the novel LOST SOULS (1992), edited LOVE IN VEIN (1994), an anthology subtitled "Twenty Original Tales of Vampire Erotica." Her introduction promises "stories exploring the visceral connection between vampirism and eroticism." Contrary what the reader might expect from the subtitle, many of the tales don't feature highly explicit, graphic sex, but all exude dark sensuality. Contributors include such well-known SF, fantasy, and horror authors as Charles de Lint, Nancy Holder, Gene Wolfe, Barry N. Malzberg,Thomas F. Monteleone, Brian Hodge, and many others. (Nothing by Brite herself, oddly. Some editors disapprove of including one's own work in an anthology, an attitude that puzzles me. As a reader, I pick up an anthology edited by a famous author in anticipation of getting a story by that author as part of the bargain.)

The story I find most creepily fascinating, "Do Not Hasten to Bid Me Adieu," by Norman Partridge, imagines an alternative ending to DRACULA, in which Quincey Morris takes Lucy's mutilated corpse back to Texas with him, planning to undo the vampire-slayers' work and make her his bride. Other memorable pieces include: Jessica Amanda Salmonson's "Arabian Nights"-inflected tale, "The Final Fete of Abba Adi"; "White Chapel," by Douglas Clegg, set in Southeast Asia, featuring a legendary serial killer and exotic gods; "The Marriage," by Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem, about a vampire who drains energy by feeding on bodily fluids, especially sexual secretions; "Queen of the Night," by Gene Wolfe, through the eyes of a boy brought up by ghouls; "The Alchemy of the Throat," narrated by a castrato boy soprano enslaved to a more-or-less benevolent vampire born in ancient Rome.

Brite also edited a follow-up volume, LOVE IN VEIN II (1997), also consisting of original stories—with one exception. The book begins with a reprint of Neil Gaiman's unforgettable "Snow, Glass, Apples," a very dark fairy tale of Snow White as a vampire and the Queen as a good witch striving to overcome the girl's evil. (Tanith Lee's older story "Red as Blood" has the same premise but a happy ending.)

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Before the Count

BEFORE THE COUNT (2007), edited by Margo Collins, is an anthology for hardcore vampire literature enthusiasts. It has a slightly misleading, though catchy, subtitle, "British Vampire Tales, 1732-1897." Not all the contents count as "tales," since they include three nonfiction pieces and two poems. Not all are British; items originally in other languages are included. All of the latter, however, appear in translations available in nineteenth-century England, so they're interesting and useful for the book's purpose of collecting significant precursors in English to Bram Stoker's DRACULA.

John Polidori's "The Vampyre," the first known prose vampire story in English, is included, along with the "Fragment" by Byron that inspired it, even though they're readily available in many other editions. That choice makes sense for the sake of completeness. Many of the other contents, though, haven't been reprinted in other vampire collections that I know of and make this volume a welcome addition to a vampire fanatic's library. In addition to the vampire section of Dom Augustin Calmet's often-cited book, the nonfiction selections consist of two 1732 magazine articles about real-life cases reported from Eastern Europe. An 1835 translation of Goethe's poem "The Bride of Corinth" also appears. The heart of the anthology, for me, comprises four plays based on or inspired by Polidori's novella, materials I'd read about in many secondary sources but never seen in print before. All items appear in chronological order of their English publication.

I'm surprised the editor didn't include "The Mysterious Stranger," an anonymous 1860 story set in the Carpathians with a noticeably Dracula-like villain. It can be read here:

The Mysterious Stranger

The volume ends with Kipling's poem "The Vampire," published in 1897 and inspired by a painting of the same name. Despite the editor's explanation that she included this work as "proof of the continuing interest in vampires," I really don't know what it's doing here. It involves metaphorical rather than literal vampirism, it's frequently reprinted and readily available elsewhere, and it can't have influenced DRACULA. More relevant examples from the 1890s would have been Phil Robinson's "The Last of the Vampires" (1893), featuring a mad scientist and a bat-winged vampiric creature, and Mary Braddon's "Good Lady Ducayne" (1896), a tale of medical detection, altered consciousness, and blood transfusion with remarkable similarities to Lucy's case in DRACULA (although published too late to have significantly influenced Stoker, it illustrates that those tropes were "in the air" at that time).

Nevertheless, this inexpensive trade paperback would be a valuable resource for any vampire-lit completist.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Time of the Vampires

THE TIME OF THE VAMPIRES (1996), edited by P. N. Elrod and Martin H. Greenberg, is one of many Greenberg-packaged vampire anthologies. This one, consisting of all original stories, highlights the theme of vampires throughout history. The tales appear in chronological order according to the time periods of their settings. The volume begins in ancient Greece with "A Vision of Darkness" by Lois Tilton. Susan Booth's "Scent of Blood" narrates the Roman emperor Trajan's encounter with the "not-dead" in 106 A.D. in Romania (then known as Dacia). Two pieces center on the Arthurian mythos, "The Gift," by Teresa Patterson, and "Oaths," by Bradley H. Sinor. Elrod's own contribution, "The Devil's Mark," depicts a seventeenth-century witch hunt. Tanya Huff places Henry Fitzroy, the star of her vampire novels, in the nineteenth century in her lighter-toned "What Manner of Man." Several of this story's secondary characters bear the names of classic fictional vampires, confusing and a bit disappointing as it becomes clear they aren't vampires at all; the author has indulged in mere allusion-dropping. Some other stories feature Henry VIII, Napoleon, and the notorious early-twentieth-century preacher Aimee Semple McPherson. Another notable entry, "The Ghost of St. Mark's," by Elaine Bergstrom, links her Austra vampire clan with the London blitz.

Each story is followed by the author's brief explanation of its historical background or what inspired him or her to choose that setting.

Disclosure: I have a story in this anthology, "Voice from the Void." Set in England in 1897, it stars Claude, one of my recurring vampire characters, as he interferes in a seance to liberate a lovely young psychic from her uncle, who uses her in his spiritualist racket. An actor who "hides in plain sight" by playing horror roles, Claude features as a major participant in CHILD OF TWILIGHT (sequel to DARK CHANGELING but able to be read on its own):

Child of Twilight

Margaret L. Carter

Explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Love Bite

LOVE BITE (1994), by Sherry Gottlieb, features a solitary vampire looking for a mate. Risha Cardigan, nicknamed Rusty, was converted in 1969 by a 300-year-old vampire, Gregor, who eventually committed suicide. Gottlieb's vampire mythos includes an unusual twist on the effect of sunlight. It doesn't destroy vampires in itself; however, it instantly advances them to their true ages. For most, that equals annihilation. As far as Rusty knows, she is the only remaining vampire. Transformation in this novel can't happen by accident. It's a deliberate choice and a lengthy, hazardous process. Rusty works as a photographer in Los Angeles and lives alone except for her long-time, devoted human servant, Elliott. Among many other tasks, he does her hair and makeup for her because of her lack of a reflection. Succumbing to loneliness, she places a personal ad: "What would you do to live happily ever after? Mythical creature seeks mate who can believe." In between winnowing the replies and meeting likely candidates, she continues her usual feeding habits, which result in two or three dead bodies per week. She slashes the victims' throats with a knife to disguise the bite marks. When one of her dates has to be killed, the connection threatens to lead the police to her.

The other principal viewpoint character, homicide detective Jace Levy, investigates the serial killing spree and gets acquainted with Rusty, whom he knows as Risha (so he doesn't immediately link her with the personal ad). A strong attraction develops between them. Jace, meanwhile, has started showing early symptoms of Huntington's disease, which killed his mother. The experienced vampire fan can easily guess where this relationship is destined to go.

The reader is clearly meant to sympathize with Rusty, and she's an entertaining, attractive character—except for her habit of serial murder. This moral dissonance becomes obvious as soon as one stops to think about it. Good cop Jace's reaction to discovering the truth about her is particularly jarring. A couple of points that call into question the logic of the plot, in my opinion: Why does she kill whenever she feeds, anyway? We're told that a single feeding drains at least half the blood in an adult body, often more, hence the victim's inevitable death. Three or more quarts of blood going into a human-size stomach in a few minutes' time? A vampire is a corporeal being, after all, and the book doesn't offer any magical explanation for this phenomenon. I have the same problem with a lot of "gasp, the body was completely drained of blood!" vampire fiction. Furthermore, if she's resided in the same area for years, regularly leaving throat-slashed corpses around, why is the police department just noticing them now?

At the time of the book's publication, Gottlieb lived in southern California, and for many years she owned the Change of Hobbit bookstore. LOVE BITE displays her intimate knowledge of the Los Angeles setting. Pop culture references pepper the text (including a mention of Ellen Datlow's vampire anthology A WHISPER OF BLOOD), and there's even a cameo appearance by Ray Bradbury. The novel was adapted as a TV movie (which, as far as I can find, isn't available on DVD).

Margaret L. Carter

Explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Barnabas Collins

"Marilyn Ross" (a pseudonym for Canadian author Dan Ross) wrote thirty-two DARK SHADOWS tie-in paperback novels, all published in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The sixth, BARNABAS COLLINS (1968), was the first to feature the iconic vampire. Every subsequent book in this series included his name in the title. The Barnabas paperbacks were original stories, not adaptations of TV episodes. In BARNABAS COLLINS, he still plays the role of villain or at best antihero, only becoming the "good guy vampire" we know and love in later books. After a framing prologue that consists of a conversation between Victoria Winters and Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, in which Elizabeth reminisces about her grandmother Margaret Collins, the main story takes place in the early twentieth century with Margaret as protagonist.

While her slightly older and rather stern husband, Jonas, immerses himself in the family's struggling shipping business, Margaret strives to keep the household functioning with a small staff and devotes herself to her sheltered daughter, Greta. Beautiful except for her "malformed" legs, the result of a birth defect, Greta is confined to a wheelchair. When "Cousin Barnabas" rents the Old House, she is instantly fascinated by his kindness and gallant manners. Barnabas, of course, visits only after dark, claiming to be busy with "experiments" during the day. He tells Margaret and her family the tragic history of his "ancestor" and the doomed Josette, and as he does with Maggie in the TV series, he becomes fixated on a supposed resemblance between Josette and Greta. We later learn that he indulges his obsession by hypnotizing one of the maids to play-act the role of his lost love. Jonas resents his daughter's idolization of Barnabas, but at first Margaret approves of the seemingly innocent happiness their broodingly handsome "cousin" gives her. Margaret of course has no reason to connect Barnabas with a large bat that invades her bedroom, although the reader can easily guess its true identity. The maids grow weak, get strange marks on their necks, and wander in the night without remembering they've left their beds. In short, the characters find themselves in a typical Gothic vampire novel.

Several years pass, while Greta's health declines even as she becomes more enchanted with Barnabas, and Margaret slowly comes to realize the truth about him. This novel portrays him as a Byronic villain-hero, charming and seductive but still ruthless in the pursuit of his desires. He has no compunctions about killing victims who hold no significance for him. For Greta, on the other hand, he seems to feel genuine love, or at least what passes for love in his mind at this point in his existence. Although we know he won't get destroyed, because he has to survive and show up at Collinwood as another "Cousin Barnabas" in the 1960s, the story offers plenty of suspense along the way.

Granted that this book and the others in the series are far from deathless (unlike their immortal vampire hero) literature, most fans of DARK SHADOWS would find them to be fun, nostalgic reads.

Margaret L. Carter

Explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The House of Dracula

The late British author R. Chetwynd-Hayes is noted for his fiction about vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures, horror seasoned with dashes of dry humor that lend an ironic distance to the horrific events. Very prolific, he produced dozens of novels and short-story collections. His THE MONSTER CLUB (1975) was made into a movie starring Vincent Price and John Carradine. He takes an eccentric approach to the traditional motifs within his unique mythos. THE HOUSE OF DRACULA (1987) provides a delightfully ghoulish glimpse into his world and helpfully includes a "Draculain Genealogical Table" listing the children of Count Dracula (slain in 1896, as per Stoker's novel) by his three vampire wives and laying out the way inheritance of supernatural traits works in Chetwynd-Hayes's fiction.

His vampires can transform people into vampires (rarely) but appear to comprise a separate species in themselves. They can reproduce with ordinary humans ("Humes"), and each type of crossbreed has a different name, depending on the number of generations distant from the pure-blooded ancestor and the amount of vampire DNA in the mix -- in descending order, Vamlings, Mocks, Shadmocks, Maddies, Shaddies, Mongrels, and the lowest, Madvams ("the pack"), who resemble humanoid dogs. Each hybrid subspecies has its own paranormal power that makes it a terrifying threat to hapless humans who stumble into the preternatural realm.

THE HOUSE OF DRACULA ties into his other fiction but easily stands on its own. The stories contained in this book are framed as a compilation of unearthed documents about some of the descendants of Dracula (a follow-up to the author's 1986 collection, DRACULA'S CHILDREN). The contents: "Caroline": An eight-year-old boy, Simon, child of a merry widow who practically ignores him, meets a "night mummy" who comes from the half-ruined mansion next door and lures him into a nocturnal world where his latent powers unfold. Even before Simon meets the vampire Lady Caroline, he instinctively knows how to kill by "looking dead" at a barking dog. From Lady Caroline he learns his true origin and destiny. The first half of this story is told in the third person from various viewpoints. The second half is narrated in first person by George, the weak, somewhat dimwitted, but loyal suitor of Simon's mother; he comes across as a P. G. Wodehouse character trapped in a Hammer film. "Marikova": The humdrum, self-indulgent life of Derek Wallis, a reclusive, forty-year-old bachelor, is turned upside down when a beautiful woman in distress turns up at his door. He falls in love with Marikova despite her eccentricities. A vampire in flight from witch-hunters centuries in the past, she "time-jumped" and ended up in his neighborhood. When representatives of her father, a powerful vampire lord, come to "rescue" her, they insist Derek must die to prevent his exposing their kind's existence. Marikova persuades them to allow Derek the traditional twenty-four-hour head start before sending the pack to "absorb" him. "Karl": In the form of a tape-recorded diary, this tale narrates wheelchair-bound young woman Veronica's affair with Karl, who promises to make her walk again if she yields herself to him. Driven by hatred of all men (a vengeful reaction to an earlier disastrous relationship), she helps vampire-hunters capture Karl, only to have second thoughts. "Gilbert": William Wildeforce, a retired soldier, finds a comatose teenage boy in a secret room of the cellar below his house. When Wildeforce awakens the boy, Gilbert gives an account of his background and age that sounds like an outrageous lie or a delusion. When the evidence of Gilbert's true nature becomes impossible to deny, Wildeforce struggles with the choice of whether to continue sheltering the "boy" or betray him to a bounty hunter. "Louis": This final piece, in epistolary format as an exchange of letters between Hilda, on holiday at a seaside resort, and Liza, her friend back home, has little or no humor to lighten its quietly horrific events. When Hilda becomes enthralled by Louis, the titular vampire, his power gradually draws her ever further from the mundane world into an alternate realm where no one can reach her.

An omnibus volume called THE VAMPIRE STORIES OF R. CHETWYND-HAYES, published in 1997, is available at a very reasonable price in trade paperback.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Friday, July 15, 2016

Prince of Dreams

Nicholas Gale, the nonhuman hero of Susan Krinard's PRINCE OF DREAMS (1995), is a member of a different species and a psychic vampire, feeding on the energy of dreams. His extrasensory power makes possible a deeply erotic intimacy with the heroine, psychologist Diana Ransom. Fearful of draining her energy to a harmful or fatal degree, he carefully ensures that the dream embraces they share have only a positive effect on her. In addition to the care he takes with his donors, only "skimming" their life-force and granting them consolation or pleasure in dreams, he's a philanthropist, a patron of the arts. This novel offers an early example of the now-familiar trope of a pair of vampire brothers, one good and one evil. Nicholas and his brother, Adrian, are the last of their kind. A totally destructive energy-vampire, Adrian disdains Nicholas's scruples about repaying human donors with comfort and peace. Because Adrian has no compunctions about draining his victims to death, his lifestyle, as with many similarly ruthless vampires in fiction, gives him an advantage in power over Nicholas.

In the prologue, set in 1891, Nicholas clashes with Adrian over Sarah, a woman he cared for, whom Adrian destroyed by completely draining her through sex (the reason why Nicholas confines his intimacy with his donors to their dreams). Nicholas chains and imprisons his brother in a cave in California. In the present day, Diana has recurring nightmares about the death of her sister, Clare, involving a sinister, vampire-like figure. Keely, her young cousin, an artist, disappears. In searching for her, Diana becomes acquainted with Nicholas, Keely's anonymous patron. Eventually, Nicholas discovers that Adrian has escaped. The "evil"—or at least deeply flawed—brother preyed on Clare and Keely and pursues Diana because they're descendants of Sarah. The remote possibility that Sarah's bloodline might hold a chance of mortality for their kind appeals to Nicholas and enrages Adrian. Nicholas is a rare example of an other-species vampire who wants to become human. Together, Diana and Nicholas become so powerful they can enter a dream world together and even pull an unwilling Adrian in with them.

Coincidentally, PRINCE OF DREAMS came out around the same time as Jasmine Cresswell's PRINCE OF THE NIGHT (1995) and Christine Feehan's DARK PRINCE (1999), all three titles framing vampires as aristocrats. Because the male belongs to a superior species (emphasized by the word "Prince"), the pairing conforms to the traditional relationship model of many older romances—dominant, protective male and protected, rescued female. In each case, the balance of power is restored because the vampire needs his human beloved for more than nourishment. In Diana, Krinard's Nicholas finds love, an end to loneliness, and deliverance from the pain of being the last of his race. She also delivers Nicholas from the guilt he suffers because of his need to drain energy from unsuspecting mortals. He fears his kind have become almost extinct because they "were never meant to live on this earth" and were an "affront against nature." Diana reassures him that his people have repaid humanity by using dreams to inspire "great artists and thinkers" through the ages.

By the way, few prospective readers would recognize this novel as a vampire romance from a glance at the original cover (shown above), with a half-naked man on horseback in the moonlight, even though this illustration does reflect the setting of the prologue.

Margaret L. Carter

Explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hipira

If you're seeking a picture book for Goth-minded, vampire-loving kids, try HIPIRA (2002 in Japan; English edition 2005). The story begins, "My name is Hipira. The truth is, I'm a vampire! Everybody had better be really afraid of me!" As you might expect from a character in a children's book, however, he turns out to be more friendly than frightening.

Hipira lives in Salta, a town inhabited solely by vampires, where it's always night. As he mentions, it's a great place for kids who love to stay up late. The book includes scary images that could develop into "nightmare fuel" if given free rein, but humor dilutes any traces of fear, and there's always a happy ending (in a sort of Addams-family-ish sense). HIPIRA comprises several short stories. In "The Tale of Soul," Hipira sneaks into the castle of the mysterious Town Elder, a vampire wizard constructing a "vortex of spirits" out of captured human souls. (Hence the potential for nightmare fuel, but the text quickly glosses over this concept.) The Elder's project of conjuring sprites from the vortex yields one small creature, who calls himself Soul and becomes Hipira's best friend. In "Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!" Hipira scares his relatives and neighbors by imitating a rooster—a terrifying sound in a city where morning is never supposed to come. "The Frog Prince" involves dark, creepy woods, a dried-up river, and a giant toad. In "School Is Fun," Hipira learns about the illustrious ancestor of his people, Count Dracula, and Soul plays a prank. "A New Friend" frightens the citizens of Salta with a meteorite that damages the high wall around the town, letting in a sunbeam and allowing the vampire community to be overrun with sharp-toothed, goblin-like imps.

This book doesn't include any blood-drinking but focuses on the vampires' nocturnal lifestyle and other quirky nonhuman traits. The style of the art is both humorous and grotesque, yet the backgrounds have a strange beauty. In the color scheme, various shades of blue dominate, conveying an impression of perpetual twilight. Salta comes across as a Gothic landscape with an occasional touch of steampunk. Yet there's a bit of a fairy-tale atmosphere, too. HIPIRA blends these elements in a unique style you're not likely to find in a children's book written in North America.

Margaret L. Carter

Explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Renfield, Slave of Dracula

Barbara Hambly, author of the historical vampire tale THOSE WHO HUNT THE NIGHT and several sequels, also wrote a stand-alone vampire novel, RENFIELD, SLAVE OF DRACULA (2006). As the title implies, it retells the events of DRACULA mainly from Renfield's viewpoint. It begins on a night, shortly after his commitment to the asylum, when he escapes and runs toward Carfax Abbey during a dinner party given by Dr. Seward for Lucy Westenra and her mother. The story is told partly through letters and journals, mainly Renfield's diary, and partly in third-person narrative passages largely focused on Renfield and Seward. As in Stoker's novel, Seward comes across as an intelligent, introspective man. He strives to apply modern, humane practices for treating patients, in opposition to the harsh methods advocated by his subordinates at the asylum. We also get fresh perspectives on other characters in DRACULA, such as Mina. But the major emphasis, of course, centers on Renfield's background, his deeply troubled mind, and Dracula's seduction of him. His mental bond with the vampire causes him to experience fragments of the other characters' lives in dreams, which allow the reader to glimpse events from the original novel outside Renfield's direct experience.

In Hambly's retelling, Renfield becomes a former merchant who spent many years in India, where exposure to exotic cultures and strange phenomena has left him open to the supernatural. While he lies helpless in the asylum, his mother-in-law and sister-in-law search for his wife and daughter, who have apparently gone into hiding. His fervent wish to reunite with his family drives his quest for power through the consumption of life-force. Soon enough, though, he realizes the danger of relying on the Count for help or protection. Further complications ensue, behind the scenes of Stoker's narrative. Hambly ingeniously weaves in these new plot elements in ways that never violate the "facts" as presented in the original, occasionally incorporating verbatim passages from DRACULA (conscientiously identified as such). The result is a thoughtful and highly polished variation on the familiar story, with a sympathetic, believable exploration of the title character. The author has plenty of room to work, since in the classic novel Renfield remains enigmatic. On film, although usually seen as pitiable, he has been portrayed as little more than the Count's minion, either a minor villain or comic relief.

For fans of Hambly's THOSE WHO HUNT THE NIGHT: She offers several short pieces in her various fictional universes, including her vampire series. "Sunrise on Running Water," a spinoff from those novels, takes place on board the Titanic:

Sunrise on Running Water

Margaret L. Carter

Explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tomorrow Sucks

The anthology TOMORROW SUCKS (1994), edited by Greg Cox and T. K. F. Weisskopf, showcases science-fiction vampire tales. Some are vintage stories familiar to devoted fans; most have more recent publication dates. Weisskopf concludes the book with a short essay, "An Anthropological Approach to Vampirism." Disclosure: This volume includes "Vanishing Breed, by my husband, Leslie Roy Carter (first published in my CURSE OF THE UNDEAD, 1970); it's the earliest story I'm aware of to propose that Earth's vampires originated on a different planet, and it inspired my vampires-as-other-species series. If you're curious, you can find the titles of novels and stories in this fictional universe here:

Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe

The rest of the contents: "Pillar of Fire," by Ray Bradbury; a twentieth-century man rises to undead life in the distant future. "And Not Quite Human," by Joe L. Hensley, another older story; an alien invasion force conquers Earth, and the action takes place on a starship carrying Terran "specimens" who turn out to be far from ordinary. "The Man Who Loved the Vampire Lady," by Brian Stableford; in an alternate-history seventeenth-century Europe, the world is ruled by vampires whose condition arises from an infectious disease, which the protagonist studies in an attempt to find a weapon against the vampire overlords. "Born Again," by S. N. Dyer; another story in which vampirism is caused by a microorganism. "Kaeti's Nights," by Keith Roberts; a father narrates what happens when his supposedly dead daughter comes home on regular visits and sets him straight about the truth versus the myths of vampirism; "Pyotr's Story," by Spider Robinson; a "Callahan's Bar" episode about friendly vampire Pyotr, a member of another species, who filters blood rather than literally drinking it and incidentally prevents his donors from developing hangovers after heavy imbibing. "Fleas," by Dean Ing; vampires defined as parasites and subject to predation by creatures still higher on the food chain. "Leechcraft," by Susan Petrey; members of Petrey's vampire species, the Varkela, roam the Russian steppes and trade their healing and horse-trading gifts for blood, and in this story, a Varkela man time-travels from the nineteenth century into the present and falls in love with a modern woman. "Shambleau," by C. L. Moore, the oldest item in the book; interplanetary adventurer Northwest Smith falls victim to a shapechanging predator in the seductive guise of an exotic alien girl, although her true form is a Medusa-like "writhing scarlet horror." "The Stainless Steel Leech," by Roger Zelazny; in the far future, a vampiric "werebot" becomes friends with the last surviving traditional vampire.

TOMORROW SUCKS has a companion volume featuring science-fiction werewolves, TOMORROW BITES (1995).

Margaret L. Carter

Explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.