Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Weird Vampire Tales

This month, instead of discussing a novel, I want to tell you about an anthology no vampire fan's library should be without. WEIRD VAMPIRE TALES, edited by Robert Weinberg, et al, contains thirty stories from WEIRD TALES and several other vintage pulp magazines. Publication dates of the contents range from 1927 to 1953. You won't find so many classic works by major authors between one set of covers anywhere else. Some examples:

"The Canal," by Everil Worrell: A man unwisely takes pity on a female vampire imprisoned on a barge; this story was adapted as a NIGHT GALLERY episode. "Shambleau," by C. L. Moore: Interplanetary adventurer Northwest Smith encounters a seductive alien whose waiflike disguise belies her true nature as a life-draining medusoid monster; darkly erotic (in a squicky sort of way), especially for its time. "The Antimacassar," by Greye La Spina: A horrifying yet sad story of an undead little girl. "The Cloak," by Robert Bloch: With the ghoulish wit typical of the author of PSYCHO, a man who buys an "authentic vampire cape" from a mysterious little shop wears it to a costume party and discovers its effects are more than skin deep; adapted as one of the episodes in the movie THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD. "When It Was Moonlight," by Manly Wade Wellman: Edgar Allan Poe, in his role as a journalist investigating an incident of premature burial, confronts a vampire. "She Only Goes Out at Night," by William Tenn: A small-town doctor's son falls in love with a foreign young lady who suffers from a rare hereditary disease; an early example of a romance featuring a "good" vampire, this story is told by an older man whose European heritage allows him to recognize Miss Tatiana's true nature. "The Mindworm," by Cyril M. Kornbluth: A mutant boy conceived out of wedlock within range of an atomic bomb test grows up to be a telepath who feeds on emotions, an act that invariably kills the victim. "Share Alike," by Jerome Bixby and Joe E. Dean: One of the best vampire-as-other-species short stories I've read, in which a vampire and an ordinary man share a lifeboat as the only survivors of a shipwreck; when the human protagonist discovers his companion is drinking his blood, they come to a mutually satisfactory accommodation, which of course can't last.

Many other memorable variations on vampirism fill this volume. While some of the stories are fairly well known, others have seldom been reprinted and are likely to be new to most readers. I've discussed several of them at greater length in my nonfiction book DIFFERENT BLOOD: THE VAMPIRE AS ALIEN:

Different Blood

Margaret L. Carter
Carter's Crypt

1 comment:

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Wierd Vampire Tales is a great anthology. My thoughts on it are here.