Friday, June 15, 2012

Isaac Asimov's Vampires

ISAAC ASIMOV’S VAMPIRES (1996) looks at first glance like an odd title, considering what a hard-line rationalist Asimov was. Actually, this anthology edited by Gardner Dozois and Sheila Williams is called that because it comprises eight vampire tales all originally published in the magazine ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION. Authors include Pat Cadigan, Sharon N. Farber, Tanith Lee, Gregory Frost, Susan Palwick, David Redd, Mark W. Tiedmann, and Connie Willis, writing about vampires from many different angles, both fantastic and science-fictional.

Tanith Lee’s pseudo-medieval “Winter Flowers,” composed in her typically lyrical style, tells of a band of soldiers who discover an enchanted castle and the struggles one of them faces with the tempting allure of a vampire sorceress. In “Ever After,” Susan Palwick retells “Cinderella” as a vampire tale with a feminist edge. Mark Tiedmann’s “Drink” portrays a medieval monk forced to stand watch over an imprisoned vampire. My two favorites in the book are Sharon Farber’s and Connie Willis’s. Farber, under the shared pen name Sharon Bainbridge, co-authored the delicious Victorian-set horror romance BLOOD AND ROSES. In “A Surfeit of Melancholic Humours,” she introduces her vampire from that novel, Dr. William Praisegood, amid the London plague outbreak of 1665. Willis’s “Jack” is one of several works in which she explores the London blitz of World War II (culminating in her recent epic pair of novels, BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR). In this story, an ethical vampire strives to atone for his bloodthirsty nature by working to dig out and rescue victims of the German bombs.

This rich harvest of excellent fiction is, unfortunately, out of print, but under the title ASIMOV’S VAMPIRES Amazon has reasonably priced used copies available.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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