Thursday, August 16, 2012

Under the Fang

UNDER THE FANG (1991), edited by bestselling horror writer Robert R. McCammon, was the first of several anthologies published under the auspices of the Horror Writers Association (this one when the organization was still called “Horror Writers of America”). It’s a shared world anthology, sort of. Unified by the premise of a world ruled by vampires, the book apparently didn’t have a “bible” to impose consistency among the stories. Each author creates his or her vision of what such a world would look like. The volume includes distinguished authors such as McCammon himself (who, in addition to his story, contributes an introductory overview in the form of a “testament” by a human survivor in hiding from the conquering undead), Nancy Collins, Charles de Lint, and Richard Laymon, among others. My favorite story teams up the creators of two of my favorite vampires of all time. Suzy McKee Charnas and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, in “Advocates,” show Yarbro’s Count Saint-Germain defending Dr. Weyland, from Charnas’s THE VAMPIRE TAPESTRY, against the charge of murdering other vampires. Weyland, guilty and disdaining to pretend otherwise, may be spared execution if Saint-Germain can make a case for mercy. I love the clash between two very different types of vampires.

Some other scenarios explored in these tales include a Gypsy who accepts the predators’ protection and finds the bargain a poor one (“We Are Dead Together,” Charles de Lint); an experimental treatment to reduce vampires’ need for blood that has had the opposite result, and a man who arranges his wife’s transformation to save her from death by cancer, again with an outcome different from what he plans (“Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage,” by Chet Williamson); the viewpoint of a collaborator who supplies blood for the vampires (“Juice,” by Lisa W. Cantrell); an annual festival at which a vampire storyteller and teacher passes on their history and lore to the young (“Red Eve,” by Al Sarrantonio); a human resistance group attacking a train that transports captive blood donors (“Does the Blood Line Run on Time?” by Sidney Williams and Robert Petitt); a resistance base in the Arctic, with a sympathetic portrayal of both the human protagonist and a vampire military officer who’s tired of the killing (“Midnight Sun,” by Brian Hodge). This anthology has unfortunately been allowed to go out of print, but cheap used copies are readily available.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

4 comments:

Hunter said...

McCammon did write a "bible" for the shared world, but so many authors ignored it that he had no choice but to accept stories that didn't really fit.

Hunter
webmaster for RobertMcCammon.com

Margaret Carter said...

Fascinating, I didn't know that. Normally I'm a fiend for consistency, but in this case I did enjoy the wide variety in the stories.

Hunter said...

The description of the shared world is very similar to the intro McCammon wrote. You can find it here, if you're interested.

http://www.robertmccammon.com/fiction/fang.html

Hunter

Margaret Carter said...

Thanks for the link!