Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Blood Is Not Enough

Ellen Datlow's earliest vampire anthology, BLOOD IS NOT ENOUGH (1989), contains both reprints and new stories written for this book. As implied by the title, the anthology emphasizes not-so-ordinary stalkers of the night. Datlow introduces us to energy vampires and inhuman predators as well as more traditional vampires in unique situations.

The oldest tale in BLOOD IS NOT ENOUGH, "Lazarus," by Leonid Andreyev (published in the early 1900s), envisions the title character, after his rising from the tomb, as more undead than alive, casting a blight on everyone he meets. Datlow includes one familiar modern classic, "The Girl with the Hungry Eyes," by Fritz Leiber. The girl of the title, a mysterious model whose ad photos fascinate the public, drains life from her victims by feeding on their emotions. She may be the first literary example of vampirism as a metaphor for mass media. After Leiber's, the next-oldest story in the volume is "Try a Dull Knife," an urban horror piece by Harlan Ellison. All the other contents come from the 1980s. One of my favorites, "The Sea Was Wet as Wet Could Be," by artist Gahan Wilson, re-imagines "The Walrus and the Carpenter." The drolly grotesque beach-strolling characters from the Alice novel become a pair of humanoid aliens (as far as the reader can determine what they are) who entrap and feed on their human victims like Lewis Carroll's Walrus and Carpenter eating oysters. "Down Among the Dead Men," by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann, places a traditional vampire in a Nazi concentration camp, where his predation goes almost unnoticed amid the non-supernatural horrors surrounding him. "Carrion Comfort," by Dan Simmons, was later expanded into his horrific psychic vampire novel of the same title.

The newly written stories include works by Tanith Lee, Joe Haldeman, Pat Cadigan, Steve Rasnic Tem, and other distinguished names in speculative fiction. "L'Chaim!" by Harvey Jacobs introduces us to a club whose vampire members carefully cultivate human proteges over the long term to create special "vintages" for important occasions. "Good Kids," by Edward Bryant, explores energy draining from an unusual angle. "The Silver Collar," by Garry Kilworth, which Datlow describes as the "most traditional" tale in the book, frames a supernatural vampire lover in a Gothic setting.

Except for "Lazarus," each story is followed by a paragraph or two from the author, giving the reader insights on the story's origin and inspiration. Ellison's afterword runs for several pages, an essay in its own right.

Datlow's follow-up anthology, A WHISPER OF BLOOD (1991), fulfills its title's implications by ranging even further from the undead bloodsuckers of legend. Although packed with brilliant stories by big names in the horror field, it includes a few pieces that I wouldn't classify as vampiric even by my own very elastic standards. My favorite in this volume, the wryly humorous "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" by Suzy McKee Charnas, almost traditional compared to most of the others, stars a Jewish grandmother who refuses to move on after death and instead lurks in spectral form in her old apartment, absorbing small amounts of blood to sustain herself. "Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?" by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, strikingly different from her classic Saint-Germain series, presents a hospitalized victim being drained of not only life-energy but memories. Additional contributors include Robert Silverberg, Barry N. Malzberg, Karl Edward Wagner, and Jonathan Carroll, among others. This book also includes authors' afterwords, and all but three of the stories are original to it.

Margaret L. Carter Carter's Crypt