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.


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