Saturday, July 15, 2017

Celebrity Vampires

CELEBRITY VAMPIRES (1995) is an original-fiction anthology edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Ed Gorman. While the title implies celebrities who ARE vampires, a lot of the stories instead involve celebrities who MEET vampires. Many of the stars are actors or musicians, as may be expected, but we also encounter memorable names in other fields of endeavor, such as Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Arthur Conan Doyle, Sam Peckinpah, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Howard Hughes, Lenin, and Rasputin. (It feels a bit strange to label those last two as "celebrities"; they would have fitted better in Greenberg's historical anthology TIME OF THE VAMPIRES. Theirs is an effective story anyway, though. Hmm, what DID happen to Princess Anastasia after the Russian Revolution?) Appropriately, Marilyn Monroe, Theda Bara, and Greta Garbo appear. It's not surprising to find Elvis Presley among the undead; in fact, he shows up twice. Carole Nelson Douglas's "Dracula on the Rocks" might be charged with "cheating," since the celebrity protagonist, Irene Adler, is herself fictional, but the story does contain some allusions to historical persons.

Contributors include horror writers such as (to name a few) John Lutz, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, J. N. Williamson, Norman Partridge, and Gary A. Braunbeck. All the settings fall in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries, doubtless because the idea of a "celebrity" as we understand the concept didn't extend much further back in history. My personal favorite is "A Night at the (Horse) Opera" by P. N. Elrod, in which her vampire hero Jack Fleming meets Harpo Marx and they tangle with a trio of gangsters. The vampires in these varied, entertaining tales span the whole range from villains to heroes.

Margaret L. Carter

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