Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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The future of vampire books

From Book Riot: FORETELLING THE FUTURE OF VAMPIRE BOOKS

Always entertaining to try to predict what might happen next in a subgenre, so sure! I’m interested to see what Book Riot thinks is up next for vampire stories.

We’ve done the Creature of the Night vampire and the Detective vampire and Sexy vampire — in many, many iterations — and the peculiar subset of the Sexy Glittery vampire who is perfectly fine in sunlight. So sure, now what?

… this desire to see our norms flipped can come from a need to see alternative perspectives of that which we have been told is concrete and unchanging, such as societal roles or historical events. Vampires have a habit of reflecting the times we live in, not only disrupting them but personifying them, and as we begin to be more aware of how our media and education systems construct false realities for us based on historical revisionism and misinformation, I anticipate the ‘norms’ of vampirism being dissected and rewritten as well, with the vampire emerging as a victim of centuries-long smear campaigns. I can see the vampire portrayed as a Cassandra-like figure, violently shoved aside despite their evident humanity, unfairly framed as a monster for revealing the truth about the world we live in.

Hmm! The vampire as … how could we sum this up … okay: the vampire as wise but unfairly marginalized race? Is that where the above paragraph is aiming?

Yes, yes, reading the rest of the article, I think that is a fair summation of this prediction. That actually seems like a fairly plausible direction for vampire stories to take.

The author of the post refers to Octavia Butler’s Fledgling as an example of this kind of vampire story. I was just thinking about that book for a different reason. I really do not remember much about it — I only read it once, and it seemed to me very much like the first book of a series. I was very sorry Butler would never have a chance to go on with it, and so I never re-read it.

But since I’ve now thought of it twice in the past couple of hours, maybe I should bring it upstairs and plan to re-read it.

I will add that I haven’t personally recovered from a surfeit of vampires five or ten years ago, so I don’t read many vampire stories anymore. The only ones I always pick up are Barbara Hambly’s ongoing Ysidro series. The first book, Those Who Hunt the Night, may be my favorite vampire story of all time.

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11 Comments The future of vampire books

  1. SarahZ

    Where do the vampires from the Others series by Anne Bishop fit into that ecosystem? I loved the first couple books in that series (and a lot of her other work), but her recent output has really had diminishing returns. Still, the world building was really interesting and seemed pretty novel.

  2. Rachel

    Sarah, I too loved the first couple of books, then found my interest waning. I *liked* the worldbuilding, in that I thought it was fun, but I thought it seemed kinda unworkable if you thought about it at all and I started having issues with suspension of disbelief. That might have been part of the problem, or maybe it was just that the situations started to seem less compelling … not sure.

    Anyway, good question! I think these vampires kind of fit the “creature of the night” mode, don’t they? They’re pretty terrifying unless you happen to have charmed Grandfather. Sort of Creature of the Night vampire crossed with Bloodsucking Lawyer vampires, maybe?

  3. Pete Mack

    I couldn’t take Ann Bishop. I too got thru one and bounced off the second. (Dont even remember which series it was.)
    But I actually meant to bring up a different vampire story: Pyramids of London, whose sequel I eagerly await.

  4. Hanneke

    I don’t read a lot of vampire-centered books, though I’ve enjoyed some where they are part of the supernatural landscape, like Pyramids of Londond and Patricia Briggs’s Mercy series.
    I did enjoy the more classic-style Blood Red Moon by Jane Fancher, which could have been the start of a series, though I don’t think she will be writing more – it stands well enough on its own. http://www.closed-circle.net/blood-suckers#BRM

  5. Mary Catelli

    unfairly framed as a monster for revealing the truth about the world we live in.

    And not for, oh, sucking the lifeblood of people?

  6. SarahZ

    I did think the “creature of the night” variant had vampires primarily in a villain role, though, whereas the Others series sides entirely with the monsters – all the bad guys are human. They’re scary, but ethical?

  7. Allan L Shampine

    I just reread Out of the Dark by David Weber, since he has a sequel coming out next month. That was an odd duck of a book since it was a sci-fi space opera earth invasion book until the very end, when it took a hard turn into vampires. Good fun, though. The sequel will presumably focus heavily on the vampires. Be interesting to see how they are handled.

  8. Rachel

    Good point, Sarah, although it’s not clear that the vampires in the Others series are good guys, exactly. Or ethical, exactly.

    Well, Mary, if you suck blood and kill people, that’s one thing, but we’ve seen plenty of vampires who just need a tablespoon of blood and they’re good to go. Or cow blood, or whatever. I think that post was assuming something like that.

    I should have remembered Pyramids of London! One of a couple sequels I’d like to see in the next couple of years. Those are really terrifying vampires, but not exactly creatures of the night, so I guess we need another category.

    Allan, huh. I think there was another SF book with both aliens and vampires … did CS Friedman write something like that? Yes, here, this one.

  9. Allan Shampine

    Now I want to reread Madness Season!

    I was just thinking that in Out of the Dark, the author left the vampires very much in the mythic sphere – we do not know how they work. That’s a nice way to handle vampires, because once you start really digging into exactly how they work, then they become just another fantasy race with certain advantages and disadvantages. Same thing when you have a POV vampire – hard to maintain any mystery. Some authors handle that by having the vampire be new to the life, and learning as they go. But still, a POV vampire is a statement, and tends to go down the “vampires are just another race” route.

    In Out of the Dark, that was only practical because the vampires are revealed right at the very end of the book. In the sequel, the author(s) will have to be more explicit. Will be interesting to see how they handle it. On rereading, I already saw a few logical quandaries. For example, one of the old vampires says the new vampires are still too young to resist a sunrise. But it appears that new vampires hung onto the outside of shuttles that went into orbit, where presumably the sun’s rays are omnipresent. How does that work? No idea. I suspect that was just a slip on the author’s part. Maybe they’ll retroactively explain it in the sequel.

  10. Allan Shampine

    Also, magic as science (well defined rules – scientific method logic) and magic as myth (unpredictable – mythic logic) are two very different approaches. The latter is much harder to do. Diana Wynne Jones does quite a good job with it, though. I think Holdstock is also pretty good at it, as is Patricia McKillip. Many of the fairy tale retellings stick solidly in the magic as myth end as well.

  11. Megan

    Sunshine will always be my go-to vampire book (and pretty much the only one I actually like). Vampires are dangerous, very alien, and have a completely different way of approaching the world (not to mention the one time she tries sleeping with him, he TELLS HER OFF and says basically look, this is a terrible idea and I’m not doing it).

    I am also okay with Terry Pratchett’s take, where the blood-lust can be replaced by some other obsession, even though that doesn’t always work out.

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