Vampires have Evolved and They are Here!
Kelley Armstrong, Tanya Huff and twenty-two other Canadian dark fantasy and horror writers re-imagine the future of vampires in this new collection of all-original short fiction. One of the most unusual and original vampire anthologies ever compiled.
EVOLVE includes works by:
Kelley Armstrong, Tanya Huff, Claude Lalumière. Mary E. Choo, Sandra Kasturi, Bradley Somer, Kevin Cockle, Rebecca Bradley, Heather Clitheroe, Colleen Anderson, Sandra Wickham, Rhea Rose, Ronald Hore, Bev Vincent, Jennifer Greylyn, Steve Vernon, Michael Skeet, Kevin Nunn, Victoria Fisher, Rio Youers, Gemma Files, Natasha Beaulieu, Claude Bolduc, and Jerome Stueart.
"The intriguing Vampires appearing in Evolve all share a common link to the iconic character Dracula"– Dacre Stoker
"Vampire fans-this is a must read"– Parajunkie, Blog with Bite
"With stories from genre veterans Kelley Armstrong and Tanya Huff, as well as a slew of newcomers, EVOLVE: VAMPIRE STORIES OF THE NEW UNDEAD is a worthy anthology for vampire lovers."– Quill and Quire
By Nancy Kilpatrick
I began editing this anthology when I was eleven years old. That's when I first encountered Dracula.
It was a dark and stormy night in Philadelphia, and for some reason I was allowed by the Powers That Were to stay up and watch the Late Show on TV, which always aired the old black and white horror movies from the 1930s.
The Late Show was then called Shock Theater and hosted by Roland, aka The Cool Ghoul, who began his career in Philly and was so popular that a New York station scooped him up and took him away. These were BC days — before cable — and a major city might have three local TV stations, if it was lucky. Cities were always snatching popular figures and Roland moved to the Big Apple, leaving Philadelphia TV destined to settle for its fifteen-minutes-of-fame via American Bandstand.
Roland — real name John Zacherley — was vampiric. He possessed hollowed out cheeks, a wild and crazy stare, wore the requisite Count Dracula duds, and had ongoing eerie conversations with My Dear, who dwelt in the coffin center stage that he frequently bent over to catch her replies — and which only he could hear — or, alternately, yelled at his lab assistant Igor, a voiceless chain-rattler offstage. "Where's Igor?" became a buzzphrase, printed on an oversized black and white button that I wish I still possessed!
During his terrifying tenure, Roland introduced many horror classics to an enthralled audience of mainly youth, of which I was one. I soon became a regular viewer, begging, wheedling, sneaking out to the old console TV in what felt like the middle of the night to catch the latest and greatest of Roland's offerings.
My favorite films were vampire movies. Especially Dracula. Enter Bela Lugosi. Exit Nancy's free will, or so it has often seemed over the years because vampires became an obsession.
As much as I loved Bela Lugosi's Dracula (1931), Carol Borland'sMark of the Vampire (1935), Gloria Holden's Dracula's Daughter (1936) Lon Chaney Jr's Son of Dracula (1943), these early vampires gave way over time to other, more modern filmatic bloodsuckers; clearly, the vampire was altering.
Somewhere around the time I hit puberty, Christopher Lee appeared in Horror of Dracula (1958), filling the screen with his particularly menacing version of Count Dracula's heavy control issues laced with dynamic sex appeal that started a series of films staring the Tall, Dark and Gruesome (the title of his autobiography) actor. Besides the series of vampire movies Lee appeared in, other Hammer Studio blood drinkers included, among others, The Brides of Dracula (1960), Ingrid Pitt as Elizabeth Bathory in Countess Dracula (1970); Vampire Circus (1972), The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974).
But Hammer wasn't the only studio doing vampires. Black Sunday(1960) starred the amazing Barbara Steele; The Last Man on Earth (1964), based on the Richard Matheson ground-breaking book I Am Legend(1954), starred the incomparable Vincent Price. (That book would see film three times to date); Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967); Robert Quarry made a creepy Count Yorga (1970) and a sequel; the exquisite Delphine Seyrig created an arresting female vampire in Daughters of Darkness 1971); Shakespearean action and opera-trained singer William Marshall starred in Blacula (1972) and a sequel; the lovely and obscure film Lemora (1973); the intriguingly funny Andy Warhol's Dracula (1974) starred the delightful actor Udo Kier; the breathtakingly beautiful Werner Herzog remake Nosferatu the Vampyre(1977); and George Romero's Martin (1977), staring John Amplas, who I don't think we've seen much of since! And this is but a tiny list — there are plenty more vampire movies where these came from!
The pace picked up for vampire films in the 1980s, 1990s, and into the new millennium, forcing the undead into the modern age and allowing more sophisticated FX than had been available before this time:The Hunger (1983); Fright Night (1985); Vamp (1986); The Lost Boys (1987);Near Dark (1987); Cronos (1993); Nadja (1994); The Addiction (1995); From Dusk to Dawn (1996); John Carpenter's Vampires (1998); Shadow of the Vampire (2000); Night Watch (2004); 30 Days of Night (2007); Let the Right One In (2008), to name only a handful.
The list goes on and I haven't even touched on major hits like Salem's Lot (1979); Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992); Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992);Interview With the Vampire (1994); Blade (1998); Underworld (2003) and so many of the other big screen movies that we're all familiar with, films that document the vampire's evolution.
Over the years, whenever a new vampire movie hit the theaters, I was eager to see it. More than eager. In rep theaters, I tracked down the 1922 silent film Nosferatu by Murnau, and Carl Dreyer's 1932 classic The Vampire. Vampires in cinema became almost a necessity of life for me and I prided myself on having watched every single vampire movie ever made. That may not be so. According to Stephen Jones' listing of vampire cinema in The Illustrated Vampire Movie Guide (1993), there are some movies I've missed. But not many. Such is the nature of obsession.
Along with being a committed vampire film buff, I have always been an avid reader. In the early 1970s I began perusing vampire literature in earnest. Granted, until that time, there hadn't been much published. Once I got started, I went through early stories and novels fairly quickly.
The first short story published in English, "The Vampyre" (1819), by John Polidore, is based on a fragment penned by the infamous poet Lord Byron on that fateful weekend when these two men joined the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, his soon-to-be wife Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her sister Claire Clairmont for a vacation by a lake in Switzerland. The guests, being avant garde types, grew bored with the inclement weather and decided to tell each other ghost stories. Mary Shelley came up withFrankenstein, based on a dream, and Byron tossed in his scribbled page which Polidore had the chutzpa to expand on and publish under his own name. A lawsuit concerning who owned the copyright followed. Polidore won.
Next up on my reading list was the first novel in English, Varney the Vampire or, The Feast of Blood (1847), written by Thomas Preskett Prest or James Malcolm Rhymer, take your pick.
Following that I found the quasi-lesbian story Carmilla (1872), the female vampire, by Irish writer Joseph Sheridan le Fanu, then Dracula(1897), by Bram Stoker, another Irish writer, who lived in London and may have based his now famous Count loosely on the infamous Transylvania warlord Vlad Tepesh.
"The Vampyre" features a ruthless aristocratic vampire count who preys on the sister of his 'friend'. Varney the Vampire is another aristocratic count preying on young women in their boudoirs. (It's worth noting that Varney is repulsed by his actions and at the conclusion of the 1000 page opus hurls himself into the active volcano Vesuvius.) Carmillais an aristocratic countess looking to seduce nubile young ladies in the social register and Dracula, as mentioned, was an aristocratic count from Transylvania, the Carpathian Mountains to be exact, ready and willing to explore London life.
There's a theme here. Early vampires in English literature were all of the upper crust. Interesting. Noteworthy. And if vampires were still being written like that today, you'd find Paris Hilton with a set of gold-plated fangs.
My reading soon incorporated other and often more subtle early vampiric works, including poetry: "The Vampire" (1748) by Heinrich August Ossenfelder; "The Giaour" (1813) by Lord Byron; and Coleridge's "Christabel (1816). Other early short fiction I tracked down included translations of "The Horla" (1887) by Guy de Maupassant; "La Morte Amoureuse" (1836) by Theophile Gautier; and "The Family of the Vourdalak" (1843) by Count Alexis Tolstoy. And in English, "For the Blood is the Life" (1911) by F. Marion Crawford. If you like vampire literature, everything I've mentioned so far is worth a read or a view. The foundations of this sub-genre are fascinating.
Vampires survived the Penny Dreadfuls of the Victorian era, which catered to the sensationalism the general population craved, and found new life in the lurid 1930s pulp magazines without much wear and tear on the archetype. The creatures of the twentieth century then moved towards literate stories by exceptional writers: Robert Bloch's "The Cloak" (1939) and Fritz Leiber's classic "The Girl with the Hungry Eyes" (1949).
But all in all, not much was written up to the 1970s, with the notable exceptions of books based on the Dark Shadows TV series. The show featured Jonathan Frid as Barnabus Collins (1966-1971 — and remade in 1991 starring Ben Cross in the role), which had a spin-off book series that saw publication beginning in the late 1960s, the forty-plus volumes mostly written by Dan Ross using the pen name of his wife Marilyn Ross, a romance writer. And a short series of Vampirella books, based on the skimpily-clad comic book character of the same name (1975-1976). Robert Lory wrote a series of novels in the mid-1970s featuring wheel-chair bound Professor Harmon whose mental powers allow him to control Dracula by moving a sliver of wood that acts as a mini stake in or out of the Count's heart, depending on whether or not the vampire's services are required.
Lest I forget, besides Dark Shadows, television has produced a number of interesting vampire shows. The Night Stalker's reporter/vampire hunterKolchak (Darren McGavin) aired as a TV movie then series in the 1970s, followed by a 2005 remake starring Stuart Townsend. Forever Knight was originally a television movie in 1989 that turned into a much-loved TV series in 1992 starring Geraint Wyn Davies as the vampire detective. Inspired by the movie Buffy, the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) starred Sarah Michelle Geller. A five year spin-off based on one character Angel began in 1999. Other TV vampires have seen the light of day. Kindred: The Embraced, based on the Vampire Masquerade role-playing game, graced the tube for one year in 1996. The popular-with-vamp-fans Moonlight, starring Alex O'Loughlin as vampire PI Mick St. John, aired for one season in 2007-2008, pulled from the air even though it won a People's Choice Award. And Blood Ties, some of which was scripted by Canadian Tanya Huff who wrote the vampire novels from which the show was derived, had a two-season run in 2007-2008. Kyle Schmid played Henry Fitzroy, a vampire who writes romance novels and befriends former cop, now PI Vicki Nelson. Currently, three interesting shows are breathing life into the undead. From the US, the excellent True Blood, with a host of vampires immersed in rural southern life, the main one being Civil-War-soldier-brought-back-from-the-dead Bill Compton (played by Stephen Moyer) who is loved by the delightfully quirky Sookie Stackhouse (Canadian born Anna Paquin). Also from the U.S., the TV series based on L.J. Smith's book The Vampire Diaries, pitting vampire brothers Stefan and Damon (Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder) against one another for the love of Elena (raised-in-Canada Nina Dobrev), an intriguing high school girl who resembles someone from their past. And from the UK, the BBC's wonderful hit series Being Human, featuring twenty-something housemates who just happen to be a werewolf, a ghost, and a vampire (played by the handsome Aidan Turner).
It became clear to me that between 1975 and 1978, everything about vampires changed. Fred Saberhagen published The Dracula Tape (1975) which would be the start of a ten-book vampire series (to 2002). Stephen King published the stellar and terrifying vampire novel Salem's Lot(1975). Chelsea Quinn Yarbro published the innovative Hotel Transylvania(1978), which began her long and ongoing series featuring the Count St. Germain and spinoff books with two characters. And Anne Rice gave us the phenomenal Interview With the Vampire (1976) which, of course, led to a series of vampire novels and two films.
These four books feature the vampire in a new role and together they form the basis for the vampire as we know him/her today: Dracula as hero/rescurer; Vampire as evil mass-murderer; Vampire as sophisticate with moral values and in control of his hunger; Vampire as mentally manipulative and erotically charged.
The vampire had, yet again, evolved.
Since those ground-breaking titles, a lot of vampire fiction has been published. My library, bulging at nearly 2000 volumes, mostly fiction, attests to that fact. I have watched the vampire go from a lone resuscitated corpse hell-bent on biting family members, to beings that travel in packs that prey on anyone and everyone, to humorous creatures parodying themselves, to romantic sub-genre heroes that have appeared in everything from literary novels to Harlequin Romances to mysteries to erotica. Some vampires are ethereal by nature, others physical. Some rue their condition, others revel in it. Vampires are ghost-like, only seen at night, and day-walkers that marry and spawn children, who may or may not be vampires. The undead come in all colors, shapes, sizes, ethnicities and of every possible religious and sexual persuasion. There are many wonderful books and short stories in the undead realm and I couldn't possibly name all of them and in naming a few I risk omitting many fabulous works by incredible authors. But Introductions are not eternal so I will suggest only a few works for novice readers to ferret out. Anyone can begin with Tanith Lee and her exquisite short fiction "Bite-Me-Not, or Fleur de Fur" and end with her Blood Opera novel series. The range of vampire fiction is staggering and some classic examples include: Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series; Kim Newman's Anno Dracula; Brian Lumley's Necroscope series; P.N. Elrod's The Vampire Filesseries; Robert McCammon's They Thirst; and too many others to name. In general, I've found that vampire fiction is well written and it's clear that authors find this archetype gripping. In my library, I estimate that no more than 10% of the titles are not up to par writing-wise, which isn't bad for any genre or sub-genre.
Today, the vampire offers something for everyone. And the undead are more popular than ever, it seems, with best-selling books like Charlaine Harris's southern vampire series turned into the already-mentioned marvelous TV series True Blood; Dracula: The Un-Dead, co-authored by Ian Holt and Bram Stoker's great grand-nephew Dacre Stoker; Stephenie Meyer's young adult Twilight and subsequent books and the movie series; The Vampire Diaries books and TV series, already mentioned; the innovative stand-alone novel Let Me In (2007)by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist (the title of the incredibly atmospheric movie is Let the Right One In); and outré vampires roaming the steamy gay world as they suck blood and other liquids on the TV series The Lair.
Over the years and amongst the many vampire works I have published, I did previously edit an all-vampire anthology back in 1995 for Masquerade Books, a New York publisher of erotic fiction that wanted to try something different. My volume, Love Bites, eroticized the vampire in a major way. That anthology ushered in more changes for the undead and popular writers of vampire fiction jumped on board eagerly: Nancy Collins, Karen E. Taylor, Scott Ciencin, David Dvorkin, Ron Dee, Lois Tilton, James A Moore, Kathryn Ptacek, David Naill Wilson and others. I enjoyed editing a book of sexy vamps. That anthology was ahead of its time.
But time does pass, barriers are broken, concepts expanded, and what would have been unheard of yesterday becomes the norm tomorrow. The vampire has moved into the here and now, residing alongside Homo sapiens, beings of this time and place. The vampire has changed from its early roots in mythology and progressed through its illustrious existence in literature, film, television, comic books, theatre, art, music, and every other medium, it has presented us with a constantly evolving creature of the night.
But the obsessed, like me, are never satisfied. We always want to know the future. We're always asking: "What next?" We long to know how the vampire is changing. What will the undead look like as we step into the second decade of this new millennium? Personally and professionally, I wanted a glimpse of the New Vampire.
Life has a way of opening up doors when and where you least expect them to open. In 2008 I co-edited with David Morrell volume number 13 in the Tesseracts series for EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.Tesseracts has always been a science fiction and/or fantasy anthology series of stories written by Canadian authors. That changed with number thirteen when Brian Hades (yes, his real name!), publisher of EDGE, decided to do an all horror/dark fantasy anthology and figured I might be a good person to edit it. I asked David Morrell, whose work I've long admired — and who is, in fact, Canadian — if he would co-edit the book with me and he generously agreed to do so.
For Tesseracts 13, we read nearly 200 story submissions which came from all over Canada. EDGE's mandate is to achieve the broadest spectrum of Canadian fiction in its books and, to that end, work is solicited and representative of the entire country. We received a lot of good stories and a lot of good vampire stories. For a variety of reasons, one of which was how the anthology was shaping up as we jointly agreed on which submissions to include, we decided to exclude all the vampire fiction. And while this was a reasonable decision, part of me felt badly that some of these stories would not be published. They were too good, too innovative to end up in trunks.
Studying the seven vampire stories (and seven is a significant number for the undead, since in the olden times a seventh son of a seventh son would automatically be a vampire!), I began to see that the motif spoke to the New Vampire. And while stories touched on the vampire we are currently meeting in books and visuals, they also addressed and answered that eternal question "What's next for the undead?" It was clear to me that these writers had a sense of where the sub-genre is headed. I wanted to help them pave the way to the New Vampire because I felt certain that the vampire is, once again, evolving.
I approached EDGE to see if they would be interested in me editing an all-vampire anthology (David wasn't available to co-edit). They were, and I did, and Evolve, the volume you hold in your hands, has as its cornerstone seven stories that were originally submissions to Tesseracts 13. Complementing them are another sixteen stories and one poem, contributing more pieces to the puzzle of the ever-evolving nosferatu. And while the entire country of Canada is not represented in this volume, there's a pretty good cross-section, with submissions from everywhere but the provinces of Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and two of the three northern territories, none of which, unfortunately, submitted material.
Today's vampire takes a lot of forms in fiction, film, television and other artistic arenas. But one thing is certain: characters are no longer saying: "There's no such thing as a vampire!" The existence of Creatures of the Night has been validated. And not only that, but they are often seen interacting with society, being accepted (or almost accepted) as part of a world culture that now incorporates both humans and non-humans, living and not quite living, for better and for worse.
In Evolve you will find kindly vampires, vicious vampires, helpful and hurtful vamps. Some undead are clearly tricksters. Some seek revenge and others can temper their bloodlust with charity towards us mere mortals. These vampires get along with humans, with their own kind, or with neither. They are users and the used. Hunter and hunted. Dangerous.
But read on. Let the Canadian writers who grace these pages lead you into the shadowy realm between the not quite living and the not quite dead. That dawn and dusk grey area where anything is possible. And as they do so, you'll get a good glimpse of what's to come in the second decade of the new millennium, what the future holds for humankind's favorite predator.