Saturday, September 18, 2010

[Anthology Review] Evolve: Part 6

A Murder of Vampires by Bev Vincent [B]

A Murder of Vampires reads like a classic crime story, perhaps even as an episode of Law and Order or Criminal Minds, but with vampires. The plot is simple enough to summarize in one sentence. Detective Vic Newman investigates a string of vampire murders. Classic elements are brought to the table such as the late night call to duty, questioning of quite uncooperative witnesses, help from a femme fatale [in this case a vampire vixen] and a gun fight as an ending scene. It's pretty straight-forward, but it never sounds cliched.

The reason for this is the vampire element. Vincent explores vampires from a social angle, the interactions between minority and majority through the different species, but having the roles switched. After a signed pact with the government vampires have become law-abiding citizens, who keep to themselves and restrain from killing humans. What's more interesting here is that the key divider, sunlight, is removed. Vampires are light sensitive, but won't combust. This doesn't leave much to distinguish both species apart from the diet [although the longevity is not discussed].

Vampires become more human, while humans become more demonic. This complete role reveral, the taming of the vampire is certainly an interesting evolution that fits the theme of the anthology. Areas with vampires are depopulated. Law enforcement does not patrol them and does not express empathy to crimes committed against vampires. It's a classic case of racial discrimination with a very unusual spin to it, subtly reminding us we still have this problem. The story also carries the message that not only the beast can be monstrous, but the victim as well.

The Greatest Trick
by Steve Vernon [A]

Politics and vampires. Two terms that seem almost related. Politicians have a reputation to lie and vampires are renown for their skill in deceit. Politicians are called blood suckers and well, vampires do drink blood. Where is the harm in a vampire pursuing a career that is more or less tailored for the species. For him there is no harm, but humanity ought to be on the fence.

Such is the case here. Our nameless protagonist's a charming fellow with ambition and taste for state politics, as well as to be the first vampire in Congress. What the reader is treated with is a humorous take on a political election campaign. The light-hearted humor certainly appealed to me. The witty repartee between the vampire and his human campaign manager never spiraled out of control, nor did stall the plot. Instead it showed a realistic glimpse of human-vampire dynamics. General distrust is backed up with holy symbols as potential life lines. Smear campaigns turn sour. Persuading candidates to drop from the race is reduced to mind control and forced self-sabotage with hilarious, yet cruel, consequences.

The humor here is vital, as we see how the human world has altered in order to accommodate the new minority. This is best shown through the shift in pop culture and media:

Bram Stoker's Dracula hit the bestseller list and Stephen King announced he was working on a twelve-book sequel to Salem's Lot.

The greatest trick apart from swiftly stealing the world from humans by playing the rules of the game, is for you to discover, but trust me it's a game changer.


Bev Vincent said...

Many thanks for your thoughtful review!

Harry Markov said...

Pleasure. :)

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