Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rivals of Dracula, edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan Djiemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg.



This morning, for the umpteenth time, I looked on the Internet for reviews of the excellent collection of vampire stories Rivals of Dracula. I love this short story collection and want to see what others think.

But today, as usual, I found nothing. As close to Nada as it gets. A single short review on amazon.com.

So if nobody else will laud this anthology, I will! I love it! Forget the vampire romances & erotica so popular these days (Stephanie Meyer was not the first, and certainly not the worst). Try some real horror!



Here is what you will find in this marvelous 378 page volume:

The Yougoslaves,
by Robert Bloch - A gang of youthful pickpockets choose the wrong man -- the very wrong, very old man -- to rob as he strolls the streets of the City of Lights. They can keep his cash and credit cards, but he descends to their lair in the sewers of Paris because he cannot be without his old, ruby-studded key.

Much at Stake, by Kevin J. Anderson, uses opium and heroin to create a face-to-face meeting between Bela Lugosi and Vlad Tepes during the filming of Lugosi's Dracula. With Lugosi's misconceptions of Tepes's history based on popular literature and Tepes's misconception of Lugosi's identity and ability to grant absolution, the story looks not only at celebrity, but also at the desires and self-images celebrities hold of themselves.
- the above is taken from Steven Silver's review of Anderson's collection Dogged Persistence,
http://www.sfsite.com/~silverag/dogged.html

Voivode, by Douglas Borton. Excerpts from the journal of a screenwriter traveling through Bucharist and Romania looking for background and atmosphere for his Dracula screenplay.

The Lady of the House of Love, by Angela Carter. Atmospheric tale of the queen of the vampires as she meets up with a British officer bicycling through Romania on the brink of the Great War. You can hear it read at Miette's Bedtime Story Podcast.

Dracula on the Rocks: An Irene Adler Adventure by Carole Nelson Douglas. An epistolary story. Sherlock Holmes' foil, and the only woman he ever came close to loving, treads the boards in Warsaw, where she has a close encounter with a Very Old Count.

The Wind Breathes Cold, by P.N. Elrod. I got hooked on Elrod's 30's noir detective vampire, Jack Fleming. This short story introduces her other great vampire character, Quincey Morris, the American suitor to Lucy Westenra in Bram Stoker's original Dracula. In that novel, Morris is the only one of the vampire killers to die during the final battle with the Count. Elrod resurrects him, in the most likely manner possible.

Dracula 1944 by Edward D. Hoch. The tale of a German officer posted to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the waning months of WWII.

Like a Pilgrim to the Shrine, by Brian Hodge. The warm Gulf coast sets the stage for this story of a vampire who raises quite a bloody ruckus, trying to get the attention of the maker of them all, the original Count. A look at vampires in the Everglades, questioning their existence. Not quite Lestat and Louis, but a nice take on existential ennui.

Nunc Dimittis, by Tanith Lee. Tanith Lee is the author of my favorite girl-coming-of-age story, The Silver Metal Lover. If you are Catholic and know the prayer the Nunc Dimittis, this story of an old vampire and her faithful servant will resonate. Last sentence in the story: "How he had loved her."

Cult, by Warner Lee. Edward Long, deprogrammer extraordinaire, takes on a client who wants his wife retrieved from the Church of Seven. "There is only one thing... You must take her in the daylight." "Why?" "They sleep then. At night they are all awake."

Drink My Blood, by Richard Matheson. Matheson is an insanely prolific writer of wildly imaginative fantasy, horror and science fiction (he drives writers like myself to the abuse of adverbs!). His novels & stories are eminently filmable: I Am Legend, What Dreams May Come, The Shrinking Man (filmed as The Incredible Shrinking Man), Stir of Echoes, Somewhere in Time, Hell House (filmed as The Legend of Hill House), Duel (Stephen Spielberg's directorial debut). Drink My Blood is a short little gem about 12-year old Jules whose English essay "My Ambition" begins, "When I grow up I want to be a vampire." Funny story with a bite.

Red Reign, by Kim Newman. One of Newman's alternate history stories. Features Inspector Lestrade, Dr. Jack Seward, Kathy Eddowes, Queen Victoria, Nicola Tesla, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and other characters both fictional and real.

Do Not Hasten to Bid Me Adieu, by Norman Partridge. The second story featuring Quincey Morris. This one is poignant, with a bitter aftertaste.

Night Cries, by Daniel Ransom. The dedication says it all: For Mickey Spillane.

Cardula's Revenge, by Jack Ritchie. The only anagram stories I like are humorous ones. This one is.

Last Call for the Sons of Shock, by David J. Schow. Limos, Rolexes, purple electricity, dangerous music, the goings and the comings at the Club Un/Dead. Reminiscent of Kim Newman's Dracula Cha Cha Cha I thought. That was my least favorite Newman novel.

All Dracula's Children by Dan Simmons. Shudder. All to0 realistic, like all Dan Simmons' horror stories. (Read Song of Kali for horror you will never forget.) Bucharest orphanages. Ceausescu's legacy. Shudder.

The Name of Fear, by Lawrence Watt-Evans. This one starts out with Vlad Tepes' historical feast among the impaled dead and dying. I could never get past that scene, so I haven't read the rest.

The Lord's Work by F. Paul Wilson. A companion piece to Wilson's novel Midnight Mass. A Catholic underground in a world where creatures of the night are the new overlords. I wish he had continued this series, instead of having such success with Repairman Jack.

There you have it. Best collection of Dracula-themed stories ever.

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