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Vampires: a lesson in convenience

In the original Max Payne video game, two soon to be dead thugs are talking behind a door. One of them remarks that he thought it was weird that vampire movies always take place in L.A. because it’s so sunny there. He asks the other thug why they don’t all move to Alaska where night sometimes lasts for several months. I didn’t hear the retort because I crashed through the door and shot them both.

It’s a good question. Why don’t they all move to the extreme South or North? It leads me to question modern incarnations of the Vampire monster. Take for instance the HBO program “True Blood.” The Vampires there are semi-typical. They possess an aversion to sunlight, need an invitation to enter into someone’s house, and need blood to survive, although the mechanic in the show is that there is now an artificial blood they can use.

That however seems to be it. They don’t shriek at the sight of crosses, seem to have a garlic allergy but it’s not deadly, nor are they shockingly pale. They haven’t done a mirror thing yet, but they can be photographed which was a unique invention of a BBC show called “Ultraviolet” (not the shitty movie) in which Vampire Hunters used video cameras to isolate humans from the undead.

It’s a decent idea for a story. The problem that I have been having with modern Vampire fiction is the issue of convenience. The Vampire as a creature must have certain traits: aversion to sunlight (which is ironic if you have ever read Bram Stoker’s book) and the need to feed on human blood. Those I would offer are the prime characteristics. Secondary characteristics usually include the aversion to religious iconography: crosses usually, the stake thing, the silver thing, and the garlic thing.

What I am getting sick of are books and stories calling something a Vampire when the only relationship it has is the blood need. My fiancee wanted me to read a book called “A Quick Bite” by Lynsay Sands which has the humorous premise of a Vampire who need help because she has a fear of blood. The book is pretty boring, the vampires are so extremely lame that calling them Vampire insults even fan fiction on the subject.

It seems lazy to me because any of the characteristics of the usual Vampire creature are tossed away when it becomes inconvenient for the characters to blend in with normal society. For instance they don’t need blood on a daily basis they need it to fuel that nanobots that actually give them their vampire status. They also behave like a normal family, with a matriarch. Which isn’t so odd except when you consider that after a few centuries feeling bad when you disobey mommy might get a bit old.

I understand that the book is meant to be humorous but the glib way in which the Vampires seem to be hiding from society and feeling guilty about the way in which they feed seems trite. Vampires themselves are difficult creatures to write because their weaknesses limit their activities and their ability to operate in secrecy. The task of any writer of Vampire fiction should find a way to work around these and not just throw them off. Technorati

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