Friday, January 04, 2013

Vampires and Zombies Are Not For Me

I'm not saying that I will never write a vampire or zombie story, but they are so overdone at this point that there's no way I'll just toss one off because I feel like it.

Vampires are interminably installed in every bookstore around the world regardless of being brick and mortar or online. Two wildly popular series have sort of ruined it for anyone who was a fan of Anne Rice's vampires in the early days. Whether sparkling or trying to incorporate into society, the current batch of vampire stories have left me soured on the creatures.

Bram Stoker's Dracula was quite a different beast than these. Being European royalty and a warlord of some reputation on top of it, Dracula was a formidable foe with abilities that he used to remain hidden. He had to operate at a certain level in society but had no desire to do so. Not really. Fred Saberhagen's Dracula was lonely and honorable, a hero who defended those he loved with ferocity and fervor. The Dracula portrayed by Bela Lugosi and Gary Oldman is sexy, hypnotic, and beyond confident. When Marvel Comics produced The Tomb of Dracula in the 70s, that Dracula was evil incarnate, bad to the core.

As much as I am a fan of the original trilogy of Anne Rice's vampires, even she went to the well too often, starting with the last chapters of The Tale of the Body Thief. The part where Lestat says "The story should have ended there" is the exact point where it should have stopped. Rice's vampires are sexy and morose things. Sad creatures of power who want to remain hidden (all but Lestat) that have their own idea of society and propriety.

I'm not saying the vampires of now are different than those who came before but they're way more prevalent than ever before and - being honest - reflective of a society that's dispossessed and whiny. Yeah, they're sexy and hypnotic and all that they were previously but now they're infected with trashy habits and one wonders how they survived so long. Vampires need to have a sense of history but not like the vapidity of that mashup that was made into a film. That's a different post, though, so that will have to wait.

On to zombies. Not really a fan at all. Never really have been. I've seen the George Romero films and I have to say that slow zombies are fun. But then I can go back to Boris Karloff as The Mummy and say that slow zombies are the definitive ones. Until I read Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. Those zombies are terrifying. And fun. And they can talk.

I guess zombies don't really scare me because - well, I don't know. I get the appeal of The Walking Dead and I hear from friends that World War Z is very, very cool. (I couldn't read it. It didn't speak to me at all.) I'm just not enamored with them like some are.

Mike Carey's Felix Castor series really appeals to me, and Richard Kadrey's take on zombies (high plains drifters) in the Sandman Slim series speaks to me, too. But only in context of the worlds they've built, not as the center of the world. In both cases there is no one creature that dominates the story, no one menace that is as oppressive as a zombie plague.

As part of a larger story I can read or watch vampires and zombies but I don't want to write them. At least not right now, since I shouldn't ever say 'never', right? Matheson, Romero, Stoker and Rice are the touchstones for me, the genre leaders who make it hard for me to feel like I have anything to contribute.  That's really the thing I'm getting at: if I were to write a vampire or zombie story, what would be my contribution to the genre? I can't see one yet.

Although, an idea has occurred to me about a vampire story that I could write. Maybe. Someday.

In the meantime I can think about writing other supernatural/paranormal creatures. I like ghosts - a lot. I've written a story about a fallen angel, too, but that's overdone now. In both cases they were stories of redemption for creatures that needed it. Vampires that want redemption are pitiful and zombies don't have the capacity to need salvation.

I'm not writing this to be negative, I'm just saying that I'm not looking to write any of the famous monsters for the time being. I'm quite comfortable writing some Lovecraftian-styled horror and space opera science fiction. Where those two cross over might be interesting but for now I'm keeping my genres fairly well separated.

No comments: