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Vampires: The Recent Undead

Monday, June 22, 2015

Vampires: The Recent Undead (2011) edited by Paula Guran

Vampires-The-Recent-Undead

“The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” by Holly Black
“This Is Now” by Michael Marshall Smith
“Sisters” by Charles de Lint
“The Screaming” by J.A. Konrath
“Zen and the Art of Vampirism” by Kelley Armstrong
“La Vampiresse” by Tanith Lee
“Dead Man Stalking” by Rachel Caine
“The Ghost of Leadville” by Jeanne C. Stein
“Waste Land” by Stephen Dedman
“Gentleman of the Old School” by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
“No Matter Where You Go” by Tanya Huff
“Outfangthief” by Conrad Williams
“Dancing with the Star” by Susan Sizemore
“A Trick of the Dark” by Tina Rath
“When Gretchen was Human” by Mary Turzillo
“Conquistador de la Noche” by Carrie Vaughn
“Endless Night” by Barbara Roden
“Dahlia Underground” by Charlaine Harris
“The Belated Burial” by Caitlin R. Kiernan
“Twilight States” by Albert Cowdrey
“To the Moment” by Nisi Shawl
“Castle in the Desert: Anno Dracula 1977? by Kim Newman
“Vampires in the Lemon Grove” by Karen Russell
“Vampires Anonymous” by Nancy Kilpatrick
“The Wide, Carnivorous Sky” by John Langan

It has taken me an almost embarrassingly long time to finish this. How long you ask? I purchased it a couple months after it was published–that long ago.

The problem is I hit a point where I wasn’t interested in a story, and instead of just skipping to the next story, I put the whole thing down. I know, rookie mistake. (But you’ll see I made it several times, so I decided to just finish off these anthologies, and if I didn’t like a story? SKIP.)

Let’s see how many of these I remember, shall we?

“The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” by Holly Black

I read this one before, and purchased the book because of it. Except that I’ve not actually read the book.

Both of the guys laughed. She tried to laugh with them even though she knew she wasn’t included in the joke. She was the joke. The trashy little slut. The girl who can be bought for a big fat wine cooler and three cranberry-and-vodkas.

And I don’t know why, because to grab that quote I ended up starting to re-read the story. Which is not helpful when writing a review.

“Sisters” by Charles de Lint

This one I have read multiple times, and very much like.

I figure if the people writing the books and making the movies actually do have any firsthand experience with vampires, they’re sugar-coating the information so that people don’t freak out. If you’re going to accept that they exist in the first place, it’s much more comforting to believe that you’re safe in the daylight, or that a cross or a fistful of garlic will keep them at bay.

About the only thing they do get right is that it takes a vamp to make a vamp. You do have to die from the bite and then rise again three days later. It’s as easy as that. It’s also the best time to kill a vamp—they’re kind of like ragdolls, all loose and muddy-brained, for the first few hours.

Oh, and you do have to invite us into your house. If it’s a public place, we can go in the same as anyone else.

What’s that? No, that wasn’t a slip of the tongue. I’m one, too. So while I like the TV show as much as the next person, and I know it’s fiction, blond cheerleader types still make me twitch a little.

You want to read that, don’t you?

“Zen and the Art of Vampirism” by Kelley Armstrong

Cultural assimilation is a lofty goal, but every minority needs a place to kick back with her own kind, a place to trade news and gossip that wouldn’t interest anyone outside the group. For supernaturals in Toronto, that place is Miller’s.

I remember that I liked this one.

“La Vampiresse” by Tanith Lee

“Madame Chaikassia.”

“Ah,” she said. “At last. One who knows how to say my name.”

Naturally he knew. He had known from the day he saw her in the interview on TV. Rather as he had seen the actress Bette Davis in an interview years before and she had been asked how her first name was pronounced. So that he therefore knew it was not pronounced, as most persons now did, in the French way, Bett, but—for he had heard the actress herself reply—as Betty. And in the same way he knew the female being before him now did not pronounce her name as so many did: not Che´-kasee-ah, but Ch´-high-kazya.

This story was both lovely and terribly sad.

“The Ghost of Leadville” by Jeanne C. Stein

I have survived as a vampire for two hundred years. Living in big cities, mostly. Able to last as long as forty years in one guise—the latest a museum curator in New York. My specialty was early Americana. Convenient since I was born to missionary parents in the American west in 1809.

“Waste Land” by Stephen Dedman

I wish I knew what sort of vampires they all are. You can’t trust the movies to get these things right. Russian vampires have purple faces. Mexican vampires have fleshless skulls. Albanian vampires are supposed to wear high-heeled shoes. Bulgarian vampires have one nostril, and they’ve been eaten inside by some sort of fungus, so they’re solid but squishy the whole way through, and they don’t cast shadows. German vampires, nosferatu, control rats and so bring the Black Death, as though I don’t have enough to worry about already.

I particularly liked this bit, as the different vampire traditions are very different.

“Gentleman of the Old School” by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

“Everyone’s looking for a new angle on the case, and the Center was a good place to start. That led me to the Count, and I only found out about the Count through the Donations Administrator’s secretary, and that was over a very expensive lunch.” She frowned. “I was told that the Count only visited the facilities twice: shortly after construction began and just before it was opened: The Vancouver Center for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Blood Disorders. Ms. Saunders said the Count’s donation covered more than seventy percent of the cost of building and equipping the facility, and that he provides an annual grant for on-going research. That’s got to be a lot of money. I was wondering if the Count would care to confirm the amount? Or discuss the body found on the roof of the Center two days ago?”

“No Matter Where You Go” by Tanya Huff

I really liked the Vicki Nelson stories when I first read them. Then I tried to jump into a later book, after not having read the books for years, and felt lost.

I might go back and start again and see how I feel about things.

“A Trick of the Dark” by Tina Rath

“What job finishes just at sunset?” Margaret jumped slightly.

“What a weird question, darling. Park keeper, I suppose.” Something made her turn to look at her daughter. She was propped up against her pillows, looking, Margaret thought guiltily, about ten years old. She must keep remembering, she told herself fiercely, that Maddie was nineteen. This silly heart-thing, as she called it, was keeping her in bed for much longer than they ever thought it would, but it couldn’t stop her growing up . . . she must listen to her, and talk to her like a grown-up.

“Conquistador de la Noche” by Carrie Vaughn

This is perhaps my favorite Carrie Vaughn short story. It is the story of how Rick-Ricardo de Avila–became a vampire.

Ricardo smiled. “I am a loyal subject of Spain and a child of God who has been saddled with a particularly troublesome burden.”

Rick has always been a particularly enigmatic character in the Kitty books, and I loved this glimpse into how he was turned.

“Endless Night” by Barbara Roden

“Thank you so much for speaking with me. And for these journals, which have never seen the light of day. I’m honoured that you’d entrust them to me.”

“That’s quite all right.” Emily Edwards smiled; a delighted smile, like a child surveying an unexpected and particularly wonderful present. “I don’t receive very many visitors; and old people do like speaking about the past. No”—she held up a hand to stop him—“I am old; not elderly, not ’getting on,’ nor any of the other euphemisms people use these days. When one has passed one’s centenary, ’old’ is the only word which applies.”

“Dahlia Underground” by Charlaine Harris

I’d read this previously, and found Dahlia an interesting character, especially as I was getting tired of Sookie.

“The Belated Burial” by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Brylee did object to the casket, and also to the hole in the frozen earth. She did object, in a hesitant, deferential sort of way. But, as they say, her protestations fell upon deaf ears, even though Miss Josephine fully acknowledged that none of it was necessary.

“It will do you good,” the vampire said, and, too, she said, “One day you’ll understand, when you are older.” And, she added, “There is far too little respect for tradition these days.”

“Twilight States” by Albert Cowdrey

By then Pearl Harbor had happened and Daddy was signing papers so that Ned could volunteer for the Navy. “One less mouth to feed,” remarked Mr. Warmth.

Ned vanished into the alternate dimension that people called The Service, and Mama locked up his room, saying it must be kept just as he left it or he’d never return alive.

“Crazy bitch,” said Daddy, whose comments were usually terse and always predictable.

Night after night for weeks afterward, Milton opened his window, slipped out onto the cold balcony that connected the three bedrooms, lifted the latch on Ned’s shutters with a kitchen knife, and silently raised the sash.

One at a time he took Ned’s trophies, wrapped them in old newspapers, and put them out with the trash. He threw away Ned’s magazines, books, and posters.

“To the Moment” by Nisi Shawl

This is a really, really, really disturbing story.

“Castle in the Desert: Anno Dracula 1977? by Kim Newman

Whatever relation you are to a person who was once married to one of your parents, Racquel Loring Ohlrig was to me. In Southern California, it’s such a common family tie you’d think there’d be a neat little name for it, pre-father or potential-parent.

This was an amusing story.

“Vampires in the Lemon Grove” by Karen Russell

This story stuck with me, and has come back to mind every once in awhile, Which is, I believe, a sign of a good story.

“Vampires Anonymous” by Nancy Kilpatrick

This one was also amusing.

So, it was an uneven anthology for me, but there were some very good stories that are well-worth the price of the anthology.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Prime Books

Categories: Anthology, Fantasy, Supernatural     Comments (0)    



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