Monday, February 15, 2010

5 Worst Vampire Covers

This is my round up of my least favorite covers of vampire novels. You can click on the pictures to see them at a larger size.

#5) Bloodcircle

This cover isn't terrible but it stands in for the common sort of lazy cliched and poorly executed covers put on vampire novels. In fact PN Elrod book seems to be particularly prone to them. However the art on this cover isn;t very good either, and the composition looks like a bad photo mash-up, made more perplexing by the fact that it is fully painted.

I get that they want an identifiable vampire on the cover. But of the protagonist does not have pointed ears, gray skin or fangs like a starving viper, painting him this way is just silly. Also when the book is a cross over vampire/detective novel surely at least one element indicating detective fiction should appear?

#4) A Clash of Fangs

"Do you think they can tell I just drew the fang on?"
"No, dude. It's like totally seamless"

I am also wondering on what planet Mr. Mullet is mean to be a sexy gay romance hero? And of course the plain white circle standing in, presumably, for the moon just ties it all together (not).

But speaking of other planets....

#3) Tomorrow Sucks

The title sucks. The tag line ("SF in a Jugular Vein") sucks. The cover is a collection of vampire and sci fi cliched assembled into a whole that is worse than the sum of its parts.

Which is sad because this is a pretty good anthology of some classic stories.

#2) The Last Vampire
Like my first one this kind of stands in for a type of cover. One that takes a piece of crappy art and tries to make it not so bad by making it small and/or applying a cheap trick like reversing colours, zapping it with nuclear level of saturation--or as in this case mirroring it to make it kind of look like a face. Only not really. If the font is big enough, raised and metallic and celebrity authors are being quoted, nobody will notice how rubbish the art is, right?

#1) They Thirst
But for full bore, unmitigated, 24-carat ugly I don't think anything can beat this.

The idea of undead monsters shambling around town isn't half as scary as this combination of silver, yellow and purple.

I can only imagine this is meant to depict just how bad jaundice and facial acne can get if you are immortal.

Just to be fair, watch out for my post on 'Five Best Vampire Book Covers'. If you have a most or least favorite vampire cover, please let me know!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Website or blog?

Blogger now has a function to create "pages". I am considering moving the reviews currently on my website to this blog. They would be easier to update as blog pages. But I wonder if they are easier to find on my website. Any suggestions?

Monday, February 1, 2010

TOMORROW SUCKS greg cox & t k f weisskopf [eds]

This review is part of a blog review book chain. The previous link is Foucault's Pendulum and the next link is Shades of Twilight.

Tomorrow Sucks: in the introduction of this vampire sci fi themed collection, Greg Cox makes an interesting suggestion. He writes that after science fiction explanations could be used "vampires didn't have to be evil anymore. No longer a creature of hell by definition vampires could be villains, victims, or even heroes."

I certainly agree that vampire fiction has changed in this way but I wonder how much is due to encroaching science, and how much is just waning religiosity--as fantasy/magic-based vampirism remains a more common theme than any kind of plausible speculative science.

Regardless, this anthology of stories dating from 1933 to 1988 is a pretty good introduction to short stories on the intersections of vampire fiction and science fiction.

Several of the better stories lost something by being in a vampire anthology as it spoiled a twist of the plot. But in each case the story, by an established master, stood up well (e.g. And Not Quite Human by Joe L Hensley, Pyotr's Story by Spider Robinson).

Some of the stories effectively used the vampire to illuminated some kind concept about humanity. Such as Ray Bradbury's Pillar of Fire in which the last vampire awakes in a utopia without lies, crimes, graveyards... novels, imagination or belief. The Stainless Steel Leech by Roger Zelazny shows how the last vampire passes on his nature to a cybernetic future. And Shambleau by CL Moore is just a great evocation of the horror and desire a vampiric creature could produce.

Two of the stories explore an alternative version of the word and centre around romances. Both The Man Who Loved a Vampire Lady by Brian Stableford and Leechcraft by Susan Petry give a window into worlds they authors explored more fully in later novels.

There were three other stories in the anthology that fell rather flat with me as did the second editors postscript which I feel would have been more successful as a second introduction, but--for me--7/11 is a good hit rate for enjoying an anthology. Overall this book is well worth reading if only to see so many high-powered writers put their own twist in the vampire mythos.