I was in a Waterstones the other day and saw an ENTIRE RACK devoted to this. Seriously. They had "A-Z by Author," then "Crime," then "Sci Fi / Fantasy / Horror" (which was grossly undersized), and then, the same size at the above-mentioned SFFH, "Vampire Fiction."

Not only that, but you see people reading them on Tube trains and in their lunch breaks and all that. It's horrific, and it has to stop.

I blame Twilight myself. If you've not read the Twilight Saga, don't bother, because it sucks huge, hairy donkey bollocks through a straw. But it's also massively popular, which causes me to despair for humanity. And because of this, there's now hordes of copycat hack writes writing similar slightly lilac (it's not purple, because then it wouldn't be suitable for its core audience of pubescent girls) prose about vampires who are also gorgeous good looking boys who really, really get off on god-fucking-awful Mary Sue protagonists that the reader wants to strangle within fifteen pages.

If you didn't already know, in Twilight, the vampiric love interest Edward sparkles in sunlight. He's also slushily romantic, sensitive, and is interested in Bella as a person and only wants to shag her in the 4th volume. This is something I object to wholeheartedly. You see, vampires are not pretty boys with spiky hair, six packs, and who sparkle in sunlight. Vampires are, or were until recently, psychotic blood-crazed dangers to life and limb. When a vampire moves into your street, property prices plummet. Ever seen the Hammer film "Twins of Evil" at all? When the Count in that film who lives in the big spooky castle on the hill is vampirised, Peter Cushing and pals are so incensed by this and the threat to their position on the property ladder that they assemble a huge fucking lynch mob with torches and burn the place down. Yet when Edward Cullen moves into Forks, Washington (why, for the love of Odin, would any immortal being choose to live in a pissant four-street burg in logging territory is never explained, when they could go and live somewhere interesting), nobody seems to be bothered. And the glimmering in sunlight; what the cunting fuck is that? I thought that sunlight caused them to catch fire immediately. Even in the execrable yet fun Underworld film series, when Kate Beckinsale's not flouncing around in a latex corset and fuck me boots (which is part of what makes them so fun... mmm, Kate Beckinsale in latex...), the werewolves make weapons that kill vampires by emitting flashes of UV radiation. And if even a modern day creature feature can get it right, why can't a highly paid international superstar author?

Then there's the ongoing Twilight copycat fiction, which I have read a very small amount of, on account of I tried reading one such to see what it was like and it was so dire it gave me super tetanus. Needless to say, the usual formula of girl meets boy, girl finds out boy is vampire, girl finds out boy is really lame vampire, invented heartache, no plot, endless descriptions of how wonderful both girl and boy are, and we all went home for tea. I'm not going to get wrapped up in this dross.

I think, though, that the person we have to blame for this is, without a shadow of a doubt in any stretch of the imagination, Anne Rice. If it wasn't for Lestat de Lioncourt traipsing round as a rock star, we wouldn't have hordes of teenage girls who wrote fanfix about being his groupies, and they wouldn't have grown up to write dross like Twilight and similar. Although in Anne Rice's defence, she can write, which is more than can be said for the authors of the novels that find themselves in the "Vampire Fiction" section of Waterstones.

Why, though, is this vampire fiction so popular really? What's so "sexy" about vampires? I don't mean "sexy" as in sex, I mean "sexy" as in in and fashionable and so forth. I think it's the same sort of thing as what makes Justin Bieber such a prospect as well. Just as that Canadian eunuch is pretty and nonthreatening, so are these lame-arsed vampires. Edward, being undead, cannot put a bun in Bella's oven, for he is undead and she is live, although once she's also a vampire her belly's filled in short order, but that's beside the point. And unlike us less preternaturally handsome, non-sparkly in sunlight males, he can literally love her forever on account of he's immortal. The immortality also means his erotic capital will never depreciate. But by making him a vampire (albeit a vegetarian one, which is also fucking stupid), he's slightly dangerous in that he might just commence to sucking her blood, but we all know he won't. And on top of all that, the brag factor that comes from being able to say, "my boy friend's immortal and ageless" is perfect for a Mary Sue like Bella. Compare and contract, however, with Christopher Lee in Hammer's many Dracula films, who is the aforementioned psychotic blood-crazed danger to life and limb that your mother warned you about.

And in a way this is why I object to this vampire fiction so much. It's... it's had its teeth pulled. It might as well just be yet another bodice ripper but with the juicy bits excised. And because I've shat better prose than 96% of it yet am not a bestselling author. That also.

(Node 18 of 30 of my IRON NODES.)

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