Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Non-Comic post: Personal Update and Book Babbling

Hi Guys! Thanks for all the recommendations! I've read some of them before but some of them are new to me. :-) I'll definitely have to give them a try!

Basically what happened, if you're curious, is that I had an assignment of considerable size due. Finished it. Then, fumble fingers that I am, deleted it. And I'm not talking recycle bin either. (Let me tell you though, that just killed THAT habit quick. From now on, the recycle bin is my best friend!)

I did manage to redo it in time, but holy crap, I could have cried.

What I ended up reading to cheer myself up was my old copy of Those Who Hunt the Night, by Barbara Hambly. Which remains the only vampire novel (or rather duology) that I can actually stand.

It features an ex-spy philologist at the turn of the twentieth century who gets hired/enlisted/blackmailed by a vampire to find a vampire killer. It's got a very nice atmospheric element.

Hambly's kind of hit or miss with me. Her Star Wars books tend to suck for example. But her vampire stuff is great.

For one thing...her vampires aren't angsty. While all the Louises and the Angels and the Edward Cullens and the Vampire the Masquerade/Requiem sorts are moping over the ills of long life and nifty powers, Don Simon Ysidro would just walk in, sneer at them, and get his shit done. Or hire some human guy to do it. :-)

And there's no "Oh, I drink cows blood! I'd NEVER hurt a human!" crap going on either. The Vampires in Hambly have to kill their victims ultimately. It's how they stay alive. They're genuinely monsters. Albeit appealing ones. But it makes the quandary of the main character much more interesting. He's pretty much stuck helping a race of serial killers who are liable to eat him without conscience when he's done.

The main character's wife is pretty cool too. As she's a physician (naturally given the time period, she's more involved with research than with actual patients) and is more interested in the medical theories behind vampirism than in fleeing in terror from them. She also gets to be more prominent in the sequel, where she essentially hires the vampire to save her husband.

The most appealing character, of course, is the vampire. As is pretty much a necessity in this kind of story. And Don Simon Ysidro is probably my favorite vampire character in pretty much anything. He's dispassionate, practical and fairly inhuman and a walking relic of a previous time. He probably gets a bit closer to the angsty cliche in the second book, but it's more a faint melancholy than the usual mopey mess. And it doesn't stop him from getting things done.

I HATE angsty vampires. You have cool powers, you don't age, and you eat people. Deal with it. :-)

It's not a terribly good mystery. I judge mysteries on the basis of whether the audience could, theoretically, figure it out before hand. I don't really think it's possible in this story. But at the same time, it's a fun story that hangs together fairly logically and has appealing characters, and I was much cheered up afterward.


  • At September 09, 2008 9:24 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Too words. Paper. Pen.

    Ok, lecture over. Your Vampire story actually sounds pretty good.

  • At September 09, 2008 9:45 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    I tried "For Those Who Hunt the Night" a while back. Couldn't get into it then. Might be worth finding a copy and giving it another go. And the whole Angst Monsters of the Night part of Vampire isn't something a large portion of the people I used to LARP with ever got. Including me. To us, nearly all our characters seemed to go "We're dead, BUT WE'VE GOT SUPER-POWERS! Lets fuck some shit up!"

    Non-wangst vamp fiction though. Hmmm. Maybe Nancy Collins' first three Sonja Blue books. Or P.N Elrod. Both her Johnathan Barret and Jack Fleming books are pretty light on the old vamp wangst...

    Did Hambly right the Star Wars book where Han wins a planet in a card game and tries to give it to Leia to make up for being a dick? I think I read and disliked at least one of her EU books but I can't recall off hand which it might have been...

  • At September 09, 2008 10:13 AM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    "I didn't properly save that thing I just wrote" has to be one of the absolutely worst feelings in the world.

    I have become so paranoid (from past, bad experiences) that at the end of the work day, I often e-mail big projects from my work computer to my home e-mail, so that they are saved on multiple machines (work server, home computer, "Yahoo" inbox). I know it is overkill, but still. . .

    Glad this one worked out in the end.

  • At September 09, 2008 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I adored TWHtN, and still do. I also love how unapologetic Don Simon is, and how much he doesn't seem to care all that much about how damned he is. (And how much he tries to fit in, but then doesn't try at all.) Really, I like all of the vampires; they're so varied and interesting. The wife (whose name is escaping me) is beautiful, talented, and smart without being too much of everything. I love how both humans acknowledge seeing the vampires through the lens of their appropriate passions.

    I wasn't so fond of the sequel. It seemed disjointed, none of the characters had quite the same feel, and I just didn't like the plot. But as with you, Barbara Hambly runs very hot and cold with me. Even within the same series.

  • At September 09, 2008 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe Anno Dracula?


  • At September 09, 2008 4:15 PM, Blogger Matthew E said…

    Hambly's one of my favourite writers.

    I don't care much for vampire stuff, but when I think about it I have a surprising number of vampire books that I like okay (Hambly, Chris Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends, the original Dracula, Tanya Huff's series...).

    I was just about to suggest Anno Dracula (and its sequels). Kim Newman's writing is a lot of things but it is certainly not angsty.

  • At September 09, 2008 5:40 PM, Blogger jhota said…

    i assume you're aware of Traveling With The Dead, the sequel to Those Who Hunt The Night.

    and if you like non-angsty vampires, try Fred Saberhagen's Dracula books, particularly The Holmes-Dracula File and A Sharpness on the Neck

  • At September 09, 2008 6:04 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Yep. I mention the sequel briefly. I enjoyed it though not quite as much as the first. :-)

  • At November 27, 2008 5:02 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I personally didn't enjoy the sequel as much as I did the first book (Those Who Hunt the Night). I think it's pretty safe for me to say that Ysidro is peerless in so far as contemporary vampire literature goes. His character is very expertly sketched and I always get a kick out of reading about him.

    Though it was a little unsettling--a bit out of character--when he started writing sonnets in Traveling With The Dead. Margarete's dreams were also a bit over the top.

    Great books nonetheless. :]

    I haven't picked up anything else by Hambly as of yet. So I guess you wouldn't recommend her Star Wars stuff, huh? How about her fantasy and historical fiction? Are those as good as her James Asher novels?


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