Friday, December 26, 2008

Vampires and Sharks

I just finished reading Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. It was okay. It's a nice change to read an urban fantasy that doesn't have a main character who owns lots of guns or can beat up bad guys with her bare hands, but I still found Sookie an annoying character to have to relate to. The characterization was good, but dammit, woman, quit being so damn needy.

It didn't help that the vampires in the book--like the vampires in practically every urban fantasy I've ever read--are ferociously strong, nigh-invulnerable, cold-blooded killers who are unaccountably fascinated by the main character. In fact, that may be the core of every vampire story ever, which makes me think that as a whole, women who like vampire fiction--and yes, that includes me--are pretty fucked up, actually; but that's a topic for someone else to tackle.

My problem with ferociously strong, nigh-invulnerable, cold-blooded killer vampires is that they naturally become the driving force of the story. The main character is left to react to the vampires' actions until the very end, when she exploits The Weakness she has discovered over the course of the story to destroy the bad vampire. (Dead Until Dark didn't actually do any vampire-destroying, but I bet it happens in the sequel, which I am not going to read.)

Making your main character react instead of act is a bad thing. Making your vampires so strong that the main character has no chance of acting against them without Special Knowledge or help from another vampire is even worse. And funnily enough, while I can accept, in any given fantasy world, that vampires can exist, I cannot accept that vampires can exist without humans having evolved a way to destroy them that doesn't involve learning a Closely Guarded Secret and heading out at dawn with a stake. Because when a shark evolves a new way to swim faster, all the slow fish die and the fast fish survive and reproduce, and then the shark's speed is no longer that much of an issue anymore. That applies to undead sharks too.

I hope you all had a great Christmas or whatever you celebrate!


Jamie Eyberg said...

I like your shark analogy. Very fitting and it gives me ideas *insert evil laugh here*

Aaron Polson said...

Great White Sharks, Batman!

I second the nice analogy. Me thinks a suspension of disbelief issue is raising its ugly head again.

I like monstrous vampires, personally. Not the super-clubbers ala Blade.

K.C. Shaw said...

When the undead sharks trend starts to really take off, I'll be the one to thank.

Actually, I wish one (or both) of you all would write about undead sharks, because that would be an awesome story.