Sunday, August 16, 2009

Introducing the Vampirometer

I've been reading a lot of urban fantasy lately, and they all contain vampires. It seems to be a basic requirement of the subgenre. I'm going to start rating urban fantasies with the Vampirometer. Here's how it works:

Choose one of the following:
Anne Rice-esque vampires: sexy, decadent, and well-dressed. (1 point)
Dracula-esque vampires: powerful, horrific, and fascinating. (1 point)
Nosferatu-esque vampires: grotesque, scary, and non-sexy. (1 point)
Pratchett-esque vampires: driven, unhappy, and really just regular guys despite the blood-drinking thing. (1 point)

Additional points gained or lost from the following list:
  • Vampires are undead (no pulse or breathing) and act undead (no food, no sex, may smell kinda bad, etc.). (+1 point)
  • Vampires are undead (no pulse or breathing) but act more like goth kids who are pretending to be vampires. (-1 point)
  • Vampires are not undead (they have a disease that renders them vampiric, are a separate species, are aliens/ghosts/from another dimension, etc.). (+1 point)
  • Vampires are considered alive rather than undead, but they gain all their nourishment from blood and do not eat. (-1 point)
  • All vampires are evil except the one the heroine/hero interacts with most. (-1 point)
  • Vampires have a complex and hidden hierarchical society with elaborate rules, frequent gatherings of powerful members, and members who are businessmen or nobles, but somehow no one except the heroine/hero has ever figured out that vampires exist. (-1 point)
  • Vampires can transform into bats, wolves, rats etc. at will. (+1 point)
  • Individual vampires may have different talents. (+1 point)
  • Vampires consider humans as prey animals barely worthy of any compassion, even though vampires are former humans. (-1 point)
  • Vampires consider humans as prey animals barely worthy of any compassion, but a vampire falls in love with the heroine/hero, who is human. (-1 point)
  • The viewpoint character is a vampire and is cool with that. (+1 point)
  • The viewpoint character is a vampire and angsts about it all the time. (-1 point)
  • Vampires are immortal and nigh-invulnerable except for a secret vulnerability the main characters learn over the course of the story; this secret is not known to anyone else. (-1 point)
  • Vampires are immortal and nigh-invulnerable, but ways to destroy them are common knowledge, or at least not secret. (+1 point)
  • Vampires are magical beings that cannot be harmed physically under ordinary circumstances. (+1 point)
  • Vampires are magical beings that cannot be harmed physically, but they still have sex with physical beings. (-1 point)
  • Vampires absorb energy instead of drinking blood. (+1 point)
  • Vampires are all about the blood. (+1 point)
  • Vampires seem to be vampires in name only, without any apparent need for blood/life force/etc. (-1 point)
  • The heroine/hero falls for the vampire even though he/she is a real dick/has no personality/is portrayed as repugnant or evil, etc., and this seems out of character for the heroine/hero. (-1 point)
So, using this scale, Dracula scores a 6. However, the Vampirometer does not imply whether the book in question is any good, just whether the author did a good job with the vampires. For instance, the vampires in Charlaine Harris's first book, Dead Until Dark, score a 4 (I haven't read the other books in that series). The vampires in Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson series (which I love) score a 1. I don't think it's a coincidence that Charlaine Harris's books focus on the vampires, while Patricia Briggs's books focus on the werewolves. (But I'm not doing a Werewolfometer. That would just be silly.)

Here are Vampirometer ratings for the two urban fantasies I read last week:
Maria Lima's Matters of the Blood Vampirometer rating: 2
Kat Richardson's Greywalker Vampirometer rating: 1

So what did I miss? How can I improve the Vampirometer?

14 comments:

Aaron Polson said...

This is awesome. I'm going to do a spreadsheet.

Danielle Ferries said...

Can't see that you've missed anything. It's pretty impressive.

Jameson T. Caine said...

How about:

Vampires exposed to sunlight die or suffer bad burns. (+ 1 point)

Vampires exposed to sunlight sparkle like a disco glitter ball. (- 100 points)

:)

Jeremy D Brooks said...

How about "doesn't consume bio", a la "Lifeforce"? Not sure if that's positive points for originality or negative points for not suckin' blood...

Lertulo said...

Dresden, of course. I'm too sleepy to run the numbers now though. Bet it comes out negative, though I own all 11 books...

What's the modifier for multiple classes of vampires with different traits?

Catherine J Gardner said...

Fantastic. I need to store the pluses and minuses for the next time a vampire creeps into my plot.

Alan W. Davidson said...

You may have something there, KC. All of the supernatural creatures of the night could be rated in a large trade paperback format. I can picture them now, piled on tables at Costco.

Jamie Eyberg said...

I need to start reading more vampire novels just so I can try this out.

Carrie Harris said...

I'm with Jameson. You need to reference the sparkles.

K.C. Shaw said...

Aaron--A spreadsheet will make it Serious Facts. :)

Danielle--Thanks!

Jameson--lol! I forgot about sparkly vampires. I'll have to add that in there somewhere.

Jeremy--I sort of covered that, but not very clearly. I might reword it. Personally, I'm happy with blood-sucking vampires but I'm willing to entertain the idea of vampires that feed on lifeforce.

Lertulo--You mean the different individual vampires have different vampiric skills? That one's in there somewhere (just can't remember how I worded it). It's a plus! Or did I misunderstand what you were asking?

I've only read the first three Dresden books and I don't remember the vampires well enough to give them a Vampirometer reading. Dresden's werewolves are far more varied and interesting, as I recall.

Cate--I think your vampires would be off the chart.

Alan--The Big Book of Monster Ratings! It could even be a weekly update with up and down arrows to see who's climbing the charts and who's tanking. The Monster Top 40!

Jamie--I'm tempted to dig through my 'to read' pile and pull all the books with vampires to read them next.

Carrie--Yeah, sparkles need to be in there somewhere for sure. Although I'm pretty sure Myer's vampires are well into the negative numbers even without it.

Lertulo said...

Actually, rather than individuals having different traits, I meant a story that encompasses three different races of vampires. :)

Anyway, I tallied up the Dresden vampire categories. The Black Court vampires, not surprisingly, did best on your list: they came out as +5. These are the ones that the MC says were basically outed by Anne Rice: that Dracula was written to teach people how to deal with the black court, and as a result everyone knows they hate garlic (hey, you missed that one in the vamp-o-meter) and dread the sunlight.

The red court didn't do so well: they're kind of your basic watered-down vampire without much flash either way, and sure enough the vamp-o-meter landed them a solid zero. Lots of points lost from cliche.

The white court did better than I thought. These are the weakest form of vampire, but they're all about energy and sex: they landed at +3. But there's a catch: there's a protagonist who is a white court vampire, and he's both angsty about it and in love with a human. Add up all the negatives for this guy and the white court gets dropped down to -1.

K.C. Shaw said...

Oh, I see what you mean! It's rare to have more than one type of vampire in the same world. I'd forgotten that's how Dresden did it. He deserves an extra +1 in general for that. I'll have to add that in too when I revise the Vampirometer.

Catherine J Gardner said...

Woot! Woot! Woot! I've just enquired about a certain man named Jack... :)

K.C. Shaw said...

lol, how did you find out before me? Oh yeah, you're four or five hours in the FUTURE. :)