What makes vampires cool?

by Rachel Caine for Borders
What makes vampires cool to today’s audience vs. Bram Stoker’s audience?

First of all, I’m not sure that there isn’t some crossover. Some varieties of cool will always and forever be cool, and immortal creatures stalking the night … well, that’s cool. And scary. The two are not contradictory.

In Stoker’s time, people were only just beginning to look at vampires as stories, rather than a deadly and terrifying reality as they had been for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It was safe now to tell stories about them, because they were only stories. So the roots of horror are very real in his novel, although he shifted around the folklore to cherry-pick the best of it (something we all do, truthfully, as writers). Victorian readers loved the vicarious, gruesome thrills — and let’s not forget, for all the lace and proper behavior, they lived in a somewhat gruesome time, when death was pervasive and personal, and you took photos of yourselves with the corpses of your loved ones to remember them. (Yes, they really did that. I will spare you and not provide you with links.) Stoker’s darkly seductive, though repellent, Count Dracula was a metaphor for the seduction of innocents by jaded nobles, as much as anything else, and of course for the dangers of sexuality. As a morality play, though, it was subversively attractive, which was part of its lasting success.

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Welcome to World Book Night

World Book Night represents the most ambitious and far-reaching celebration of adult books and reading ever attempted in the UK and Ireland.

On Saturday, 5 March 2011, two days after World Book Day, with the full support of the Publishers Association, the Booksellers Association, the Independent Publishers Guild, the Reading Agency with libraries, World Book Day, the BBC and RTE, one million books will be given away by an army of passionate readers to members of the public across the UK and Ireland.

The book give-away will comprise 40,000 copies of each of the 25 carefully selected titles, to be given away by 20,000 ‘givers’, who will each distribute 48 copies of their chosen title to whomever they choose on World Book Night. The remaining books will be distributed by World Book Night itself in places that might otherwise be difficult to reach, such as prisons and hospitals.

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“Soulless” by Gail Carriger, Chapter 1

via Gail Carriger

Gail Carriger, author of the Parasol Protectorate series, reads from Chapter One of “Soulless,” along with Mike Perschon, the Steampunk Scholar at Steamocon II in Seattle, November 20, 2010

Summary (from Amazon): Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?