Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Dracula: Prince of Darkness
Review by Imaginos, submitted on 19-Oct-1992

"Dracula: Prince of Darkness" -- A Report

"Dracula: Prince of Darkness" edited by Martin H. Greenberg
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, 1992
ISBN 0-88677-531-0, paperback, $4.99

This anthology, consisting of an introduction and fifteen stories ranging from short-short to novella length, is based on a very simple theme. The theme is the updating of the Dracula legend for the nineties. The simplicity of this theme allowed the authors great latitude in the directions that they could take their stories. This latitude in turn led to the main flaw in the book: the diversity of the stories.

This is an anthology, and a certain lack of flow from one story to the next is to be expected, but the differences between several of the succeeding stories in this collection were quite jarring. The stories are as scattered in time as they are in location, from the Old West at the turn of the century to a Cyberghoul city of the near-future, from Romania to St. Petersburg, Florida.

Overall, the writing is good, and in some cases quite excellent. Even some of the shortest of the stories go to the effort of examining questions of human existence, and what the vampire myth can tell us about ourselves. If you take the time to read this anthology a little at a time, rather than devouring it in a single sitting, then the disparity of the stories will be less apparent, and less of a problem. Even at one sitting the book is still well worth reading for several of the stories that it contains. I consider it worth what I paid for it (and with the price of soft backs now-a-days, that says a certain something).

Final Rating: Four fangs out of five - :-[ :-[ :-[ :-[

Introduction by Stefan Dziemianowicz
This brief introduction covers a little of the history of the vampire in literature, and then focuses on Stoker's Dracula. Interesting, but it pales into insignificance next to The Dragon's FAQs.

"The Lord's Work" by F. Paul Wilson
This story reads like it was written for Under the Fang. One of the longer stories in the anthology, it is well worth the extra space it takes. It introduces us to Sister Carole Flannery, one of the few remaining nuns in an America that has been subjugated by vampires. We also get to meet the "cowboys", humans who maintain the daytime power of the vampires, so-called because they help to drive the "cattle". Sister Carole in not your typical nun, and the story shows us part of her struggle against the cowboys and vampires who now infest America. The story also contains one of the most interesting ways to torment a vampire that I have ever come across. It left me wishing that there was an entire novel somewhere devoted to Sister Carole's struggle.

"Cult" by Warner Lee
This story feels more like a John D. MacDonald novel than an extension of the Dracula legend. We meet Edward Long, a "retriever", that is, a gentleman who kidnaps people from cults for a fee. He is hired by Miguel La Durca to retrieve his wife from the 'Church of Seven'. But all is not as it might seem {as those who like anagrams may already have guessed}, and Edward has a bit of a surprise coming to him. We also get to see what divorce is like, vampire-style. Mildly interesting.

"The Black Wolf" by Wendi Lee and Terry Beatty
And here we are with Dracula in the Old West. The story is longer than it really needed to be, and the ending is not at all surprising. How else would an American Indian battle a vampire? One of the least enjoyable stories in the collection.

Blood Drive" by Rex Miller
I found this story to be the most disappointing of the entire book. Not because it is the worst story in the book (it wasn't), but because it started with such potential, and then didn't go anywhere with it. It starts in what I can only call a "Cyberghoul" mode. Cyberghoul is what you get when you cross horror with cyberpunk. We meet the members of a vampire gang, described in a way that would make William Gibson proud. Unfortunately, this opening sequence with the vampire gang is the last we get to see of them, and we switch over to a much less interesting scene with the city fathers. From that we move on to meeting the "villain" of the story, and then the story ends. By the time I finished the story I was mad enough to chew nails and spit tacks. What I really wanted was to have the story continue with the gang. This story had enormous potential, but thoroughly failed to live up to it. I would love to see another story done in the same milieu, with a slightly different focus.

"Hard Times" by Bentley Little
A chilly tale that might just explain the current fascination with vampires, and why there's been such a gap since the last time that the vampire was popular in general entertainment. It also could serve as a warning to those who become too fascinated with the vampire myth. An interesting read.

"Lot Five, Building Seven, Door twenty-three" by John Shirley
This story offers us Dracula as the Teacher and the Beast, at the end of the Millennia. There seems to be an "Illuminati! meets the Book of Revelations" flavor here (the numbers five, seven, and twenty-three keep popping up in the Illuminati! trilogy). We see the Apocalypse, and a send-up of the New Age seekers after truth. I'd give this story a qualified good read, qualified because I'm biased about John Shirley - I like his writings, and his in-jokes. (The second paragraph in the story has a tie-in to the music of my favorite group, Blue Oyster Cult - one of their newest songs is entitled "The Power Underneath Despair"). As the acronym goes, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

"Deep Sleep" by Matthew J. Costello
An odd story, it pairs Dracula and the wreck of the Titanic. It should serve as a warning to any Children of the Night who are considering a sea voyage, unless they are very patient. Fair.

"Voivode" by Douglas Borton
This story follows the unfortunate adventure of a screenwriter on the trail of the historical Dracula (Vlad Tepes) in modern-day Romania. Part of the story is the interesting idea that Bram Stoker's "Dracula" was a fictionalized account of part of his life. It also shows us what may have happened to Nicolae Ceausescu after his disposal. Good.

"Dracuson's Driver" by Richard Laymon
Voyeurism, breaking and entering, violence, necrophilia, stupidity and a vampire. What more could you ask for? How about an air-sickness bag? This story is not for the squeamish. Not to my tastes, but a well-written story.

"After the Ball" by John Lutz
A sweet little story, the flow of the story line reminds me of a waltz, slow gentle steps moving apart and coming together, leading up to the conclusion. There is a little thread of suspense woven through the story, and the author keeps you guessing right up until the story's end. Good.

"The Wind Breathes Cold" by P. N. Elrod
This story extends the story line of Stoker's "Dracula", starting where the original leaves off. Unlike the original though, this story seems to be sympathetic to Dracula. Elrod is better known for her 'Vampire Files' series that takes place in Chicago during the 1930's, but she handles this story quite well. One of the top three stories in the anthology.

"Night Cries" by Daniel Ransom
Dedicated to Mickey Spillane, this story is a nice blend of the hard-boiled detective story with the vampire story. I like the basis for vampirism offered by this story, the idea that a viral infection has turned normal humans into vampires. And not just one kind of vampire, but two, the light and the dark. Neither type is undead. merely infected, but the dark vampire has a desire for violence and carnality. The mystery aspect of the story is not that mysterious, but it is well-handled. This is a fun story, and I'd like to see more by this author.

"Blood from a Turnip" by Wayne Allen Sallee
A humorous little story, it brings new meaning to the title phrase. It also would make me a little nervous if I ever got involved with a collection agency. Fair.

"The Cure" by W. R. Philbrick
Vampirism as a cure for all ills? Well, all physical ills... This mood piece is well done, in a chilly sort of way. I liked it.

"Like a Pilgrim to the Shrine" by Brian Hodge
This was a strong story to close the book. We are introduced to Kraeken, the epitome of the Punk Vampire, the vampire for the nineties. But there is an intelligence here, and a longing. Looking for a justification of his existence, Kraeken has come to St. Petersburg, Florida to challenge Count Dracula to a duel for the Count's soul. Hodge uses this conflict of different generations of vampires to mirror the evolution of ideals in normal society. Or maybe I'm reading too much into this story; however, I enjoyed this story enough that I have re-read it several times since I first finished the book. Very good.

Fanged Films

Romania / Canada / USA, 1998
Teenage Space Vampires
USA, 2005
Raising the Stakes

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

Drawn to Vamps?

Vol. 1 No. 17
Sacrifice and Redemption
Vol. 1 No. 1
Tex Arcana #nn 1987