Mammoth Book of Dracula, The

Rating: 
4
Review by Matt Staggs
www.skullring.org

"The Mammoth Book of Dracula" (to be referred to hence as MBD) is an anthology edited by Stephen Jones and published by Carroll & Graf. Originally published in 1997 in celebration of the centennial of Bram Stoker's novel, MBD is a kind of fictionalized history of Count Dracula.

Realizing that there is a vast amount of fiction written about the eponymous Count, Jones took a rather novel approach to organizing this collection by placing the stories in the chronological order in which the events depicted occur. Thus, the collection begins with stories occurring parallel to or just after the events of Stoker's "Dracula," and smoothly progresses through the ages to end with tales of the count in the near future.

This gives the illusion that these stories are connected in some way, although they were written independently of each other and in many cases decades apart in origin.

A great number of very talented authors have written about Dracula over the years, and Jones - with the expertise that many readers have grown to expect from him - did an excellent job in picking out the 30-plus entries that comprise MBD. Hugh B. Cave, Thomas Ligotti, Manly Wade Wellman, Ramsey Campbell, Kim Newman and Brian Lumley are just a few of the well-respected names that make an appearance in this compendium.

Stories in this collection range from the extremely subtle (Basil Copper's "When Greek Meets Greek"), to the downright fantastical (Peter Crowther's post-apocalyptic "The Last Vampire"), with just about everything in between, from cyberpunk (Chris Morgan's "Windows '99 of the Soul") to splatterpunk (Conrad William's "Bloodlines") well represented.

Dracula and his minions feature in all of these stories, but sometimes his presence is indirect or implied rather than overt. However, this is the exception more than the rule. Most of the selections feature the Count up close and personal in all of his mesmerizing evil. Dracula isn't the only well-known person in these stories: Timothy Leary, Francis Ford Coppola and other famous folks turn up at the count's side here and there.

The great majority of these stories work well, and for a 500-plus page book it reads really quickly. Strangely, the few stories that I considered dogs were all from authors I normally really enjoy. Kim Newman's "Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula" quickly wore out its welcome, as it was both a little too long and a bit heavy on the satire. Brian Lumley, an author I greatly admire, didn't seem on his game with "Zack Phalanx is Vlad the Impaler." Both of these stories involved show business and the movie industry for background, so maybe I just don't care for those kinds of stories. Some of my favorite stories came from authors with whom I had little familiarity. Nancy Holder's "Blood Freak," about a Warhol's Factory-inspired Dracula living in the free love movement of the sixties really impressed me, as well as Terry Lamsley's darkly humorous "Volunteers," featuring Dracula as a withered invalid.

While MBD is currently out of print, it can easily be purchased used from AMAZON, eBay and all of the usual online venues. With this being the 110th anniversary of the publication of "Dracula" it might be just the right time to search out a copy.

Definitely recommended.

Fanged Films

Italy, 1971
They Have Changed Their Face / They've Changed Faces / Wettlauf Gegen Den Tod
Phillippines, 2001
Vampira 2000

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  

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