Saturday, March 6, 2021

Vampires (1987): ed. by Alan Ryan

Alan Ryan’s anthology appeared under two titles: Vampires: Two Centuries of Great Vampire Stories and, more modestly, The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories.  There are in fact some great vampire stories here, including some lesser-known ones, and the anthology (with Ryan’s concise introduction, notes, and helpful appendices) provides a good history of vampire tales and authors.

Not pterodactyls or whatever Gorey has illustrated.

There are 32 stories (or 30 stories, a fragment, and an excerpt) arranged by publication date, starting with Byron’s 1816 “Fragment of a Novel” (only interesting for Ryan’s notes) and ending with Tanith Lee’s “Bite-Me-Not or, Fleur De Feu” (1984).

Here you can find familiar favorites like Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” and Aickman’s “Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal”, but perhaps also get introduced to C.L. Moore and Northwest Smith via “Shambleau”, appreciate the concise originality of C.M. Kornbluth’s “The Mindworm”, and wish P. Schuyler Miller had written more horror (“Over the River” is among the best in this anthology).

"Some day I - speak to you in - my own language," she promised.

 Most of the stories from the ‘70s and ‘80s didn’t have the same appeal to me, although Ryan’s own Jesuitical “Following the Way” is quite good, and Tanith Lee is always enjoyable if you're in the right mood.  All in all, an excellent collection.