This is a fascinating book. Filled with all sorts of information on why vampires have remained so popular in myth and pop culture. The author holds a number of degrees including sociology, criminology, and social science and she even teaches a course online in which this is the text book. The book starts with mythology then works its way into modern times with discussions of role playing and those that live the lifestyles. It also boasts essays from people involved in the genre or the lifestyle. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the creature both in pop culture and in society.
I really liked this book. Really liked it. It is, by default, very detailed in its description of what it would be like to be a space traveler marooned on Mars. But the writer is so skilled that this minutia actually pulls you into the story line.
Mark Watney is one of a six member expedition team to Mars. Shortly into their stay, the team has to make an emergency evacuation due to a storm, but in the midst of it, Watney is knocked down by a flying antenna. Believing him to be dead, the crew have no choice but to leave or lose their window of opportunity for leaving. Watney, however, is not dead. And actually, considering the story, it's probably better for Watney that he was left. If the six people were stranded (which indeed they would have been) Watney wouldn't have had the supplies he needed to get through the years he has to spend on a planet hostile to Earthling life until a rescue was arranged. With supplies set for six people, it's a bit easier.
The book opens with Watney's narration, but in the middle of it cuts back to NASA and a third person account of the efforts NASA personnel put into working on a rescue plan. This isn't like rowing a boat out into an ocean to pick up shipwrecked sailors. And even a successful mission would not only take months to plan but then take months, to execute. Can Watney stretch the supplies (and his own patience) long enough for rescue to arrive?
I listened to this book on CD and the reader, R.C. Bray, was great.
And of course that's "V" for Vampire. I put this as #2 in the Young Adult Literature chapter of my book Vampires' Most Wanted: The Top Ten Book of Bloodthirsty Biters, Stake-wielding Slayers and Other Undead Oddities because it had such a fresh take on the whole vampire thing. One of the things that fascinates me about vampirism is how it can so totally change a life. What if, rather than giving one superpowers (as it does in so many books in the genre) it presents the vampire with challenges. What if it were more like a condition that you had to manage. The narrator, Nina" was "fanged" (as she puts it, as a teen in the '70s. Since then, she has physically remained a teen, dealing with her condition (and her need for blood), living in the basement of her mother who is aging and will die one day. Nina will then be on her own with a fairly debilitating condition. She partakes in a support group with other vampires, each dealing with their own issues from the condition particular to them. When some members of the group go to pick up Casimir, they find only a pile of ash at the meeting place. They must go forth into a world they've hidden from, some for longer than a lifetime, to find out who is staking vampires and why.
The book is written with a light touch and there's a lot of humor but there remains a level of adventure to it as well. What's refreshing is that these characters are not written as glorious immortals, just people trying to deal with an often times inconvenient condition. They are able to get past their handicaps and come together for the good of the group and the vampire community.
I highly recommend this book.
To Touch the Sun is the first novel in my vampire series set in Chicago
1916: France, World War I
Narain Khan was 25 when he left his native India to fight in the trenches of the Western Front during WWI. It was his hope that he could stay on after the war to pursue his dream of studying the culinary arts and becoming a world class chef. Instead, he fell to shrapnel amidst the carnage of that bitter war. Carnage which, when darkness fell, attracted something terrifying: A roaming pack of feral vampires–mindless feeders–who fell upon the soldiers left wounded and dying in No Man’s Land. Attacked by the ferals, Narain was transformed into the other type of vampire: A sentient capable of moving about in society with only a few restrictions and able to feed without killing the host. While in the fugue state of his conversion, he was found by Alphonse Reno, a man who had lost his own son to feral vampirism and who is sure the condition is biological, not metaphysical. Working to find a cure in hopes of bringing back his son, Alphonse convinces Narain that, unlike ferals, he could lead a relatively normal life.
Present Day: Chicago, U.S.
Narain has reached a crossroads. Helping him adjust to his condition through the decades was his beloved Sophie who was not only his wife, but his food source once they realized she wasn’t susceptible to the condition. Her sacrifice enabled him to lead as normal a life as possible, making hunting for food unnecessary. Cancer had taken Sophie the previous year and after the stock of blood she had saved up has been depleted, Narain is faced with again having to hunt for his food, something he is both morally opposed to, but also causes him to fear passing on the condition to unwitting, perhaps dangerous hosts. If left too long, however, hunger can bring out the deadly feral nature even in a sentient vampire. As a well-respected chef and owner of a successful Chicago restaurant, Narain has worked hard to promote a veneer of normality. The last thing he and his business partner and friend Dom Amato needs is for Narain’s hunger to get the better of him.
Events conspire, however, to drag Narain away from the safe life he has cultivated back into one of madness and danger: The attraction he feels for microbiologist Cassie Lambert, who has a link to his past Narain is unaware of, and the re-emergence of a ghost from the Great War. Captain Reginald Jameson was a sadistic predator when Narain had challenged him during their service in the trenches of France. The vampire Jameson of 90 years later is infinitely more dangerous, his sadism backed by the bizarre abilities of their condition. The discovery that Cassie Lambert has made about the cause of vampirism is one that Jameson is willing to kill to obtain.
Jameson has brought back another ghost from their shared history in his search to find immunity to sunlight. The experiments of his researchers, however, have resulted in the creation of a third, more terrifying breed of vampire: Boris, a psychopathic monster who will stop at nothing to destroy all in his path.
In trying to protect Cassie from Jameson and Boris, Narain will have to rely on skills that he’s allowed to atrophy over the decades. In a climatic struggle, Narain will have to learn that to defeat the real monsters, he has to embrace what he is and awaken the beast within. And to touch the sun, he will have to risk being burned up in its fury.
To Touch the Sun is available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon