For the last week Innsmouth Free Press has been running their “Apocalypse Week” themed series of articles counting down to All Hallows Eve. My review of Nancy Kilpatrick‘s Evolve Two has been posted up as a part of it, just in time for All Hallows Eve itself. The review can be found here.
I’m not always one for vampires. To own the truth I find most of the classic monsters of popular literature and cinema get rum treatment from some highly unimaginative minds the better part of the time. Not to mention that vampires in particular have been done to death. Or, well, technically undeath I suppose. But, Nancy Kilpatrick knows what she’s doing. And even when there are stories that I’m not particularly keen on, and there are a few in Evolve Two, it’s more that I find something lacking in the final result than that I see evidence of a dearth of imagination.
Well, there is one piece that utterly lacks originality, but I’ll not be unkind enough to name it. I suspect you’ll come to that conclusion yourself when you read the anthology. And you should read the anthology. Like Michael Kelly‘s Chilling Tales from earlier this year, there is a delicious sufficiency of truly dark and macabre tales to be found in Evolve Two. And while I wasn’t entirely fond of the first Evolve anthology – though there were a few standouts – the second succeeds in going where the first, with its contemporary focus, could not and did not.
It is the last section of Evolve Two – wherein we hit post-human, post-terran era fiction – which is by far the strongest of the three segments the book is divided into. That last section delves into stretches of time where change has truly taken place. In a sense, as is really the case with the majority of vampire fiction, the previous two sections are about contagion and its fallout – ranging from the mundane to the earth-shattering. But once we move off world, and stop addressing contagion as the sole purpose of the tale, so many possibilites open up. I’ve covered off my thoughts on the last six tales of the book in my review over at IFP, and I’ll suggest you go read them there rather than re-hash my points here. However, I will say here that those six stories open up a world of possibilites that even the authors of those six tales themselves have not commonly addressed in their other related fiction.
Out among the stars, the question is not about human versus vampire (though that does come up). Instead, it is about the nature of humanity. Specifically, who possesses it, and why. And sometimes those lines are not drawn along the lines we thought they were. But then, most of you reading this are Spec Fic readers, so you already knew that reality is an illusion, that the monster is often what lurks behind the stifling sense of normalcy, and that our heroes are as often as not anti-heroes.
It has something to do with the way we approach the world, I think. We are drawn as writers, editors, readers, et al, to the night. But we are not hungry for the darkness. We are looking out past the sky, heavy and overcast with foreboding cloud. We are waiting for those clouds to break, so that we might see the stars once more, and look out into the limitless beauty of the heavens beyond.
Night all. And may there be much merry pagan revelry in your immediate future this glorious October eve.