THE VAMPIRE CURSE
NOTES ON ‘PREDATING THE PREDATORS’
As with the notes I’ve provided to my other stories on this website, these are intended to complement a reading of my novella ‘Predating the Predators’, not to substitute for it. This page should therefore be read after reading ‘Predating the Predators’, and ideally with a copy of The Vampire Curse to hand.
PLEASE BE WARNED that if you read these notes ahead of ‘Predating the Predators’ you’ll encounter significant SPOILERS for the story.
NOTES ON ‘PREDATING THE PREDATORS’
Accompanying note from Prof. I.G. Ikigikato
Accompanying note: An early draft of ‘Predating the Predators’ had an entirely different introductory segment, which ran as follows:
Accompanying message from Lloyd Doihara (voice recording)
It’s been years now – a couple of decades, in fact – since what most people call the Ravensfoot Infraction, and a number of the witnesses are dead now. Well, obviously. I mean, a lot of the survivors are dead now. Obviously the non-survivors, the victims have been dead since…
I’ll start again.
It’s twenty years now since the Ravensfoot Infraction, and those of us survivors who are left thought it was time to pull together everything we can remember of what happened. We haven’t tended to talk bout it much – well, you don’t really, do you? – and that means there’s bee a lot of confusion surrounding the whole thing. There’s even talk of holding a conference to try and establish the truth. Which is giving us some nasty flashbacks, as you can imagine.
It turns out that some of what you’d call the primary documents – the stuff we were actually writing at the time – still exists. Imogen Tantry evidently kept a journal, and my sister Meinir kept the letters I was slipping her. Plus there are recordings of the lectures and so on, not to mention the other recording I took at the time. I’ve put in some of the Professor’s book as well, just to give a bit of background.
None of these things are a complete record of what happened, but if you put them together they make a pretty decent overview.
Of course there was stuff going on back then which Imogen and I weren’t privy to, and which obviously wasn’t going to be recorded, but by the nature of things there aren’t any living witnesses to that stuff either. (Well, mostly. Some of it just turns out to have not been very interesting.) Anyway, I think what we have here tells the story as well and accurately as we can after all this time.
Which means the obvious next step was to send it on to you. Give it a read, and let us know what you think. After all, you were more closely tied up in all of it than any of us.
Any of us survivors, I mean.
It would have turned out in a final segment that Lloyd’s addressee here was Benny herself, and that ‘the Professor’s book’ was one written later by Prof Leustassavil. I abandoned this framing device when it became clear that the novella as a whole was running over-length, but was later persuaded by one of my test-readers that some kind of introduction to the documents was needed. I have to admit I much prefer what I ended up with.
Ikigikato... Pendremellessen... Cwm: Although this is the first time the names have seen print, these three Professors have been hanging around in the margins of my proposals for years now. Their names are entirely made up, apart from ‘Cwm’, which is Welsh for ‘valley’. I have only the haziest idea of their background, species and historical context, but they’ve tended to crop up any time I’ve considered using academics as a kind of choric commentary on the action of a story. This is the first time they’ve got as far as actually turning up on the page, and it would now seem that they hail from after the 27th century, at least.
I’m amazed in retrospect that they didn’t make it into my Faction Paradox novel Of the City of the Saved..., which is full of academics pontificating about things. I think it’s because I’m never entirely sure they’re human, and didn’t want to resolve the matter by placing them in a humans-only afterlife.
the young Imogen Tantry (as she then was) ... Pope Beatrix II: A very early draft of ‘Predating the Predators’ – where it was Lloyd who was keeping a journal and Imogen who was writing to her sister – would have revealed that the sister in question (mentioned on pages 133 and 205) is called ‘Marina’. Both names are Shakespearean (from the late plays Cymbeline and Pericles, Prince of Tyre respectively), suggesting that their father is a bit of a Shakespeare buff.
Nor does Ikigikato’s parenthetical ‘as she then was’ refer to Imogen later taking a married name. (I mean, honestly – the woman’s a Catholic priest.) As well as being the name of several saints, and meaning ‘blessed’ in Latin, ‘Beatrix’ is also close to the name of another Shakespearean heroine – Much Ado about Nothing’s Beatrice.
From the Journal of the Revd Imogen Tantry, S.J.
The Serene Diameter: The starship’s name is a silly pun based on the names of the two ships on which the nefarious Count travels in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula: the Demeter (from Varna to Whitby) and the Czarina Catherine (from London to Galatz). I read Dracula for the first time while writing ‘Predating the Predators’, which explains, among other things, the choice of the epistolary style.
An earlier, slightly longer, draft of the chapter had Imogen adding this about her interstellar journey:
The Diameter, like many inexpensive passenger craft, does not oblige its passengers with windows, creating a most disagreeable sense of confinement. (I am told that this is for fear, less of the mental breakdown which views of deep space during supralight transit might provoke in less stable passengers, than of the lawsuits which might result. How the spaceline preserves itself from litigation by customers inclined to claustrophobia, I have no idea.)
Murigen: The planet where ‘Predating the Predators’ is set is named after the Celtic goddess of war, whose name in English is more usually spelled ‘Morrigan’. This doesn’t have much impact on the story, except for the occasional use of raven imagery and the naming of the three suns, Nemhain, Fea and Macha, after the aspects of Murigen when she appeared (as Celtic goddesses often do) as a trinity.
joint human-Lavellan colonial teams: A ‘lavellan’ or ‘la-mhalan’ is a legendary water-creature in Scots folklore, rather resembling a giant venomous water-shrew. Again, this doesn’t really impact ‘Predating the Predators’ except inasmuch as the sentient aliens whom I’ve called Lavellans are aquatic.
Entruria or Haldane: The planet Haldane was mentioned in my earlier Bernice Summerfield short story, ‘Perspectives: Intermissions’ in Collected Works. Entruria may or may not be the homeworld of the Entrustine Horde, referred to in passing in Of the City of the Saved....
SupraLight Information Package from Lloyd Doihara, M.Phys., to Ms Meinir Doihara
Lloyd ... Meinir: Both names are Welsh in origin, tying in with the idea of Murigen’s Celtic cultural ancestry. ‘Meinir Doihara’ also recalls ‘Mina Harker’, the later married name of Mina Murray, the fiancée to whom Jonathan Harker writes the early epistolic chapters of Dracula.
fringy loons like Sojourner Rabinowitz-Walsh Damon: One of very few (actually, I think it’s two) references in ‘Predating the Predators’ to the earlier novellas in the volume – in this case, to Kelly Hale’s fictional epigraph to her novella ‘Possum Kingdom’ (page 75). The other reference is on page 215, to Mags Halliday’s planet Badblood.
When contributing my previous Bernice novella, ‘Nursery Politics’, to Nobody’s Children, I greatly enjoyed the depth of collaboration which allowed Kate Orman, Jon Blum and myself to write what’s effectively a novel in three parts, by different hands. However, I also found the freedom which Mags, Kelly and I had in The Vampire Curse to be refreshing, making the writing process a very different experience. We discovered early on that both Kelly and I had vampire stories we wanted to write, and that Mags’s idea could very easily incorporate vampires as its central menace. After that – and establishing that our stories would be set at different times in Benny’s lengthy life – we wrote more or less independently. I think this worked very well – the volume as a whole contains strong standalone stories, approaching vampires from quite different perspectives.
The references to Kelly’s and Mags’s novellas were added at a very late stage. Whether Kelly intended Sojourner Damon to be a ‘fringy loon’ I’ve no idea, but we’ll later discover that Gonzo Ibrahimssen isn’t the galaxy’s greatest judge of anything, presumably including other people’s scholarship.
like the Mim: As seen in Nobody’s Children – see here for my notes on their appearance in that volume.
From the journal of Imogen Tantry
adapted to their waterborne lifestyle: Before I had to trim the early chapters of ‘Predating the Predators’, Imogen had a longer description of the Lavellan, which I was a bit sad to lose:
Her arms (which I have observed lie flat against the body when moving in water, all waterborne carrying being done using the strong, wide mouth) have supple flukes which run along their length from shoulder to fingertip. When swimming I imagine that these act almost as alternative limbs. Her features make a horizontal line across her wide, shallow face: an ear, an eye, a lidded nostril, her muscular mouth, then her second nostril, eye and ear, the whole being surmounted by a stiff fleshy crest which continues backward to become a dorsal fin. Her eyes are large, black and ironically soulful.
She is far from being the strangest sentient creature even I have seen.
Equilateral Day: I intended this to be the time when the suns’ day-cycles were at their most evenly spaced, which I calculated would happen roughly every 70 years. SF novelist and general maths wizard Simon Bucher-Jones and I spent a while trying to decipher the exact workings of Murigen’s solar system. Simon was insanely helpful (he even emailed me a spreadsheet based on Kepler’s equations of orbital dynamics), but the implausibilities I eventually had to introduce for the sake of the story are entirely my own.
the ‘Lithian question’: Not a piece of obscure Bernice Summerfield continuity, but a reference to James Blish’s intellectual SF novel A Case of Conscience (1958). Blish’s Lithians are aliens whose world is apparently a secular utopia, causing his central character, a Jesuit scientist named Fr Ramon Luis-Sanchez, at first to question his faith and later to dismiss the planet as a creation of the Devil.
A Case of Conscience was an early instance a rather specialist SF subgenre about Jesuit priests wrestling with intractable theological problems on distant planets. (Other examples include Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘The Star’, Anthony Boucher’s ‘Balaam’, Philip José Farmer’s Father John Carmody stories, large chunks of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion and Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow and Children of God.) ‘Predating the Predators’ is, of course (and among other things including ‘epistolary novella’, ‘planetary romance’, ‘gothic thriller’ and ‘campus novel with vampires’) my attempt at continuing this tradition. This is why Imogen is (as mentioned initially, and initially, on page 133) a member of the Society of Jesus.
Imogen had more to say on the Lithian question in the earlier draft:
The Church’s current received position is that the souls which inhabit the conscious minds and bodies of humans and most others are ours by grace of God alone, and do not arise inevitably from our existence as God’s creatures. It is within the discretion of an all-powerful and perfectly good God to create an individual, or an entire race of individuals, without souls, whose organising consciousnesses arise as a mere by-product of their biological processes.
Such creatures, though deserving of compassion and respect like any other, have no immortal existence. While the rest of us may expect, after our bodily death, to find ourselves subject to our Creator’s judgement and to eternal salvation or damnation according to God’s grace, the unsouled perish with their bodies, and have no further existence except as cadavers, decomposing into the soil from which they came.
In short, the existence and ultimate fate which secular philosophy allots to all sentient beings (except those which are positively known to have made alternative technological arrangements in the matter) is that which the Church itself ascribes to entire peoples, based solely on our inability to see in them a reflection of our own religious feeling.
Within the fiction, I’m presuming that the phrase ‘the Lithian question’ was coined by a Vatican theologian who was also a science-fiction buff.
Show her, Luke: Fr Luke Duke’s full name comes from the Christmas episode of Father Ted, and in particular from the list of unlikely clerical names which Mrs Doyle runs through in her attempt to guess the name of a visiting priest (it turns out to be Fr Todd Unctious). Duke’s name is clearly audible between those of Fr Johnny Hellzapoppin and Fr Billy Furry.
I Am Legend: One of several references in the text to classic works of vampire fiction – in this case Richard Matheson’s 1954 post-apocalyptic novel, recently filmed with Will Smith. I leave identifying the rest of them as an exercise for the reader.
Dr Emanuel Valeriani: This character was originally called ‘Francis Carandini’. That these are approximately the middle names of the veteran horror actor Christopher Frank Carandini Lee may give you some idea of how I imagined the character while I was writing him – although perversely I was mostly writing him as Lee’s Lord Summerisle from The Wicker Man, rather than his Dracula. Another of my test-readers, a Hammer Horror fan, pointed out how irritating this would be to people like him who’d already known Lee’s middle names without having to look them up on Wikipedia, so I changed it.
(Fr Finlay, on the other hand, is played by Peter Cushing. You wouldn’t know that from his name, but that’s probably how it should be.)
Lloyd Doihara to Meinir Doihara
Dr Mep’to the Ias’par agronomist: The Ias’par first appeared in Nobody’s Children, although as I’ve stated elsewhere the idea for them is even older than Cwm, Pendremellessen and Ikigikato. They’re sentient trees, essentially, whose males are mobile but whose females are sessile and reproduce by exploding messily. Mep’to plays a minor but significant role later as the only second-generation vampire in the novella not of human or Lavellan extraction.
I’m Elanore Summerfield. Ellie: Elanore is named, almost entirely pointlessly, after a descendant of Bernice’s mentioned in the front matter of Dave Stone’s Return to the Fractured Planet, Ms Elanore Vita Hydrant Summerfield-Kane. Ellie clearly isn’t this woman, but ‘Predating the Predators’ creates the faint possibility that it becomes a traditional family name later on.
we found her outside the Groundhog Zero: Fifteen pages into the novella, its nominal heroine finally makes an appearance. One thing I really appreciated about The Vampire Curse was that the premise of showing Bernice as a grandmother meant I could make her a significant but marginal presence, rather than placing her centre stage as I had in my earlier stories for her.
I love Benny to pieces, as I’m probably mentioned many times before, but I also like creating my own characters, and her status (in these early chapters at least) as more of an observer than a heroine allowed Lloyd and Imogen the opportunity to spread out and breathe. I’m grateful to her for stepping aside for them here.
There’s no problem in the world that can’t be solved with vodka: An aphorism first stated by Benny on her earliest appearance in Paul Cornell’s Love and War, and later demonstrated effectively when she uses neat spirits to foil an alien invasion in Lance Parkin’s The Dying Days.
the things I’ve seen: Much of this speech does relate to series continuity. Bernice fights demons in Dave Stone’s The Infernal Nexus (in which she also goes to somewhere called Hell), zombies in current range editor Eddie Robson’s Beyond the Sea (and much earlier in David A McIntee’s White Darkness), and a witch in Jacqueline Rayner’s The Squire’s Crystal. She eats pizza with God (actually an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence of that name) in Ben Aaronovitch’s The Also People, and plays cricket with Sherlock Holmes in Paul Cornell’s Happy Endings. She witnesses the fall of the dinosaurs (or more accurately its aftermath) in Lawrence Miles’s The Adolescence of Time. In Jim Smith’s The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel she is at one point in the same hotel as Oscar Wilde, although the two don’t meet as far as we see.
While we’re on the subject of continuity, Benny’s first documented meeting with vampires takes place in Terrance Dicks’s Blood Harvest, although Mags’s novella ‘The Badblood Diaries’ happens earlier in her timeline. Fortunately there’s nothing in Blood Harvest to suggest that supernatural bloodsuckers are anything particularly new to her.
Now he’s gone: We’re beginning to build up a picture of the elderly Bernice’s life here: her son Peter is dead, survived by his children, and Benny herself is senile, her health failing. It’s all very sad. It’s also (as you’ll know, since you’ve already read the novella, and if you didn’t, for pity’s sake didn’t I warn you about the SPOILERS?) a big fat lie, on Ellie’s part and mine.
Excerpt from the keynote address delivered to the First Interdisciplinary Conference on Vampirology by Emanuel Valeriani, Ph.D.
Vlad III of Wallachia: It’s surprisingly well established in the Doctor Who universe (to which Bernice Summerfield continuity is still, for the moment, nominally tied) that the historical Dracula wasn’t a vampire. Decidedly non-vampiric versions of the character appear in the Faction Paradox anthology The Book of the War and the Doctor Who audio drama Son of the Dragon. It’s even confirmed in the Doctor Who Adventures comic strip Bat Attack! – which also establishes that, in the Doctor Who universe, the aforementioned Oscar Wilde was a vampire, as was Bram Stoker’s wife Florence. The only dissenting voice is that of the Time Lady Ruathadvorophrenaltid in Paul Cornell’s Goth Opera, but she’s clearly as mad as a ferret.
From the journal of Imogen Tantry
a most unfortunate impression amongst our fellow delegates: In the earlier, longer draft of the earlier chapters Imogen added:
This is especially true since the altercation was occasioned by Finlay’s attempts to perform the Rite of Exorcism on Carandini. I know of no reputable theory of vampirology (as opposed to those baroquely at large in popular culture) which holds the vampire to be possessed by a demon, even if belief in demonic possession had not itself for a long time now been outside the realms of reputability. The rite continues to exist only at the request of certain priests on isolated colony worlds, whose credulous congregations sometimes require greater reassurance in the face of unfamiliar phenomena than comes from calming words.
Excerpt from ‘By Cain Out of Lilith: The Spiritual Ontology of the Undead’, delivered to the First Interdisciplinary Conference on Vampirology by the Revd Antonio Finlay, Ph.D.
Any symbol from a Star of David to a swastika: More Doctor Who continuity here, I’m afraid. In the 1989 TV story The Curse of Fenric it’s established that what Finlay calls the pluralist view is the correct one: symbols used in that story to repel the Haemovores (with at least partial success) include a Bible and a Soviet hammer-and-sickle.
Lloyd Doihara to Meinir Doihara
a woman called Kayjay: Her name in full, as we discover on pages 171 and 209, is Krisztina-Judit Németh, and she first appeared on page 181 of Of the City of the Saved....
There she’s a frustrated vampire living in a techno-utopian afterlife where everybody is invulnerable and where the drinking of blood is not a viable lifestyle option. She appears for slightly more than two lines, although the crime cartel to which she’s attached, the Sons of Tepes, has its own entry in The Book of the War.
I initially threw Kayjay into the current story because I thought it would make a neat link to the Faction Paradox universe. (The recent Bernice audio drama The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel had featured another, even more direct connection, so I felt it was justified.) However, as it became apparent that ‘Predating the Predators’ only allowed for her to be a vampire for half a day at most, I started finding her more interesting. Putting The Vampire Curse alongside Of the City of the Saved... makes it clear that Kayjay is, essentially, damned for eternity on the basis of a few hours of vampiric self-indulgence.
Although I couldn’t spare her much attention in the word count I was allowed for ‘Predating the Predators’, I promoted Kayjay further for a short story, ‘Unification Theory’, which I’ve web-published alongside these Notes as a Vampire Curse extra. Here she gets to be the viewpoint character, and we see the real tragedy of her situation. It’s set during Chapters 70 and 71 of Of the City of the Saved..., and also tells us something of what two of the other characters from ‘Predating the Predators’ have been getting up to since their deaths and, in one case, before.
Excerpt from ‘Excavation of the Blood Citadel of Aluka: A Personal Account’, delivered to the First Interdisciplinary Conference on Vampirology by Prof. Bernice Summerfield
Alukah: The word is biblical, used in Proverbs ch30 v13, where it’s sometimes erroneously translated as ‘horse leech’. According to the online Encyclopedia Mythica, the Alukah is a legendary being, a person capable of changing into a wolf and of flying, alive but dependent on blood to survive. It may become a demon after death.
One can assume either that this is an example of humans naming worlds after their own myth-systems, or that ‘Alukah’ was the indigenous name for a world which had an influence on ancient human culture. The Blood Citadel’s role in the story would tend to suggest the latter.
destroyed in a great war with a race of celestial beings: This is the backstory of the vampires in the Doctor Who universe, as first revealed in the 1980 TV story State of Decay. If you wanted to read my Alukahites as State of Decay’s Great Vampires – well, the option’s certainly open.
From the journal of Imogen Tantry
Heavens, how pompous I’ve become: This parenthesis is the only time Imogen uses contractions in her written language. For some reason I find this terribly endearing.
Lloyd Doihara to Meinir Doihara
Lugh, Cuchulainn’s sun: More Celtic myth. Cuchulainn is the primary warrior-hero in the Irish heroic sagas, of similar status to England’s King Arthur or France’s Charlemagne. Lugh, a god associated with the sun, was his father. Given that the Lavellans also presumably live nearby, we should probably assume that the humans responsible for stellar nomenclature in this particular part of space have, for some reason, drawn heavily on Celtic legend.
Kether, where the Yesodi come from: Strictly speaking, they come from Yesod, a brown giant world in orbit around Kether’s secondary star, Tiphereth, but it’s Kether that would be visible. (These names come from the Kabalah, suggesting that the local cosmic cartographers are nothing if not eclectic.) Yesod first appeared in my short story ‘The Long Midwinter’ in Big Finish’s Doctor Who anthology, Short Trips: The History of Christmas. That story’s set millions of years in the future, long after Yesod’s original inhabitants have been genocidally removed to make way for adapted posthuman colonists.
In Bernice’s time Yesod is still inhabited by sentient gaseous plasmids, one of whom, Hass, has been a semi-regular character in Benny’s stories. His origins were established in Something Changed, where the then range editor Simon Guerrier changed the multiverse using a patented causality-altering device to eliminate, among other things, the copyright issues caused by Hass’s previous identity as one of Doctor Who’s Martians Ice Warriors. (I considered complaining that the use of Yesod violated my copyright, and threatening to sue Simon just so I could watch his face. But that would have been mean.)
Hass appears in the short story I published as an online extra for Nobody’s Children, ‘Making a Collection’.
a lot like Lavvy-bashing: In general I tried, for obvious reasons, to avoid using this abbreviation for ‘Lavellan’. It seemed appropriate in this context, though.
Burnum Plaza: One experiment I tried in ‘Predating the Predators’ was using names from a wide variety of human cultures without making them seem too obtrusive to the Anglophone reader. (I also threw in some silly mixtures, like ‘Fujio McHorowitz’ and ‘Gonzalo Ibrahimssen’, but that was deliberate.) Thus Lloyd’s surname is Japanese, while Imogen’s is from Karnataka in South India, but I picked them both because they sounded vaguely as if they might come from the British Isles. Most of the names for incidental features on the FCU campus (eg Tran, Lang) are similarly chosen. Prof Yatson’s surname is an Anglicisation of the Chinese name ‘Yat-Sen’.
‘Burnum’ is an Indigenous Australian name, but it also sounds a lot like ‘Birnam’, one of the place names in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Indeed, Birnam Wood is the forest which fulfils the witches’ prophecy by coming to Macbeth’s castle of Dunsinane shortly before his downfall. Given that this sequence features an attack by a walking tree, it seemed appropriate.
From the journal of Imogen Tantry
you are not, in fact, a vampire: This twist was quite a late addition to the plot. Normally I plan my stories fanatically in advance, then stick to my scheme religiously. In this instance I somehow missed the fact that having the dark, saturnine stranger played by Christopher Lee turn out to be actually a vampire was a little obvious. Having him turn out to be a human hypnotist freed me up to kill him off on page 205, as well, which was a bonus.
if a vampire leaves their home system: I’ve always wondered about this. Vampires don’t usually have issues with starlight, do they? (Or indeed with the reflected sunlight from the moon – that’s werewolves). So how close does a star have to be before its rays (direct, not reflected) cause vampires to spontaneously combust? Or is this something about Earth’s sun specifically?
This is the kind of thing that occurs to you when you’re an author, especially when you’re trying to avoid doing proper work. Occasionally, though, you get the opportunity to write a vampire story set in a trinary solar system, and then it all turns out to have been worth it.
The narrative of Bernice Summerfield
The narrative: Another stab at the Gothic here, as Benny narrates a story-within-a-story, full of looming turrets and nameless horrors and monstrous apparitions. It’s slightly contrived that Imogen has to record it in order to fit in with the ‘assembled documents’ format, but I still like it.
everything from Osirian to Daemonic: ‘Osirian’ refers to the Egyptian pantheon of gods, while ‘Daemonic’ refers, obviously, to demons. Both of these have turned up as villains in Doctor Who stories – but really, in this context, it hardly matters.
Re’Olena: What is it with vampires and anagrams? The other piece of classic vampire fiction which I’d never read before writing ‘Predating the Predators’ was Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, whose undead anti-heroine also goes by the names Millarca and Marcilla.
The Lord Ekimmu: Ekimmu or Edimmu is a Sumerian term meaning – well, I’m sure you can guess. Again, the suggestion is that the Alukahite culture has infused Earth’s ancient vampire lore as well as, presumably, everywhere else’s.
Lloyd Doihara to Meinir Doihara
Lloyd: Originally at this point, between this chapter and the next, I intended to insert an extract from Prof Leustassavil’s memoirs. I’m not entirely sure why, as it would have seriously disrupted the flow of the book at a point where pace is fairly essential.
I wish I’d found some way to keep it in, though, as it provides more depth to Leustassavil’s eccentricities, in particular her political activism, and sheds a rather different light on the human colonisation of Murigen.
Excerpt from Quantum Channels: A Memoir by Prof Lessastavil Construction of Channels
I grew up as part of a cultural minority in a marginalised species on a remote and neglected world. My ancestors were members of a tribe inhabiting one of the most inhospitable of Lavella’s arid regions. Without their skill in constructing watercourses from distant sources to the heard of the tribe’s territory, no Lavellan could have inhabited such terrain.
An aquatic animal living in a desert: it is difficult to imagine a more marginal existence. To my great-grandparents, Murigen must have seemed a paradise.
Unlike the majority of Lavellans, our tribe used only single names. To fit in with the cultural expectations of the humans on whom they relied for passage, the family was obliged to adopt a surname. My parents used the human name ‘Channeller’: I am the first to use the traditional tribal honorific in its place. In my far from literal way, I have tried to continue with the other traditions of my ancestral culture also.
Growing up on Murigen, it was clear to me that the human population cared little for their Lavellan compatriots. Despite their frequent lip service to the ideals of joint colonisation and equal citizenship, it was my people who worked to drain the swamplands, to construct the canal systems, to extend the scope of human habitability across our watery globe.
Damp, marshy, with near-incessant rainfall, Murigen had been a paradise for us. The humans had us working to change it into a world which they could share with us on their so-called equal basis.
Even as a pup, I knew that I must do whatever I could to change the balance of power, not only on Murigen but throughout Earth’s sphere of influence. Earth is a malign presence in our world and across the galaxy, leeching the life from other cultures and even its own offspring. It has us enthralled with its money, its power, and we never think to question it.
As a child, I swore to myself that this would change.
Originally the Lavellan Krevellistu (whose full name is given as ‘Krevellistu Integration of Functions’ on page 213), was going to have a Lavellan-sounding surname, to emphasise the cultural diversity Leustassavil describes here. After excising this passage, though, I realised that most readers would just assume I was being inconsistent. So I changed it.
From the journal of Imogen Tantry
The what-d’you-call-her’s modifying the photons: I was absurdly pleased with this explanation of what Lloyd calls earlier ‘the “Look Ma, no reflection!” thing’, despite the fact that ‘a higher-order observer’ is a scientific nonsense effectively tantamount to ‘a god’. Then my redoubtable scientific advisor, Simon Bucher-Jones, pointed out that, rather than observers ‘seeing though’ the vampire’s reflection to the reflection of the objects behind, the process Leustassavil describes would result in them seeing a completely blank space where the vampire’s reflection ought to be.
He suggested a workaround whereby the eye and / or subconscious mind fills in the detail from background data, much as they do with the human ‘blind spot’ – but there just wasn’t room to fit this into the dialogue. Still, you’re welcome to assume that that’s what’s happening if you want.
- Buy The Vampire Curse at Peculiar Tomes.
- Buy The Vampire Curse from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or Big Finish Productions.
www.infinitarian.com created and maintained by Philip Purser-Hallard.
All material © Philip Purser-Hallard 2008 except where otherwise noted, and not to be used without permission.
The Vampire Curse cover © Adrian Salmon 2008.
New Worlds cover design © Stuart Manning 2005.