Introduction & Acknowledgements

How do we define the vampire? Are they barely animated corpses, of a horrific visage, killing indiscriminately? Or are they suave, charismatic symbols of sexual repression in the Victorian era? Do they die in sunlight, or does it only make them itch a little, or, God forbid, sparkle? Do crosses and holy symbols work at repelling them, or is that just a superstition from the old times? Are they born, or  made  by  other  vampires? And  anyway,  are  these  vampires  created  through scientific means, such as genetic research or a virus, or are they the magical kind? Can they transform into bats? Or are they stuck in the appearance they had when they were turned? Are we talking the traditional Eastern European vampire, or something more exotic, like the Tagalog mandurugo, a pretty girl during the day, and a winged, mosquito-like monstrosity by night? Do they even drink blood, or are they some kind of psychic vampire, more directly attacking the life-force of their victims?

Vampire stories come from our myths, but their origins are quite diverse. Stories
of the dead thirsting for human life have existed for thousands of years, although
the most common version we speak of in popular culture originated in eighteenth-
century Eastern Europe. Why is the notion of the dead risen to prey on the living
such an omnipresent myth across so many cultures?

Perhaps the myth of the vampire comes from a little bit of projection on the part of the living. We have a hard time imagining our existence after death, and it may be easier to imagine a life that goes on somehow. But what kind of life would a corpse live? Our ancestors were intimately familiar with decomposition, even if they didn’t precisely understand it. If I were dead, I know I would have a certain fixation for living things. And perhaps I might, finding death an unagreeable state, attempt to steal from the living some essence that defines the barrier between the living and death. Blood stands in for the notion of life easily enough. Now I just have to get that essence inside of me somehow, hmm…slurp.

Or perhaps there’s a darker, more insidious reason for the pervasiveness of the vampire story. Is there some kernel of universal truth behind all these stories? Many of the tales included here will offer their own explanations for the stories and
myths. Because if there’s one thing we love almost as much as vampires themselves, it’s exploring their true natures. With the wealth of material accumulated on the nasty bloodsuckers, no two authors approach the vampire myth in quite the same way. The commonality of the vampire’s story means their tales can take place in any time and in any place. The backdrop changes, and the details too, but always, underneath it all, there is blood. All draw from those dark, fearful histories, but provide their own fresh take, each like a rare blood type, to be sought by connoisseurs such as yourself.

Hear again one of our oldest and most well-known fairy tales from a new, darker perspective in Neil Gaiman’s “Snow, Glass, Apples.” And just who is the mysterious Tribute in Elizabeth Bear’s “House of the Rising Sun”? He seems so familiar… Visit the Philippines in Gabriela Lee’s “Hunger,” and see the world from the eyes of a creature of decidedly non-European origin. If that is not exotic enough for your tastes, then travel into the future and beyond with Ken Macleod’s “Undead Again.”

Is your thirst still not satisfied? Hunt through these pages for stories by authors such as Stephen King, Joe Hill, Kelley Armstrong, Lilith Saintcrow, Carrie Vaughn, Harry Turtledove, and many more. There is a feast here to be had. Drink deeply.

                                                                                      –John Joseph Adams

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to the following:

Jeremy Lassen and Jason Williams at Night Shade Books, for letting me edit all these anthologies and for doing such a kick-ass job publishing them. Also, to Ross Lockhart at Night Shade for all that he does behind-the-scenes, and to Marty Halpern for catching all my tyops.

David Palumbo, for another amazing cover. I fear I’m being spoiled.

Gordon Van Gelder: he gave me my start in the business, so if we were vampires, I guess that would make him my sire or master. Or something. Too bad this editing gig doesn’t come with eternal life. On the plus side, it hasn’t turned me into a living corpse.

My agent Jenny Rappaport, who exsanguinates me of 15% of my earnings but helps grant me (literary) immortality.

Rebecca McNulty, for helping me sort through tome after tome of vampire fiction and for providing me a highly valuable second opinion when needed.

David Barr Kirtley for helping me kill those header note demons. Visit his website  at  www.davidbarrkirtley.com  and  read  some  of  his  fabulous  stories, why don’t you.

Kris Dikeman, Jordan Hamessley, and Jeremiah Tolbert for various kinds of behind-the-scenes assistance.

My mom, for keeping me away from bloodsuckers when I was young.   

All of the other kindly folks who assisted me in some way during the editorial process: Manie Barron, Deborah Beale, Blake Charlton, Mickey Choate, Douglas E.  Cohen,  Ellen  Datlow,  Gary A.  Emenitove,  Jennifer  Escott, Amelia  Greene, Elizabeth Harding, Merrilee Heifetz, Del Howison, Jay Lake, Paul Lucas, Gail Martin, Henry Morrison, James Morrow, Allison Rich, Irina Roberts, Betty Russo, Bill Schafer, Darrell Schweitzer, Steven Silver, Kevin Standlee, Jonathan Strahan, Charles A.  Tan,  everyone  who  dropped  suggestions  into  my  vampire  fiction database, and to everyone else who helped out in some way that I neglected to mention (and to you folks, I apologize!).

The NYC Geek Posse—consisting of Robert Bland, Christopher M. Cevasco, (Doug Cohen and Jordan Hamessley belong here too, but I thanked them above, and once is enough, isn’t it?), Andrea Kail, David Barr Kirtley, and Matt London, among others (i.e., the NYCGP Auxiliary)—for giving me an excuse to come out of my editorial cave once in a while.

The readers and reviewers who loved my other anthologies, making it possible for me to do more.

And last, but certainly not least: a big thanks to all of the authors who appear in this anthology.

                                                                                      –John Joseph Adams