Witch of Empire #3
In the aftermath of the war, Iona “Sully” Sullivan has lost everything; her job, her friends, her fiancé and even her magic. But when an old friend shows up on her doorstep, offering her the chance to undo one of her long litany of mistakes, there is still enough of the old Sully left to get her on the first boat to Hong Kong. A stranger in a strange land, Sully must navigate alien customs, werebear chefs, the blossoming criminal underworld, religious extremists, Mongol agents, vampire separatists, and every other freak, maniac or cosmic leftover with an iota of power as they all compete for a chance at the most valuable prize in all the world; a little sailor doll named Eugene, and the last wish on earth
Why My Vampires Suck.
The vampire is such an iconic monster that it has become a genre in and of itself. In Urban Fantasy, they tend to be pretty big players: The secret mastermind behind the scenes. The powerful and unstoppable warriors facing down out heroes. Wealth accrued through the generations in the bank account. Hordes of willing servants all desperate for a bite of immortality.
Needless to say, I went in a different direction with them.
In the Witch of Empire trilogy, vamps are the lowest of the low. Barely tolerated even in the places where they aren’t destroyed on sight, and discriminated against in every imaginable way. They’re almost entirely dependent on the kindness of others to survive, and charity is hard to come by in an alternate world inspired by Film Noir.
Being vulnerable to sunlight becomes a much bigger problem when you’re homeless, and desperation will drive you to do criminal things just to survive. Generally speaking, most of the vampires your average joe is liable to meet are sex workers, and even the ones that aren’t probably have been at some point. They have one basic need to satisfy, and it is entirely reliant on close bodily contact with the living. It doesn’t take a genius to work out why that career is appealing. Particularly when nobody else is hiring the undead.
Now if you happen to be on a higher rung of society in the British Empire, you’re not likely to run into quite as many streetwalkers, which means contact with vampires is liable to be in the form of the military. The second oldest profession in the world.
That’s right, desperate poor people who can’t meet their basic needs are preyed on by military recruiters in this fantasy world completely different from our own.
Why would the army want soldiers that they can’t field in daylight without some extremely potent sunscreen? Well it has a little less to do with sociology and a lot more to do with the cosmology of the Witch of Empire world.
Throughout the course of the series, our stalwart heroine comes across a few different planes of existence, the hells where the demons dwell and the far realm where the Fae can be found. Each one of these is closer to the mysterious Source of all magic, with increasing saturation with that power.
Vampires are from the other end of the multiversal spectrum, further from the saturation of magic, and as such, creatures that have spent their lives saturated in magic struggle to perceive them, and they can’t use magic after being turned. That makes vampires the ideal soldiers for dealing with demonic incursions. The fact that they’re considered completely disposable also helps with that.
So part of why my vampires suck is that they’re the opposite of magical, part of it is because you can’t write alternate history without some sort of social commentary but mostly they suck because I’m sick and tired of people treating them like they’re cool. They’re mosquitos with good PR.
Thank you, G.D. Penman and Meerkat Press
About the author
G.D. Penman is the author of the Strata Online and Witch of Empire series, the ghostwriter of more than 50 books, and a freelance game designer. A firm believer in the axiom that any story is made better with the addition of dragons, he is fulfilling his destiny as an overweight bearded white man by pursuing a career as a fantasy author. In “real life” he lives in Scotland with his partner, children, dog and cats. Just . . . so many cats.
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