CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 15 . . . . December 9, 2011
Evolve Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead.
Nancy Kilpatrick, ed.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2011.
263 pp., pbk., $14.95.
Horror tales, Canadian (English).
Fantasy fiction, Canadian (English).
Short stories, Canadian (English).
Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.
Review by Ronald Hore.
"I know. That’s why I’m doubling it," she says, scribbling a number on a pad of paper and holding it up for him to see.
Domingo leans against the wall, arms crossed. "Wow."
Atl nods. "I need young blood. You’ll do."
"Wait, I mean...I’m not going to turn into a vampire, am I?" He asks because you can never be too sure.
"No." She sounds affronted. "We are born into our condition."
"It won’t hurt much. What do you think?"
"I don’t know. I mean, do I still get to...you know...sleep with you?"
She lets out a sigh and shakes her head. "No. Don’t try anything. Cualli will bite your leg off if you do."
The kettle whistles. Atl removes it from the burner and pours hot water into two mugs.
"How do we do this?" Domingo asks.
Atl places tea bags in the mugs and cranes her neck. Her hair has turned to feathers and her hands, when she raises them, are like talons. The effect is disturbing, as though she is wearing a curious costume.
Atl is a bird of prey.
"Don’t worry. Won’t take long," she says. (From "A Puddle of Blood".)
Evolve Two is a collection of vampire tales with a slight difference; they are all set in the future. Some are more or less straightforward vampire stories; some could be considered pure science fiction. Humans evolve, then why not vampires? After an introduction by the editor, well known anthologist Nancy Kilpatrick, the book is divided into three sections: eight stories under the heading “Pre Apocalypse,” eight under “Post Apocalypse” and six under “New World Order.” The stories are written by a broad spectrum of writers, from the very famous to the not quite yet. A small paragraph after each story provides some biographical information about that story’s author.
The first story, “The List,” pairs up a vampire with a vampire hunter, in the streets of Toronto. This is followed by “Nosangreal,” a tale set in Calgary, about a meeting with a different kind of vampire. “A Puddle of Blood” takes the reader to a Mexico City plagued by vampires and drug wars. Next is “V Link,” about a mysterious patient who is being experimented on in an attempt to "cure" her. “Six Underground” follows the deliberations of a jury with a robot judge trying to decide the fate of someone who may have been a vampire when a crime was committed. “Outwitted” takes readers to a confused individual struggling to gain consciousness while being examined under drugs. The next tale, “Toothless,” looks at possible uses for unwilling vampires. The final story under the “Pre Apocalypse” section, “Symbiosis” opens with a starving vampire in a pandemic stricken world.
The section “Post Apocalypse” begins with “Forest Bathing,” a story of a mythic creature with a taste for blood in Japan and the survivors of a dying earth. This is followed by “The Deal,” where two young friends must decide whether to act on a death pact if one of them becomes infected. “Homo Sanguinus” follows the innermost thoughts of a vampire while meeting with a kindness. The next tale, “Out With The Old,” tells the story of a dwindling group of survivors who are offered security by a mysterious stranger. “Chelsea Mourning,” set in the ruins of Montreal, has a young woman discover an awakening nest of vampires confused by the world in which they find themselves. “In Blood That Burns So Bright” finds a special young human woman facing death in a cage fight sponsored by vampires. “Survival of the Fittest” tells of a world controlled by vampires and their discovery of a small group of free humans. The last story in this section is “The Faith of Burning Glass,” about a vampire, wandering alone, searching for food in an almost empty Earth.
The final section, “New World Order,” begins with the story entitled “Soulglobe” which spins a tale of futuristic cryogenics and those who operate it. The second in this section is “Red Planet,” a story of a one-way mission to Mars and the astronaut who was bitten just prior to leaving. This is followed by “Beacons Among the Stars,” about spacefarers who rely on tanks of blood instead of oxygen. “The Big Empty” is a story about a mission set on a distant planet where a variety of life continues to evolve. In “Beyond the Sun,” the author tells of a love that lasts for a very long time. The last story in the anthology, “The Slowing of the World,” is narrated by a newly turned vampire attempting to understand the changes he is about to face.
Evolve Two contains a broad variety of writing styles and plot lines. If readers are looking for a different approach to the vampire myth, something quite unlike the current teenage vampire romance rage, they will find it in these 22 varied stories. Other than the attempt to categorize the stories by "the apocalypse," there is no theme connecting them together; they are quite individual. Settings range from familiar Canadian cities to the far reaches of space. Readers will find both vampire villains and villain heroes, strange friendships and tales of evolution. This collection should appeal to the fans of dark adventures and speculative fiction.
Ronald Hore, involved with writer’s groups for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.
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