Everyone likes different books. I tend to like books that speak to being human. I think that’s why I read so much fantasy literature. To blatantly steal a concept, they use the impossible to examine the probable. When you strip away the requirement to make the setting accurate you allow yourself the ability to more easily examine Truth.
I like Vampires. I enjoyed reading Dracula, I enjoyed The Vampyre more. I loved the Vampire Lestat. I have watched more bad vampire movies than I care to admit (here’s a hint, look up Shadow of the Vampire). I have read the Twilight books, all three of them; and even the fanfiction that was book four.
And yet. Yes there must be a yet.
I walked into a book store the other day. I was half way through Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, which was loaned to me by a friend, and I wanted to buy my own copy, and maybe the sequels.
So I go up to the Fantasy section, my favourite haunt, and low and behold there is only one kind of fantasy left: Vampire Fiction. But it’s worse than that, most of them aren’t of the classic gothic style, or even in the Anne Rice style. No, most of these are chiclit with fangs. Vampire bodice rippers which are aimed at and written for primarily women. But are they in the romance section? No, they’re in the Fantasy section, pushing out authors like Weeks. There was only one Robert Jordan, they weren’t carrying any Tolkien, and they had a few lonely paperbacks left of Modesitt. Everything else had been pushed out by vampire novels. Vampire novels by the tonne. At least when Harry Potter was popular other forms of Fantasy still thrived. What is it about Twilight that has encouraged people to read while at the same time limiting the types of books that they will read?
Fantasy is a wide genre. Vampire novels are a proud part of that, but so are quest adventures like Tolkien, militant-political examinations like Jordan, and sociological adventures like Modesitt.
A reader of fantasy isn’t just one kind of reader, they are a reader of everything. Though it is true that fantasy tends to focus on things from the past and on fantastic worlds, this is simply a vehicle for the story, be it escapism, social commentary, or coming of age. To see all of this subsumed by one subset of the genre is depressing.
Please, read a Vampire novel. Then pick up Way of Shadows. Trust me. You’ll like it. Once you’re done that, why don’t you try some leGuin, she will knock your socks off.