Sunday, September 10, 2006

Shifty Things

Wolves and other shaggy dogs - canine, ursine, feline, equine - meremen and maids, eagles, dragons... don't think there's an iconic, mythic or totem creature from land, air and sea which has not been featured in some paranormal story or other.
Were beasts. Power in secret.
And of course, the leader of the pack is the vampire.
The alter-ego, the double, the dopelganger.
We have good and bad vampires, cop and secret agent vampires, bar-hopping, shopping vampires, psychic vampires, vampire wars.
In this shifty world of the re-born, rejeuvenated and rehabilitated, the setting is often social and urban - no longer the subterranean world of Lovecraftian cellars and cemeteries, or places remote, cthulhuic and cyclopean.
The protagonist, whether beast or burden, is not the monster of old.
And he or she is sexy as all get out.
Says a lot about society.
We are as possessed as ever, as fascinated as ever with this expansion of psychic boundaries, the embrace of the dark side, the unknown.
Medieval monks would be having shit-fits, I think.


Ric said...

Society in dark times always seeks the escape of things that go bump in the night. The darker the times, the more we feel powerless to effect change, creates increases in paranormal popularity, subconscious seeking of explanations.

This latest group of offerings is expanding the "fresh, new, different" that seems a requirement from agents and editors. Take a standard vampire, dress him in designer clothes, make him a metrosexual, drop him into a chick lit story, tag the genre as Urban Fantasy, and let it fly.
My dear Bernita, more than the monks are confused.

Bernita said...

Seems very logical to me, Ric, in an exestential sort of way.
People have always lusted after power. The more invisible and ordinary and insignificant they perceive themselves, the more they may crave that guilty secret thing.
May reflect a kind of rebellion against the mundane and conventional and safe.
I think it may be as much a reflection of complacency as its opposite.
Also, the social scientists have told us we must be sensitive to the psyche of the criminal and social outcast, and we may seek to blend and recoincile those deviances in fiction.

kmfrontain said...

I think it's not just dark times socially, or dark times worldwide. I think it's a reaction to a general drop in religious influence and a rise in science. What we're seeing is a reach into the darkness from which we were traditionally slapped away. But being scientifically minded, and still in need of faith, we analyse and reorder the evil aspects of mythology, make it less mysterious, more approachable, while keeping the temptation of "Ooh, I touched the bad guy and lived!"

Bernita said...

All those things too, Karen.
Seldom is there a single factor.

Dennie McDonald said...

I think it's the unknown the different. We know cooking, cleaning and child rearing, but vampires and the likes are a mystery and way to escape...

Bernita said...

After cooking, cleaning and child-rearing, Dennie, nothing seems very frightening or dangerous.

Rick said...

I just wish they'd all go away. For some reason, shifty things don't move me at all. I don't even care for the "fantasy" elements in conventional fantasy. Give me good honest swordplay, a broadside of demi-culverins, or even a Renaissance poisoned cup or stiletto in the back!

Bernita said...

A "sufficient unto the day" mind-set, Rick?
You're in full Hotspur mode!

M.E Ellis said...

Hhahahah @ shit fits!


Bernita said...

Be the bloody flux,I figure, Michelle!

Bernita said...

I apologize.

Robyn said...

Vampires have had a sexy vibe for years though, haven't they? Must be the erogenous zone neck thing for women; also the temptation of the ultimate bad boy. Vamp romances have always given me the squicks- they're parasites! It's like shagging a zombie tick, right? Ewww.

I will admit to liking were-beast stories; I imagine it's a product of thorough indoctrination of 'Beauty and the Beast' fairy tales in my childhood. ;)

Rick said...

Bernita - yep!

"I can summon creatures from the vasty deep!"

"Yes, but do they come when you do call them?"

If you're going to have zaps more powerful than swords, just give me SF, with cool spaceships ...

Bernita said...

I'm not into piercings myself, Robyn, which may be a factor. Tend to think of the vamps as leeches with legs.
So many fables and fairy tales involved the curse/enchantment of the beast, that it's no wonder they are popular.
Having a shaggy ( or sleek) friend like Bagheera was very neat too.
A secret weapon, so to speak.

MissWrite said...

Ah, lol, the lusty sexy vamp... hot were... shapely shifter...

I think you hit a nail with 'power'. We're drawn to things that have power of that which we can not control.

It's also the lust for longevity, and well, they have it...we want it... and well, if we're going to lust after them anyway... they may as well be hot as hell.

Gabriele C. said...

I think it's a bit Tolkien's fault. He opened our eyes for mythical beings, but let's face it, his Elves are too remote and his Orcs too ugly, so some writers got those old mythology books out and pilfered them for sexier creatures. :-)

H.S. Kinn said...

As someone who likes to write vampires, I have to say that my original hook for the genre came from Gary Oldman's Dracula. For me the defining moment is when he finds Mina and says, "I have crossed oceans of time to find you."


Or perhaps for most it's as simple as my hero Julian says--"What's not to love about immortality?"

Rick said...

Or perhaps for most it's as simple as my hero Julian says--"What's not to love about immortality?"

Of course, it's dead immortality. Always scroll all the way down the EULA before clicking on "Agree."

Bernita said...

Some of the reasons for the popularity, Tami, parallels certain social yearnings.

Never thought of Tolkein in that light, Gabriele.

Writer's have managed to adjust a few of the down-sides to the original Stoker scenario, HS.

Not anymore, Rick.

MissWrite said...

Still funny, Rick.