Friday, January 23, 2009

Evolving Others...

I find the numerous ways that authors make paranormal characters their own creations fascinating. There are ever evolving breeds of vampires, shifters, and mythological critters out there. Actually, you could even throw in aliens for good measure.

The most interesting thing to me is the way that these characters have shifted from the villains to the heroes and heroines. What drives us to find redeeming value in them? Is it because we are fascinated by the possibilities that they offer? Or is this drive to redeem them our attempt to limit the fear factor of the originals?

I have a friend who theorizes that there is an actual underground movement to desensitize the public so that when the others finally reveal themselves to ordinary humans, we'll not panic. And of course that very theme has been explored in several books.

If that were true, then what is the real agenda? Are we the patsies to be controlled and subjugated? Or are we the partners in the future?

I'm reminded of that scene in Independence Day (the movie) when all the people are dancing on top of a tall building with signs of welcome... and then the spaceship blast the building to bits. Unlike so many of the "alien" movies in recent times, that particular movie took the position that aliens would be hostile.

I remember an old black and white movie from my youth where the space ship lands and the alien appears and demands, "Take me to your leader!" And I wonder, who would that be? Who would be in charge of the alien negotiations? Don't we have enough troubles working with other countries without having to deal with aliens and others?

Perhaps that's the real reason we choose to humanize all of our boogey men--because the idea of actually having to cope with the real thing is more than we want to think about. It's more than we want to face. And it's certainly less scary to give them human ideals than to deal with the possibility of their decidedly unfriendly agendas.

So what's your take on them? Good? Bad?



  1. I think we write about vamps and shifters because they were always the BAD guys. We secretly love the bad boys and want to search for those redeeming qualities in them. There is nothing more fun than to see a 'bad boy' reveal a hidden heart of gold. We have turned paranormal creatures into modern day 'bad boys'.

  2. I think the anti-heores are a part of who we are - we recognize ourselves and our needs in them. None of us are perfect and we understand the struggle to overcome or fit in

  3. I think all writers have a need to make a mythos their own and therefore they change little bits to fit their own unique vision. As to the heroes? One of the big appeal is that with vampires and other immortals, happily ever after is really happily EVER after.

  4. I have no attraction to "good" vamps. I much prefer them scary and evil. They are much more useful that way--as stand-ins for all the things in the real world that scare us, but more easily vanquished. They've turned fluffy, and have therefore lost their meaning and their power.

    I've recommended the book Sunshine by Robin McKinley before. It's the only vamp book I've been interested in reading. A human woman teams up with a vampire to defeat another vampire. But the vamp. protagonist is never described as "good" or possessing the cliched heart of gold. He's a vampire. He's incredibly powerful. The only reason he doesn't kill the woman is because that would give the bad guy more power, and he needs her to take out the bad guy. There is one moment of sexual tension, but it's not affection in any way. For me, that's a much more powerful story than the woman falling for the declawed "Oh, we don't eat people" wussy vamp.

    But maybe that's just me.

  5. Good. I refuse to get philosophical about vampires but merely assert they are fun. Need there be more of a reason?

  6. Wow,

    I'm working on a vamp story with a twist, and the book has apparently decided that it should be told in at least two books, possibly three. I have two vamps who are the 'heroes' but they are both dark in their own ways. What's not sexy about hot, incredibly powerful men who have eternity to learn to come to terms with what they are, who they are, and how they should wield their power. As an author, what more inner conflict could you ask for? They are fun, that's for sure. But, I don't believe in just churning out 'another' vamp novel to cash in on the market. I think unique ideas are the ones that do well and stand out. Just like everything else, I suppose.

  7. Love the blog and the comments, I'm almost afraid to say what I think, as this subject remands a lot of personal revelation. Certainly your reaction to vamps tells an awful lot about you. I love them, in small doses.

  8. I agree in part with Regina. I think there is something in us as women that we want to believe that we can make/have a man fall in love with us so deeply that he will change to please us. It's a sort of collective, primal fantasy. The badder the villain, the harder he falls.

    That and there is something inside us that longs to let go and embrace the animalistic parts of our nature. Sort of the Id vs. the Super Ego thing played out in literature. The difference is that the Super Ego used to always win. Now it doesn't.

    I have a vampire piece in works...when I can write again.

  9. I think it is human to search for redeemable qualities in all things that are "labeled" bad. It's almost like self-redemption in a way, if you think about it. There are many who will wholeheartedly agree that humanity itself is flawed, so if we can find a way to redeem that which is irredeemable, there is hope for humanity as well.