Sime~Gen Inc. Presents

Recommended Books

October, 1995

"Looking for a few good bytes - Part I "



Prince of the Night by Jasmine Cresswell (Topaz Historical Romance, July 1995).

Forever and the Night and For All Eternity by Linda Lael Miller (November 1993 and November 1994 respectively — watch for another one this year? - from Berkley Romance).

Midnight Temptation and Midnight Surrender by Nancy Gideon (Pinnacle Romance, 1994, 1995).

Dracula: Prince of Darkness, edited by Martin H. Greenberg (Daw, Sept. 1992).

Now Voyager, the official newsletter of the Kate Mulgrew Appreciation Society. Membership is $25/year, snail address: 8114 Inverness Ridge Road, Potomac, MD 20854. E-dress (the newsletter and news-alerts delivered via e-mail also).

Forever Net, Tales From FORKNI-L and FKFIC-L, InterKnight Press Publications, Valery King ed., POB 1407, Albany, OR 97321 and  or or (more e-dresses and a Web site below along with instructions on how to subscribe to a List and this List in particular at the very end of this column).

Forever Knight, the television show about my favorite vampire cop moves to USA network with some major cast changes along with Highlander, the TV show about my favorite Immortal.

Star Trek: Voyager 1995-6 season opening

The title of this month's column is from a bumper sticker I picked up at Shore Leave, a Star Trek convention. It is published by Pegasus Publishing. I've lost the address.

Since this is October, I'm focusing on the vampire myth in literature and culture. All this year we've been discussing the fiction delivery system, and the tricks professional writers use to seduce readers into suspending disbelief. So I'll use the current trends in vampire literature to connect the changes in the fiction delivery system with developments in the non-horror vampire story, and a burgeoning growth in women's fiction impacting our society (apropos of the Women's Conference in China last month).

Many people think they dislike vampire stories because they think all vampire stories are about ugly things, mentally sick things, degrading and debasing things, about being helpless in the face of Evil. Almost a third of the vampire novels I've read for this column are like that. I don't review such books unless they are perfect examples of their kind and notable for some other reason.

In recent years, the explosive growth in the vampire field has fragmented that field into sub-genres, most of which veer sharply away from the horror formula.

The most exciting, original, impressive innovations of stunning literary significance have occurred in the various sub-genres of Fantasy-Romance.

Fantasy-Romance is so new the publishers haven't agreed on a genre label. Many are labeled Historical Romance, many Vampire Romance, and many just Romance.

My personal bias of taste is to dislike Historicals and hate Romance. An entry has to be impressive indeed to make it into this column because I find I can't finish a book where the lead female character is a wimp. Star Trek: Voyager's Captain Janeway has become my new rock bottom standard of proper behavior for a genteel Lady.

That said, I direct your attention to Jasmine Cresswell's "Historical Romance," Prince of the Night.

This column has often pointed out how reading novels is an exercise in eavesdropping on writers' conversations with each other. I do not know Cresswell personally, but from reading this novel I feel she knows me. It is a mixture of the broadest trends in Star Trek fan stories about Captain Kirk's Enterprise (which I wrote a whole book about, Star Trek Lives!)and a cross-section of my own novel backgrounds, notably my Dushau Trilogy which won a Romantic Times Award, and Those of My Blood and Dreamspy, my two vampire hardcovers from St. Martin's Press.

If Cresswell has not read these books, she's picked up the gist of the conversation they are part of. If you're curious, you'll find lists of my books and ordering information on the home page posted by this magazine at or another home page just constructed for me by a fan writer, Marge Robbins, whose addresses are .  

Next, check out Linda Lael Miller's two vampire novels from Berkley Romance. I reviewed Forever and the Night previously, and now the sequel, For All Eternity. This universe background is not as well constructed as the tightly reasoned and plausible science fiction premise behind Jasmine Cresswell's book, but it is a wild romp across time with a strong plot and a female lead character reminiscent of Sharon's Green's female characters.

Nancy Gideon's Midnight Surrender is the sequel to Midnight Temptation which I reviewed here previously. Surrender is not as "dark" as its prequel and unfolds the background, which now makes better sense. This one is more of a genuine love story than a historical adventure. Surrender tracks the poignant emotional consequences of a mortal's love for an Immortal. The lead vampire character must pledge not to take his own life until he's won spiritual redemption.

Does this begin to sound suspiciously familiar to those of you who watch television? Hang on, we'll get to Nick Knight in a moment. But first, Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

I don't generally review collections in this column because I really dislike short stories because of their shortness. However, this collection is notable for a story by P.N. Elrod. In previous columns, I've discussed her novel series about the vampire private eye, and the prequels set on Long Island of the revolutionary war. Here she handles the characters of the novel Dracula in the best story in the collection.

P.N. Elrod did not pioneer the vampire as law enforcement "good guy" — there is a long history of the vampire-cop in sf/fantasy, which I traced in a previous column. Eventually, The Monthly Aspectarian expects to have all the previous columns I've done posted at its web site.

All this year, I've touched on the topic of televised fiction because television is a big part of our fiction delivery system. This morning, I saw an interview on CNBC with the President and CEO of Simon&Schuster, who predicted that the new copyright laws Congress will write this fall will, within two years, allow publishers to put copyrighted material into the Internet delivery channel. S&S isn't the only publisher gearing up to deliver novels electronically.

My personal goal for this year was to get online and learn my way around. I've only barely scratched the surface, and already I've got about six MBs of fiction via e-mail.

I hope the Internet-literate will bear with me a moment while I explain Listserve to the print readers who don't have computers. It works like this. You get a computer with a modem (the faster the better; 14,400 is the current standard). You sign up with an Internet Access Provider — Prodigy, CompuServe and America Online provide free trial kits and software, and charge for e-mail while direct providers require you to buy your own software. Netscape is the leader in that field. All you need to get on a listserve is e-mail, and many local phone companies provide that.

Through e-mail, you send a message to a mainframe computer to put your electronic address on a list. Exact directions at the end of this column. Other people on the list can "post" an item to that list via that mainframe, and the mainframe then sends copies of that posted message to everyone on the list. Automatically. Instantly, day or night. Sometimes to over a thousand people at once. And being a subscriber, you can also post items to that list.

Smaller operations are carried out by individuals who keep lists and send out mass mailings to everyone on their list — fifty or a hundred people at a time. These are private lists. You have to talk the person into putting you on it.

Some of the lists are for notes such as you'd find on a bulletin board, discussion of recent episodes, warnings of guest-shot appearances by favorite stars, personal opinions, speculations about episodes, information about parts of episodes aired in Canada that were cut out when the episode was prepared for broadcast here. (Canada and Europe have many minutes less commercial time per hour than we do, so we miss big, important chunks of episodes that viewers there tell us about via e-mail.)

For me, the most important application of Listserve has turned out to be Fiction Delivery. That's right, people post stories to Lists. Most e-mail programs can't handle story length messages, so the stories are carved into little pieces of less than 30K and delivered as part 1, part 2, etc. I've gotten stories with more than 30 parts.

So, how did I find Now Voyager, which is printed for distribution via snail mail, but also can come to you via e-mail, along with bulletins and updates about Kate Mulgrew's appearances and other scuttlebutt about ST:VOYAGER?

Science fiction fandom. At conventions, I started to ask about online services and got more advice than anyone could ever use. I collected a few e-mail addresses. When I finally got myself online, I e-mailed some of my friends, and I snail-mailed others with my e-mail address. They started e-mailing back and introducing me to other people they know who read my books but don't snail mail.

One dear friend of more than twenty years introduced me to the lady who runs the Kate Mulgrew Appreciation Society, ( and writes fabulously interesting fiction, and to another who has just started posting fiction, an act that's changed her self-image. This fiction is not on a listserve, but is posted on a section of the Internet called USENET which is a giant bulletin board. Here are a couple of Usenet addresses where you can start searching for interesting Trek fiction: — and no, if you're into "fetish" you'll be disappointed. This is just plain fiction sometimes with a bit of an adult slant to it.

alt.startrek.creative — will take you to another site where Trek folk hang out.

Also check out the section of Usenet with addresses that start rec.arts. In these two areas you'll find Babylon 5 and Highlander, Lois and Clark, and every show I've reviewed here. Some, like Babylon 5, have direct contact with the producers or actors on the show the board is devoted to, so they ban story ideas from being posted. On the Web, Paramount has a presence that they intend to expand. is a place to start.

And Del Rey Books, which I review here frequently, has a Web presence where you can download sample chapters of their current books. You'll find it at http://www.; they have links to many other sf/f sites on the Web. You can get their monthly catalog when you sign up for a Listserver at their site on the Web.

I've interviewed both these Voyager fanwriters who post fiction on USENET, probing for an overview of what's been happening in cyberspace while I wasn't watching. I compared the active VOYAGER fans with the folks posting fiction on the Forever Knight listserve looking for the underlying trends that are affecting the shape and content of e-fiction.

All of the sf/f TV shows seem to be generating electronic fan fiction, but I've only studied the Forever Knight fiction. There's more on this one list than I can read as it comes.

However, I am firmly convinced we're looking at something Campbell, on the noted TV series, The Day the World Changed would have called a pivotal development. The most astonishing thing about this fan fiction is that it is being sponsored by university students and young faculty.

Every really important shift in our cultural paradigm has involved the pioneering spirit of our best scholars as well as the enthusiasm of young entrepreneurs outside the established academic order. Via listserve, these two groups of people are in daily contact. The University academic is melting down the walls of the ivory tower and becoming an intimate part of the creative life of the world. We are definitely living in The Day the World Changed.

Watch for the conclusion of "Looking For A Few Good Bytes" next month.

Send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg, POB 290, Monsey, N.Y. 10952.



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