Titus Shiddehara in Those of My Blood
THIS IS EXPANDED FROM THE ARTICLE IN: ONYX Mark Williams, Ed. 8075 Sandleford NW North Canton, OH 44720 "Vampire With Muddy Boots", or "The Origin of Titus Shiddehara, the Vampire of False Prophecy"
"Vampire with Muddy Boots" was the title Jean Lorrah used for her review of my first novel, HOUSE OF ZEOR because the novel begins with a scene set during a rainstorm.
We have recently (1997) been searching for a copy of that Review to post to the websites, and can't find it.
Her title intrigued me, and I loved the review even though it focussed on the shortcomings of that novel. The review which was reprinted in the very first issue of AMBROV ZEOR (possibly before it even went into mimeograph reproduction) introduced Jean and me and led to a long and fruitful professional partnership.
But even to this day, her title sums up the reason I like vampire novels so much that I had to write one of my very own, a special one that's about what the Lichtenberg byline has come to stand for, THOSE OF MY BLOOD (St. Martin's Press, 1988). Currenty (1997) I have no copies of this rare book left in stock though I do have the parallel volume, DREAMSPY in hardcover.
The hero of THOSE OF MY BLOOD is Titus Shiddehara, the vampire who is the focus of the story FALSE PROPHECY. This story is in a paperback which has an ACE edition, 1995 or 6 I believe. I have no copies for sale, but the anthology title was TAROT TALES, and the edited by Rachel Pollack and Caitlin Matthews.
FALSE PROPHECY takes place about 20 years before BLOOD, and begins the story of how Titus finally breaks free of his vampire "father" or "master," Abbot. HOUSE OF ZEOR, my first novel which Jean reviewed was the first of an 8 novel series called the Sime~Gen Universe books, and there may yet be more of them coming.
It was not ostensibly a vampire series though the vampire archetype is woven into the fabric of the S/G universe concept. I've loved sf vampire novels and stories since I was old enough to read, but I've never liked Dracula or a large assortment of what pass for vampire novels outside the sf genre.
Only recently have I figured out what it is that I dislike in the usual vampire novel . The "usual vampire novel" genuinely belongs in the horror genre. In Horror, the Unknown is a menace which is a menace because it's a menace. In sf, the Unknown is a menace because we don't understand it yet. (YET is the operative word.) Or as Robert Heinlein always put it, "Ignorance is a capitol offense."
In horror, no amount of understanding can help. In sf, understanding, either intellectual or emotional, or maybe both, is the key to the solution of the problem. In Horror, vampirism is a supernatural condition which inevitably will turn even the most virtuous human into a nearly unstoppable menace that devours souls. In sf, vampirism is just another problem to be solved, an inconvenience that can become a valuable asset provided the vampire develops the requisite character traits.
Horror and SF represent two mutually exclusive epistemologies. Art - which is what any novel purports to be - reflects the life philosophy of the author the way a painting reflects the philosophy of a painter. An artist looks at the complexities of the world and depicts the connected patterns he/she sees. We tend to respond most strongly (not like, mind you, but respond to) the art that depicts the patterns that we see when we look at the real world.
SF's "willing suspension of disbelief" happens most easily when the vision of the universe depicted in the novel matches the reader's. Once willing suspension of disbelief has occurred, the author can deliver the same kind of primal thrill that a composer can deliver with a perfect chord sounded by the whole philharmonic orchestra.
When I look at the real world, I see Life as a pattern of significant and connected challenges. I see a world in which each and every individual has a fighting chance provided they're willing to give up their preconceived notions and step outside their cultural straight jackets to deal with the Unknown on a friendly basis. So Art that depicts the Unknown as a menace-because-it's-a-menace just doesn't "speak" to me. I cannot enter into the conspiracy with the author to step sideways into another universe and become another person for a while.
The Sime/Gen books are all about the problems caused by humanity mutating into energy-users and energy-producers where the energy-users can't produce energy. But when the energy-users take energy from the producers, the producers die - as do the "victims" of a vampire. Naturally, being basically human, the energy-producers object to this. The solution to the problem requires a fearless approach to the Unknown - but the problem is by no means unsolvable.
About half the vampire novels published today have their Horror diluted with a heavy admixture of sf philosophy. These have become known as the "Good Vampire" novels. A "Good" vampire is a vampire who prefers not to kill humans, even while he/she's killing to live. So when I began thinking about writing a real vampire novel not one that - like all my previous titles - merely exploits the vampire archetype, I found that I kept coming back to Jean Lorrah's review title, "Vampire with Muddy Boots." That does say it all. Like a ghost, a supernatural vampire who can turn into a mist or a bat at will, doesn't get mud on his/her boots!
A true supernatural Force, like "Q" in ST:TNG, doesn't suffer the inconvenience of slogging through cold wet mud. And as a result, such an entity doesn't grow spiritually, in character or in relationships. Such an entity doesn't have to rely for his/her very existence on another person's integrity or good will. Such an entity isn't REAL.
I had to write about vampires who are just as REAL as you or I but who are caught in a situation that would crush you or me. And I had to write about their adventures as they struggle to become strong enough in character to take the risks, face the tests, and succeed or die trying. And so my vampires are the REAL PEOPLE whose actions and very existence have given rise to all the classic vampire myths. They display all the traits and attributes of the supernatural vampire, but they are real people.
Just like real people, they come in Small, Medium and Large of body, mind and soul. The most Evil among them is utterly convinced that he's acting to save his species from extinction and to rescue his relatives from exile. From that core beginning, I generated a sequence of 4 books, only two of which have been written and published, THOSE OF MY BLOOD and DREAMSPY, both from St. Martin's. The third one exists only as chapters and outline, but the first chapter, "FALSE PROPHECY" is reprinted here from the British publication TAROT TALES. The 4th book would bring all the characters of the previous 3 together. The working title for that is BLOOD JUSTICE. I had hardly finished FALSE PROPHECY when I was asked by another anthologist to come up with a truly Supernatural vampire.
I couldn't do it until I remembered a very quick, very short story I'd written for Andre Norton's Tales of the Witch World II, called THROUGH THE MOON GATE. Andre actually allowed me to introduce a real supernatural (had to be supernatural because this is a fantasy series) vampire to the Witch World. But I had never intended to do anything else with him. However, he was a very powerful character and he had other ideas.
Whereupon, I found myself writing a short story called Vampire's Fast, followed quickly by True Death, both of which sold to the briefly revived Galaxy Magazine which published and then posted them to their now vanished Website. So I have them temporarily posted to the web on my own site. They form the first two chapters of a novel, and the outline for the rest of the novel is posted in that same file -- as part of the Online Writing Workshop text material. 3 Vampire stories in this series have been sold to audiobook production and will be webcast.
The two stories are about about the character traits that spiritually qualified this one supernatural vampire to fall through a Gate into the Witch World (where he can walk in sunlight if not drink water!). And now that I know how he came to be a vampire (it was the result of a Divine Blessing) I want to write a lot more about him. So in my hands, even the true Supernatural vampire is not an unbeatable menace. I will never be a Horror writer, but I often write about horrible things without pulling any punches. To a vampire, Muddy Boots can be quite horrible. Live Long and Prosper,
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