Saturday, December 20, 2008
Midnight Mass by F Paul Wilson
You've heard it here before: I don't like vampire stories. I think they're a weak excuse to indulge lame sexual fantasies and a yawn to boot. In their place give me a decaying but mobile corpse anyday.
[sidetrack #1: Happy Jan? I didn't call them Zombies :)]
[sidetrack #2: In response to a question about Dracula; It didn't bore me, but it didn't excite me either. It is what it is, a product of the Victorian era, where sexual desires could only be discussed by rationalizing them as the result of a physical Evil. The bones of the story were ok, and the format was cool, but it didn't rock my world or anything]
Ok, where was I? Ah, vampires. Don't dig 'em. But I do like F. Paul Wilson, and so when Smiley and I were rummage sale shopping this summer and I saw Midnight Mass for sale for a quarter, well I picked it up lickety-split.
It's the story of a vampire invasion, a successful one actually, that spreads from Europe and into the eastern United States. Humans are divided into three camps: the rare survivor of the attacks, 'Cowboys', who are the hired henchmen of the Vampires, and 'cattle', humans bred and maintained in large 'ranches'.
Cue the resistance, reluctantly led by a disgraced Catholic Priest, a chaste Nun who loves him and is good with explosives, a crucifix wearing Rabbi, and the Priest's militant Lesbian niece.
Not quite the Founding Fathers, I know. But they get the job done.
This is no soft romantic treatment of vampires. They are treated as what they are: vile parasites feeding off of mankind and fueled by nothing short of pure Evil. I enjoyed that aspect of the book, and the fact that there was no soft and gentle leadup to battle. The action starts and it doesn't stop until the last page.
I'm unsure of Wilson's religious beliefs (he describes himself as a 'recovering' Catholic, so he could be a Christian, agnostic, Atheist, or a follower of Thor) but the book is full of religious imagery, specifically Catholic, and it was nice to see the beliefs of the Church treated with respect.
Wilson's not so kind to Islam. He takes care to point out that the vampires wiped out that religion completely. The character who states this doesn't exactly mourn its passing, labeling it a hodgepodge of adolecent fantasies. That's a bold statement to make, even if you hide it behind the words of a character. Nowadays they'd cut your throat for that in Denmark Mr. Wilson, or arrest you for 'hate speech' in France. Oh, wait - that killing bit is only if you're a filmaker.
For authors they just issue death warrants and drive you into hiding.
A good book, bleak but with flair. Recommended for horror, vampire, or Wilson fans.