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Old 04-04-2010, 10:59 AM
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Realistic Vampire?

So I just read Abe Lincoln; Vampire Hunter. It is a nice book for the beach.

So I am always kicking ideas for fiction around. Presume some small (several tens of thousands) number of vampires exist side-by-side with people. Presume the observe human culture and history in a very macro-sence. How could I use reasonable mumbo-jumbo to explain their existence?

How realistic a vampire can we build? If we presume a blood-borne virus, how far along the normal vampire symptoms can we get?
*Longevity
*Sensitivity to light
*Feeding on blood
*"Super speed"
*"Super strength" How strong can a human frame be? Can a virus or something help in any possible way?

Without resorting to magic or Ancient Astronauts I do not see how a realistic vampire would work.
Old 04-04-2010, 11:06 AM
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Old 04-04-2010, 11:18 AM
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Have you ever read I Am Legend? Judging by your interest, you probably have, but I'm mentioning it anyway. It's by...shit, I have forgotten his name. Anyway, whoever wrote it, a lot of the book covers the main character slowly teaching himself science and discovering the nature of vampirism. It covers stuff like infection, transmission, longevity, feeding on blood, fear of religious symbols, garlic, photophobia etc...I mention it because I have no ideas of my own. My head is a vaccuum as far as vampires are concerned. (Maybe I am one??)

Anyway, if you haven't read it, do, because you might find it inspiring.
Old 04-04-2010, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by wombatinspats View Post
Have you ever read I Am Legend? Judging by your interest, you probably have, but I'm mentioning it anyway. It's by...shit, I have forgotten his name. Anyway, whoever wrote it, a lot of the book covers the main character slowly teaching himself science and discovering the nature of vampirism. It covers stuff like infection, transmission, longevity, feeding on blood, fear of religious symbols, garlic, photophobia etc...I mention it because I have no ideas of my own. My head is a vaccuum as far as vampires are concerned. (Maybe I am one??)

Anyway, if you haven't read it, do, because you might find it inspiring.
It's by Richard Matheson

Someday they'll make a faithful adaptation.
Old 04-04-2010, 11:22 AM
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No, I never read that. It was made into the Will Smith movie, right?

Did he explain the odd desire to overdress for all occasions?
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Old 04-04-2010, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Larry Borgia View Post
It's by Richard Matheson

Someday they'll make a faithful adaptation.
I hope not. I can't imagine a less cinematic book than I Am Legend. None of what makes it great would translate well to the screen (except for the ending I suppose) and the slow spots of the book would absolutely drag in a movie.
Old 04-04-2010, 11:59 AM
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In Whitley Streiber's The Hunger (a pretty bad book, although it has some clever ideas), vampires are a separate species that resembles but is distinct from Homo sapiens. They are naturally stronger and hardier than humans, and do not age after reaching physical maturity. They are not immortal, but they are hard to kill and can live for hundreds or thousands of years if they're careful. They feed only on human blood but they do not need to do this too often, IIRC about once a week, so it seems that although their diet is limited they have very efficient metabolisms. They reproduce sexually in the usual fashion -- a mommy and daddy vampire make little baby vampires -- but the main vampire character in The Hunger has worked out how to pass vampire attributes onto humans via blood transfusion. The plot centers around the fact that this is not a perfect process, and after a few hundred years her once-human companions begin to age rapidly.

In The Hunger it's strongly suggested that the vampires are a native Earth species that evolved long before modern humans, but in the sequel The Last Vampire they're explicitly said to have immigrated to Earth from another planet long ago. They are not sensitive to sunlight (which is a fairly recent addition to vampire lore anyway), but traditionally they hunted at night because they have better night vision than humans. The invention of electric light made this mostly a moot point, though.
Old 04-04-2010, 12:08 PM
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In Whitley Streiber's The Hunger (a pretty bad book, although it has some clever ideas), vampires are a separate species that resembles but is distinct from Homo sapiens.
Vampires as a seperate species (as opposed to former humans) was also the basis for Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin and The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas.
Old 04-04-2010, 12:14 PM
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How about a bloodborne virus combined with genetics? Genetics could get you the longevity, maybe even speed and strength. A virus could account for sensitivity to light. Or maybe you wouldn't need a virus for that. Aren't some people allergic to sunlight?

Your vamp doesn't need to be superman -- just faster and stronger than average. Like the campers being chased by a bear -- you only need to be faster than one other camper.

Feeding on blood -- I guess you need that so that the rest of humanity has something to fear from vampires, but to me, it's always been the aspect that's most difficult to understand. And if your vamps are vamps because of a bloodborne virus, why would ordinary human blood sustain them? Wouldn't they need the blood of other vampires? Wouldn't human blood dilute the effect of the virus?
Old 04-04-2010, 12:15 PM
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That would be the easiest (and so probably the best) solution.
Old 04-04-2010, 01:19 PM
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Regarding feeding on blood, one idea might be that blood is the best source for some vitamin or protein that vampires need but their bodies are unable to synthesize, similar to us humans needing vitamin C in our diet to survive.
Then you can also say that being vitamin P(as in Phlebotinum) deficient is what causes a vampire to have a craving for blood.
Old 04-04-2010, 01:27 PM
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Interesting thread. I'm actually working on a vampire novel at the moment, and I started with a similar idea: how realistic can I make this?

The decision I reached was: not very. Most of the defining vampire attributes can't be done "realistically" without it really coming across as wanky pseudoscience-ness.

I've decided instead to make them magical creatures and instead try to make the concepts of magic as "realistic" as possible.
Old 04-04-2010, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by typoink View Post
Interesting thread. I'm actually working on a vampire novel at the moment, and I started with a similar idea: how realistic can I make this?

The decision I reached was: not very. Most of the defining vampire attributes can't be done "realistically" without it really coming across as wanky pseudoscience-ness.

I've decided instead to make them magical creatures and instead try to make the concepts of magic as "realistic" as possible.
I think when it comes to the blood drinking then magic is the best way to go, because it's hard to come up with a satisfying scientific-sounding reason why they must drink blood and either how they survive on a fairly small quantity of blood or how they manage to get away with killing lots and lots of people. In real life then vampire bats are quite small and consume large amounts of blood relative to their body mass, so a vampire bat the size of an adult human would presumably need to drink a LOT of blood.

I suppose that would be another way to go with vampires as a separate species -- they could be a humanoid species evolved from something like a vampire bat so they'd be nocturnal, would have the ability to echolocate, and might have wings and be able to fly. (Of course, they wouldn't have arms then.) Or they could be genetically engineered human/vampire bat hybrids. Either way, you've still got the problem of how much blood they'd need to consume in order to survive.
Old 04-04-2010, 02:24 PM
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So no supernatural explainations? Then I can see the following attributes having plausible fanwanks explanations:
  • longevity: Fairly easy to suppose. Add in regeneration (realistically slow regeneration, not Wolverine-style "cuts close while you watch") and you have someone who can live almost forever if they don't suffer unsurvivable injuy. That could feed into the whole stake in the heart or cut off the head deal: you have to make sure they're really dead, a mere sword thrust is no guarantee.
  • photosensitivity: Also pretty easy. I'd add that what vampires are really sensitive to is ultraviolet light, so not only do they have to avoid direct sunlight, they really don't like fluorescent lighting very much. If the original Dracula could go out well covered on a cloudy day, this fits very much.
  • strength and speed: Bone and muscle have an absolute mechanical limit, a vampire isn't going to bend steel girders with his hands. But let's say someone who remains muscular without the need for exercise and can summon hysterical berserker strength at will. Speed can be explained by someone who's had centuries to hone their reflexes to shaolin levels.
  • Drinking blood: the best rationalization I can think of is someone who can't tolerate solid food and needs large amounts of iron to stay alive. Didn't Dracula stoop to tapping dogs and cattle at some point? If you wanted, you could have your modern vampires be able to make due with artificial substitutes.
  • Hypnotic powers: maybe pheromones combined with some chemical influence transferred when they bite someone.
  • transforming themselves into animals or incorporeal form? Forget it.
Old 04-04-2010, 02:28 PM
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There's a theory that legends of vampires and werewolves were inspired by real-life diseases that make people go insane and avoid sunlight, such as rabies or porphyria.
Old 04-04-2010, 04:28 PM
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How realistic are the vampires in The Strain? The idea there is that vampires are humans who are infected and mutate after being "bitten". They develop a proboscis-like stinger which the feed through. They can be harmed by ultraviolet light and silver.
They completely change on the inside so that they basically just exist to feed and reproduce. And yeah, they're taking over the world.
Old 04-04-2010, 04:45 PM
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Vampires originally weren't sensitive to sunlight. Bram Stoker has Dracula walking around in daylight (as depicted in the Francis Ford Coppola movie). It's only because of the movies that we have vampires dissolving in sunlight -- first with Nosferatu, then with the films Curt Siodmak wrote -- Son of Dracula and House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein. Vampires were Creatures of the Night, and at first were held to be revived by moonbeams.

Vampires were credited with impressive strength early in the 19th century (I suspect a legacyfrom george gordon, Lord Byron), but "super speed" is a relativel recen addition.

So you're left with prevailingly night creatures that drank blood and lived a long time, and arguably had great strength. They also tended to stay in their coffins.


If you're looking for a naturalistic explanation, have a look at Barber and Barber's book Vampires, Burial, and Death

http://amazon.com/Vampires-Buria...s=books&sr=8-1
Old 04-04-2010, 06:20 PM
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There's actually an official (after a fashion) article with regards to this, from Cecil himself—What's the minimum daily requirement of blood for a vampire?
Old 04-04-2010, 06:38 PM
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One "scientific" example of vampires was The Empire of Fear by Brian Stableford. It portrayed vampirism as a sexually transmitted disease.
Old 04-04-2010, 08:29 PM
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If you consider psycic powers to be more scientific than outright magic, there's the vampire of Those Who Hunt The Night. They are infected by a virus or viruslike organism that over time "fossilizes" them. They are stronger and tougher than humans (and become even tougher and stronger over time) because over time their tissue is replaced by the "virus"; in analogy with how over time fossils are created as stone replaces dead tissue leaving behind something with the same structure but of different material. They are vulnerable to sunlight and silver because those re apparently toxic to the virus, or possibly just toxic to the human flesh/virus interface since they become more resistant over time. They appear to be powered by consuming the psychic energy of humans, killing the human in the process; their hypnotic powers are psychic in nature as well.

The vampires of Blindsight are wholly scientific. They are a separate species of hominid, superior in many ways; evolved to prey on humans, and are smarter than us among other advantages. They spend long periods in a form of hibernation ("dead", to appearances) because humans are such a slow breeding species. However, they happened to evolve with a quirk in their visual cortex that caused them to suffer epileptic seizures upon seeing two straight lines intersecting; something that didn't hamper them in prehistory but eventually rendered them extinct with the rise of civilization.

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Old 04-04-2010, 10:40 PM
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Old 04-04-2010, 11:55 PM
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No, I never read that. It was made into the Will Smith movie, right?

Did he explain the odd desire to overdress for all occasions?
Oh, something about mutant bacteria wreaking havoc with dress sense.

It's a decent book, though, and the Will Smith movie has veeery little to do with it. It's probably the least faithful adaptation I've ever seen. (I haven't actually tried to remember any others I've ever seen. I just made that up to sound dramatic. But it's pretty unfaithful.) In the book, at the end, the title 'I Am Legend' actually gets relevant!
Old 04-05-2010, 12:12 AM
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Here's a thought. Tie in the vampire's longevity/healing ability with their need for blood. Say they've got some kind of super antibody that cures any diseases or physical breakdown due to injury or aging. But there's one bad side-effect - the antibody also attacks some vital element (let's call it Factor X) that a person needs to stay alive. So the person needs to obtain Factor X from an outside source - the blood of people who do not have the antibody. And they have to keep consuming new blood because once the blood is in their body, the antibody will start attacking the Factor X.
Old 04-05-2010, 12:45 AM
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Here's a thought. Tie in the vampire's longevity/healing ability with their need for blood. Say they've got some kind of super antibody that cures any diseases or physical breakdown due to injury or aging. But there's one bad side-effect - the antibody also attacks some vital element (let's call it Factor X) that a person needs to stay alive. So the person needs to obtain Factor X from an outside source - the blood of people who do not have the antibody. And they have to keep consuming new blood because once the blood is in their body, the antibody will start attacking the Factor X.
That isn't bad, but they would still have to eat a regular diet in addition to the blood supplements.

I think the key conundrum with the bloodsucking is not just coming up with a reason they would need blood, but in fanwanking a pseudoscience reason for how they could feed only on blood.

If some things like super powers, healing and longevity can be dialed back, then I think it coul also really help to dispense with the idea that vampires feed only on blood and reimagine it as something they need to do in addition to eating regular food. This would still make them dangerous to humans without being as scientifically nettlesome as a explaining an exclusively blood based diet. It could also be worked into the story that an exclusive blood diet is a popular myth, like light sensitivity or aversions to rligious symbols.
Old 04-05-2010, 01:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
The vampires of Blindsight are wholly scientific. They are a separate species of hominid, superior in many ways; evolved to prey on humans, and are smarter than us among other advantages. They spend long periods in a form of hibernation ("dead", to appearances) because humans are such a slow breeding species. However, they happened to evolve with a quirk in their visual cortex that caused them to suffer epileptic seizures upon seeing two straight lines intersecting; something that didn't hamper them in prehistory but eventually rendered them extinct with the rise of civilization.
I came here exactly to mention Blindsight. It's a great book and well worth the read, especially since you can get it for free on the author's website. The vampires - Homo sapiens whedonum - are incredibly well thought out (I loved the idea of the "crucifix glitch", now medically controlled through the use of "anti-euclidean" medication). In the site there's also a PowerPoint presentation from an "in universe" point of view which explains how the vampires came to be and how they were rediscovered: Taming Yesterday's Nightmares for a Better Tomorrow, presented to you by Fizerpharm Inc.

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Old 04-05-2010, 09:37 AM
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That isn't bad, but they would still have to eat a regular diet in addition to the blood supplements.

I think the key conundrum with the bloodsucking is not just coming up with a reason they would need blood, but in fanwanking a pseudoscience reason for how they could feed only on blood.
Are vampires depicted as feeding exclusively on blood? I thought at a minimum they are shown as sometimes taking wine and other beverages; occasionally raw meat as well.
Old 04-05-2010, 09:41 AM
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I thought at a minimum they are shown as sometimes taking wine and other beverages; occasionally raw meat as well.
"I do not drink ....wine."*




Extremely famous line by Dracula, both in the book, on stage, and on screen. He's also shown conspicuously not dining with Harker at the castle.






* "and I do not smoke....shit." saith George Hamilton as Dracula in Love at First Bite
Old 04-05-2010, 10:24 AM
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Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series does try to solve some of the inconsistencies noted in vampire lore. In the first novel, we see a Victorian England in which Dracula had not been defeated by Van Helsing, et al. In fact, he'd turned Queen Victoria & become her second consort. Vampirism became the Done Thing in England & vamps from all over (from vampire lit beyond Bram Stoker, that is) congregated there & came out.

Are the vampire fictions & folktales inconsistent? Of course; that's because there are different lineages of vampires, with different characteristics. Some are shape shifters--temporarily or permanently. Some, especially when newly turned, are vulnerable to sunlight. Others simply prefer overcast days. Crucifixes & holy water only bother those who'd been Good Catholics while Warm. (Warm = not a vamp. Yet.)

The series doesn't go deeply into vampire origins. But it's an excellent pastiche--with fictional characters from non-vampire lit & real people playing roles in the 3 novels (& several stories).

Then there's Sabella or The Bloodstone; A Science Fiction Vampire Tale by the great Tanith Lee. In which our heroine discovers the real reason behind her Interesting Condition.
Old 04-05-2010, 11:02 AM
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Vampires as a seperate species (as opposed to former humans) was also the basis for Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin....
I came here to recommend Fevre Dream, a great vampire novel set along the Mississippi River; the kind of book Bram Stoker and Mark Twain would've written together.

The vampires in that book have such ancient origins that they've forgotten them; they may or may not predate humanity. They have legends of a giant, elegant underground city but aren't sure if it's true. Martin's vampires cannot turn humans into vampires by bite or any other means (although one human, memorably, tries to "turn"). The plot turns on
SPOILER:
the development of an effective blood substitute by a scientifically-minded vampire who wants his species to stop preying on humanity, but is resisted by traditionalists who strongly prefer the old ways.


I was always dissatisfied with Stoker et al. who said any vampire could turn any human into a vampire. If that were so, the whole population would be vampires in jig time.

Anyone seen this recent vampire movie? I haven't. What'd you think?: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daybreakers
Old 04-05-2010, 12:34 PM
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I've mentioned this before in an old thread about non-supernatural vampires, but it's on topic here too: I write an ongoing web-based serial, which, in its first year (back in 1997-98), had as a major plot point a group of 'vampires' where the conceit is that they weren't supernatural, but humans with a disorder (along the lines of hemophilia) requiring the blood-drinking thing.

Symptoms include photosensitivity and a certain hardiness, though not immortality. The society of people with this rare disorder developed a cult, which has lasted for centuries in a certain section of Italy, based around pseudo-religious stuff that really revolves around money and power -- kind of a Scientology deal. All so-called supernatural elements were explained biologically. The disorder was identified in one of my main characters when she developed Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia after a bad injury, and thrived only when given packed blood -- which triggered the dormant disorder and required continual infusions, which stymied the doctors since normally there's a limit to how much blood you can give someone (obviously, considering blood volume).

Anyway, even the myths surrounding vampires were explained as having developed due to locals who misunderstood the disease and were (justifiably) afraid of those who had to steal blood to survive. Similar to how epileptics were considered possessed by devils. Even the cross thing was explained because many centuries ago, the first people who evinced the symptoms of the disease were persecuted during the Spanish Inquisition, and thus churchly relics (particularly Catholic ones) were considered symbols of that persecution and suffering they endured. This anathema developed into the myth that crosses are literally deadly or will ward off vampires.

It was a lot of fun and though the plotline doesn't really figure in the serial anymore -- the writing's much more realistic and less campy -- there are still characters on the canvas who have the syndrome. The disease is now dormant thanks to a serum developed with a certain organic compound called Allicin ... which explains another hoary old vampire-related myth.

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Old 04-05-2010, 12:58 PM
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If some things like super powers, healing and longevity can be dialed back, then I think it coul also really help to dispense with the idea that vampires feed only on blood and reimagine it as something they need to do in addition to eating regular food. This would still make them dangerous to humans without being as scientifically nettlesome as a explaining an exclusively blood based diet. It could also be worked into the story that an exclusive blood diet is a popular myth, like light sensitivity or aversions to rligious symbols.
This is a good idea if one is trying to make scientifically plausible vampires. It's easy to imagine how the "they only feed on human blood!" myth would have arisen -- the horror of the blood-drinking would overshadow the rest of their diet. In the real world the term "cannibalism" applies to any instance of a human eating another human's flesh, it doesn't suggest that anyone lives solely on "long pig", but if news came out about a cannibalistic serial killer then I doubt anyone would spend much time thinking about the ordinary food the killer also ate.

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Are vampires depicted as feeding exclusively on blood? I thought at a minimum they are shown as sometimes taking wine and other beverages; occasionally raw meat as well.
Vampires are almost always depicted as feeding only on blood. Sometimes they can subsist on animal blood rather than human blood, and occasionally you'll get a vampire who eats very rare steaks, but off the top of my head I can't think of any vampire books or movies where they could get nourishment from ordinary food or drink. (There probably have been some, but I can't think of any.) Sometimes they can force it down, but it doesn't do them any good. The fact that the vampire character refrains from food or drink is often one of the hints that there's something sinister about them.

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I was always dissatisfied with Stoker et al. who said any vampire could turn any human into a vampire. If that were so, the whole population would be vampires in jig time.
In Dracula it's not totally clear how the Count turns humans into vampires, but this doesn't seem to happen to everyone who gets bitten. He kills the entire crew of the ship Demeter, and none of them appear as vampires. (Most of the bodies were disposed of somehow by Dracula, probably just thrown overboard, but the captain's body is found lashed to the wheel and he doesn't rise again.) Both in Transylvania and in England several children are bitten by vampires and we don't hear that they become vampires either. Had Jonathan Harker not escaped from Castle Dracula he probably would have been drained of blood by Dracula's three brides, but there's no suggestion that he would have become a vampire himself and it seems unlikely that the Count would want Harker lording it over his ancestral home in his absence.

So while Dracula probably could turn any human into a vampire, he apparently chooses not to. He doesn't seem interested in "vampirizing" anyone except attractive young women.
Old 04-05-2010, 01:17 PM
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Vampires are almost always depicted as feeding only on blood. Sometimes they can subsist on animal blood rather than human blood, and occasionally you'll get a vampire who eats very rare steaks, but off the top of my head I can't think of any vampire books or movies where they could get nourishment from ordinary food or drink. (There probably have been some, but I can't think of any.)
I just read a book where vampires eat regular ordinary food, but "live" off of a small bit of blood once every two weeks or so. Damned if I can remember the title though.

ETA: The Joe Pitt Casebooks by Charlie Huston!

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Old 04-05-2010, 03:54 PM
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Elendil's Heir and Lamia, I think that in order for Dracula to turn somebody (like Mina Harker) in the book, he didn't just feed on them, but made them drink some of his blood.
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Thanks. That didn't seem to be the case in Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot, where IIRC everybody who got bitten was ultimately turned into a vampire.
Old 04-05-2010, 05:41 PM
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Yeah, becoming a Vampire because you were bitten by a Vampire doesn't make sense. It's drinking Vampire blood that makes you become a Vampire. This is how it was handled in Anne Rice's books--a vampire drains someone to the point of death, then as they are dying the vampire gives the human vampire blood.
Old 04-05-2010, 06:01 PM
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Don't Do It!

Most attempts at realistic, scientifically plausible vampires just stink.


While we're discussing neck biters, I recommend Fat White Vampire Blues. I expected it to be funny and it was. I did not expect well-developed characters I could care about and who behave in a believable manner. I got them anyway.


Re I Am Legend

I just finished reading it this week. It's been a while since I saw Vincent Price's Last Man On Earth, but IIRC that actually was a pretty faithful adaption.
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Old 04-05-2010, 06:09 PM
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You can get a fair bit of mileage out of assuming it's a retrovirus. Retrovira actually change the host's DNA, and so could grant traits (beneficial or otherwise) that the host didn't already have. And anything that could be encoded in DNA (which is a heck of a lot) could in principle be contained in a retrovirus, though you might be strained to explain why the retrovirus evolved to grant those particular traits.
Old 04-05-2010, 06:42 PM
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Elendil's Heir and Lamia, I think that in order for Dracula to turn somebody (like Mina Harker) in the book, he didn't just feed on them, but made them drink some of his blood.
This came up in another thread a while back, and I re-read the relevant passage from Dracula. According to the Count himself, he forced Mina Harker to drink his blood in order to form a psychic bond between them and make her his minion:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula, ch. 21
"...You [Mina] have aided in thwarting me. Now you shall come to my call. When my brain says 'Come!' to you, you shall cross land or sea to do my bidding. And to that end this!"

With that he pulled open his shirt, and with his long sharp nails opened a vein in his breast. When the blood began to spurt out, he took my hands in one of his, holding them tight, and with the other seized my neck and pressed my mouth to the wound, so that I must either suffocate or swallow...
This doesn't totally rule out the possibility that blood-drinking is a necessary component of becoming "vampirized", but if so it's never stated in the book. We do know that Dracula drinks from both Lucy and Mina several times, and since they are the only characters he wants to turn into vampires it may be that multiple bites are required to do the job. This is just speculation though, the vampirization process isn't ever fully explained in the book.

Interestingly, Dracula himself was NOT transformed into a vampire by another vampire. He's not given much backstory in the novel, but Van Helsing obtains information from a professor in Budapest indicating that the Count became vampirized through a pact with the Devil:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula, ch. 18
The Draculas were, says Arminius, a great and noble race, though now and again were scions who were held by their coevals to have had dealings with the Evil One. They learned his secrets in the Scholomance, amongst the mountains over Lake Hermanstadt, where the devil claims the tenth scholar as his due. In the records are such words as 'stregoica' witch, 'ordog' and 'pokol' Satan and hell, and in one manuscript this very Dracula is spoken of as 'wampyr,' which we all understand too well.
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir
Thanks. That didn't seem to be the case in Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot, where IIRC everybody who got bitten was ultimately turned into a vampire.
There's a scene in Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum where the vampire Vlad is talking to the human (witch) girl Agnes and explains that although he can transform people into vampires, this isn't normally done. I don't have the exact quote, but he says something like "If you could transform chocolate into another girl, would you do it? Of course not. You'd rather just eat the chocolate."
Old 04-05-2010, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
You can get a fair bit of mileage out of assuming it's a retrovirus. Retrovira actually change the host's DNA, and so could grant traits (beneficial or otherwise) that the host didn't already have. And anything that could be encoded in DNA (which is a heck of a lot) could in principle be contained in a retrovirus, though you might be strained to explain why the retrovirus evolved to grant those particular traits.
I recall a few stories where it was genetically engineered that way. Sometimes as a deliberate homage to the vampire mythology by the designers.
Old 04-06-2010, 11:53 AM
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Vampires are almost always depicted as feeding only on blood. Sometimes they can subsist on animal blood rather than human blood, and occasionally you'll get a vampire who eats very rare steaks, but off the top of my head I can't think of any vampire books or movies where they could get nourishment from ordinary food or drink. (There probably have been some, but I can't think of any.) Sometimes they can force it down, but it doesn't do them any good. The fact that the vampire character refrains from food or drink is often one of the hints that there's something sinister about them.
Spike was quite fond of the blooming onions served at The Bronze. And he grossed Giles out by adding Weetabix to his pigs' blood.

He was also known to drink a beer or two. Under stress, Spike would guzzle whiskey--but had a hard time getting or staying drunk, thanks to his demon constitution.
Old 04-06-2010, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by wombatinspats View Post
Oh, something about mutant bacteria wreaking havoc with dress sense.

It's a decent book, though, and the Will Smith movie has veeery little to do with it. It's probably the least faithful adaptation I've ever seen. (I haven't actually tried to remember any others I've ever seen. I just made that up to sound dramatic. But it's pretty unfaithful.) In the book, at the end, the title 'I Am Legend' actually gets relevant!
They actually shot an alternate ending for the Will Smith version that's much, much closer to the original. It's on the DVD, and it's a shame it wasn't released in theaters - this ending *works*, and Smith's character is visibly broken at the end. Which is as it should be.
Old 04-06-2010, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Bridget Burke View Post
Spike was quite fond of the blooming onions served at The Bronze. And he grossed Giles out by adding Weetabix to his pigs' blood.
I hate Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I'll take your word for it. It's not clear from this description whether the vampire character actually derived nourishment from ordinary food though, or if he just enjoyed the taste/texture. I can think of at least one other vampire (a minor character in The Hunger) who ate human food for fun, but he derived no nutritional benefit from it.
Old 04-06-2010, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Lamia View Post
I hate Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I'll take your word for it. It's not clear from this description whether the vampire character actually derived nourishment from ordinary food though, or if he just enjoyed the taste/texture. I can think of at least one other vampire (a minor character in The Hunger) who ate human food for fun, but he derived no nutritional benefit from it.
Spike probably just liked the taste. And the image--he didn't want to be like all the other vamps. Whedon's vampire lore does lack a certain seriousness.

What do you think of Twilight?
Old 04-06-2010, 05:56 PM
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What do you think of Twilight?
I think it is, if not the worst book ever to be published, unquestionably the worst book I've ever read. Why do you ask?

I certainly wouldn't consider Twilight a good example of realistic vampires -- that business about their eyes changing colors depending on how much blood they've had and whether it was human or animal, or how their skin sparkles brilliantly in direct sunlight but not under any other lighting conditions, doesn't work at all as even pseudo-science. It would be rather strained even as magic.

On the subject of food, IIRC the Twilight vampires could chew and swallow regular food but they couldn't digest it and would just have to throw it up again later. (To be fair to the book, this actually makes decent sense.) So they usually just sat in the cafeteria at lunch not eating anything.
Old 04-07-2010, 03:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Lamia View Post
So they usually just sat in the cafeteria at lunch not eating anything.
Brooding in a corner, no doubt.


If I wanted to explain vampires and how they procreate in terms of a virus, I might assume that the virus is specifically blood-borne, rather than saliva-borne, much like HIV. You'd have to come in contact with the vampire's blood (I'm going to stick with solely blood borne viruses, for modesty's sake) in order to contract the virus. As to why vampires don't like to create more vampires, maybe they tend to hemophilia? Opening cuts could be dangerous. Or maybe they don't like competition, or the act of creating a human is physically or socially distasteful.
Old 04-07-2010, 11:06 AM
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Check out the movie "Near Dark", a vampire movie that never uses the word vampire. The vamps in this movie drink blood, are burned by sunlight, have superhuman strength and are immortal, but have none of the religious connotations (crosses, holy water) of traditional vampires. Vampirism is treated much more like a blood disease than a curse, and the psychological effect of having to kill shapes the attitudes of the vampires in different ways depending on how long they have been doing it, worse if they were bad people to begin with.

The most interesting thing about the story to me is the setting in rural Oklahoma. Instead of slick, sophisticated, "sexy" vampires, it's a group of redneck hillbillies roaming the southwest in whatever vehicle they can steal, raising hell and trying to teach a new, reluctant inductee how to survive. It's a unique take on the genre, directed by Katherine Bigelow of "Hurt Locker" fame that's worth checking out just for a scene where the vampires stake out a lonely roadhouse for a meal, and the following daylight raid on the vampires trapped in a hotel bungelow after their massacre at the bar. The cops riddle the building with bullets, which of course don't hurt the vampires, but each bullet hole coming in or going out allows a beam of sunlight to enter like lasers that the "heroes" have to dodge. Good stuff!
Old 04-07-2010, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by appleciders View Post
Brooding in a corner, no doubt.
They were brooding like crazy!

Bit of a hijack, but one of many things that bothered me about Twilight was that the school administration wasn't more concerned about the well-being of these "foster children". The vampires weren't doing a good job of keeping a low profile or seeming like healthy humans. The "teens", including a very image conscious girl, sit in the cafeteria at lunch every day refusing to eat anything. They avoid interaction with other students. Although they are living in the same household as siblings (as far as the outside world was concerned) it's common knowledge that four of them were romantically involved with each other and that this was encouraged by the "foster parents". These same foster parents pull them out of school with little notice (whenever it was sunny) to go on mysterious "camping trips". Yet despite the time they've supposedly been spending outdoors in the sun, they return from these trips as pale as ever. This all points to a pretty messed up home situation, possibly involving sexual abuse, and I'd expect someone from the school to be checking up on things.

Quote:
If I wanted to explain vampires and how they procreate in terms of a virus, I might assume that the virus is specifically blood-borne, rather than saliva-borne, much like HIV. You'd have to come in contact with the vampire's blood (I'm going to stick with solely blood borne viruses, for modesty's sake) in order to contract the virus. As to why vampires don't like to create more vampires, maybe they tend to hemophilia? Opening cuts could be dangerous. Or maybe they don't like competition, or the act of creating a human is physically or socially distasteful.
In The Hunger "vampirizing" a human requires a blood transfusion rather than just having them consume vampire blood, and it's indicated that the human's blood type matters. (I'm referring to the book here, in the movie it looks like humans do just have to drink vampire blood.) The vampire Miriam kills a number of humans through her experiments before she successfully vampirizes anyone. She's the only member of the vampire species who engages in this practice, all the other vampires think she's something of a mad scientist. In The Last Vampire it's made clear that Miriam is considered a pervert as well for having sex with her vampirized human companions. The vampires and humans are separate species in this series, and other vampires consider humans to be basically cattle.
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