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Happy Halloween! We are celebrating Halloween today with our final Spooky Legends guests, Clay and Susan Griffith. Clay and Susan are the authors of the phenomenal Vampire Empire series. The setting of the series is a chilling and deadly world that held me captivated. It began with THE GREYFRIAR, which left an indelible impression on me, and continues with THE RIFT WALKER. Our short story compares the vampires of myth with the vampires from their series. It’s a partial transcript from a formal presentation to a Victorian-style scientific academy by one of the characters from Vampire Empire.
From Vampire Empire
Clay & Susan Griffith
A word which, centuries before, caused even sensible men and women to shudder and inch closer to their winter hearth. However, in wiser days, a mere century and a half ago, the educated classes dismissed such creatures as fancy, and disdained those who still believed in such phantasmal remnants of ignorant days.
That was before the late winter of 1870.
In the bloody years that followed, we learned that ignorance is always the greatest enemy. Vampires did, in fact, exist and they brought that fact down upon us to the cost of millions of lives before the carnage was done, and a reorganization of human population across our globe the size and speed of which has never been seen before in recorded history. Free humanity was virtually scoured from the northern hemisphere. All that remains of us north of the frontier are herds of once-humans raised for food by their vampire masters.
Now, nearly one hundred and fifty years after that horrible winter, as we in Equatoria contemplate a great crusade to drive the vampires off the cadaver of the northern world, I ask you learned gentlemen of the Empire, what do we truly know of our enemy? What have we learned to part the curtains of superstition?
My answer, in short, is not nearly enough. There are only two endowed chairs dedicated to vampire biology within the Empire. Here at the Imperial College of Surgeons in Alexandria, lately held by myself but now in the capable hands of Dr. Mahloof, and at Calcutta University under the imminent Dr. Sendurhi. I submit that, despite the enormous accomplishments of these remarkable scientists, two locations of research are insufficient to guide our nation on its formidable path. We risk sending our valiant young men into harms way with little more knowledge of our fearsome enemy than our ancestors had on that night in 1870.
I will put to you briefly what we know about our vampire adversaries. And you will see it is a distressingly feeble mix of myth and fact.
Vampires of myth were the reanimated dead who rose from their graves to drink the blood of the living. We now know that to be false. These creatures are a parasitic species that has shadowed the development of humankind from the beginning of time. This species, however, known as Homo nosferatii, does indeed sustain itself on a diet consisting totally, so far as we know, of human blood.
Vampires of myth could only be destroyed by a variety of prescribed methods such as decapitation or driving a wooden stake through the heart. We know this also to be untrue. The origin of these stories, we believe, are due to the fact that homo nosferatii are remarkably resistant to damage. They appear to have a blunted sense of touch, which seems to protect them from succumbing to shock when harmed, such as shooting or stabbing. Even severely wounded, they carry on as if unaffected unless they sustain catastrophic damage or significant injury to a major organ, such as the brain or the heart. Their ability to directly metabolize human blood seems to aid their healing factors because they have been observed to regenerate tissue and even knit broken bones at an inconceivable rate. It seems obvious that a greater understanding of this incredible biology would serve our military in their coming campaigns against these near-machines of destruction.
I would further argue that the vampires’ extraordinary speed and superhuman strength, its retractile claws capable of cutting flesh and even bone, its catlike senses of sight and smell, and its as yet unexplained ability to levitate or float give it a remarkable advantage on the battlefield, expanding the arena in vertical as well as horizontal directions, and giving it the mastery of the night, allowing the vampire to sustain combat nonstop over 24-hour periods, which even the most well-conditioned human soldiers could not match for long.
I understand the arguments of our leading commanders and industrialists that our newest weapons fire at greater rates than ever before, that our airships give us greater command of speed and distance, and our men have been drilled in combat techniques designed to counter the ferocious natural skills of the vampire. However, I still maintain that we are contemplating sending a generation of Equatorians into a meat grinder.
I therefore call for increased study of both the biology and society of the vampire, but also alternative ideas for combating the creatures. It was well known in the days of our forefathers that vampires were repelled by symbols of religion. We owe it to our children and free humans everywhere to allow ourselves to freely inquire into this phenomenon.
I furthermore call for a renewed interest in these forsaken ideas which may well save the lives of thousands and prevent the wasteful crippling of a generation of Equatorian men who are woefully unprepared for an enemy we only think we know…”
(The assembly degenerated into demands from the floor for Sir Godfrey to step down, which the Chair echoed. Many members filed out in protest of the speaker’s call for research into unorthodox and unscientific disciplines.)
Clay and Susan Griffith are writers who have also been married for over 15 years. They are the co-authors of The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire Book 1 and The Rift Walker: Vampire Empire Book 2 (Pyr Books). The Vampire Empire trilogy is a rousing combination of fantasy, steampunk, pulp adventure, and romance, and Paul Goat Allen, the sci-fi/fantasy moderator of B&N.com, referred to Vampire Empire as a “landmark event.” The third book of the series will be out in 2012.
Clay and Susan have written many comic books over the years including The Tick, The Man-Eating Cow and, more recently, Ray Harryhausen Presents: It Came From Beneath the Sea…Again. They also script and contribute to the tv/web show Monster Creature Feature (www. mcftv.com).
Oh, and James Marsters (Spike himself!) is narrating the audio version of Vampire Empire. Check out this link for a sample of The Greyfriar.
They plan to continue writing together. And to stay married.
Want to read more from Clay and Susan Griffith?
Available on September 6, 2011 from Prometheus/Pyr
About the Book:
Princess Adele struggles with a life of marriage and obligation as her Equatorian Empire and their American Republic allies stand on the brink of war against the vampire clans of the north. However, the alliance’s horrific strategy for total victory drives Adele to abandon her duty and embark on a desperate quest to keep her nation from staining its hands with genocide. Reunited with her great love, the mysterious adventurer known to the world as the Greyfriar, Adele is pursued by her own people as well as her vengeful husband, senator Clark. With the human alliance in disarrray, Prince Cesare, lord of the British vampire clan, seizes the initiative and strikes at the very heart of Equatoria.
As Adele labors to bring order to her world, she learns more about the strange powers she exhibited in the north. Her teacher, Mamoru, leads a secret cabal of geomancers who believe Adele is the one who can touch the vast power of the Earth that surges through ley lines and wells up at the rifts where the lines meet. These energies are the key to defeating the enemy of mankind, and if Princess Adele could ever bring this power under her command, she could be death to vampires. But such a victory will also cost the life of Adele’s beloved Greyfriar.
The Rift Walkeris the second book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternative history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, the Vampire Empire series brings epic politcal themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism.
Click HERE to read an excerpt from The Greyfriar
**Don’t forget to visit All Things Urban Fantasy today for her Spooky Legends guest blog with Jennifer Estep and a chance to win a copy of KISS OF FROST**
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