Monthly Archives: April 2012

Fantasy Monster Fight: Vampires vs. Werewolves

All right. This is a completely silly post which has no bearing on the real world, or on literary criticism, or on whatever else, but I’m in an odd mood.

 

Some people have fantasy football (do people still do that these days?); I’ve got my fantasy monster fight. The question before me is: who would win in a fight? A vampire? Or a werewolf? Whole book series and movies have been written on this topic. In the Underworld movie series, for example, vampires and werewolves are in a state of perpetual warfare. And in the Twilight books… uh, I really don’t know because I refuse to read them, but I understand that there is a love triangle involving a human, a werewolf, and a vampire. Re-reading that, that sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. “A human, a werewolf, and a vampire enter a bar…”

 

Anyway, if a vampire and a werewolf came to blows, who would win? For those of us geeky gamers who used to play AD&D, the winner is obviously the vampire. Just look at the creatures’ stats in the Monster Manual. But trying to evaluate the match through literature is a little bit more difficult. One can only assess the situation by evaluating strengths and weaknesses.

 

Both vampires and werewolves are supernaturally strong. Both tend to be on the prowl or at their peak strength during night time hours. One on one against the typical human, the typical human doesn’t stand a chance. Both vampires and werewolves procreate by biting humans. And typically such transformations are a one way deal. What about weaknesses?

 

As far as humans are concerned, the only way to kill a werewolf is with a silver bullet. And I suppose fire works as well. The ways to kill a vampire, depending upon which particular myth you are dealing with, include: wooden stakes through the heart, decapitation, immersion in running water, sunlight, a silver bullet, and holy water. And I don’t think they are fond of fire either. The vampire also has several other weaknesses, although none of them are fatal. These include invitations, garlic, and roses. Clearly, if one considers weaknesses alone, the werewolf has the advantage. At least, it is clear that a human will find it more difficult to kill a werewolf than a vampire.

 

The vampire, however, does have two more important advantages: it can fly (or transform into a bat) and it always retains a human-like intelligence. Since it is intelligent, a vampire is more likely to seek out a gun and silver bullet if it is about to face a werewolf than vice versa. If one nixes the transforming into a bat bit, and simply gives the vampire the power of flight with a gun and several silver bullets, the vampire’s going to win quite easily. Actually, unless one grants the werewolf the ability to harm the vampire with its claws and bite, the vampire will always have the advantage of intellect over animalistic brawn. It should win pretty much every confrontation on those grounds: a snarling, drooling werewolf simply won’t think to use a wooden stake or a bowie knife. But if the vampire and werewolf can both harm each other with their respective natural weapons, all bets are off.

 

Regardless, as far as humans are concerned: it is better to fight a vampire. You have more options to kill, repel, or, at the very least, escape from a vampire than you do a werewolf. So, remember that the next time you are out wandering through a graveyard beneath a full moon. Go with the guy clawing his way out of the ground rather than the strange beastie howling at the moon.

Book and Movie Reviews: Is a 5-star Rating Worthwhile?

Having recently completed and published a vampire fantasy book (Drasmyr), I am currently in the process of seeking out reviewers for it. Obviously, I want to get the highest score I can for my book; theoretically, a five out of five star review should attract reviewers. However, not to naysay the hard work of the reviewers, a five star review doesn’t quite mean what it used to, whether it is for a book, a movie or whatever.

 

The difference is the Internet; it has opened up the review process to anyone and everyone. I’ve seen some people review classics, like “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, and give it a mere two stars out of five. At the same time, I’ve seen books of far more questionable quality get a score of five out of five stars. Obviously, the problem is that there is a lot of reviewing going on by people who don’t have the literary credentials to be doing so. But this is a free country, and freedom is one of the foundations of the Internet.

 

Anyway, does this mean that an Internet review is worthless to the consumer? No. It simply means that the consumer must approach the review with care. The consumer must sample the work of the reviewer; if she consistently disagrees with the reviewer’s assessment, then it would be for the best if she sought a different reviewer out; there certainly are plenty of them.

 

A review is a matter of personal opinion. It always has been, to a certain extent, but it is even more so now. Just because a book is a classic, doesn’t mean everyone will like it. I liked “A Tale of Two Cities,” but there were a few things about it I didn’t like. And just because it is a well-regarded classic, doesn’t mean I’m not entitled to dislike parts of it, or that somebody else can’t give it a mere two stars. In all probability, the two star rating was probably given by somebody who was very young who was looking for an action-packed, pulse-pounding novel, or something similar. There is action and blood (a great deal of blood) in the novel, but it is of an antiquated sort.

 

As a writer, reviews still concern me (and you, if you write). If I garner five-star reviews in abundance, my book will sell well. However, a single poor review, provided it is not the only review, will not sink my book. In the end, for those who need consolation after getting a poor review, I point to “A Tale of Two Cities” above. A single review, no matter the source, is not the final say.

 

Of course, knowing this intellectually is not the same as feeling it in your bones. That can be a difficult transition to make.

 

What do you think?

 

 

Movie Review: The Howling, Reborn

I was never a huge fan of the Howling film series when it came out—what was that, the 80’s maybe? There was one exception, though, I think it was “Howling Five,” set in a castle where a werewolf was systematically killing off a group of guests, or something like that. That was probably one of the more suspenseful and better werewolf movies I’ve ever seen. Anyway, on a kind of spur of the moment type thing, a friend and I sat down to watch the movie “The Howling, Reborn” the other night.

 

“The Howling, Reborn” tells the story of Will Kidman, a young teenager soon to graduate from High School. Suffering the usual bullies and whatnot from his school, Will earns particular ire for his interest in classmate Eliana Wynter. But things rapidly take a turn for the worse, and before he knows it, he is on his way to becoming a werewolf and he and Eliana are pitted against a growing army of such creatures intent upon wreaking horrible destruction upon humanity. And only the two love-struck high-schoolers can stop them.

 

Overall, I thought the storyline was decent. It held me interested for most of the movie. It wasn’t exceptional, by any means, but original enough with a few clever surprises here and there to make it worthwhile. The special effects, however, were pretty lame. The werewolves looked like 80’s Halloween costumes. A far cry from say the more recent “The Wolfman” movie where the transformations were chillingly realistic.

 

Anyway, if you can put with the cheesy special effects and you are into werewolves, you might enjoy the movie. I’ll give it three out of five stars.

Announcement: Blog Tour Approaching

I am pleased to announce that Bewitching Blog Tours will be sponsoring a blog tour for myself and my book, “Drasmyr,” during the month of May. The tour will begin on May 7th. The particulars of the tour, including which sites I will be visiting, will be announced at some point in the future.

Will We See The Death of Writing?

I’ve written previously on this topic, but I felt inclined to revisit it today.

 

The writing industry, like many other industries, is in the process of being transformed by technology, specifically the Internet. Technology is having a variety of effects on the written word, many of which are detrimental. First, the English language (and most probably all the other ones) are disintegrating beneath an avalanche of abbreviations. Dn’t u think so 2? The art of writing still exists, and there are a select number of individuals who can still make a living at it, but a new threat is rising. The ebook.

 

The ebook is, basically, a digital book. As opposed to the standard paperback or hardcover, the digital book can be copied almost endlessly, and transferred over wires and through the air. This leads to a few difficult issues, such as copyright problems, and perhaps even easier information theft, however, the ease of production and copying has led to a reduction in prices (excepting where a few monopolistic concerns are involved) and increased availability. If one visits a site like Smashwords one will find a host of books under $5 or even free, a far cry from the typical $10 or $12 normally required for a traditional book. A search on Google for “free ebooks” leads to a whole page of options where one can be entertained for free. One takes a risk, though, with a free ebook—because it is so easy to produce one, quality is not guaranteed. What has happened is that all the books which would normally make up the infamous “slush pile” at a traditional publishing house have found their way on-line. The result is a hodgepodge of books on everything under the sun, written at varying levels of ability.

 

It is the free ebook that I worry about the most as a threat to the writing industry. Whether intentionally or not, they may drive the more traditional publishing houses out of business. I could be wrong. I hope I am. But the problem is twofold: as the literary skills (dn’t u think so 2?) of the general population decline, the literary ability required to satisfy them will also decline. Combine this with an enormous influx of free ebooks, and the traditional book industry might have a serious problem. Why spend $12 on a traditional book, or $6 on a traditional book houses’ ebook, when one can get comparable entertainment from a free ebook? Taken together these factors may spell the death of the writing industry.

 

Perhaps I’m being paranoid. The writing industry has survived other technological upheavals in the past; perhaps it will survive this one as well. I hope so.