Evolve 2: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead
Edited by Nancy Kilpatrick
Cover Artist: John Kaline
Review by Mario Guslandi
Edge Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781894063623
Date: 15 August 2011 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The first Evolve volume, an anthology depicting the evolution of the vampire character in modern times, has been so well received that a sequel was largely predictable.
Editor Nancy Kilpatrick, whose excellent Introduction about the concept of vampirism is worth by itself the price of the book, has further stretched the time setting allotted to the contributing authors by expressly creating two sections of the book devoted to the vampires of the future. This imparts to many of the included stories an evident SF character that, in the end, predominates over the more horrific side, typical of a true vampire tale. This would not matter at all (even though, admittedly, I'm not a great fan of SF) if the stories were accomplished pieces of fiction.
Sadly, the tales featured in the sections entitled "Post-Apocalypse" and "New World Order", all depicting a grim future, are kind of monotonous, flat and not particularly well written, with only a few exceptions: Heather Clitheroe's "Forest Bathing", an uncommonly poetic, gentle vampire story; Tanith Lee's "Beyond the Sun", a perceptive SF story where the theme of vampirism is surprisingly addressed with a deep sentimental take; and Bev Vincent's "Red Planet". The latter is a fascinating SF piece where an astronaut on his one-way flight toward Mars is turned into a vampire due to an occasional, deadly sex encounter the night before. Vincent ingenuously describes how the new vampire manages to manipulate the rest of the crew and feed from their blood to attain eternal survival.
The remaining standouts belong to the initial section "Pre-Apocalypse". Silvia Moreno-Garcia contributes "A Puddle of Blood", an excellent tale where a vampire girl and a lonesome teenager briefly meet and share some adventurous, dangerous encounters in Mexico City. I bet a sequel will follow soon and Iím looking forward to it.
"Six Underground" by Michael Lorenson is an enticing, original story blending forensic matters and vampirism, further enhanced by a nice twist in the tail. The plot reminds me a bit of the famous Sidney Lumet movie Twelve Angry Men where jurors were discussing a murder case in a deliberation room.
The best story in the book is, arguably, David Beynon's "Symbiosis", a splendid, insightful piece rewriting the difficult relationship between men and vampires by emphasizing their similar conditions of loneliness and need.
In short, a bunch of good stories about a sub-theme (the evolution of the vampire) which seems to offer very little room for a third volume.