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SISTERS OF THE NIGHT by Barbara Hambly


edited by Barbara Hambly & Martin H. Greenberg

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-446-67143-6

 Surprisingly crisp and inventive vampire tales about sisters with fangs. Editors Hambly (Traveling with the Dead, see below) and sf- fantasy-mystery anthologist Greenberg hit on a happy idea when asking 14 writers, including Hambly, to write about ``the woman as vampire: loving that absorbs and destroys the lover; the moth going willingly to the flame. The immortal beloved who lives on the blood of a thousand mortal men.'' As it happens, the theme most common to these writers treats of homelife among the undead, and three study the vampire as mother. Thus there is a lot of cooking, agonized family chat, and even a PTA meeting. All are told with straight faces that undercut satirical intent, though satire is clearly meant here and there. The album kicks off with its best story, ``Empty,'' by M. John Harrison, which may well be a classic in the genre, its inspired slapstick payoff set in a bathtub. Perhaps ten of the 14 choose the right tone, while the others are overwritten or simply dullish or flat, including Larry Niven's overlong sf hackwork, ``Song of the Night People,'' or else depend on a tossed salad of mystery/fantasy jargons, as in George Alec Effinger's ``Marid and the Trail of Blood.'' The collection's absolute standouts are Kristine Kathryn Rusch's ``Victims,'' a very clever political tale about vampires coming out of the closet like gays, running escort services, and influencing elections; and Steve and Melanie Tem's ``Mama,'' the story of a cancer-ridden mother now dead and buried but to whom Dad takes trays in the back bedroom. Being dead gives Mama lots of power: ``Before anybody in the family did anything they first had to figure out how it might affect Mama.'' Blood in the bank.