I am continuing a discussion concerning three criticisms leveled against SOMEWHITHER by a reviewer who tried manfully to put aside his grinding, migraine-sized hatred of Christianity, and of me in particular, to give my work a fair hearing.
Whether he achieved this high ambition or failed in a particularly embarrassing unselfaware display of gross anti-christian bigotry it would be improper and untoward of me to say.
And, as a matter of policy, I hold it to be shameful for authors to argue with critics for the same reason a comedian should never explain his joke. If the joke does not make you laugh when you hear it, the comedian cannot argue that missed laugh into being. A successful argument might convince you that you should have laughed: but a mere intellectual conviction that one should have laughed is not the same as having actually laughed. And an unsuccessful argument is even less funny.
But, in this world of unhinged and untrammeled libel, if the critic makes a false statement of fact about what is or is not in the text, I hold myself to be allowed to correct falsehoods. No one is likely to do it for me.
This latitude extends only to statements of fact, not judgement, conclusions, or matters of opinion. On those points I recuse myself.
In this case, the reviewer was unconvinced by three of my inventions. I have already discussed the first two: a Wagner ripoff named Foster and the Highlander ripoff called the Cainim. The third is my Dracula ripoff, called Bloodquaffers.
(I note in passing the reviewer did not criticize my slavish lack of creativity. Go figure.)
Here is the salient critique:
Wright wants to set the rule that the cross works [automatically] as a dynamic symbol of christ’s power not of the belief of the wielder – this is let me stress absolutely fine as a given in a vampire using novel, vampires are often glossed as having an origin in sin, and I can see why Wright doesn’t want to go down the ‘faith as energy’ route [which for instance in Doctor Who sees vampires defeated by faith in the Russian Revolution, or the Doctor’s faith in his companions] but there needs to be consistency both thematically for ‘vampires are like demons’ and for similar issues ‘what you believe vs it’s God’s power/action’ Wright’s vampires however aren’t vampires, they’re people from an alchemic aeon who have replaced their blood in part with alchemic silver (?) and lost the part of the soul that makes moral judgements – this in itself is nice invention, but as a backstory, how does it justify the automatic curse of the cross upon them? Is alchemy or soul-lessness inherently cross invoking, if its not trad vampireism? We don’t know.
So for the Bloodquaffers, some ado seems to be made over the fact that I have crucifixes drive back vampires. Normally this is no cause for objection, but the vampires here are not explicitly said to be sinful mockeries of the Catholic communion where we faithful gain everlasting life by drinking the blood of Christ. Vampires drink our blood and gain everlasting death.
Indeed, the text says the vampires are created by alchemy, black magic, and deliberately destroying one’s own humanity in order to gain diabolic powers, but the text did not explicitly say that was sinful or involved any hellish influence.
I confess to the criticism: The author assumed the reader would be familiar enough with the basics of the traditional vampire story to render it unnecessary to explain that crucifixes repel them.
Because many readers might assume the user’s faith, not the power of Christ, is what repels the vampire, the author did think it necessary to explicitly state that rule was the rule in my invented world. Anne Rice vampires work differently, as do those in BUFFY, in the Dresden files, and in Dungeons and Dragons. So I put the rule onstage, as any author of speculative fiction must.
Now the reviewer explicitly allows me this point, but then seems to think it is not believable that a girl baptized with the baptism of John (she is from world where John the Baptist arrived centuries before Jesus) could not wield the crucifix to drive back a vampire.
Equally in the final battle of the book, Foster Hidden who it is revealed is a worshipper of Odin invokes Odin, and is seemingly as a result empowered in combat. Is that his faith? Is that God choosing to empower a believer in a false god, because even though Odin is not a real God, the cause and the faith are good (but if so how is that not ‘the faith’ of the user). Or is it Odin, but if so what does this do for the ‘biblically true’ backstory.
Honestly, I am not sure what scene the reviewer has in mind here. There is a scene where one character uses the crucifix to drive back the vampire, but it is not Foster. As best I can tell, the reviewer merely mistakes Abby the twelve year old female Babylonian ninja-princess kidnapped by gypsies with Foster Hidden the German gypsy taught by dark elfs, who never even attempts to use the crucifix in this way.
As I have said prior, I am honor bound not to argue the point, but I allow myself the indulgence of reprinting part of a post I posted a year or so ago on the same topic. I apologize for repeating the description of my book to anyone who has read it. Read the remainder of this entry »