Thomas Sipos takes the mythological blood-suckers (vampires) combines them with the intellectual ones (communists) in his novel Vampire Nation.
The novel's set in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan is in the White House, and Transylvania -- home of Count Dracula -- is still firmly behind the Iron Curtain. The main character is Henry Willoughby, a director who just wants to make a good old-fashioned witch movie. He gets a Hollywood studio to front the cash for it, but his backers constantly push for changes, finally sending him to Romania (home to Transylvania) to scout locations.
Willoughby's flabbergasted by the request -- what does the land of vampires have to do with witches? --but he goes along with it because he's desperate to get his movie made. He finds an entirely different kind of desperation waiting for him in Romania.
It starts on the plane. Half the plane is served dinner, while the other half is served wine. The logic, a stolid stewardess explains, is simple. The plane isn't always full, but it is always at least half full. By carrying only enough dinner and wine for half the passengers, they ensure that no food is wasted. And if it turns out that the plane is full, well, then people go hungry.
In Romania he finds an entire country run with this sort of half-logic and peopled by half-awake people stumbling through their daily lives. Swarming in the dark corners of the country are the Communists. They rule by fear, but their power doesn't just come from doctrine. No, these Communists have something else going for them: vampirism.
The entire nation's been overrun by vampires, and poor Willoughby's at a loss as to how to escape their clutches. Fortunately he finds help in the form of a woman named Anya , who may or may not be a CIA agent. She's an experienced vampire hunter and she's in-country to assassinate Romania's head blood-sucker, Nicolae Ceauescu. She initiates the stumbling and bewildered Willoughy into the dark, corrupt world of the vampires, and together they fight Ceauescu and his goons.
Communist Vampires attacks its subject matter from a libertarian perspective inspired by heavy doses of Ayn Rand's fiction, Ronald Reagan's shoot-from-the-hip witticisms, and a quirky sense of humor. It's a welcome relief from a world that thinks that communism just as cool and froody as capitalism -- that some how enslaving people in service to the state is actually a good idea. Heck, as recently as the Elian Gonzoles case folks were asserting that communism is just another political system that's just as valid and moral as capitalism (if not more so).
It's great to read a book that takes that collectivist BS and drives a stake through its oozeing Red heart.
Sipos' take on vampirism and communism is unique -- other books may have made a casual connection between the two, but Communist Vampires is the first one I've read that makes it explicit one.
The author's at his best when he's describing the look and feel of the vampires. These aren't the gothic, romantic lords of Anne Rice's novels; these are truly monsters, and look it. I also liked how the main characters used small doses of vampiric blood to "see" with vampire eyes, revealing the mental decay beneath the physical.
As an Ayn Rand fan, I appreciated a lot of its book's dialogue and the general sentiments, but sometimes it goes over the top. Usually this happens when Anya states some bit of Ayn Rand or liberatrian-inspired wisdom; her delivery tends to be stiff, formal, and somewhat dogmatic. She's supposed to be a calm, cool professional, so this fits her character to a certain degree, but the lines still sound canned.
The book's been called a satiric fable, but I found that the book waivers between humor and out-and-out horror ... and personally, I prefered the horror. I would loved to have seen the book take a more realistic approach dealing with a less wide-spread (but equally horrific) cult controlling the country. I love the idea of communist vampires as villains, and playing them straight would have made for an even more excellent read.
This isn't to say that the book's approach isn't fun. The leaders of the country are portrayed in all their illogical glory, and that's worth more than a few chuckles. I'd just like to see Sipos return to this subject matter again without the satiric edge.
So who's going to like this book? Well, if you're a Naderite or a die-hard Democrat, this book's not for you. But if you're a libertarian-minded individaul, an Ayn Rand fan, or someone who thinks that communism is a bad idea, you'll enjoy this book and find it a nice diversion from the typical fare.
- Author: Thomas M. Sipos
- Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
- ISBN: 0738811416
- Vampire Nation