Julian Munds at The Extremis Review has reviewed “Vampire Brides from Planet Hell.” You can read the whole thing here (and you really should, especially for his insights on the history and qualities of pulp fiction). For those of you with attention span issues, however, here are the bits that pertain specifically to “Vampires”:
Here at Extremis we don’t like to pass judgement on publications through the lens of good or bad. We strive to examine our subjects on their own terms. And so I look at Vampires as a good example of pulp. A story worthy of a read from anyone who likes a pulpy violent adventure for a hot afternoon in the backyard with a beer.
The story concerns a space mercenary, hired by the aristocracy of a galactic empire to save a noble damsel from a coven — can I call a group of vampires a coven? — of alien vampires.
The story feels like a mixture of the tail end of From Dusk Till Dawn, mixed with the language of a Silver Age comic, headed by a hero who is reminiscent of Han Solo.
Without giving too much away, and ruining the short 19 page tale, nothing is what it seems.
I have no qualms with calling this story pulp; pulp that isn’t half bad to read. There are rich characters and inspired sparse description. What you’d want from a short story.
If there is a failing in the story, it is not the story itself, but the narrative voice. The whole yarn is told from first person perspective.
What is tough about the narrative voice of Vampires… is that descriptions that would be common place in third person read as stilted and forced. At times Chandler’s narrative voice feels conscious of itself like he does not trust the reader to fill in the holes. This lack of clarity makes it hard to grasp the protagonist in the beginning.
The self consciousness is only present in the opening few pages of the story and when the conflict gets going the narrative finds a nice rhythm. The archetypes and quick violence of the story carry the reader away to the seedy world of Drekken IIi. By the end, I was sold.
Chandler continues the rich tradition of pulp. It makes you long for the days when you could buy this and twizzlers as you check out your groceries.
Incidentally, Julian and his team put out some pretty great content. As an example I’d offer up this post: “What Star Trek’s Balance of Terror Can Teach Us About the Ukraine Crisis.” The Extremis Review‘s tagline is “Where Fandom Becomes Literate!!!” As you can see they come by it honestly.