The Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman—named after Anno Dracula (1992), the series' first novel—is a work of fantasy depicting an alternate history in which the heroes of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula fail to stop Count Dracula's conquest of Great Britain, resulting in a world where vampires are common and increasingly dominant in society. While Dracula is a central figure in the events of the series, he is a minor character in the books themselves, and usually appears in only a few climactic pages of each book.
The series is known for its carefully researched historical settings and the author's use as supporting characters of both historical people and fictional characters of the appropriate period. The metafictional style was inspired by the Wold Newton Universe of Philip José Farmer, and Neil Gaiman helped develop the series (and was originally going to be its co-author). Gaiman has also credited the series as being one of the main influences on his short story "A Study in Emerald".
Entries in the series have won awards from the Dracula Society, the Lord Ruthven Assembly, and the International Horror Guild, and been short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award and the Sidewise Award for Alternate History.
The series currently consists of three novels and a number of short stories and novellas.
- Main article: Anno Dracula (novel)
1888. Dracula has married the widowed Queen Victoria, and rules as Prince Consort. A virtual checklist of fictional vampires have come out of hiding and gained new social status. But all is not going smoothly for the new regime: Jack the Ripper stalks Whitechapel, murdering vampire prostitutes. Charles Beauregard, a (non-vampire) agent of the Diogenes Club, is sent to track the murderer down, and finds himself enmeshed in a plot to free England from Dracula's rule.
Unusually for the series, several of the borrowed characters in Anno Dracula have no links to the period. To give just two examples: the heroine Geneviève Dieudonné is recycled from Newman's own Warhammer novels (first appearing in 1989 Drachenfels, written under the name Jack Yeovil), and Carl Kolchak has a brief cameo as a reporter following the Ripper case. (Newman has said that if he had realised he would get so many sequels out of the premise, he would have saved Kolchak up for a story set in the character's native 1970s.)
First published in October 1992, Anno Dracula has won the Dracula Society's Children of the Night Award, the Lord Ruthven Assembly's Fiction Award, and the International Horror Guild Award for Best Novel, and was short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel.
The Encyclopedia of Fantasy classifies Anno Dracula as "recursive fantasy", and further describes the work as not "strictly steampunk, but echoing in gaslight romance terms steampunk's dense reworking of a 19th century London." (The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, pp. 803, 896).
The Bloody Red BaronEdit
- Main article: The Bloody Red Baron
Set during World War I. The Graf von Dracula, after being expelled from Great Britain in 1897, spread his brand of unstable vampirism (and with it raging lycanthropy) throughout the Russian Imperial Family. He now leads Germany and the Central Powers against the Entente, with vampires—now a part of everyday life—fighting (and dying) on both sides. The Red Baron of the title is the historical ace fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, who in this altered history leads a squadron of monstrous flying vampires.
First published in November 1995, The Bloody Red Baron was shortlisted for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, Long Form.
Dracula Cha Cha Cha (or Judgment of Tears)Edit
- Main article: Dracula Cha Cha Cha
1959. Every vampire who is anybody is flocking to Rome for Dracula's wedding, but there is a mysterious vampire killer on the loose. Events are complicated by the arrival of a British secret agent called Bond (but not James Bond), on the trail of a Russian spymaster who never goes anywhere without his cat. The films of Federico Fellini are an influence on the setting and atmosphere, and several of his characters appear in the novel.
First published November 1998.
1980s. Newman has stated he is working on a fourth novel in the series that will conclude the overall story. The novel will be set in the United States and will incorporate "Coppola's Dracula", "Castle in the Desert", "Andy Warhol's Dracula", and "The Other Side of Midnight". It includes references to Taxi Driver, Ms. 45, Blade, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Deathmaster, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, The Light at the End, Death Wish, Convoy, Vampirella, Natural Born Killers, Badlands, Nocturna, Cruising, Vampire Junction, The Addiction, and The Lost Boys, as well as taking its title from a character in the film Dracula AD 1972. Newman says the book "features more of [Dracula], and in more aspects, than the other three books put together." The book has been "nearly finished" since 2000, but "I don't even have a tentative date...It'll happen when it happens."
Short stories and novellasEdit
1888. Written in 1991, this novella was the first work in the series. It was later expanded into the novel Anno Dracula.
First published in The Mammoth Book of Vampires, 1992.
"Castle in the Desert"Edit
1977. The story's first-person narrator, a private investigator, investigates the death of his ex-wife, found at the bottom of her swimming pool with an iron stake driven through her, and the disappearance of her daughter, last seen falling in with a crowd of vampire cultists. (The private investigator, though not named in the story, is clearly Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, and his ex-wife is the recurring character Linda Loring, whom Marlowe married in Chandler's unfinished final novel Poodle Springs—after initially rejecting the idea because he knew it would not last.) (online)
1976. Francis Ford Coppola is making the film for which he will always be remembered—an adaptation of Dracula starring Marlon Brando as Dracula and Martin Sheen as Jonathan Harker. (Yes, it is Apocalypse Now, complete with all the famous quotes and mishaps during filming, albeit in Romania instead of the Philippines.) The film crew is befriended by a young-looking vampire, who leaves with them when they return to America. (online)
First appeared in The Mammoth Book of Dracula, 1997.
"Andy Warhol's Dracula"Edit
1978. New York. Johnny Pop, the young-looking vampire who came to America with Coppola's film crew, finds his place in his new homeland, on his way to becoming the next Dracula. He becomes rich (creating a drug ring that sells "drac", derived from vampire blood) and socially successful (befriending many luminaries, including Andy Warhol), but risks losing it all when the many enemies he makes along the way join forces against him.
"Who Dares Wins"Edit
April 30, 1980. The Romanian Embassy in London has been taken over by "freedom fighters" who want Transylvania to become a homeland for the undead. As Special Air Service troops mass for an assault, vampire/journalist Kate Reed is invited into the embassy to meet the leader of the terrorists. (The equivalent event in our history involved the Iranian embassy: see Iranian Embassy Siege.) (online)
"Who Dares Wins" includes an appearance by Richard Jeperson, the central character in one of Newman's other main series, the Diogenes Club short stories.
"The Other Side of Midnight"Edit
1981. Orson Welles receives funding from a mysterious source to film the ultimate version of Dracula, and hires a private detective to find out why. (The title combines those of two of Welles' movies: Chimes at Midnight and The Other Side of the Wind, the latter of which was left uncompleted at Welles' death in 1985. Welles also appeared as a minor character in Dracula Cha Cha Cha.)
"The Other Side of Midnight" was shortlisted for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, Short Form.
"You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings"Edit
1984. A covert mission using undead agents to unseat the Ceauşescu regime in Romania.
"Concert for Transylvania"Edit
"Dead Travel Fast"Edit
Published in the anthology Dracula in London, this story features an untold tale of Dracula's deeds during the events of the original novel. Although it is not technically an Anno Dracula story, as it occurs before the events of Anno Dracula diverge from those in Dracula, it may still be considered as an adjunct to the series. In the story, Dracula visits the manufacturers of one of the earliest automobiles.
In a 2000 interview, Newman said that he had scripted an Anno Dracula movie for Stuart Pollok and André Jacquemetton, who originally wanted Daniel Day-Lewis and Isabelle Adjani for Beauregard and Geneviève, and then Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche after they became too old. Other of Newman's suggestions were Jane Horrocks as Katie Reed, Helena Bonham Carter as Penelope Churchward, Colin Firth as Arthur Holmwood, Christopher Lee as Mycroft Holmes, Richard E. Grant as John Seward, and Harvey Keitel as Count Dracula.
According to an interview on May 16, 2008, the rights to an Anno Dracula movie have been optioned, and Newman has written a script, but "I don't know if there's much movement on it...Over the years, I've had a few comics people say they'd be interested and even an occasional game nibble, but no one has ever come up with a solid deal."
Newman's series presents vampires as more or less natural beings, passing on a biological change through the sharing of blood. "We are natural beings, like any other," Geneviève says. "There's no magic." (Though when confronted with the vampire's inexplicable inability to cast a reflection, she allows, "Maybe a little magic.... Just a touch.") Despite this, genetic studies have shown that the DNA of an individual before and after becoming a vampire does not change, despite the obvious change in their body and its abilities. Additionally, the vampire Cagliostro is said to be able to perform genuine acts of magic.
Newman's series brings together characters from a large number of legends and fictional works that portray the vampires in many different ways. He tries to explain this in part through the concept of "bloodline", in which particular vampiric traits are passed on from vampire to vampire. A characteristic of Dracula's bloodline is shape-shifting, however because becoming a vampire isn't automatically like Dracula many vampires experience partal shape-shifting and die because of that. However an interesting sidenote is that to "create" a new bloodline you have to be bitten by many different vampires during your mortal life then when you die as a mortal you resurrect a new type of vampire, such as a shape-shifting vampire. This is how Dracula became a vampire in the novels, and this explains why his power over shape-shifting is in his complete control unlike other vampires in his bloodline. Lord Ruthven, the British prime minister, says of Dracula:
- "There's grave-mould in his bloodline, Godalming. That's the sickness he spreads. Think yourself lucky that you are of my bloodline. It's pure. We may not turn into bats and wolves, my son-in-darkness, but we don't rot on the bone, either, or lose our minds in a homicidal frenzy."
Some vampires have an aversion to crucifixes, holy water and the like, but Newman portrays this a superstition; vampires without such "silly ideas" show no ill effects from religious symbols. Garlic, too, is only effective against vampires who believe their own folklore. However, silver is deadly to all of Newman's vampires.
One trait that vampires share is an almost instantaneous healing ability. "Vampire physiology is such that wounds inflicted with ordinary weapons heal almost immediately," vampire expert Dr. Jekyll says in Anno Dracula. "Tissue and bone regenerate, just as a lizard may grow a new tail. Silver has a counteractive effect on this process." In some bloodlines, if silver is used complete regeneration may not be possible, which is what happened to Moldavian who was shot with silver; however certain bloodlines could completely regenerate even if silver is used. Dr. Jekyll also says that "any major breach of the vital organs seems to produce true death," explaining why a stake through the heart is an effective tactic.
Sunlight is also dangerous to vampires, particularly to the "new-born"—those recently turned into undead. For vampire "elders", those with years or centuries of experience, sunshine may be tolerable though still strength-sapping. There is no firm agreement on what makes a vampire an elder; a rough consensus was outlasting one's natural lifetime followed by another lifetime, or two centuries. Two-thirds of the vampire elders in Newman's universe come from the Romanian area of the Southern Carpathians; however, there are non-Caucasian vampires, such as the Chinese Assassin and Prince Mamuwalde.
Newman's vampires do need to drink blood for sustenance, though the taking of blood need not be fatal and is often voluntary. However if the blood has a disease, or is dead blood it can make any vampire sick. Indeed, several characters in Anno Dracula are vampiric prostitutes who service "warm" men in exchange for coin or, preferably, quaffs of their blood. Animal blood is also used by vampires as a second-rate substitute for human blood. As Tom Ripley muses:
- "In his ignorance, Tom had thought the dead needed blood to survive the way the living needed water. It wasn't true. Warm blood could be like dope, or alcohol, or sex, or espresso, or sugar. Anything from a desperate addiction to a mild weakness. When the red thirst was on them, their famed powers of insight and persuasion turned to fuzz and fudge."
Nor are vampires the only supernatural beings to inhabit Newman's universe. Zombies exist, but are said to be types of vampires caused by an epidemic bloodline that damages the brain and requires the vampire to chew blood from flesh rather than drink it from the vein; like 'normal' zombies, they spread their infection through simple biting and can only be killed by destroying the brain. Werewolves, ghosts, and non-vampire immortals also exist; as do artificial life such as Dr. Moreau's animal-human hybrids, and Frankenstein's monster, automaton assassins, and golems; extraterrestrial or genetically-engineered species, such as triffids and Audrey II, also exist. An octopoidal elder claims to be a Martian, and the Great Old Ones are also vaguely hinted at existing in this universe via the existence of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Griffin's invisibility formula and Jekyll's ability to transform into Hyde also exist. Several "warms" are also said to have the vampire powers of precognition and telepathy, or the ability to perform acts of genuine magic. However, for the most part, vampires are the center-stage of Newman's paranormal setting.
- ↑ Anno Dracula: The Background
- ↑ Introduction to Fragile Things
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Dances with the Undead: Kim Newman, Part 2
- ↑ http://www.johnnyalucard.com/main.html#news
- ↑ Casting a play: Interview with Kim Newman
- ↑ Anno Dracula, Chapter 27.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "The Other Side of Midnight".
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Dracula Cha Cha Cha, Chapter 19.
- ↑ Anno Dracula, Chapter 7.
- ↑ Anno Dracula, Chapter 2.
- ↑ Anno Dracula, Chapter 6.
- ↑ Judgment of Tears, Chapter 3.
- ↑ Judgment of Tears, Chapter 2.
- ↑ Judgment of Tears, Chapter 4.
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 Judgment of Tears, Chapter 12.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Judgment of Tears, Chapter 5.
- ↑ Judgment of Tears, Chapter 26.
- ↑ The Bloody Red Baron, Chapter 13.
- ↑ Judgment of Tears, Chapter 9.
- ↑ Anno Dracula, Chapter 10.
- ↑ Anno Dracula, Chapter 57.
- Anno Dracula: The Background by Kim Newman
- Anno Dracula Character Guide: a complete guide to all the fictional characters appearing in the Anno Dracula series
- Anno Dracula: The Vampire State
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