Here's a quote that rung my bell the other day:
the 20th century really saw the domestication of all sorts of imaginary creatures that we used to think of as frightening. Angels used to be considered extremely frightening. When my medieval monks encounter angels they are terrified of them. And angels are usually angry, too. They’re not nice. Similarly, vampires used to be frightening and now they’re teenage love interests.
I like that line: "Domesticated horrors"
That could be the tagline for the virtual reality we're all chained up in today.
Reality is sterile, climate-controlled, run for you by managers and geeks. You never encounter the world untouched by human hands. It's filtered, processed, chopped, diced, and sliced for your convenience.
The vampire legend, in some form or another, is as old as the dirt your ancestors walked on. Every culture from Europe to Asia to Africa has some version of the cursed blood-sucker returned from the dead to haunt the living.
Now they're a playtoy for tween fan-fiction.
Even more sophisticated thinking man's adult Sci-Fi gets in on the action. When you fumigate the world of its lurking horrors, science must invent replacements.
One such example is Peter Watts's Blindsight and its sequel, in which vampires are a genetic cousin species to homo sapiens that went extinct thanks to a "brain quirk" that sent them into seizures upon sighting a right angle. Hence the allergy to the Cross.
Now the fools in this book's universe decided to genetically recreate the extinct bloodsuckers, only to learn that they are quite unlike us normals in very important respects. They are intellects like none other – chess masters and game-players optimized to hunt their brethren. But these vampires are otherworldly in a most unsettling way. They aren't quite persons like you and I think of ourselves as selves.
The vampire evolved as a parasite on the ordinary type of human. They didn't need consciousness or self-awareness to do that. They only had to be very good at mimicking the prey.
It's a clever approach. Honestly I'm a little bit jealous I didn't think of it.
But it's also part of this annoying and possibly species-ending tendency of ours to transform every miracle into an explanation.
Once you transform a supernatural being into a medical problem, it doesn't simply lose the magic.
It's a pet.
An object for overconfident and undercompetent scientists to study in macabre and passionless way that scientists – many of whom have the psychopath's under-developed moral sense – are wont to do.
Last decade's zombie fetish was case in point. Zombies were another supernatural creature, often closely related to the vampire myths. To update this idea for today's savvy audiences what got no time for magic, they transformed the zombie into an entirely rational and explainable form of viral infection.
The parable of the Sorcerer's Apprentice teaches a valuable lesson that we should all take to heart. The creations that you unleash have a way of getting out of your control.
Hubris is no man's ally.
There are some lines that ought not be crossed.
But, we live in a society that rewards line-crossers and selects for the conscience-free psychopaths willing to do it by promoting them to positions of authority.
The most ironic bit is that by shining a light on the world and getting rid of the old monsters and cryptids, we've opened the door for far worse horrors to come through...
Like this article? You'll get to read all the member-only posts if you join us.
Want to leave a comment? You'll need to join us inside the the private rogue planet community.
Members can discuss this article over at the rogue planet zone on SocialLair.