Jul 22, 2010

Dracula by Fred Saberhagen

Count Dracula has had a bad press. No doubt about it. Bram Stoker painted him as the personification of the evil, blood sucking vampire. Bela Lugosi and the Hammer movies did not help his cause. And when Raymond T McNally and Radu Florescu linked him to Vlad (the Impaler) Dracul  with their book In Search of Dracula his reputation was is shreds. Fortunately he had a champion in the person of Fred Saberhagen.

SF/Fantasy author Fred Saberhagen was probably the first to rehabilitate Count Dracula and present him as an honorable, misunderstood fellow. In The Dracula Tape the Transylvanian Count sets the record straight,  proving point by point how Bram Stoker had everything completely wrong. This book first published in 1975, will soon find a new audience because Tor plans to issue it on Dec. 28, 2010.

At one time I had a copy of this marvelous novel, but a recent hunt through all my hundreds of vampire related books came up zero for The Dracula Tape. I can only assume that at some point during the last household move it disappeared into a black hole.. It is a great relief to know that in the next few months I will once again have a copy and can reread this wry, witty tale.

Saberhagen followed with other novels in which Dracula, usually under a different name, had a variety of adventures. None strove for the humor so evident in the Tape, but I enjoyed reading the ones I was able to find. Over the next year, Tor will be reprinting 8 titles from Saberhagen's Dracula series. The Holmes-Dracula File was republished in June, 2010.

The Dracula Series of Fred Saberhagen in order of publication:

The Dracula Tape:  In a series of tape recordings Dracula (Vlad Tepes) tells his version of events involvnig Johanthan Harker, Min, Lucy Wetenra, Van Helsing and the others made famous in Stoker's story. [Vampire Readings]

The Holmes-Dracula File: From the publisher: World-famous “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes faces a terrible crisis: a ring of criminal masterminds has threatened to loose thousands of plague-infected rats into the streets of London.  But the Black Death isn’t Holmes’ only problem.  A lone killer haunts the city.  His calling card is a trail of corpses, drained of blood to the last drop. 

The key to solving both crimes rests in the hands of a mysterious nobleman recently returned to London on a personal matter.  His name is Dracula.  The Count is quickly entangled in a web of evil that even his immortal powers may not be enough to breach.  Holmes and Dracula soon come to the peculiar realization that they may be each other’s only hope

An Old Friend of the Family: From the publisher: The Southerland family left the old world to start anew in America, but little did they know that a blood-feud, older than history itself, would follow them through the generations to come.

Kate Southerland, the first born of the latest generation of Southerlands, has been murdered, but she is not dead. Her little brother, Johnny, has also vanished, a severed, bloody finger the only clue.

But the Southerlands have no clue what they've fallen into. Their enemy is no mortal madman, but the undying mistress of evil enchantment, Morgan Le Fay, and the Southerlands are not her true target. She seeks to do battle with their protector, their defender, the only man who is capable of saving this mortal family from a war they've never realized was waged.

Thorn The Thorn of the title is Jonathan Thorn, Dracula's current naem or at least the one used in this adventure. There are alternating chapters between Thorn's modern-day story and a segment of time when Vlad Dracula was a living, breathing human being. In today's world Thorn becomes involved in the disappearance of a young woman from a wealthy family. He name is Helen. Five hundred years ago Vlad took as his wife Helen, sister of the Hungarian King Matthias. It is no coincidence that both women have the same name and resemble one another. [Vampire Readings]

Dominion From the publisher: When two ancient, ruthless beings, locked in a struggle for the ultimate magic Weapon, bring their blood feud to New York, Vlad Tepes races to hide the coveted weapon. Reissued by Tor, March 2010.

A Matter of Taste From the publisher: He was once called Dracula, but in present-day Chicago he's known as Matthew. Since he's risked his un-life to protect the Southerland family many times, they call him Uncle Matthew. An old enemy tries to kill Matthew, and now the Southerlands must rise to Matthew's defense.

A Question of Time  From the publisher: Sixty years after Conservation Corps worker Jake Rezner disappeared without a trace into the Grand Canyon, private detective Joe Keogh is hired to locate a missing girl in that area and stumbles upon an ancient mystery.

Seance for a Vampire From the publisher: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless creation returns in a new series of handsomely designed, long out-of-print detective stories. From the earliest days of Holmes’ career to his astonishing encounters with Martian invaders, the Further Adventures series encapsulates the most varied and thrilling cases of the worlds’ greatest detective.

When two suspect psychics offer Ambrose Altamont and his wife the opportunity to contact their recently deceased daughter, the wealthy British aristocrat wastes no time in hiring Sherlock Holmes to expose their hoax. He arranges for the celebrated detective and Dr. Watson to attend the family's next seance, confident in Holmes' rationalist outlook on the situation. But what starts as cruel mockery becomes deadly reality when young, beautiful Louisa Altamont appears to her parents in the flesh as one of the nosferatu--a vampire!

The resulting chaos leaves one of the fraudulent spiritualists dead. Sherlock Holmes missing, and Dr. Watson alone and mystified. With time running out, Watson has no choice but to summon the only one who might be able to help--Holmes' vampire cousin, Prince Dracula. Alternately narrated by Watson and the charismatic Dracula himself, Seance for a Vampire demonstrates that heroes are sometimes found in the most unlikely places. Saberhagen has recast Bram Stoker's paragon of evil into a noble, witty and chillingly powerful character.

A Sharpness on the Neck From the publisher: In 1792, Philip Radcliffe, the bastard son of Benjamin Franklin, comes to France to deliver a letter to Thomas Paine--only to get caught up in a conflict far more horrifying than the Revolution. By foiling a powerful vampire's attempt at fratricide, Radcliffe dooms himself and his descendants to suffer the vampire's eternal vengeance.

In present day, Philip and June Radcliffe are kidnapped on their honeymoon. Their captor, a mysterious Mr. Graves, swears that he aims to protect them. Yet as the thrilling story unfolds, involving Napoleon, the Marquis de Sade, and the Scarlet Pimpernel, as well as Jerry Cruncher and Detective Dupin, the young couple refuses to believe him--a mistake that is certain to cost them their lives.


Lorelei said...

I own the original "The Dracula Tape", I bought in 1981, and have read it again just a few months ago.

I thought then, and do now, that this was an original, clever answer to the tired Bram Stoker's Dracula

Patricia Altner said...

Hi Lorelei

So glad to find a fellow believer! My hope is that with the release in December that a new audience for this imaginative look at Dracula will find a new audience.

Thanks for your comment!

Kate said...

Hi Patricia,

Thanks for this excellent piece on Mr. Saberhagen's work. I have never read his vampire fiction books and I was very glad to learn about his Dracula/Sherlock Holmes books! I am a big fan of the detective and will enjoy combining these two interests! I look forward to more of these in-depth pieces by you.

Kate Sanner

Patricia Altner said...

Hi Kate and thanks for your comment!

If you have a chance to read any of the titles I would like to know your thoughts.

The Holmes-Dracula is currently available from Tor.

Daghain said...

I am SO excited these books are coming back into print! I picked them all up as used paperbacks online awhile back for a couple bucks each, and they are just as good as I remember from when I first read them in the 80's. I agree, The Dracula Tape is hysterical - there is certainly no love lost between Vlad and Van Helsing!

Daghain said...

I am SO excited these books are coming back into print. I first read them in the 80's and loved them, and I'm excited that a whole new group of readers will get to experience them.

And I agree - The Dracula Tape is hysterical - there is certainly no love lost between Vlad and Van Helsing!

Patricia Altner said...

Hi Daghain

I envy you having the books on your shelf. Somewhere along the line my copies disappeared, but come Jan. I will once again be able to read The Dracula Tape.

Thanks for writing!