by George R. R. Martin.
From the publisher: "When struggling riverboat captain Abner Marsh receives an offer of partnership from a wealthy aristocrat, he suspects something's amiss. But when he meets the hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York, he is certain. For York doesn't care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh's dilapidated fleet. Nor does he care that he won't earn back his investment in a decade. York has his own reasons for wanting to traverse the powerful Mississippi. And they are to be none of Marsh's concern--no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious his actions may prove.
"Marsh meant to turn down York's offer. It was too full of secrets that spelled danger. But the promise of both gold and a grand new boat that could make history crushed his resolve--coupled with the terrible force of York's mesmerizing gaze. Not until the maiden voyage of his new sidewheeler Fevre Dream would Marsh realize he had joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare...and mankind's most impossible dream."
PVN: Recently I was surprised to find a copy of Geroge R R Martin's Fevre Dream on the shelves of Barnes and Noble's SF section. That book was published some time in the eighties (1982 to be exact).
Someone gave me a copy. I read the cover flap. Steamboat captain meets vampire in the 19th century. Didn't sound that interesting so I set it aside but did make a note of it for a list of vampire fiction I was compiling.
A few years later when I decided to expand and publish said list into Vampire Readings I picked up Fevre Dream so that I could read enough to write my own annotation. Why did I wait so long?? I was hooked from the first sentence and could not stop until I finished the last captivating word.
What I remember most was the courage of the vampire Joshua York who was willing to make great sacrifices in order to allow his people to live honorably among humans without depending on their blood for sustenance. Helping him, although reluctantly at first, was Abner Marsh a rugged steamboat captain who became this vampire's closest friend.
Abner had lost his riverboat after his fleet was destroyed by the severe winter of 1857. He was penniless until the pale aristocrat Joshua York came along and offered to finance the fastest riverboat on the Mississippi. Her name would be the Fevre Dream, and it would become the vehicle for Joshua to bring to life the dream he held for his people.
Fevre Dream is a classic story of courage, honor, and friendship. if you haven't read it you should. Martin creates vivid characters and evokes time and place with great clarity.