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The Problem with Vampires

I've been catching reruns of this show, The Mad, Mad House on the reality channel. The premise of the show is that a bunch of people with alternative life styles - the 'Alts' - take on a group of normal people in a mansion and whichever normal person stays the most normal at the end of the episode, that person gets booted. See, they're testing their capacity for change and growth. Or something. Anyways, the Alts are composed of a naturist, a modern primitive, a voodoo priestess, a witch and ... a vampire.

Well, he's a guy who says he's a vampire, though I seriously doubt that he's immortal and undead or any of that stuff. He drinks blood, sure, and he sleeps in a coffin during the day, and he has prosthetic fangs attached to his incissors, and he has creepy contact lenses, and he's really pale, but as far as being a 'real' vampire - if that term can be used for a fictional creation from folk lore - Naah. He aint it. This 'vampire' is just one more weirdo looking for some attention.

Vampires strain my ability to suspend disbelief, especially depending on who's vampire you're talking about. Like take the 'classic' vampire as described by Bram Stoker's Dracula. Dracula has been 'living' for centuries in Transylvania and they know about him in the area but for some reason nobody has taken the trouble to dispose of him. That's okay. They mind their own business in Transylvania. Well, according to the legend he can't be seen in mirrors, is scared of crosses, is mostly afraid of daylight, hates garlic, enjoys long walks in the country, fine dining and genuine people. He can be killed with a stake through the heart or fire ... and maybe silver. I'll have to check.

Every time that Dracula feeds on someone till they die- pay attention, this is important - they also become a vampire. And that is the problem. The mathematics of vampirism just doesn't work out. Dracula would have created a geometric progression of undead so that each vampire would inturn create multiples of more vampires, and they would each one of them create even more so that you would have a pyramid scheme of the undead. It would not take long until the entire world is full of vampires and who's going to be left to suck on?

This is hinted at in Steven King's excellent vampire novel, Salem's Lot. It's a great book. I really love it. But at the very end when the hero has gone off with his boy companion, after the whole village of Salem's Lot has been turned into vampires, I wonder ... what's stopping the vampires from going to the next little village in Maine, or the next one, or the next one and so on? Answer: Nothing. They'd just keep going until the entire world is full of vampires and, you guessed it, there's no one left to suck on.

Anne Rice takes care of this problem, sort of, in her vampire novels the most notable of which is Interview with the Vampire. In her scheme, it's not enough to just be bitten by a vampire; That won't turn you into one automatically. Instead, the vampire has to select you and then there has to be a process where you drink blood from the vampire and by doing that you ingest the essence, which turns you into one of the immortal undead. But there's a catch, of course. You have to be beautiful. I guess it's comforting to know that there won't be any eternally ugly ones, but still ... that's so not fair to all the non-beauty queens out there. The benefit of this is that they aren't promiscuously making more of their own kind. Sort of undead birth control.

What really bothers me most about her books is that once you're a vampire you can never have sex again. The act of draining someone of their blood is supposed to be an orgasmic experience that's even better than the real thing, but I don't care. It just wouldn't do it for me. I'm used to the old fashioned way, thank you. Her vampires are real sensuous and all that, and in love with each other, and that's nice. But as much as they love each other, they can never consumate that love in any meaningful way.

And her vampires feed every single night - one human sucked dry apiece. Here's where the math really gets tricky. In Interview with the Vampire there are three vampires in the group and they live together for about seventy five years. So let's do the math: That's about twenty five thousand victims, times three, which yields approximately seventy five thousand dead bodies around this very, very small group. Do you honestly mean to tell me that this would totally escape everybody's attention? Not even the dumbest law enforcement would miss this coincidence. Okay, Anne cheats a little and says that her vampires have a special way of healing up the bite marks so that the supernaturally dead people would be taken for just normal, regular dead. But still, they have no blood and we're supposed to believe no one would ever figure that out?

I don't think so.

The vampires I like the best are the ones in the TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is a great show and the greatest thing about it is how tongue and cheek everything is. Things may seem more than a little improbable now and then, but the characters roll with it. Creator Joss Whedon's vampires are more fully realized, and these guys have 'romantic' lives, if you know what I mean? You do know what I mean. Right?

Yeah, they get it on. The story lines are much more satisfying and the inherent Romeo and Juliet type conflict is heightened when Buffy the Vampire Slayer is involved with not one, but two seperate vampires ... and she's a vampire slayer! Boy, tell me love isn't blind. Joss's vampire infested world does kind of have the problem of too many vampires that make even more, but he does have a slayer to take care of the overpopulation, like Buffy is their predator. If I had to choose from which type of vampire I could have faith in, his would definitely be the closest.

About the Author: Steve Sommers is the author of Breakfast with the Antichrist. His new novel, Rexroi, along with the best of Australian Science Fiction - is available as an ebook at, OR if you ABSOLUTELY need to turn pages when you read - at

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