Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 632, August 14, 2011

"Planned and controlled genocide"—
She wants you dead!

Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Having a friend who is also an excellent author is a great thing. Among other advantages, sometimes you get to read books that aren't out yet. This is one of those times. L. Neil Smith, 4 time Prometheus Award Winning Libertarian author, has written a novel unlike anything he's written before.

Fans of Neil's works are used to lots of political discussions on the various benefits of a Libertarian capitalist society, individual liberties, and strong protagonists who do what needs doing when others are busy either debating what to do or waiting for the government to do it for them. This one is a bit different. The protagonist is a vampire. An ethical vampire, but a vampire, nonetheless.

Now, Neil's protagonist isn't your avaergage Hollywood vampire -- no opera capes, no psycho killers in white dresses, no sleeping coffins. NO magic of any kind. Vampirism is caused by a Virus. And this is an ethical vampire (remember??) who doesn't go around killing innocents, nor stealing blood without a form of payment. How this occurs, I won't go into (remember, I make it a point to avoid spoilers where possible). J. Gifford, born in 1920, converted in a French winecellar in 1944, and curerntly 90 years old, lives in a smallis Colorado city/large town. For 65 years, he's lived his life as he sees fit, trying to follow his own moral code. His only disapointment is that he's never found the woman who changed him. Then, everything changes. His long lost love returns to him at the very same time a string of murders is occurring across the country. Grisly murders. Victims drained of blood. Now, J has to determine if his long lost love is also a serial killer, or are they both in danger from something far worse.

As is usual with Neil's work, he manages to take something you think you know all about and make it his own. While I've read a lot of vampire novels (including the vampire novel), watched more vampire novels, TV shows, and cable series (really enjoy True Blood), the one thing I've always wondered is how it happens. Magic is always a lame excuse, and it also requires you to believe (or at least accept) in some form of supreme being. Here, it's a disease, (and a mostly beneficial one from J's point of view), and far more believable. Whether you like vampire novels or not, you'll enjoy this unique twist on them. My only complaint was it's length -- it ended too quickly. But Neil assures me that there's a sequel trapped in his mind, and all he needs is a little more time to let it out.

Sweeter Than Wine, by L. Neil Smith, will be available from Pheonix Pick, a division of Arc Manor Publishers, on July 13th, 2011. Buy it, you'll like it. Order it from both Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It's definitely worth the cost.

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