December 13th, 2008


Vampire Zero

My friend David Wellington's Vampire Zero, the third installment in his Laura Caxton series of novels, is, I think, the best of the series so far. While the first two, 13 Bullets and 99 Coffins, offered plenty of action and good old-fashioned vampire chewiness, this one, in my opinion, has the most compelling plot. I think it's also the tightest of the three.

Caxton has been promoted from State Trooper to Deputy U.S. Marshall and put in charge of the vampire-hunting task force based in Pennsylvania. Luckily, after the events of 99 Coffins, there are only two vampires left in the world. One is so old and decrepit she can't even leave her coffin. The other is a man who was once Caxton's mentor, the man who taught her everything she knows about fighting vampires. It's not just that he's a vampire now that's worrisome, nor the fact that he can anticipate all of Caxton's moves because he taught them to her himself, but rather the fact that he's a vampire zero, intent on spreading the curse and turning others into his kind. In particular, the members of his family. And that's what makes this the best of the series, to me at least. The personal element of the ticking clock plotline, which was missing from the previous installments, elevates this one to the status of a damn fine, and damn fast, read.

If I have any issues with the book, or the series as a whole, it's that I wish Caxton's girlfriend Clara Hsu had more to do. Right now she's basically there to either welcome Caxton home with a backrub or argue with her about how they're not spending enough time together. It's a little too Hollywood movie wife for me, and it doesn't show us why Caxton fell in love with her. I'd really like to see Clara come into her own. Maybe in the next book, which Dave tells me he's already hard at work on. I can't wait. The Laura Caxton series is getting better and better with each book.

Today in "You're Getting Older" News

The movie A Christmas Story has become a modern yuletide classic. It's on TV every winter, and TBS even plays it back to back as a twenty-four-hour marathon starting Christmas Eve. In some ways, I suppose it's the new It's a Wonderful Life.

But I remember when it came out in December of 1983. I remember thinking the commercial made it look stupid. Even as a fourteen-year-old, I cringed at the awful joke of the Chinese restaurant waiters unable to pronounce "fa la la la la" correctly as they sang carols. And yet, when I finally saw it, I loved it. There's good reason it's a holiday classic now.

Still, all this is beside the point. The point is, A Christmas Story came out in December of 1983. That means this month the movie turns twenty-five. Let that sink in.

Twenty-five years old. If my past behavior is any indication, and if A Christmas Story were a woman, I would be dating it!