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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Having enjoyed the short-lived BLOOD TIES TV series of a couple years back, I finally decided to check out two of the books in the prose series by Tanya Huff. Of these "Blood Books" (no relation to Clive Barker's Books of Blood) I knew only that they sounded as if they had been closely patterned after Laurel K. Hamilton's hardboiled-styled series about Anita Blake, a young female detective-type who ends up palling around with a vampire (and occasionally a werewolf) in the course of her adventures. The first of Huff's books introduces her heroine Vicky Nelson to the vampire Henry as well as a merely-human romantic rival, and the second has Vicky and Henry take on a case for a pack of beleaguered werewolves.

Irrespective as to whether Huff was inspired by Hamilton, though, I (a formerly-devoted Hamilton fan who's currently behind on that series) find myself comparing the former to the latter with Huff coming up short. For though both are writing mainstream genre fiction with no pretensions of literary content, Hamilton simply gives us a better thought-out fantasy-world than does Huff.

True, Hamilton has the advantage of riffing on a concept that kicked around the SF magazines for years: what if monsters were regular members of society? This alternate society allows Hamilton to explore a wide variety of sociological myths (in the constitutive sense of that word) that Huff cannot deal with, as her monsters still have to hide from prying eyes.

Still, it all comes down to this: whose monsters are really interesting? And sad to say, where Hamilton's creates a whole werewolf culture that she promulgates through several books, Huff merely strings together some basic notions that do no more than further the book's basic plot.

For me the most telling comparison is that while Huff gives me perfectly serviceable pulp fiction, she lacks that over-the-top delirium that gives birth to excellent pulp.

Having brought up the word "pulp," I'd even say that Huff's Blood Books are a lot many of the stories written back in the early 20th century for THE SHADOW-- readable mysteries with not a lot of punch. In contrast, Hamilton has more of the delirious quality of the SPIDER pulps, where even the weaker outings have a balls-to-the-wall feel to them.

CORRECTION: I happened to look up the date on Huff's first Blood-book, BLOOD PRICE, and it's two years before the publication of the first Anita Blake. So as far as inspiration-- yeah, glad I said "irrespective."

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