The Vampire Tapestry

The Vampire Tapestry

by Suzy McKee Charnas

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Edward Weyland is far from your average vampire: not only is he a respected anthropology professor but his condition is biological — rather than supernatural. He lives discrete lifetimes bounded by decades of hibernation and steals blood from labs rather than committing murder. Weyland is a monster who must form an uneasy empathy with his prey in order to survive, and The Vampire Tapestry is a story wholly unlike any you've heard before.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765320827
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 08/19/2008
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 285,598
Product dimensions: 8.08(w) x 5.46(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Suzy McKee Charnas is the author of over a dozen works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, including the Holdfast series from Tor Books and the Sorcery Hall series of books for young adults. She is the winner of the Hugo Award (for her short story "Boobs") and has won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award twice.

Read an Excerpt

The lecture hall was full in spite of the scarcity of students on campus this time of year. These special talks were open to the town as well.

Dr. Weyland read his lecture in a stiff, abrupt manner. He stood slightly cramped over the lectern, which was low for his height, and rapped out his sentences, rarely raising his glance from his notes. In his tweeds and heavy-rimmed glasses he was the picture of the scholarly recluse drawn out of the study into the limelight. But Katje saw more than that. She saw the fluid power of his arm as he scooped from the air an errant sheet of notes, the almost disdainful ease with which he established his dominion over the audience. His lecture was brief; he fulfilled with unmistakable impatience the duty set every member of the faculty to give one public address per year on an aspect of his work, in this case "The Demonology of Dreams."

At the end came questions from the audience, most of them obviously designed to show the questioner's cleverness rather than to elicit information. The discussions after these lectures were reputed to be the real show. Katje, lulled by the abstract talk, came fully awake when a young woman asked, "Professor, have you considered whether the legends of supernatural creatures such as werewolves, vampires, and dragons might not be distortions out of nightmares at all-that maybe the legends reflect the existence of real, though rare, prodigies of evolution?"

Dr. Weyland hesitated, coughed, sipped water. "The forces of evolution are capable of prodigies, certainly," he said. "You have chosen an excellent word. But we must understand that we are not speaking-in the case of the vampire, for example-of a blood-sipping phantom who cringes from a clove of garlic. Now, how would nature design a vampire?

"The corporeal vampire, if he existed, would be by definition the greatest of all predators, living as he would off the top of the food chain. Man is the most dangerous animal, the devourer or destroyer of all others, and the vampire preys on man. Now, any sensible vampire would choose to avoid the risks of attacking humans by tapping the blood of lower animals, if he could; so we must assume that our vampire cannot. Perhaps animal blood can tide him over a lean patch, as seawater can sustain the castaway for a few miserable days but can't permanently replace fresh water to drink. Humanity would remain the vampire's livestock, albeit fractious and dangerous to deal with, and where they live so must he.

"In the sparsely settled early world he would be bound to a town or village to assure his food supply. He would learn to live on as little as he could-perhaps a half liter of blood per day-since he could hardly leave a trail of drained corpses and remain unnoticed. Periodically he would withdraw for his own safety and to give the villagers time to recover from his depredations. A sleep several generations long would provide him with an untouched, ignorant population in the same location. He must be able to slow his metabolism, to induce in himself naturally a state of suspended animation. Mobility in time would become his alternative to mobility in space."

Katje listened intently. His daring in speaking this way excited her. She could see he was beginning to enjoy the game, growing more at ease on the podium as he warmed to his subject. He abandoned the lectern, put his hands casually into his pockets, and surveyed his listeners with a lofty glance. It seemed to Katje that he mocked them.

"The vampire's slowed body functions during these long rest periods might help extend his lifetime; so might living for long periods, waking or sleeping, on the edge of starvation. We know that minimal feeding produces striking longevity in some other species. Long life would be a highly desirable alternative to reproduction; flourishing best with the least competition, the great predator would not wish to sire his own rivals. It could not be true that his bite would turn his victims into vampires like himself-"

"Or we'd be up to our necks in fangs," whispered someone in the audience rather loudly.

"Fangs are too noticeable and not efficient for bloodsucking," observed Dr. Weyland. "Large, sharp canine teeth are designed to tear meat. Polish versions of the vampire legend might be closer to the mark: they tell of some sort of puncturing device, perhaps a needle in the tongue like a sting that would secrete an anticlotting substance. That way the vampire could seal his lips around a minimal wound and draw the blood freely, instead of having to rip great, spouting, wasteful holes in his unfortunate prey." Dr. Weyland smiled.

The younger members of the audience produced appropriate retching noises.

"Would a vampire sleep in a coffin?" someone asked.

"Certainly not," Dr. Weyland retorted. "Would you, given a choice? The corporeal vampire would require physical access to the world, which is something that burial customs are designed to prevent. He might retire to a cave or take his rest in a tree like Merlin, or Ariel in the cloven pine, provided he could find either tree or cave safe from wilderness freaks and developers' bulldozers. Locating a secure, long-term resting place is one obvious problem for our vampire in modern times."

Urged to name some others, he continued, "Consider: upon each waking he must quickly adapt to his new surroundings, a task which, we may imagine, has grown progressively more difficult with the rapid acceleration of cultural change since the Industrial Revolution. In the last century and a half he has no doubt had to limit his sleeps to shorter and shorter periods for fear of completely losing touch-a deprivation which cannot have improved his temper.

"Since we posit a natural rather than a supernatural being, he grows older, but very slowly. Meanwhile each updating of himself is more challenging and demands more from him-more imagination, more energy, more cunning. While he must adapt sufficiently to disguise his anomalous existence, he must not succumb to current ideologies of Right or Left-that is, to the cant of individual license or the cant of the infallibility of the masses-lest either allegiance interfere with the exercise of his predatory survival skills." Meaning, Katje thought grimly, he can't afford scruples about drinking our blood. He was pacing the platform now, soundless footfalls and graceful stride proclaiming his true nature. But these people were spellbound, rapt under his rule, enjoying his domination of them. They saw nothing of his menace, only the beauty of his quick hawk-glance and his panther-playfulness.

Emrys Williams raised a giggle by commenting that a lazy vampire could always take home a pretty young instructor who would show him any new developments in interpersonal relations.

Dr. Weyland fixed him with a cold glance. "You are mixing up dinner with sex," he remarked, "and not, I gather, for the first time."

They roared. Williams-the "tame Wild Welshman of the Lit Department" to his less admiring colleagues-turned a gratified pink.

One of Dr. Weyland's associates in Anthropology pointed out at boring length that the vampire, born in an earlier age, would become dangerously conspicuous for his diminutive height as the human race grew taller.

"Not necessarily," commented Dr. Weyland. "Remember that we speak of a highly specialized physical form. It may be that during his waking periods his metabolism is so sensitive that he responds to the stimuli in the environment by growing in his body as well as in his mind. Perhaps while awake his entire being exists at an intense level of inner activity and change. The stress of these great rushes to catch up all at once with physical, mental, and cultural evolution must be enormous. These days he would need his long sleeps as recovery periods from the strain."

He glanced at the wall clock. "As you can see, by the exercise of a little imagination and logic we produce a creature bearing superficial resemblances to the vampire of legend, but at base one quite different from your standard strolling corpse with an aversion to crosses. Any questions on our subject-dreams?" But they weren't willing to drop this flight of fancy. A young fellow asked how Dr. Weyland accounted for the superstitions about crosses and garlic and so on.

The professor paused to sip water from the glass at hand. The audience waited in expectant silence. Katje had the feeling that they would have waited an hour without protest, he had so charmed them. Finally he said, "Primitive men first encountering the vampire would be unaware that they themselves were products of evolution, let alone that he was. They would make up stories to account for him, and to try to control him. In early times he might himself believe in some of these legends-the silver bullet, the oaken stake. Waking at length in a less credulous age he would abandon these notions, just as everyone else did. He might even develop an interest in his own origins and evolution."

"Wouldn't he be lonely?" sighed a girl standing in the side aisle, her posture eloquent of the desire to comfort that loneliness.

"The young lady will forgive me," Dr. Weyland responded, "if I observe that this is a question born of a sheltered life. Predators in nature do not indulge in the sort of romantic mooning that humans impute to them. Our vampire wouldn't have the time for moodiness. On each waking he has more to learn. Perhaps someday the world will return to a reasonable rate of change, permitting him some leisure in which to feel lonely or whatever suits him."

A nervous girl ventured the opinion that a perpetually self-educating vampire would always have to find himself a place in a center of learning in order to have access to the information he would need.

"Quite right," agreed Dr. Weyland dryly. "Perhaps a university, where strenuous study and other eccentricities of the active intellect would be accepted behavior in a grown man. Even a modest institution such as Cayslin College might serve."

Under the chuckling that followed this came a question too faint for Katje to hear. Dr. Weyland, having bent to listen, straightened up and announced sardonically, "The lady desires me to comment upon the vampire's 'Satanic pride.' Madame, here we enter the area of the literary imagination and its devices where I dare not tread under the eyes of my colleagues from the English Department. Perhaps they will pardon me if I merely point out that a tiger who falls asleep in a jungle and on waking finds a thriving city overgrowing his lair has no energy to spare for displays of Satanic pride."

Table of Contents

Part I: The Ancient Mind At Work

Part II: The Land of Lost Content

Part III: Unicorn Tapestry

Part IV: A Musical Interlude

Part V: The Last of Dr. Weyland

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Vampire Tapestry 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Vampire Tapestry is the story of dream researcher and vampire Dr. Edward Weyland. This is a very unique vampire story. Unlike the horror stories we are use to, here we have a complicated creature without fangs or any of the other things we expect; but he still needs blood. The main character, the vampire, gets kidnapped and after escaping begins talking with a psychologist. He is not the stereotyped vampire at all and the author does not make him sad, pitiful, or sexual in any way. A very good read and something different. This type of vampire could actually exist...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very unique vampire story that leaves you wanting more. The main character, the vampire, gets kidnapped and after escaping begins talking with a psychologist. He is not the stereotyped vampire at all and the author does not make him sad, pitiful, or sexual in any way. A very good read and something different.
Citizenjoyce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My introduction to Suzy McKee Charnas was in my wild angry feminist days, and she was perfect writing in the Holdfast Chronicles about a society of women who breed by mating with horses though their emotional lives are with each other. Their goal is to rescue women from the land of men in which they are treated as chattel - a cheese made from breastmilk is one of the men's delicacies. There are four books, and they're just great. Maybe they should be required reading now with the no longer subtle war on women going on in American politics. Anyway, The Vampire Tapestry is not one of those. The vampire, Dr. Weyland, is a centuries old anthropologist at a university - good job for a vampire. There's not the usual emphasis on sex. Dr. Weyland is not too fond of that pastime, especially with humans, whom he regards as cattle. Even evidencing his disdain he is nearly irresistible to women, which works in his favor, though he's quite happy to feed off either sex. At one point in the book he meets a therapist who, of course, does not believe in vampires. Against the vampire's wishes, he begins to access his human side. The love of art, the comfort and stimulation of memory - he thinks these things make him weak. Even though he is a respected academic, he prefers neither to think nor to feel. This is a great example of his thought process:Having a voice implies the existence of others. One does not need a voice to speak to oneself. Except for the need to entice my prey, I could be mute.Moreover, without the necessity of outwitting clever victims I could be --not mindless, but unthinking. Sitting in the sun as a cat sits, its mind an effortless murmur of sensory input flecked with a point of attention here, a fragmentary memory there--but primarily a limpid stream merging with the palpable environment around it.That's what he wants for himself, and the book is an exploration of the ways he juts away from and moves toward that goal.
leperdbunny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Title: The Vampire TapestryAuthor: Suzy McKee CharnasGenre: Horror# of pages: 285 pagesStart date:?End date: 10/08/10Borrowed/bought: boughtMy rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: BDescription of the book: Dr. Weyland is like any other overworked professor at an American University- or is he? The Vampire Tapestry is a excellently woven story about an ancient vampire trying to hunt and still blend into modern society.Review: Cleverly, the author blends in several elements and themes into the story- such as what it means to be human or what it means to be an "animal". He thinks of himself as a hunter- what better way to start the story then by pairing a known hunter with another kind of hunter? Throughout the book and the original part of the story was the middle section in which Weyland goes to see a therapist, we read of his thoughts and feelings about his humanity or lack thereof. I really felt like the author could have expounded more on the story and fleshed it out, I was a little disappointed it wasn't longer.
Prop2gether on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as "unputdownable" as Stephen King remarked, this quintet of vignettes about a singular (as in there is only one of his kind) vampire, currently living as an anthropology professor, is still intriguing. Told in a series of five sequential vignettes, Professor Weyland is a fascinating character--he has no "family," no recollection of how he has survived so many years (he sleeps and wakes with no memory), and, in these segments goes through his own odyssey to survive. Not your typical vampire novel--and what a refreshing idea that is!
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Atena More than 1 year ago
I was so excited when I got the book. I started reading it in a bookstore-I got to about page 20-and I thought it was such an original, modern take on a tired vampire story. However, the story changed entirely with the 2nd chapter, then the 3rd, the 4th, and so on. It turned out to be more of a collection of short stories with one common thread than one continuous story. I wish the author developed the first chapter into a book rather than moving on to a new subject with every chapter. I would recommend keeping the money and just reading the first chapter in a bookstore (it's that good-the 1st chapter, that is).
April1777 More than 1 year ago
I found this book a refreshing escape from Hollywood's rendition of vampires. The author moves away from glamorizing a vampire and unearths their desolate existence. The quiet hunt of this vampire begins with his animal instinct and ends with the possibility of an evolving emotion for humanity. Great book, found it hard to put down!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
peers as a genius on dream therapy. He conducts experiments testing whether dream therapy can help people with their psychological issues. So well-liked is he with the students, there is a popular T-shirt ¿SLEEP WITH WEYLAND, HE IS A DREAM¿. However, Weyland¿s brilliance is not with human psyche, but using his scientific tests as a cover that enables him to hide his biological evolutionary condition from the cattle he teaches while also satiating his need for human blood.---------------- However, early stroller Katje witnesses the star professor sucking blood from a student just outside the Cayslin Center for the Study of Man. Not long afterward she shoots Edward, which leaves the wounded professor at the unkind mercy of an abusive avaricious Satanist Reese and his followers. Human teenager Mark risks his life to save the professor who struggles with the lad¿s kindness. As difficult to deal with if not more so is psychiatrist Floria¿s misplaced love for him and the friendship of disturbed Professor Irv, as Weyland finds human passion is part of his soul even if he feels he is Homo Superior.---------------- Though more five interrelated vignettes focused on a relatively short time span of one person rather than a novel, this reprint of the classic 1980s vampire tale remains a strong character driven tale with limited action. The cast is solid as the five prime people (and a few others) in Weyland¿s life force the overall unlikable with his air of superiority lead protagonist by their negative or positive relationships to reconsider how complex humans are and how he treats them. The action is limited as this is more a character study of how the next evolutionary line interacts with the current (sort of the first Cro Magnan amongst the Neanderthals). Readers will enjoy Suzy McKee Charnas¿ interesting scientific vampiric mythos (no supernatural).--------------- Harriet Klausner