Fevre Dream seems to be a work at variance with its origins. George R. R. Martin is a writer of what is called “hard” science fiction. Vampires hardly seem like his bill of fare. His vampires are simply another race that preys upon ordinary mortals as if they were cattle. Unlike the traditional vampire described by Bram Stoker in the classic gothic novel Dracula (1897), Martin’s vampires are a separate race that lives alongside humankind. York and his people of the night are not the twisted and often soulless descendants of ancient vampires; they are a generally dangerous and superior race limited by their inability to withstand direct sunlight and by a need to drink human blood. The books that come closest to Martin’s vision are the Vampire Chronicles of Anne Rice (1976-1995). Rices vampires are every bit as physical as York and Julian, but her tradition is still spiritual, and her vampires were once human.
Martin rejected the traditional spiritual notion of vampires in favor of asking the question, If there were vampires, how would they live? His answer produces a vampire with conscience, the outlook of humanity, and the ability to produce an antidote to the red thirst that drives his kind to hunt and kill. These creatures of the night can have as much variation as ordinary humans.
Much of Martin’s other work deals with vampires of the spirit. “Override” (1973) provides a view of a man dealing with his own...
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