The Empire of Fear Critical Essays

Brian Stableford


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Empire of Fear marks Stableford’s return to science fiction and fantasy after a period of several years in which he devoted himself to critical studies. This novel was well received by most critics. It is a fascinating work that blends elements of science fiction, fantasy, and history. Among its themes, the novel explores the attempts by the aristocratic vampires to resist changes that would mean the end of their power.

One fascinating aspect of Stableford’s novel is how he combines science fiction, fantasy, and history. He succeeds admirably in creating a believable alternate reality in which historical figures such as Attila the Hun, Charlemagne, and Genghis Khan are vampires who establish empires that have the potential to last for thousands of years. Furthermore, the characters of Richard the Lionheart and Vlad Dragulya share many similarities with their historical counterparts. Stableford also effectively uses elements of science fiction in the novel’s last section, in which he explains the extraterrestrial origin of vampirism and its effect on human physiology. Furthermore, he uses material drawn from fantasy, such as the false supernatural powers that the vampires use to help control humanity and the magic that apparently exists in Africa.

One important theme in Stableford’s novel is the struggle of the elite vampires against change. Once the vampires have established their empires, they do everything they can to maintain their dominance. The vampires use their superior abilities and long life spans to create a supernatural aura around themselves that helps keep humans in positions of subservience. Once science progresses enough to discover the truth about vampirism, change becomes inevitable. The vampires struggle to keep the knowledge from spreading, because if humans became like them, the elite vampires would lose their advantage. Their attempts to suppress the truth eventually fail because even though vampires can kill humans, they cannot destroy ideas. Even Dragulya admits that although they might win, the vampires cannot stop the tide of change from sweeping their society away and creating a new world in which the majority are vampires and the minority are normal humans.