SUPERNATURALS IN THE HUMAN WORLD
“Supernaturals” are those characters in Vampire-Hunter Fantasy who are not human: the vampires, werewolves, witches, pixies, faeries, elves, and other quasi-immortals with super powers.
It’s always interesting to see which types of supernaturals that writers like to write about, and how each writer deals with the question of how supernaturals came to fit into the mundane world.
Way back in the 1987, one predecessor to Vampire-Hunter Fantasy, Emma Bull’s War For The Oaks dealt with faeries, as in the scary full-human-sized Celtic Sidhe variety, who were inexplicably living in Minneapolis alongside, but hidden from, humans. This immensely fun book set the standard that continued in the books of Charles DeLint: full-sized Celtic faeries. Hidden from humans.
Vampires had their own stories: the books of Anne Rice and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and others. These stories were either classified as Horror or straight Fiction. Vampires, of course, were also living alongside, but hidden from, humankind.
Then in 1993, Laurell K. Hamilton started her Anita Blake series with Guilty Pleasures. The Anita Blake series tends more towards the “horror” rather than the “comedy” side of the sub-genre’s spectrum so its supernaturals are the more serious variety: vampires and werewolves. There is no explanation as to their place in the human world: they’ve just always been out in the open to the dismay of regular humans, and legislation is enacted both to protect and bind them.
In Jim Butcher’s books, by contrast, are much funnier and involve more ridiculous supernaturals such as tiny flying fairies (pixies) who like pizza. There are also the more intimidating vampires and werewolves. Butcher follows the older 1980s formula in that his supernaturals live in hiding amidst the regular humans, and few believe in them.
In Kim Harrison’s series The Hollows, the supernaturals were living in hiding until a virus wiped out the humans’ majority status; the supernaturals then revealed themselves and the humans had no choice but to accept them. Her books can be highly comic; the first book Dead Witch Walking has the heroine attempting to persuade a troll to go sleep under some other bridge. At the same time, her vampires and werewolves are of the same intensely erotic and frightening variety as Laurell K. Hamilton’s.
Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series is a true original in the sub-genre. There is more of a science-fiction veneer as certain humans like Joanne are born with psychic powers to control the elements (fire, weather, or earth). They are recruited into a secret society of Weather Wardens who protect the unsuspecting human public from the homicidal fury of Mother Earth. There are no vampires, werewolves, pixies, or faeries. But there are djinn! These are the same fire-spirits that are described in the Qu’ran and celebrated in the t.v. series I Dream Of Jeannie. They are kept in bottles and used as slaves by the Weather Wardens, which opens up several rich possibilities for conflicts.
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