I am not a huge fan of vampire romance, so my favorite vampire books are mostly from the science fiction and fantasy genres. Here are my top three science fiction choices.
My all-time favorite vampire book is The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas. Not only is it a wonderful work in itself – it consists of four separate stories of the same vampire, each from a different point of view – but it gives science-fictional touches to the vampire myth that for me add to its realism. The vampire isn’t sure how old he is; periodically, he hibernates and while asleep forgets his previous life, as a method of protecting himself from becoming too close to humans, who are his prey. So far as he knows, he is the only one of his kind, a species of one. And instead of fangs, he feeds on blood as a mosquito does, via an organ beneath his tongue, so his human victims rarely notice. As the story begins, the vampire is hiding himself in plain sight as a respected university professor, Dr. Weyland.
More about The Vampire Tapestry on the author’s website and her essay about the book, Scarlet Ribbons (link is to part one of four – note that there are a lot of spoilers in the essay).
My second favorite vampire novel is a long, emotionally intense novel by C.S. Friedman, The Madness Season. It’s set in a future where alien invaders have destroyed human society. The vampire protagonist, Daetrin, is also in hiding as a university professor, at one of the few schools the aliens allow; but soon they discover that he’s not human, and capture him. He must confront his own nature and his own skills as a shapechanger in order to save both himself and the rest of humanity. There is more than one type of vampire in the novel, and it’s interesting to see how Friedman plays the different species and their views off of each other.
The last book on my list is Fledgling by Octavia Butler. The book was published shortly before Butler’s death. I love it because of her original science fictional take on the vampire myth. Here are a couple of detailed reviews, in Strange Horizons and The Washington Post. Butler’s much earlier novel Wild Seed featured a character that, to me, was also vampiric, but not in the traditional sense; he lived by stealing bodies and inhabiting them, one after another.
Please share your favorite sf vampires!