Ellen Datlow's anthology Blood and other Cravings
comes out in less than a fortnight now, but Rich Horton's already onto it in the latest Locus
. And he likes my "mulberries".
The theme is vampires, but often not traditional vampires: rather they are creatures which feed on or crave a variety of essential substances, not just blood. The mode is generally horror, and as we certainly expect from Datlow, it’s a strong book: John Langan, Kaaron Warren, Richard Bowes, and Lisa Tuttle all shine, but my favorite story is from Margo Lanagan. ‘‘Mulberry Boys’’ plops us down unexplained with a teenaged boy and a sinister older man, chasing a ‘‘mulberry boy’’. We gather quickly that the older man is paying the villagers where the younger boy lives to allow him to alter a suitable subset of their children to be fed only mulberry leaves, and so to produce, horribly, something valuable called silk. The story portrays powerfully how this changes the ‘‘mulberry boys’’ (and girls), and how the protagonist comes to grips with what this really means—it’s true horror, and yet, leaves its characters some agency. (The lack of true agency is perhaps my main complaint about much traditional horror—what sort of story is it if the characters really never have a chance?)
I did an interview with Locus
when I was in San Francisco in July—that'll probably be appearing in their next issue.