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Andy Warhol's Dracula
      The Vaccinator
Kim Newman
      Michael Marshall Smith
Millennium, Victor Gollancz, 176 pages

Binary 2
Kim Newman
Kim Newman was born in London in 1959 and, shortly thereafter, his parents moved to the village of Aller, in Somerset. By 15, he had written his first novel. He graduated from the University of Sussex where he studied English. Moving to London, he joined the Sheep Worrying Theatre Group, at the Arts Centre, Bridgwater. He continued to write as a film reviewer and critic, and his short stories were appearing in magazines like Interzone. In 1985, his non-fiction first book appeared, co-authored with Neil Gaiman, called Ghastly Beyond Belief: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of Quotations. His first published novel was The Night Mayor in 1989. His awards include the Bram Stoker Award, British Science Fiction Award and the International Horror Critics' Guild Award for Best Novel.

Kim Newman Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Michael Marshall Smith
Michael Marshall Smith was born in Cheshire. After spending time in the US, South Africa and Australia, he now lives in London. His first novel, Only Forward, won the BFA in 1995. Spares has been optioned by DreamWorks SKG.

Michael Marshall Smith Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Interview: Michael Marshall Smith
SF Site Interview: Michael Marshall Smith
SF Site Review: Spares

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa Brunetta

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What a handy format these Binary novels come in -- two stories in one binding, one of them tumbled. There are two front covers and even the spine features both titles -- conveniently colour-coded. I really like this idea because shorter novels, that would normally only appear in an anthology or in a magazine, get paired with an equally short work by another author, packaged in a soft cover that makes great reading for the bus or the plane.

The first story I read was Andy Warhol's Dracula by Kim Newman. Now I have to say that this story really isn't primarily about Andy Warhol, it's about Johnny Pop, the Dracula family's latest incarnation. Johnny shows up in America, promptly drains a budding disco king, and sets out to conquer the world of Andy Warhol and Studio 54. The opening scene depicts him sucking the life out of Nancy while Sid looks on in a stoned haze (interesting punk vs. disco tension there -- and with not just anybody). Johnny then attracts the attention of Andy, a suspected vampire himself, and uses Andy's connections to build up his own power and infamy. His power over the Studio 54 set is drac, the latest drug of choice -- wait until you find out how it's made! Drac is also what almost leads him to his doom. Only his superior strength saves him in the end.

I had fun with this story. I am a bit younger than that set and that era, so most of what I know about it is second-hand info, but it was amusing to see the allusions to vampirism and to read who the author considered to be a vampire in that world (a lot of it made sense, too). The story proper -- I mean the story about Johnny making his way in the world -- was interspersed with biography-style excerpts about Andy Warhol's life and times, with musings about Andy's vampirism. Frankly, I found those bits less interesting than the story bits, but felt compelled to read them for fear of missing something. So read them I did, albeit impatiently wanting to get back to what I considered to be the real story all the while. The work on the whole was a satisfying, quick read.

The flip side of the Binary 2 tome is The Vaccinator, by Michael Marshall Smith. The lead character of this story is Eddie. Eddie fixes things for a living. Right now, he negotiates abduction vaccines for unfortunate about-to-be-beamed-up humans with a trio of tall, spidery golden aliens who are often too wasted to talk. Despite the weirdness of his current transactions, everything has gone smoothly so far. However, now those spindly *ucks have screwed him over. Nobody screws Eddie over.

Does this sound weird enough for you? I was absolutely delighted with this story -- there's nothing quite like a drunken alien, I always say. It was somehow empowering for me as a human seeing Eddie not stand for the bullshit with which he was being presented. He goes out and does battle, despite inferior weaponry and technology. And somehow (rah rah humans!) he comes out ahead.

The only criticism that I have about the Binary book is that the tumbled format always messed me up -- I invariably ended up opening the current work I was reading upside down. A minor irritation though, considering the enjoyment I received from both stories.

Copyright © 2001 Lisa Brunetta

Lisa Brunetta shoehorns reading into her day whenever she is not working in her day job, doing her crafts in her studio (the REAL job), or taking care of her one-year-old. Which doesn't allow for much time, but she makes the most of it!


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