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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Catching Up with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Count Dalek-ula says
"Catching Up with Favorite Authors is Fun!"

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's contributions to the Horror genre have been honored in numerous ways. In 2003, she was awarded the status of Grand Master at the World Horror Convention. Two years later, the International Horror Guild named her a living legend. Last year, the World Fantasy Convention gave her a Life Achievement award. 

My previous reading experience with her was minimal, just one novel that I read thirty-five years ago. In False Dawn, two protagonists trek across a post-apocalyptic northern California, in search of a refuge, a sanctuary where they can begin again. Back in those Cold War days, all of us lived with the possibility of a nuclear war. That future seemed imminent, unavoidable. So those of us who loved Science Fiction stories looked past that, and imagined what the future might hold for humanity, once the superpowers had done their best to bomb all of us out of existence. I had fallen in love with the movie "Logan's Run," found stories like Roger Zelazny's "Damnation Alley," and was hungry for more of the same. Her novel made a strong impression on me, and led me to read it again recently.

I found False Dawn every bit as powerful as I remembered.

Yarbro's muse seemed to take her in other directions after that, most notably in Horror. Her most famous creation is the Saint Germaine cycle. These novels fuse two genres, historical and vampire stories, into one. As I've recently grown interested in learning about ancient Rome, I viewed A Flame in Byzantium as an opportunity to catch up with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. This novel, the first in a trilogy devoted to vampire heroine Atta Olivia Clemens, follows Olivia's move from Rome to Constantinople, the center of the other great civilization of her era. I found it an enjoyable novel, rich in historical detail and character development, if a little slow (at times) in pace. The novel gave me a chance to see what Yarbro had been up to during all those years we had walked separate paths (she as author, me as reader), and why the Horror community loved her so much.

But then, it's always nice to catch up with a writer whom you've not read for a long time. Even if she writes (primarily) about vampires.

Dragon Dave

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