When I first imagined Vamps (Pyre and Otherwise) it was kind of a linguistic trick. I look at themes as a way to explore new things but also, I look towards the theme itself to be stretched. I wanted to create something that invited that. A theme that itself was meant to contain a kind of seductive element to it. “And otherwise” you say? Well, I don’t mind if I do!
Then came the vision of a cover. No more pretense, just a vision of a pulp styled Ava Gardner attempting to gun down Bela Lugosi. Maybe in the recesses of my mind there was a bit of the old “pirates vs. ninjas” debate. What would it be like to have sexy ladies fighting vampires, some of whom are sexy ladies in their own right! I also just think it’s really funny for someone to shoot normal bullets at a vampire and pulp covers rock.
But the more and more we hammered away at this, the more the dream of the civil war among the seducers began to falter. I’ve mentioned this before – I don’t like to call balls and strikes when it’s time to work on the theme. I much prefer to sit up here and be reflective. I enjoy getting to admire the ways that the theme was stretched. Instead, I found myself far in the trenches. Lestat to the left of me, Dracula to my right. Elvira nowhere in sight.
That’s not to say that the idea of stretching the theme didn’t work out. This theme got stretched. But, as any editor should tell you, you have to remember to give yourself room to be surprised by your writers. And surprise they did!
The war I was trying to engender really was me trying to take the idea of a “seducers theme month” to its most absurd heights. The vampire and the femme fatale aren’t opposites as much as they’re facets of a classical figure of a kind of siren. A danger that is irresistible. A being that beckons you ever closer to danger. An enthralling force, either through beauty, wealth, power or some other intangible. Vamps are the landlords and the capitalists. They contain a viral quality. Not industrious on their own but living off of the life force that lies in the wake of prosperity. But perhaps most of all, they’re survivors.
So, here we are. Vamps (mostly): Pyre and Otherwise.
Our theme feature is Elijah Gonzalez on deeply weird, capitalistic vampires that sit at the top of Xenoblade Chronicles 3. This piece is awesome and it anticipates the theme so beautifully.
Also in this issue, our regular contributors plus some special guests from the web and otherwise! Oluwatayo Adewole jazzes up the joint. Ruth Cassidy on just Pyre, ha! Jay Castello on the most vampiric act of consumption. Maddi Chilton combs the irradiated wastes of Redfall. Sara Clemens tells a short story about a late-evening walk. Deidre Coyle puts together the most important list in Hammer history. Orrin Grey hunts vampires with a little light. Emma Kostopolus loots and shoots her way through Redfall, is there an echo in here? Emily Price heads to the PNW. Justin Reeve goes to perpetually smokey, wet, dark London. Rob Rich remembers when he used to attend the masquerade. Levi Rubeck hunts for D. Phoenix Simms has learned much from those with fangs. Noah Springer takes the theme to the furthest possible point I would editorially tolerate. And Alyssa Wejebe turns into a giant-ass animal.
See you all in a few weeks in Exploits!
And this time, for us, remember, Unwinnable enduring, undying quality is because of readers like you. To our subscribers, we deeply appreciate you and your faith in us. Some of you have been with us from the beginning, some of you we’ve picked up along the way but to all of you, thank you.
And if this is the first time you’re joining us, welcome! Unwinnable thrives because people like you subscribe, tell their friends about us, and sometimes even give the gift of Unwinnable to others. Just a thought and we’d love the chance to prove to you that keeping our light in the gathering storm lit brightly is worth it.
October 11, 2023