Let’s talk about Grace, shall we? No, no Ted we’re not talking about your great aunt so calm down. Nor are we talking about divine gifts from coming down from on high, a sense of propriety, a prayer or a musical trill. No, we’re going to talk about the kind of grace that Otis, and a lot of other writers, like to mention.
I’ve noticed that a lot of authors insert sloppy minded descriptions when talking about their pet races. Take Otis and Paopao, for example. They both love fictional anthropomorphic creatures and they both describe them as being possessed of an unnatural grace. But where does grace come from?
Our perception of graceful comes primarily from appearances in movement. Hippos are a good example of the antithesis to grace, at least on land. They’re slow and lumbering. Their bodies aren’t well adapted to living on land and they look like they exert a lot of effort while running. It’s like watching Jorge Garcia head down to the jogging track and take in a few laps.
Graceful things move with a sense of ease. Cheetahs looks graceful while sprinting along because they don’t look like they’re putting forth a lot of effort and they move smoothly. A six hundred pound land whale chasing after their runaway rascal in the mall doesn’t because every step looks like agony and the jiggle of body mass is ungainly.
But back to the topic of smoothness for a moment. See, effortless, in appearance, movements are probably the key to grace. When people move with jerking motions, shakes or uncertainty they look ungainly unless they’re doing the robot.
So how does being turned into a vampire make you graceful? A sudden change in things like, strength, size and body mass have a profound effect on people. It’s why you’re a bit clumsy once you hit puberty. Your brain has to map out and learn where everything is all over again. Turning into a vampire would be very similar as you now have the strength to life cars but nearly the same amount of mass you did before. That’s a recipe for awkward movement that makes hippos riding a ketamine high look like ballerinas.
It would take a long time to get used to that and there’d be moments where you’d slip before remembering ‘Oh, right, I’m Atlas crammed into the body of an average human’. That’s where Paopao’s elves get a, so grudgingly given that when I die I’ll be luring them into attics to rip their jaws off, pass because they’re born that way and they live a long time. Eragon himself though doesn’t and should move awkwardly for a long time but I digress.
So now that the two morons have figured out that they’re “pawns” they start talking about sunlight. No really, sitting alone together in a small cave for a couple of hours and they’ve already figured out that they’re probably being used and that sunlight doesn’t affect them. If it only took them a couple of hours to do this, what have they been doing all those other days? Were they busy pounding kilo after kilo of black tar heroin into their eyeballs with titanium syringes?
Anywho, Bree sees some weak sunlight coming in through a small entrance and freaks out. Diego tells her to shut it and shows her it won’t hurt. He goes into the tunnel, makes a pained noise, Bree goes to investigate and he leaps out and shouts boo at her. Then they talk about sunlight and Diego mentions how he once hung out in the shade of a tree during high noon and he didn’t smoke enough to get ticketed for violating Seattle Municipal Code 10.64.020.
“Everyone knows that old-timey vampires had to stay in coffins during the day,” I went on. “To keep out of the sun. That’s common knowledge, Diego.”
“You’re right. All the stories do say that.”
Except they don’t. Here’s an abridged history for you Otis. Back in what is now considered the genesis of modern vampire fiction, Bram Stroker’s Dracula, sunlight didn’t kill Lord Dracula. It did weaken him and neutralize his powers but it didn’t turn him in to vapor like the year two thousand one did to dot com profits. That addition to vampire lore came from an unlicensed movie adaption called Nosferatu.
See, the German filmmakers couldn’t gain the rights to shoot a movie based on Bram Stoker’s work so they went ahead and filmed it anyway. In an attempt to avoid copyright infringement they changed names, locations and a few details. This didn’t work and Florence Stoker, Bram’s widow, sued for infringement, won and the courts ordered all copies of Nosferatu destroyed. Unfortunately for Madam Stoker, the film had already seen a large distribution and not everyone complied with the court order, leaving us with both an enduring addition to vampire lore, a prime example of silent filmmaking at its best and evidence that something derivative can actually be awesome when done right. Hint, hint.
So no, not all the old stories say that just the most popular. Diego and Bree start analyzing the movie vampires against themselves and they find absolutely no common ground. Otis just can’t help but remind us that her vampires are different and unique. You know, except for all the other writers who made their vampires immune to sunlight because they too didn’t think there should be any downside to being undead. Then we get a wonderful gem when Diego asks if Bree thinks someone could shove a stake through her.
I shrugged. “I haven’t really thought about it. I mean, not a normal piece of wood, obviously. Maybe sharpened wood has some kind of… I don’t know. Magical properties or something.”
Diego snorted. “Please.”
Isn’t it kind of hypocritical to dismiss magic when you’re a freaking vampire? I mean sure, a creature that drinks blood, has “venom” for bodily fluids, stone skin and can breed with mortal women is realistic. But a piece of wood given magical properties capable of penetrating their rock hard flesh? God, what kind of soft minded idiot are you?
Otis hangs a lampshade on it by having the characters say something along those lines. Then Diego grabs a tree root, sharpens it and tries to stab himself and fails. Huzzah, our protagonists are on their way to discovering that all the vampire mythology that Otis didn’t like doesn’t apply to them.
They decide to go ahead and be friends and they do a high five. Then they keep holding hands and Bree says she feels a spark like touching a downed power line. Have you ever received an electric shock Otis? Of course not. You’re simply using the electrical reference to describe emotions in shorthand that’s supposed to indicate that she’s got the hots for Diego.
Yeah, seriously, why would the powers of the stake be so far-fetched? Especially given the fact that werewolf teeth apparently have that magical property.
And Dracula rocks. Another Dracula vs. pop culture vamp rant: I’ve read Dracula, and while he is indeed repelled by garlic, I only remember Dr. Van Helsing using garlic flowers to protect people from Dracula, while in most modern works people use garlic bulbs.
And of course there’s how effective fire is versus them. You’d think that would give them pause in dismissing stakes.
Speaking of Helsing, he also used wolfsbane if I remember correctly. That’s one they love to ignore when they drag out the more ‘traditional’ vampires.