Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some of your Blood – review

Author: Theodore Sturgeon

First published: 1956

Contains spoilers

The blurb: “Theodore Sturgeon’s dark and foreboding look at the vampire myth was an instant classic when originally published in 1956. When George Smith is arrested for assaulting a senior officer, a military psychiatrist is assigned to the case. The secret of George’s past is unearthed, and a history of blood lust and murder. Innovatively told through letters, interviews and traditional narrative, Some of your Blood effectively portrays the tragic upbringing of George Smith to his attempts at a stable life and the great love of his life to his inevitable downfall.”

The review: Some of your blood was mentioned when I interviewed Bret Wood as he tied a simile between an un-filmed concept behind his film Psychopathia Sexualis and an aspect alluded to within the novel.

I won’t spoil that aspect, however the connection is perhaps deeper than just a conceptual aspect as part way through ‘Some of your Blood’ we get direct quotations from von Krafft-Ebing’s 'Psychopathia Sexualis' – the medical text that inspired Wood’s film. It should be noted that the case studies quoted by Sturgeon are different to those used as inspiration for Wood’s film.

You see ‘Some of your Blood’ is an account of a vampire, as in some one with a psychological need to drink blood rather than an undead creature of myth or fantasy. However, whilst this is going to be off putting to those solely interested in the supernatural mainstay of the genre, for me it is part of the joy of the genre that the myth can be interpreted in so many ways. After all, this was written just two years after Richard Matheson created a wholly science (based) fiction version of the myth with I am Legend.

What Sturgeon clearly did was try to interpret the genre in a completely new way – much as Tim Lucas did, though with a very different slant, with the seminal Throat Sprockets. It was also clear that Sturgeon did not wish the reader to lose the connection with genre classic Dracula. There is a Freudian, oral obsessive aspect to this and Dracula, in many respects, is a Freudian text – though Sturgeon deliberately steers us away from a sexual interpretation, despite the Freudian and von Krafft-Ebing facets. The novel is, in part, epistolary – like the Dracula text – and is constructed as a case study of a psychiatric patient – like part of the Dracula text. I agree with Steve Rasnic Tem, who wrote the introduction for the edition I bought, that the use of the name Bela (George Smith is a pseudonym) was a step too far perhaps – though Smith’s parents were from the ‘old county’ and Bela is, through Lugosi, permanently tied into the Dracula mythos.

This will not be for everyone. It is more a piece of American literature than it is a genre piece, to me at least, and in many respects deconstructs the American dream whilst drawing a wonderfully sympathetic character – despite his murderous traits. It is, however, most definitely worth seeking out in my opinion. 7 out of 10.

No comments: