Stoker-King model vs Rice model vs Harris-Meyer-Kostova model
January 23, 2019 1:30 PM   Subscribe

 
Meanwhile, the particle physicist would use the fact that there are presently any living non-vampire humans to determine a tight upper bound on the number, mass, and temperature of vampires.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 1:44 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


This is neat and all, but very often in fiction, vampires must be deliberately created. It's not like every victim turns into a vampire automatically, typically there is a rite or process to be made for anyone they want to turn into a vampire. This process is sometimes reversible by different means. On top of that, vampires can seemingly go long times without feeding, more like a snake who can get by eating one hunk of mammal every few weeks. I'd be more interested in seeing that sort of thing, rather than just a quick exponential plague type pandemic serial. I guess I'm struggling to see where the 50 years comes from using the not-lethal feeding method. Plus, if vampires were a thing, human ranches and livestock would be too.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:48 PM on January 23 [18 favorites]


I wonder if that last paper (published in 2007) inspired the 2009 film “Daybreakers”, which was all about a vampire society running out of humans to feed on.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 1:50 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


I liked cstross' version, which had one major limiting factor. Vampires would have 'turf' and eliminate any others that would try to set up shop there, since too many vampires in one spot would lead to either there being no more food, or the food would end up hunting you.

Of course his vampires had other....limitations....but that gets a little spoilery and isn't all that relevant here.
posted by sauril at 1:55 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


The scientists who make these models, like the zombie models, never account for the fact that humans invented machine guns and roving hordes are easy to kill. Turning into a bat doesn't make it harder.

We would have vampire conservation networks to make sure they weren't all eliminated.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:56 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


This is neat and all, but very often in fiction, vampires must be deliberately created.

The Rice and Harris-Meyer-Kostova models discussed near the end of the article address this. The Rice model slows things down but still leads to the extinction of humanity. The HMK model adds a third group ("drainers", essentially vampire hunters) that keep the vampire population from rising too quickly.
posted by jedicus at 1:56 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the central problem here is that they're assuming feeding == creating a new vampire, and even in Stoker that was clearly not the case. In Stoker there did seem to be an element of accidental vampiric creation, but in most other sources vampires must be deliberately created often involving fairly elaborate steps.

If we assume that all humans fed on by vampires become vampires, then the mathematical aspect of the question is pretty boring and straightforward, it's a simple geometric progression and the only real question is how often vampires have to feed.

Now, given vampires creating other vamps deliberately, the question is one of population management. Presumably the wealthy and powerful humans would wish to become vampires. Presumably eternal life and youth, an amazing array of supernatural powers, superior strength, speed, and agility, never needing to diet, etc would all easily outweigh the need for SPF 5,000,000 sunscreen for the average sociopath billionaire even if feeding kills the blood donor, you know the people sociopathic enough to become billionaires would take the deal. The average CEO certainly wouldn't care in the slightest if he has to kill a peon every week to keep himself eternally alive, young, and healthy?

Result would inevitably be a society dominated by vampires as a sort of aristocracy. Sociopaths would gravitate towards serving vampires in hopes of being converted so they too can enjoy the benefits of eternal life, and everyone else would, at most, hold a few marches to protest before accepting their rule by undead bloodsuckers.
posted by sotonohito at 1:57 PM on January 23 [24 favorites]


How long did it take for Lucy to turn vampire in Dracula? It was far from an overnight process.
posted by ckape at 1:58 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Also, is this finally the thread where I get to point out that the protagonists in Daybreakers have doomed everyone and things would've mostly worked themselves out if they had just done nothing?
posted by ckape at 2:01 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Result would inevitably be a society dominated by vampires as a sort of aristocracy. Sociopaths would gravitate towards serving vampires in hopes of being converted so they too can enjoy the benefits of eternal life, and everyone else would, at most, hold a few marches to protest before accepting their rule by undead bloodsuckers.

That's pretty much the premise of old school Vampire the Masquerade. Add in the politicking between rival vampires and you have another built in mechanism keeping the numbers down.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:01 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


The_Vegetables Given the stock vampiric powers: superhuman speed, strength, agility, and durability, I think you're overestimating humanity's ability to fight back. I'm sure a group of trained and properly equipped humans could kill a vampire. I'm also pretty sure that in any one on one confrontation a human would be unable to harm a vampire in the slightest.

Especially if they're rich and powerful, vampires would just call the police on any would be hunter. In the modern political environment they could sign up with the more xenophobic governments as a sort of swarm final solution licensed to feed on any undocumented migrants or other people the government finds inconvenient.

There are lots of people who would cheer if the rich vampires were feeding on "those people", and call them patriots and saviors of the nation.
posted by sotonohito at 2:03 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


assume a spherical vampire in a vaccum
posted by lalochezia at 2:03 PM on January 23 [49 favorites]


What distinguishes vampires from any other predator? Sure, they can turn their prey into more of themselves, but the same is true of real predators, albeit somewhat more indirectly. Nevertheless, stable predator-prey systems have been noted to exist in the real world.
posted by Pyry at 2:04 PM on January 23 [13 favorites]


>roving hordes are easy to kill. Turning into a bat doesn't make it harder.

Turning into mist makes it harder. And vampires are only susceptible to certain kinds of injuries; when you're dealing with a critter that can reconstitute its body from mist, shooting it, even with a machine gun, doesn't necessarily get you anywhere.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:05 PM on January 23


In China Mieville's novel The Scar, the vampires tightly control the whole process - there are few of them, they feed by mechanically suctioning blood from humans rather than risk turning people and - most importantly! - they are benevolent despots, governing an area whose citizens receive various financial and practical benefits for the "tax" of blood, thereby not only eliminating local vampire hunters but actually recruiting humans to their side. The whole Vampire Event Horizon argument assumes that vampires can't organize themselves.
posted by Frowner at 2:05 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


I mean, they do suck living labor, but at least you get something for it.
posted by Frowner at 2:06 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Well isn't that scenario unstable? It takes just one power hungry vampire to start making their own vampire army and the whole thing falls apart.
posted by Pyry at 2:09 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Vampires have always hungered for the blood of the Working Class.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:11 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


Answering my own question, Dracula arrives in London on August 8, Lucy dies September 20th.
posted by ckape at 2:15 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


Well isn't that scenario unstable? It takes just one power hungry vampire to start making their own vampire army and the whole thing falls apart.

But that's no more unstable than any other situation - the assumption is that if the vampires cooperate, it's not a vampire war of all against all, food supplies are stable and they don't have to worry about angry humans. I mean, why aren't France and Germany at war today? Surely not moral probity - people often do prefer to be at the top of a fairly stable hierarchy than to risk everything on the chance of being at the very top of an even higher hierarchy. Also, if one vampire went rogue, the other vampires and their human allies could readily stake him.
posted by Frowner at 2:15 PM on January 23


The paper doesn't seem to specify how much blood vampires drain. Blood doesn't have a ton of calories so clearly it's not the actual source of energy for vampires, so it's not clear that vampires really need much of it. They may hunger and be sated, but it's not clear that they really need more blood than a handful of regular humans can produce on an ongoing basis. Plus we eat entire cows and they're not extinct. This article really needs to go to town on the math in these papers.

Also, child vampires could serve a useful societal purpose of helping get rid of online sexual predators. In, say, New Zealand.
posted by GuyZero at 2:27 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Vampires have always hungered for the blood of the Working Class.

You're thinking of Peter Thiel.
posted by GuyZero at 2:28 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]


Yeah yeah, maths and stuff, but remember that In Every Generation There Is A Chosen One*.
posted by pompomtom at 2:29 PM on January 23 [17 favorites]


France and Germany are (within an order of magnitude) at carrying capacity for their populations, like pretty much every nation. If, somehow, they had both restricted their populations to some fraction of what was possible, then I suspect that would likewise be unstable: there would be a strong incentive to defect, grow the population, and either through migration or conquest claim the other nation's productive land.
posted by Pyry at 2:29 PM on January 23


Especially if they're rich and powerful, vampires would just call the police on any would be hunter

So the trouble is those 8 to 16 hours a day when vampires can't call the police.
posted by GuyZero at 2:30 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Well, now that we're down this pretty silly road, how about the if Pope blessed all the water on the planet, and turned it all into holy water? I'm in Vancouver, the Pacific North West, so I would be pretty darn safe.

Yep, I am that nerdy when it comes to classic horror monsters.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 2:32 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


The_Vegetables: The scientists who make these models, like the zombie models, never account for the fact that humans invented machine guns and roving hordes are easy to kill. Turning into a bat doesn't make it harder.

I dunno, maybe? The Australians had machine guns for the Great Emu War and it didn't go so great for them. On the one hand, machine gun technology has probably improved since the 1930s and the emus (probably) weren't going to eat the humans so weren't treated as the same kind of threat that vampires would be. On the other hand, emus are much bigger targets than bats and also not sentient in the same way that vampires are.
posted by mhum at 2:33 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Daybreakers! I was trying to remember the name of that not good Ethan Hawke movie. I think even in that one vampires were deliberately made not just an accidental byproduct of feeding.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:33 PM on January 23


What if there's a food source for vampires that we don't know about; that they're keeping secret from us, or have duped us about?

Specifically: What if day-old human blastocysts have souls, or whatever it is that actually sustains vampires?

Not sure how to make it into a chilling short story, but the idea did occur to me and I couldn't keep it inside.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 2:35 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Plus there's the whole mind control aspect where the vampires can plant a mole in your unit, so suddenly that machine gun is being turned on you.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:35 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


What if
CELL
VAMPIRE =========>  *
IMITATION
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:37 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


(not to scale)
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 2:41 PM on January 23


I think you need to consider the possibility of vampires both cooperating and warring. After all nearly every modern vampire fictional representation has vampires killing vampires (or causing them to fall into a bloodless torpor). Assuming vampires originated in antiquity, the vampires who didn't limit reproduction and feeding to a sustainable level would have quickly exhausted their food supply locally. Vampire reproduction and sustenance might be based on internal social conventions. Maybe most vampires feed on animals except when mortals are easily available. Don't wolves feed on mice in the winter?

Anyway modern vampires are arguably a metaphor for sexual predation and forbidden desire, so maybe being a vampire is more a terminal disease that's staved off by small quantities of blood, or maybe becoming a vampire follows a stress diathesis model, where predisposition to vampirism and contact with a vampire is necessary to become one.
posted by gryftir at 2:42 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


I spent a while once working out the logistics of a society with vampires that does not inevitably end up ruled by vampires! The world building I ended up with was that vampires a) retain their personalities and sense of right and wrong after turning, b) continue to age/develop mentally after turning, and c) have a very, very difficult time making more vampires. Like, less than one in a hundred attempts are successful, and failed attempts leave a regular old dead person. That got me a vampire culture with some pretty strict ethical mores, and solved the Peter Thiel problem.

...one of these days I’ll write the actual short story.
posted by nonasuch at 2:43 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


vampires both cooperating and warring

A long period of coopewarring would present vampires and humans both with a real crisitunity!
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:48 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


The real question is, what would you rather fight: one human-sized vampire, or 500 vampire-sized humans?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:59 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


Matheson model: you/we are already doomed, you don't have enough days to stake and burn enough to turn things around.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:01 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Result would inevitably be a society dominated by vampires as a sort of aristocracy. Sociopaths would gravitate towards serving vampires in hopes of being converted so they too can enjoy the benefits of eternal life, and everyone else would, at most, hold a few marches to protest before accepting their rule by undead bloodsuckers.


Also known as “modern civilization”.


There are lots of people who would cheer if the rich vampires were feeding on "those people", and call them patriots and saviors of the nation.


Honestly, one barely even has to invoke allegory, here.
posted by darkstar at 3:01 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


I think you need to shout ARISE ALLEGORY ALLEGORY ARISE at the coffin.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:02 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


All of these models are hopelessly unrealistic anyway since they don't account for interactions with werewolf populations (not to mention mummies, frankensteins, etc.).
posted by Pyry at 3:05 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]


My opportunity to plug “What We Do in the Shadows”!


WEREWOLVES
NOT
SWEARWOLVES
posted by darkstar at 3:14 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]


frankensteins

Frankenstein's Monster, please. He has agency...
posted by mikelieman at 3:18 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


Petter Watts, in the novel Blindsight and its sequel Echopraxia, develops a coherent theory of vampirism that postulates a mutation complex that grants superhuman intellect at the expense of obligate consumption of human brains (for an alpha-protocadherin deficiency).

He addresses the problem of overconsumption of prey by introducing a physiology that allows for long periods of dormancy; a drying-out and slowing of metabolism that reduces the pressure on prey to the point where (a) with a large degree of territoriality, sustainable harvest is possible and (b) the prey has time - at least pre-written-history - to forget that the vampire exists and people get hunted.
posted by Fraxas at 3:21 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


My favorite vampires are the ones Peter Watts invented. Read Blindsight and Echopraxia.
posted by Splunge at 3:22 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


Or what Fraxas wrote. :)
posted by Splunge at 3:23 PM on January 23


Frankenstein's Monster, please. He has agency...

Then perhaps you should respect it.
posted by ckape at 3:25 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Okay, but vampire bats exist. Checkmate math.
posted by runcibleshaw at 3:26 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


A friend and I were discussing the difference between knowledge and wisdom (probably in the context of some RPG character stats, or something).

“It’s like with tomatoes,” said I. “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.”

“Yeah,” said he, “or like with Frankenstein.”

“Frankenstein?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “Knowledge is knowing that Frankenstein wasn’t the monster. Wisdom is knowing that Frankenstein really was the monster.”
posted by darkstar at 3:32 PM on January 23 [47 favorites]


"Also, is this finally the thread where I get to point out that the protagonists in Daybreakers have doomed everyone and things would've mostly worked themselves out if they had just done nothing?"

I'll bite, why is that? I just read the wikipedia for it, and I'm guessing the folks with the curing blood could have spread the cure as their cure-infectious blood is spread through population? What about the feral vampires?
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:32 PM on January 23


To be fair, all mammals have become bats.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:33 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


People have pointed out that stable predator/prey relationships exist, but that doesn't help. We're talking about post-humans, and humans are frighteningly efficient predators and historically are very good at eliminating prey entirely. We did it all over the world with large animals; we're doing it all over the oceans with fish.

Assuming that not too much blood is required, it does seem theoretically possible for a balance to work itself out... until some single vampire or faction decides to go for numbers. It's like every vampire is sitting on a mutual-assured-destruction device.

Man, now I kind of want to play Bloodlines again.
posted by zompist at 3:35 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


The paper that covers the Rice model seems to make a huge assumption that a new vampire is created once in every ten victims (a coefficient of 0.1). But, if I recall the Interview with The Vampire, new vampire creation is much more rare than that.
posted by runcibleshaw at 3:45 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


WEREWOLVES? you mean WE'REWOLVES?
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:48 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


I'll bite, why is that? I just read the wikipedia for it, and I'm guessing the folks with the curing blood could have spread the cure as their cure-infectious blood is spread through population? What about the feral vampires?

So, the two things the protagonists do to doom everyone are rescue the cured vampire, preventing his vampirism-curing blood from getting mixed in to the general blood supply, curing more vampires who would then be caught and added in, at least in the short term increasing supply and depressing demand. While this probably wouldn't be enough to stave off the plague of feral vampires, the protagonists also sabotage the development of artificial blood, which is shown to be effective.

As it is, the movie ends with the vampire 1% locked away with their personal blood supplies, then there are our heroes and a handful of cured vampires, whose confusion about being cured will be cut short by the next wave of feral vampires about to rip them to shreds.
posted by ckape at 3:54 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Lemme see, Thiel is 51, environmental collapse is 10 years away, so about 60 years?
posted by Artw at 4:17 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Modern vampires such as Linsay Sands' Argeneau famiy own and operate a worldwide network of blood banks and only need a pint every few days.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 4:23 PM on January 23


First, imagine a spherical vampire.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:52 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Did the authors actually read Salem's Lot? The Salem's Lot vampires could only exist on unholy ground, and making a place unholy required years of serial-killer-cultish rituals. Only then could a vampire transplant itself to the new place. Boooo. I feel like this should have been caught during peer review.
posted by Balna Watya at 4:58 PM on January 23 [16 favorites]


Why aren't these vampires running around with stakes themselves? Destroy the heart of the guy you just feasted on which does two things. First, it cuts down on the competition. Second, it has everyone looking for some crazy who's watched too many history channel paranormal shows as opposed to Dr. Acula.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:02 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Anybody who's seen, for instance, Twilight or this Discovery Of Witches thing knows that vampires never bite anybody without letting sexual tension build up for two seasons, or two movies out of a trilogy, whichever comes first.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:05 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]


Petter Watts, in the novel Blindsight and its sequel Echopraxia, develops a coherent theory of vampirism

Obligatory link to Peter Watts vampire presentation (Flash)

You left out the part where they're so intelligent that seeing a right angle acts as a Gödelian shock input, crashing their brains -- we accidentally eradicated them by inventing architecture.
posted by neckro23 at 5:08 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


I think that their math is based upon incorrect assumptions of unchecked exponentional growth with no restrictions, like a WWZ Zombie outbreak epidemic.

'No Lovers Left Alive' addressed discretion when hidden in society, and problems with nutrients.

Terry Pratchett had some interesting ideas, based very loosely on Stoker, about an isolated aristocratic elite that just does what aristocrats always do, which is parasite off of society. In his world some of the more enlightened Vampires begin to integrate with society somewhat.
posted by ovvl at 5:37 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Hologenomic adaptations underlying the evolution of sanguivory in the common vampire bat

What's in this Bloody Mary? It's so .... sanguivory.
posted by benzenedream at 5:48 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


I'm tempted to complain about the lack of research into the Nisioisin model but I'd have to concede that there's simply too much variability depending on whether Hanekawa is killed or turned by Shinobu.
posted by Reyturner at 5:49 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Also not addressed so far: vampires feeding on their weaker selves. This creates a higher-order web of predator/prey relationships, and, according to how the mechanics of it works out, a plausible balancing agent for the original question.
posted by eclectist at 5:51 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


An interesting take on creating vampires is in the sadly-not-as-popular-as-it-should-have-been Generation V series by M.L. Brennan. In order to create a baby vampire, you need to (a) take two thralls/hosts that you've created and given a lot of your own blood to, (b) make them have sex and get the female one pregnant, (c) hope that pregnancy goes well because the thralls are all completely violently insane about 95% of the time. Added bonus is that the vampire child doesn't come into its full powers until both its thrall/biological parents are dead. This whole thing is so complicated that it's flabbergasting that the parent vampire in the series managed to create four children (over hundreds of years, with a few hundred years of gap between each child). The vampires age slowly and don't have to feed on live blood frequently until they're full-blown and I think they only had to do it every other week or so (and would still eat human food as long as they could literally stomach it), but since their bites were corrosive to humans, that caused a lot of other problems. Either you somehow spread out your biting amongst a lot of people or you feed off one person continuously until they die. Fun!

Anyway, that was an excellent example of why vampires were a rarity in that world.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:51 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Society has crumbled due to the vampire apocalypse. After the human population was devastated, the ensuing food scarcity led vampires to turn on themselves. Only the most savage survived. The few surviving humans established mobile enclaves, forced to seek refuge in the midnight sun of the poles. Twice every year they must make the perilous journey across the seas, from one pole to the other, pursued by ships filled with mad, starving vampires.

Anyone may feel free to use this idea provided you call the resulting work Vampire Pirates! and include the tagline "Get ready for some high-seas adventure!" thank you that is all
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:54 PM on January 23 [17 favorites]


I love this discussion... and I swear that it's not just because of the fact that as a young goth/computer scientist I had about a 100 versions of it.

I think people often tend to underestimate some of the problems with the systems involved. Even with a very small accident rate the possible exponential growth is nothing to joke about. But alternatively yes the vampire 'fragility' rate can be a big factor.

Great now I want to start a new Vampire game...
posted by cirhosis at 6:06 PM on January 23


Okay, more thoughts:

(a) Anyone remember how incredibly easy it was for anyone on The Vampire Diaries to become a vampire? Good lordy.

(b) It seems to me that the only reasonable way vampires would survive in a society (before technology inevitably makes it obvious to find them, i.e. now) would be that they do not kill their prey and they don't feed off of people enough to cause them any real harm/damage. It would also help if they could say, wipe the memories and/or other evidence of what they did from the person they fed from, if the person wasn't a happily kinky consenter (I'm sure you could find a lot of those though). As I recall, the Carpathian series has their creatures able to use psychic powers on people to take care of that issue. They also had issues making more vampires, as I recall, since they could only breed with other psychics and babies had a hard time transitioning, etc.

It also helps if the vampire can feed off of animal blood (Buffyverse) or blood banks--something that wasn't doable for the Generation V vampires I mentioned above, btw.

One would hope that if you choose to make someone else a vampire, you'd at least be choosy about who you pick. And if you pick someone who goes serial killer, you'd take them out yourself so nobody finds you out.

Another way to keep the vampire population down: the Blood series by Tanya Huff had the few vampires in it get very ragey-territorial around each other, so that if you chose to make a loved one a vampire, it pretty much guaranteed that the two of you could never settle down immortally together for longer than about the first year because you'd need to find different territories so you didn't constantly attack each other.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:13 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


I feel like this should have been caught during peer review.

Well then that would be a different formula. If vampirism were caught by peer review it would require 3 vampires to make a new one and it would have to be some time when you could actually get 3 vampires to agree to do a peer review so..the start of the term is out of the question as is the end of the term. Also mid-term is pretty unlikely. Most vampires also won't want to do it during their break either. So other than that I think vampires created by peer review should multiply exponentially.....just as soon as all the review are done and sent in...and every editor knows reviewer 3 will be 2 months late. So in conclusion Vampires should either barely exist or they are all created by about a dozen overworked agreeable prosocial review crazy vampires who are sacrificing their careers and personal lives.
posted by srboisvert at 6:48 PM on January 23 [17 favorites]


Yeah, the academic articles seem pretty thin, but I guess it's easier to model a one to one conversion rate than factor in a novel's worth of errata for any various fictional vampire mythos.

I think True Blood had more bad about it than good, but I always did like the model of vampirism that Harris used. A crucial aspect to it is that humans actually LIKE being fed on (well, some of them).
posted by codacorolla at 7:00 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Wouldn’t the oppressive ennui of immortality prevent the Rice vampires from accomplishing anything?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 7:15 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


Frankly, I find all three premises to be preposterous and slightly insulting.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:16 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Wouldn’t the oppressive ennui of immortality prevent the Rice vampires from accomplishing anything?


That, and all their seething gay sexual tension.
posted by darkstar at 7:24 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


I’m only here because someone mentioned “Only Lovers Left Alive” and that is the best vampire movie other than “What We Do In Shadows.”
posted by thivaia at 7:53 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


The paper that covers the Rice model seems to make a huge assumption that a new vampire is created once in every ten victims

Also remember that whole having to ask permission if you sired certain kinds of vampires, or in another vampire’s territory?
posted by corb at 7:54 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


provided you call the resulting work Vampire Pirates!

Not Vampirates! ?
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:33 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Oh. Vampirates is taken. Never mind.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:36 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't Vampirates be places that are ruled by a Vampir instead of an Emir?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:58 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


I think Buffy the Vampire Slayer vampires actually make sense, then? Turning a human takes a specific process. The new vampires are buried (burning their identity and making it more difficult to deal with the human world), then abandoned to rise on their own (giving the slayer a chance to get 'em fresh). New vampires seem to rise with basic Taekwondo skills, which seems like an added benefit, but in practice doesn't serve them well. They're bitchy and prone to infighting. And finally, even strong, experienced vampires are kind of low-level compared to the "purer" demons wandering around. It always seemed more unbelievable that all the demons hadn't taken over Earth yet, but that was a plot point for at least a few episodes per season, so I'll allow it.

(Mia Wasikowska is delightful in Only Lovers Left Alive, and of course I'm always down for Vampire Swinton and Hiddleston, but I'm kinda mad about the Marlowe-Shakespeare thing!! It's still the first thing I think about when I recall that movie, and it's been a while, so I'm probably not going to get over it soon. The Rice ennui explanation definitely covers the Jarmusch vampires, though.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:08 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


A proper approach to the formula has to acknowledge that once vampires try to expand their population, the vampire mortality rate is pretty much 100%. In the Stoker model, vampire populations expand slowly, but within a year a population of 4 humans kills 5 vampires. In the King model, there's an explosive vampire growth, but then after a year 5 humans (three of whom were killed early on) kills 289 vampires. In the Rice model there sem no natual human hunters, but then the vampire population is subject to extermination by a vampire queen.

This is not a good model for exponential vampire growth.

This is also leaving out the vampiric disadvantages such as being killed by sunlight, needing to rest in native soil, inability to enter consecrated areas, inability to cross running water, compulsion to count objects such as piles of rice, visibility to thermographs, vulnerability to fire. Really, when it comes to bad physiology, vampires are worse than pretty much any other monster.

And thats leaving aside the traditional European vampire, whose life cycle requires him to die, be buried, and then return to that same coffin every night. Really the entire problem of vampires can be solved with mandatory cremation of corpses.
posted by happyroach at 9:35 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


...how about the if Pope blessed all the water on the planet...

Makes sense. After all, there are no known African vampires, 'cuz I bless the rains down in Africa.

Also, let me take this opportunity to plug James Alan Gardner's All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault. The basic premise is Superheroes Versus Vampires and it's a pretty fun book. Vampires et. al. are literally the one percent because they've sold the conversion as a very expensive form of immortality.
posted by suetanvil at 8:07 AM on January 24


how about the if Pope blessed all the water on the planet

What exactly is the range on the Pope's Bless Water spell? DM? I can't find it in the Player's Handbook.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:15 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Here’s How Long it Would Take for Vampires to Annihilate Humanity

My question is: when can they start?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:15 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Frowner, you left out the best part of The Scar regarding vampires: After the leading vampire becomes uppity, he receives a savage beat down and a couple of days of solar exposure until he's willing to be a good boy again. As he is tied to the mast, he is lectured on how vampires are contemptible because they are junkies, and how, in High Cromlech, the city of the unliving, they are the lowest creatures, begging in the street for blood from the few extant humans (young still living members of the lich families) who might take pity on them. There are other undead, and they do not suffer mere vampires gladly.

(That book did quite effectively away with any notion I might have ever had about vampires being cool).
posted by bouvin at 8:15 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Saying mankind could defeat vampires is kinda like saying wildebeest can defeat lions. Sure, it’s 100:1 in favor of the wildebeest, but they have to get organized first. Humans can’t even defeat malaria despite knowing exactly how to defeat mosquitoes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:16 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Frowner, you left out the best part of The Scar regarding vampires: After the leading vampire becomes uppity, he receives a savage beat down and a couple of days of solar exposure until he's willing to be a good boy again. As he is tied to the mast, he is lectured on how vampires are contemptible because they are junkies, and how, in High Cromlech, the city of the unliving, they are the lowest creatures, begging in the street for blood from the few extant humans (young still living members of the lich families) who might take pity on them. There are other undead, and they do not suffer mere vampires gladly.

I don't know whether I read that as about vampires as much as about factions and political struggle. The Brucolac doesn't get the beat-down because he's a vampire, he gets the beat-down because his (entirely reasonable, actually) attempted coup fails. If anything, he's the only one of the rulers of the pirate city (Vampirates!) who is both effective and correct in their assessment of the situation. Naturally, since this is China Mieville, only a popular uprising succeeds in avoiding [the dangerous danger] but because there is no socialist party, the uprising ebbs and while the danger is averted, the old factions continue to rule.

I've often thought that as long as it was just regular blood donation in exchange for security, I'd be pretty happy with the vampire/vampiree arrangement.
posted by Frowner at 8:31 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Humans can’t even defeat malaria despite knowing exactly how to defeat mosquitoes.

Solutions to malaria are a) poison or b) a timey-wimey explanation for how we get vampires in the first place.
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:32 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


The real-life documentary Trinity Blood very clearly lays out that it's the vampires-that-eat-vampires designed to live on Mars that we really need to watch out for, the regular vampires are just counts and various other petty titles that Western European peasants are already quite adept at handling.
posted by Phyltre at 9:39 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


See, these are exactly the kind of pressing research questions that I worry are not being funded during the government shutdown.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:41 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


It looks like they just took some of the zombie models that were a popular thought experiment a few years ago, and swapped out zombies for vampires.

Which is interesting in its own right, from a political viewpoint—it's been pointed out variously that zombies seem popular as a cultural phenomenon when conservativism is on the rise (fear of the masses, attractive for its portrayal of siege mentality, rugged individualism), while vampires are popular when leftism is ascendant (fear of powerful elites, oppressive power structures, etc.)—so the decision to look at vampires instead of zombies is intriguing.

But anyway, I agree that their disease vector modeling is all wrong. Vampirism isn't supposed to spread like zombism. If it did, then humans would quickly become extinct, except perhaps in small bands—just like every zombie flick ever—although if the zombie/vampires (zompires?) require humans for food, then their population will crash and they might become extinct. This is similar to some pathogens that kill their hosts so quickly that they "burn out" rather than spread; a poor evolutionary strategy. But it doesn't lead to the signature aspect of vampires, which is a small but persistent population of them, hidden among and predating upon regular people.

If we assume that vampires—unlike zombies—can feed on humans without turning them into a vampire, then they are classic predators, but with a couple of twists. I think this is a model that's interesting to play out.

The first thing that's surprising, is that a vampire would choose to create any more vampires at all. I mean, most creatures reproduce unwittingly on an individual level—I'm not sure that most animals sit down and decide that they'd really like to have kids, they just get each other knocked up like red-state teenagers—but collectively do so because each individual is mortal, and to not do so would be the extinction of the species. But if each individual is immortal, and if they can consciously control their own reproduction—a vampire can decide whether to just feed from someone or turn them—why would they create offspring? It's just creating your own competition. It doesn't make sense.

Maybe the innate fragility of vampires (death from sunlight, starve without a supply of human blood, etc.) leads them to have a psychology similar to us mortals, but I wouldn't bet on this. So much of human psychology and social behavior is due to our own knowledge of our own mortality and the desire/need to propagate not only genetics but knowledge and belief beyond our own existence. Take away that ticking clock, and things get weird.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:55 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Canonically, vampires create other vampires because they're lonely. I mean, that doesn't have to lead to Infinite Vampires, but if you start out mortal, become immortal and everyone else around you lives these brief, fragile lives (made briefer and more fragile by....CHOMP) , you're not going to have very much fun going down the ages alone.
posted by Frowner at 11:25 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


sauril: "I liked cstross' version, which had one major limiting factor. Vampires would have 'turf' and eliminate any others that would try to set up shop there, since too many vampires in one spot would lead to either there being no more food, or the food would end up hunting you. "

This is the Iron Druid model and it seems like it would work as long as the the limit was internally enforced.

Also Iron Druid Vampires (with a single exception) can't stay away between sunrise and sun set; are crazy inflammable; can't handle sunlight even when they are awake and get more powerful with age (newly minted vampires aren't anywhere nearly as powerful as older vampires). Also vampires are only created when a vampire wants to and new vampires are bound to their creators and can't act directly against their creators. This makes it pretty easy to rule from the top and a strict 1:100K ratio is enforced so as to fly under the radar. Vampires don't have to kill their victims and can use indirect methods like blood banks. Minor spoiler: EG: one of the vampires in the series has the entire state of Arizona as his territory and doesn't tolerate infringers.

EndsOfInvention: "What exactly is the range on the Pope's Bless Water spell? DM? I can't find it in the Player's Handbook."

That's the wrong way to approach it (at least if I was the top cleric on the planet). Miracle would be the way to go.
posted by Mitheral at 12:32 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


The first thing that's surprising, is that a vampire would choose to create any more vampires at all. I mean, most creatures reproduce unwittingly on an individual level—I'm not sure that most animals sit down and decide that they'd really like to have kids, they just get each other knocked up like red-state teenagers

Well now I'm curious about whether any vampire fiction has ever proposed that creating new vampires just feels really good. And/or is a natural biological (biomagical?) urge that they have difficulty resisting, even though they know it's creating competition for food.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 12:46 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Okay, this is finally the place to talk up a favorite vampire short story, by a fellow named Robust McManlypants, about a guy who's a vampire and has some trouble with his HOA, also with some zombies. I mean, the story isn't a vampire, it's about a vampire. A vampire short story would just prey on other books anyway, and there's a lot of books.

I've also learned that Robust wrote a couple of vampire novellas, found here.

These are just amateur nanowrimo-type things, but I enjoyed the short story a great deal and plan to read the novellas.
posted by Frowner at 12:53 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]




how about the if Pope blessed all the water on the planet

It is speculated that one of the reasons that vampires are most prevalent in Europe and North America is because the rains down in Africa have been blessed.
posted by acb at 1:40 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: " Humans can’t even defeat malaria despite knowing exactly how to defeat mosquitoes."

We did defeat smallpox, have almost defeated Polio, and have Dracunculiasis (Guinea-worm) on the run.
posted by Mitheral at 8:17 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Dracunculiasis

Dracula-whatnow?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:42 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


how about the if Pope blessed all the water on the planet

That's how you get Protestant vampires.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:08 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


there are no known African vampires

The hell you say. Awww hell no you didn't.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:32 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


vampires designed to live on Mars


How have I not heard about this already? They would be perfect! They don’t need oxygen, and have to live indoors anyway, and their food doesn’t need to be highly varied (just drop ship them some frozen blood on the regular). They are immortal, so they coukd live and work on Mars permanently, without the complications humans would bring. Brilliant!



It is speculated that one of the reasons that vampires are most prevalent in Europe and North America is because the rains down in Africa have been blessed.


Oh, you!
posted by darkstar at 5:22 PM on January 25


Also, for further research purposes: Bill Nighy discusses his life as a vampire.
posted by darkstar at 5:26 PM on January 25


How have I not heard about this already? They would be perfect! They don’t need oxygen, and have to live indoors anyway, and their food doesn’t need to be highly varied (just drop ship them some frozen blood on the regular). They are immortal, so they coukd live and work on Mars permanently, without the complications humans would bring. Brilliant!

Don't give Elon Musk ideas!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:51 AM on January 26


Don't give Elon Musk ideas!

I dunno; Musk rocketing Thiel to Mars is kind of poetic, really.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:52 PM on January 26


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