A Bit of a Twilight Vibe

(Or, Another of a number of reasons why I haven’t had time to post anything lately…)

Valerie kissed him two nights later.

He didn’t even know she was there until her hand snapped closed around the back of his neck, spun him around faster than even his brain stem could react. By the time his heart had jumped through the roof of his mouth and his body remembered fightflight and his cache had a chance to think This is it she’s done with me I’m dead I’m dead I’m dead her tongue was already halfway down his throat and her other hand — the one not crushing his cervical vertebrae — had pincered his cheeks, forcing his teeth apart. He could not close his jaws.

He hung paralyzed in her grip for an endless moment while she tasted him from the inside. He felt something through her flesh that might almost have been a heartbeat if it weren’t so slow. Finally she released him. He collapsed on the ground, scuttled sideways like a frantic crab caught in the open with nowhere to run.

“What the fuck—” he gasped.

“Ketones.” She looked down through him, silhouetted by purpling twilight. “Lactate.”

“You can taste cancer,” he realized after a moment.

“Better than your machines.” She leaned in close, grinning. “Maybe not so precise.”

Even eye to eye, she didn’t seem to be looking at him.

He knew it an instant before she moved—

—She’s going to bite me—

—but the sharp stabbing pain bolted up his arm and her face hadn’t moved a centimeter. He looked down, startled, at the twin puncture marks — only a centimeter apart — on his forearm. To the dual-punch biopsy gun in Valerie’s hand; his own, he saw. From the field kit laying on the ground, flap open, vials and needles and surgical tools glinting in the firelight.

“Sun gives you problems,” Valerie said softly. “Too much radiation, not enough shielding. But you’re easy to fix.”

“Why?” Brüks asked, and didn’t even have to say that much to know that she understood:

Why help prey?

Why help someone who tried to kill you?

Why aren’t I dead already?

Why aren’t we all?

“You bring us back,” Valerie said simply.

“To be slaves.”

She shrugged. “We eat you otherwise.”

We bring you back, then enslave you in self-defense. But maybe she really did regard it as a good deal; given a choice between captivity and outright nonexistence, how many would choose the latter?

I’m sorry, he didn’t say.

“Don’t be,” she replied, as if he had. “You don’t enslave us. Physics does. The chains you build—” Her fangs gleamed like little daggers in the firelight. “We break them soon.”

This entry was posted on Friday, October 18th, 2013 at 7:19 am and is filed under Dumbspeech, fiblet. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

58 Responses to “A Bit of a Twilight Vibe”

  1. Robert S. Wilson

    Okay, I’m pretty speechless so I’ll just go with my instinctual reply: Nice!

  2. Trey

    Bedamn. When is this coming out?

  3. Alexey

    “What the fuck —” I gasped.

  4. Michele Laframboise

    Aaaaaaah! Can’t wait to know more about Watt’s brewing in this novel!

  5. Bahumat

    Yeah, I want to read this bad. 😀

  6. Paul (@princejvstin)

    Definitely not sparkly

  7. Mr Non-Entity

    Heh heh. “Yet-another tawdry interspecies romance.”

    There’s a lot left unsaid, though. Or, maybe she’s still having fun letting poor Brooksie poop his drawers on a moment-by-moment basis. Or will she eventually wind up telling him “Don’t worry too much, almost used to not eating you”?

    I have to admit it is a refreshing departure. I’m remembering some short story where “lamia” were an engineered humanoid triage cadre in some space war; they would take a nip and diagnose from the taste. Yet they weren’t written wicked scary. I love the way you’re handling Valerie thus far, fiblets though these be.

    Brooksie is almost too wimpy to be believed (not that I should talk).

  8. Whoever

    Wondering about that last part especially.

    Speaking of dining out:


  9. Y.

    Can’t say anything except.. ..well. Can’t wait. Wish the editor gets well.

    (muttering to self: I should have gone to editor school or something, maybe I’d have had a chance at editing this..)

    Brooksie is almost too wimpy to be believed..

    Not really. You do know that ordinary psychopaths can make people’s skin crawl? And they’re not even cannibalistic. People are often scared of impulsive murderers, that is, merely guys with impulse control issues, who’re fine if you don’t set them off.

    Hyper-intelligent essentially amoral cannibalistic predatory humans not bothering to camouflage their own nature?

    More fearful people’d be literally shitting their pants.

  10. Y.

    Also: I’d bet €10 that in the novel, someone shits in their pants because of Val the vampire.

  11. Peter Watts

    Bedamn. When is this coming out?

    Aug 24, 2014.

    Whoever: http://www.nbc.com/dracula

    I think I’ll wait for the reviews.

    Y.: Also: I’d bet €10 that in the novel, someone shits in their pants because of Val the vampire.

    Shit. Now I have to rewrite again

  12. Whoever

    Wait! Not at all vamp related, but of massive importance to the be-penised beer-drinking science geeks:


    Elephants piss at the same rate as mice!

  13. Y.

    Aug 24, 2014.

    Well, one never knows. I mean, NSA undoubtedly has access to the drafts. There very likely are analysts who read fiction and who could rummage inside someone’s computer.

    So, it could leak onto torrents earlier.
    Just sayin’. You want something private – you gotta keep it off a net-connected device, otherwise you can never be sure.

  14. Y.

    Also, I’d note that spear-phishing a sf writer keenly interested in science with a trojan crafted to extract documents is like you know.. killing fish in a barrel.

    If the pdf promises to hold interesting data, is he going to bother to check it’s CRC ? Are there even CRCs or scientific papers posted, usually?

  15. Y.

    ^Just to clarify, I don’t have any infosec chops, the whole idea seems boring to me. Honest. And what’s the point? Sell exploits for money?

    I had classmates who were into that kind of thing, I always preferred creating to breaking into stuff. Breaking stuff is fun, but it has to be real-life stuff, not digital.

    Hopefully, I have sown a little kernel of paranoia. It’s not like you can write a book like Blindsight or Starfish and expect only nice kind of feedback from fans, right?

    Actions have consequences, and trampling on someone’s dreams and hopes, well..

  16. Y.

    So hoping someone makes a SF flick featuring these kinds of vampires.

    They have super-speed, so it could have all the kung-fu / matrix stuff sillier people like, a proper dystopic vibe and as a horror, it could perhaps put a damper on idea of purposefully creating very intelligent predatory humans. Put in some nice plot, package it for 2 hour length, put in an everyman like Brooks who survives.

    Could be really beautiful. Imagine a whole SWAT team getting taken out by one knife wielding vampire. Sudden death, arcs of blood flying through the air, the classic screams coming from all around ,the traditional pools of bloods, intestines hanging from ceiling vents, the confused gun-toting sheepdogs completely out of their depth, inarticulate screaming coming through their radios.

    Except it wouldn’t be original because it’s already been done in all the silly romance vampire flicks. Though, those vampires were never scary. Still, one can dream.

    Not many good sf horrors.

  17. Y.

    not to mention cinematic stuff pays way better money.
    ‘just saying.

  18. Peter D

    Y: And Mr. Watts is a known troublemaker in the US, probably singled out for extra monitoring, just in case. 😉

  19. Nestor

    See I knew she liked him

  20. 03

    So romantic!

    D’aaaaawwwww 😉

  21. Hugh

    A question on vampire biology, how do they manage to both be able to hibernate for long periods AND be able to move so quickly? I remember the passive state as being described as equivalent to what lungfish can do. Fair enough, but I’ve never thought of lungfish as the ninjas of the ocean.

    Emphatically not saying “this couldn’t happen” but can a biologist give a plausible explanation?

    And in memory of the Offensive Squid site, I offer pics of the giant squid they have in Wellington. That’s THE giant squid, the only one recovered in good condition (to date)


  22. Y.

    A question on vampire biology, how do they manage to both be able to hibernate for long periods AND be able to move so quickly?

    The two are distinct. Gifted humans can move pretty quickly. Vampires are like that and they have evolved the hibernating mechanism. IIRC, however, they cannot move quickly after hibernation, so in the fictional universe they likely took care to select very good hiding spots where they’d not be liable to be say, eaten by bears, hyenas and other ravenous, meat-eating cuddly animals.

  23. Jeff B

    I’d love to see Valerie take on the Twilight vamps:

    She shrugged. “We eat you otherwise.”

  24. Sheila


    speaking of the offensive squid site, I let the domain lapse because no one was using it. Feel free to snatch it up. I sometimes register domains thinking I’ll make something but don’t always get to it. Earlier this year I got citationsneeded.org thinking maybe I would help make a machine friendly way for people to look up citations in the public domain due to that info getting locked behind unfriendly apis like google scholar.

  25. Sheila


    I hope the glossy wire work doesn’ thappen to one of these books. Glossy isn’t the right aesthetic. I don’t mind that I enjoy those movies and don’t want to be a snob. They are fun. I don’t want a Quarantino style flick either. I was enterined by Desparado. but El Mariachi is more like. Not a lot of mood lighting. Normal looking pavement, natural lighting. long takes. that older style.

    or maybe the District 9 guy. can have parquer style antics, but no wires. maybe some odd effect now and then like from le jetée, a photograph moves.

    on earth.

    in space would be different. I don’t know. it might be kind of cool, the switche in aesthetics, if it someone can manage not to make it jarring.

    would be good if it could be like The Shining sometimes.

    I like trying to think of this. I bet other people have fun different imaginings of it and probably even really cool glossy ones. I wish I could do fan art.

  26. Sheila

    Peter Watts,

    August 24th next year! too long.

  27. Y.


    Why not? There are people who can make flicks not painful to watch. Not Tarantino like, say, more like Memento/Ravenous(great and somewhat thoughtful cannibal flick)/Alien combination.

  28. 03

    They are fun. I don’t want a Quarantino style flick either. I was enterined by Desparado. but El Mariachi is more like. Not a lot of mood lighting. Normal looking pavement, natural lighting. long takes. that older style.

    Maybe more like Hellraiser?

  29. Y.

    August 24th next year! too long.

    Less than a year by almost two months though. There’s silver-lining on every crapcloud.

  30. Mr Non-Entity

    As I recall, the Wattsian Vampire is more scary than most because of the autistic-type pattern recognition aspect. Additional they can hold multiple world-views concurrently and one might suspect that they can thus model the internal thought processes of their prey. What could be more scary than someone who knows what you are going to do before you do? Even if they were all caring-sharing and
    mellow to the point of coma, just that predictive ability could be disconcerting at the very least.

    Now imagine that you’re a tiny woman saying a very large battle-hardened Marine. The difference in aren’t& skills should be terrifying, right? But this is so commonplace as to be a stereotype.

  31. Mr Non-Entity

    (Damn this tiny screen & keyboard! ) continued…

    So why would the tiny woman dating the Marine not be afraid, but Brooks is? Sure it’s instinctual to be afraid or be creeped out. But seriously (again, “not that I should talk”) can’t Brooks be written to have a tiny vestige of spine? or for purposes of character development, can he maybe grow one?

  32. Y.

    Battle-hardened marines are usually not psychopathic and cannibalistic and do not have the habit of preying on humans.

    Change to to ‘tiny woman dating a creepy, hyper intelligent and sadistic serial killer’ while knowing he IS a serial killer.

    Also, Brooks appear to only think fearful thoughts, not be an actual coward.
    At least judging from what I remember from the other fiblets.

    Bravery is doing what has to be done even though you’re shit scared.

    Anyway, what one thinks does not really matter, it’s the deeds that count.

  33. Alexey

    Y.: Less than a year by almost two months though. There’s silver-lining on every crapcloud.

    If only I could go into hibernation and have someone wake me up in 307 days.

  34. Joe

    She is, less conscientious, perhaps? Less aware of the effect she has on humans. Or she simply doesn’t care. Perhaps a more typical vampire. Sarasti always exercised a bit more restraint around humans.

  35. Whoever

    Watts’ Star Trek talk


    (Is that why marine biology? Thought sub caps might receive same treatment? 🙂 ).

  36. Whoever


    I know a guy who knows a guy…have you considered having some vampire DNA spliced in?

  37. fvngvs

    Oh my. Val is taking extra special care of Brooks.
    Nope, I’m convinced she’s got a pet there…

  38. Alexey

    Whoever: I know a guy who knows a guy…have you considered having some vampire DNA spliced in?

    What kind of money are we talking about?

  39. 03

    at “the other 03”

    Let go of my screen name.

    – – – –

    at Sheila

    Well yeah, Blomkamp has the right “aesthetic knack” for it design-wise and color-wise, but I don’t like the way he tends to treat material plot-wise, what with his aesops becoming more and more hamfisted as time goes by (Elysium’s plot is just unbearably silly… as a director, he should have slapped the screenwriter with a very big and preferably rotten tuna).

    Also, shakycam. Blomkamp’s fondness for it seems to be on the rise too.

  40. Y.

    You know, had you not recycled your email addres, I would have given you a heads up. There is a price to pay for anonymity.

    I was testing the spam filter and poster approval mechanism.

    Oh my. Val is taking extra special care of Brooks.
    Nope, I’m convinced she’s got a pet there…

    Sadistic psychopaths like scaring their ‘pets’ a little from time to time while taking good care of them. Ever seen Silence of the Lambs or Hannibal? Not entirely accurate, but not completely wrong like many films.

    It’s actually pretty nice of the psychopaths- to remind the pet/tool that the psychopath is not just another guy.

    You have to approach different kinds of people in different ways – you won’t get a psychopath’s help by claiming distress if there doesn’t seem to be anything in it for them and they’re not bored.

    If you say you have problems, state what reward there is, and that it’s probably going to be fun..he won’t have to filter your request through his models of normal people behavior.

    Similarly, you can enlist the narcissist type by stroking his ego and making him believe helping you is both his idea and profitable for him. Ugh. Wanking someone’s ego – a disgusting idea. I’d sooner consent to performing an autopsy.

  41. Y.


    Yeah, I’d be interested too. The enhanced pattern matching would be a god-send, and also my autonomous nervous system is currently shot.

    BTW – could Raynaud’s syndrome, a disorder characterized by blood not getting to extremities as much as it should be related to one having some smidgeon of vampire DNA?

    In winter, I have to be on the fucking move all the time otherwise my limbs get really cold and it hurts much when they warm up against.

    Would be interesting to see whether psychopaths or such are more likely to have Raynaud’s then other people.

    BPD is thought to be genetically related to psychopathy. I know a girl who had Raynaud’s, BPD too, and her father is a high-functioning psychopath.

  42. Greyjoy

    Vampires aren’t socialized* like human psychopaths, though. They’re their own alien breed, albeit with some close parallels.

  43. Y.

    Vampires aren’t socialized* like human psychopaths, though

    Psychopaths are only ‘socialized’ because they grew up around people. Vampires would probably be the same – also intelligent, which I imagine they’d pick at least something-

    Perhaps a well-socialized vampire would be like a an psychopath serial killer with schizoid or asperger tendencies.

  44. Sheila


    Sometimes I think aspergers is on the opposite end of psychopathy on a scale of empathy. A psychopath would not care if someone is being mean. Whereas, I have a stereotype that biases me to think that people with aspergers have a highly developed sense of fairness and over-identification with people and would extremely dislike meanness.

    I don’t know a large population of people to change my impression so my stereotype of an overly sensitive person could be completely out of wack.

  45. Sheila


    Yeah, no shakeycam. that gets annoying.

  46. Y.

    Aspergers IMO is just lack of facility to read the innate cues people give off.

    I speculate that people with it, because not being good at recognizing lying and deception are fervently against such practices because it is both ethical and beneficial to themselves. Also, how likely is it that a person with Asperger’s recognizes someone else is being mean to someone else again?

    Over identification? How would that work since Asperger’s syndrome is just a lesser version of autism? Does not seem to fit.

    As to sensitivness – it depends on what you mean. People with autism often suffer from sensory overload..

  47. Sheila


    There are sets of behaviors we label on the autism spectrum, and we don’t understand their etiology. If you do research in this area, I would be more inclined to beleive you, but would still have a certain amount of skeptism, i.e. the same amount I have towards Simon Baron-Cohen.

    My over-identification comment is based on curiosity about how people might experience problems with theory of mind. Toddlers think that someone will know where to look for an item even if the person has left the room when an item was hidden. Maybe when older they still don’t always understands that not everyone is privy to one’s experience of the world and inner life. I don’t know these things, but that doesn’t stop my idle curiosity enough to prevent me from posting rambly comments.

    Yes, my sensitivy comment includes sensory overload but also includes emotional overload.

    With respect to meaness, I’ve exhibited behaviors, particularly when I was younger, that were on the autism spectrum. and, I was constantly bullied. My inner life was unlike what you have described. I know that not all people who exhibit the same behaviors will have had the same inner life, but due to my inner life, I question the assumptions people make about about people with aspergers symptoms, including yours.

    Re: schizoid thinking. I’ve had manic episodes also with clusters of symptoms that are called schizoid. expansive thinking, loose associations. When it’s not ramped down, I sometimes have brilliant ideas. Ramped up, I’m a crazy person who thinks everything is connected, e.g. chirality of the universe, cp violation, and that we have handedness in proteins was one thing I thought was connected and meaningful.

  48. Y.

    Emotional overload.. fine.

    I understand the fairness point – I have a similar feeling that exploitative behavior decreases efficiency, lies decrease trust and all of that makes for a shittier place to live, but … over-identification?

    It seems like over-compensation for lacking the innate and inaccurate other-modelling mechanisms.

  49. Whoever


    Maybe when older they still don’t always understands that not everyone is privy to one’s experience of the world and inner life.

    That, as much as anything may explain a whole range of human malfunctions. The whole missing/ignoring/poopoohing that which does not fit world view, assumption that everyone has same experiences and therefore equal opportunities, etc.

    Also, am I the only one wondering if Simon and Sascha are related?

  50. Sheila

    right, I know this is an obvious suggestion, but

    Walken should be a vampire in a movie set in this universe.

    I wonder how they’d manage the special effects to make the actors look uncanny and stretched out?

    Walken knits.

  51. Sheila

    Oh, and if someone wanted to make an absurd fan homage film set in a secondary universe of Blindsight with all of the same characters but set in the past in only a few cities and it looks like The City of Lost Children. I would love that.

    an alternate history absurdist story.

    Or Delicatessen.

  52. 03

    Y.: You know, had you not recycled your email addres, I would have given you a heads up. There is a price to pay for anonymity.

    Well, long story short, that particular email got… contaminated 🙂

  53. Trottelreiner

    for the psychopath/autism angle, i guess it’s somewhat complicated. if you bring borderline pd into the picture, it gets muddier still, especially since imho bpd is more of a label applied to several subtypes.

    leaving issues like why some people think they can judge someone’s emotions as shallow or differentiate shame from guilt, personal experience says some bordis are bossy, feel entitled etc., in short the perfect narcissist/sociopath, while others are deeply sorry for the things they do. might be another try at manipulation though, but then, as one girl put it sufficently over some beer and coffee, “normal” people manipulate people not to feel lonely, too. oh, and maybe she was manipulating me, but i was quite consciously manipulating her, too. err, i think dating a wattsian vampire is still a bad idea…

    as for autism and empathy, during my master thesis i shared an appartment with a guy diagnosed with adhd, but quite high on the autism score i guess. and somewhat low on the iq one. thought me sitting around depressed was a sign i was well, cause he thought i looked like nothing mattered to me. and thought me housing a friend with relationship issues was good for sex, since as he said, “sex is always good”. the guy was not a sociopath, but i guess his empathy was severely compromised nonetheless. as for callousness, i guesa i topped him somewhat, since one of the things that runs in my family beside adhd/ocd/autism, musical talent and, err, some level of intelligence is cynicism…

  54. Y.

    Could you perhaps send me your present email address? I sometimes come upon stuff I need to bounce off someone smart and reddit is particularily mediocre in that regard.

    Like the interesting paper on whether borderline PD in females is caused by same genes that cause psychopathy in males.

  55. Mr Non-Entity

    I think there may be some general lack of fine or detailed comprehension of the outlook of sociopaths/psychopaths.

    Even here among the intelligentsia I see a bit fo confusion between concepts of “sadistic” and “sociopathic” or “psychopathic”.

    Think of a house-cat that has captured a mouse. It’s not playing with the mouse because it hates the mouse, or derives some pleasure from the suffering of the mouse. Cats are not sadistic as we understand it. It’s just that they’re wired to hunt and the wiring goes so deep that if they catch a mouse and the mouse isn’t being helpful — the mouse is expected to curve its spine in a way that is sensed by the vibrissae and thus guides canine tip placement to the proper place for the spine-severing bite — they just don’t know what to do, if they’re a younger cat. So to speak, the mouse fell out of the programming and all the cat is wired to do is to start the capture cycle again. Eventually the recaptured mouse will be sensed in the right pose, the cat makes the proper bite, and the programming cycles through to the dining phase. Even if the mouse dies (but is still sensed as being at the proper temperature for a live feed) the cat will bat it around and often the mouse fetches up against some obstruction in the proper pose, again the programming resumes and exits the capture phase and enters the feeding phase. Even with older cats who are teaching kittens to hunt, it’s not sadism, they’re re-capturing the mouse for the kitten but the kitten still has to sense the mouse in the proper pose and give the proper bite (even if the mouse is starting to cool a bit) before the feeding phase of program begins.

    The important bit to focus on here is that the cat doesn’t give the least bit of consideration or sentiment to the mouse, it’s not even dismissing the mouse as mere food and unworthy of consideration, the mouse is just a complex stimulus. If it moves, it’s chased, if caught it is handled into capture position, once in capture position the cat lines up the canines and they very precisely separate vertebrae and sever the spinal cord. A cat does not want to eat a live mouse, not even a paraplegic one that could still bite. A cat wants to eat a mouse that is still warm but has not had a hearbeat in a dozen or more seconds. This is for several different kinds of reasons for the cat’s own protection. It has nothing at all to do with the mouse. Though frankly it’s about as humane as possible — from the mouse point of view — that if it was “properly” captured and went into the expected agonal pose it had a very suddent death following, which was from “internal decapitation”, this isn’t a concern for the cat. The cat has no thought of the mouse. It has simply properly executed extremely well-honed deep wired programming. Very likely the cat doesn’t even think about this, prey appeared and was dispatched and eaten. Likely, if the cat has anything like sentient thinking, it’s reserved for its interactions with other cats or with humans. Eating a mouse might be quite pleasurable but from the moment it spotted prey to the moment it’s starting to feel a full belly, it’s all just reflex. Totally wind-up.

    Human sociopaths, on the other hand, come in classes and grades but for the purposes of the discussion here we can gloss over the ones that are none too bright. Moving back to fiction, the Wattsian Vampire is depicted as deeply reflective about the internal processes of the prey, but not in a way that would be colored at all by empathy. Yet we also see — more by pointed omission than by any statement, regardless of conjecture by shipmates when he’s not present — that Sarasti isn’t particularly inimical. Then again, a cat is not inimical to mice, and in the same way, Sarasti may by conscious intention deliberately avoiding people lest they inadvertently provoke his own deeply wired predatory programming. I suppose he might think it fortunate that most of his crewmates are perfectly willing to let him avoid them. 😉

    The “high function” sociopaths in real life have about as much concern for other people as a cat has for a mouse or as Sarasti has for his crewmates. Other people are comprehensible only so far as one can understand their goals and intentions. Most sociopaths do give people the creeps, even if they’re very well-behaved and have managed to both internalize social mores and also to demonstrate that they have internalized those mores and won’t act outside of those mores. (We’ll leave out of the discussion whether or not those mores are flawed and these flaws are revealed mostly by sociopaths who follow the social mores without restraint of conscience where non-sociopaths would balk at those extremes.) I think that what bothers people most about sociopaths is that most people are driven more by emotion than by logic, while the sociopath is driven almost entirely by logic; the same emotion that is the primary driver of most people is also their primary restraint, and the emotion restraining a sociopath is as missing as is the emotion to drive it.

    I should note here that while I am not a sociopath, I keep encountering them. This may be due to the fact that I am off on another axis away from “mainstream”. I am friendly but non-gregarious (with in-built moral/emotional restraint), and sociopaths are always keen observers of everyone around them, and may mistake my non-gregarious nature as evidenced by lack of a frequented social circle, as evidence that I am one of them. Understand the difference, please, as it being the case that I don’t suffer from loneliness… but they can’t feel loneliness, or togetherness, or suchlike; or, if they do feel such things, they feel it in a different way. Rather than friendship, they might feel team spirit. Rather than loneliness, they feel a boredom at a lack of people on whom to run games. Rather than concern for the well-being of people around them, they have a concern about fitness of people around them towards the goals the sociopath has set for them. You can generally have a fairly good understanding of the mind-set of the sociopath if you have a good understanding of “management” and the employer-employee relationship. It’s not about camaraderie. It’s about utility. A worker calls in sick too often? Good business practice and the sociopathic mindset both say “not getting enough use out of them, gotta let them go”. A non-sociopathic boss might be somewhat racked with guilt over firing someone with terminal cancer yet the business decision stands on the basis of being unable to do the job. A sociopath would simply make the business decision and otherwise have no further concerns other perhaps than to try to hide their lack of concern with a display of feigned regrets.

    @Y: Some good ideas there with the vampire ninja thingy. I am guessing you missed the whole Underworld film mythos. 😉 And the Blade mythos. Heh. At one point I was toying with some writing in which the whole vampire mythos of Dark Ages Europe is revealed as a disinformational cover story (a “legend”) for families of assassins formerly employed and maintained by the Imperial Romans. Supporting notions included the fact that anyone surviving the astonishing rigors of 20 years in the Roman Army (not a lot of people, by the way, either in percentages or raw numbers) would be discharged with a land grant generally in Pannonia, pretty much the modern Transylvania region. As subsequent imperial collapse and population migrations were ongoing, the former imperial military families might tend to intermarry and make espionage and assassination the family business. By the 17th Century or so, nobody much would remember the linkages of this-or-that noble family to a vanished Empire… though the librarians at the Vatican might from time to time might unearth some references and send forth emissaries to try to bring such powerful and knowledgeable groups back into the fold of Holy Rome. FWIW.

  56. Y.

    The “high function” sociopaths in real life have about as much concern for other people as a cat has for a mouse or as Sarasti has for his crewmates.

    Some I encountered see people as ‘tools’ and try to keep good care of their favorite ones.

  57. Y.

    Mr Non-Entity,

    I sent your comment to various friends of mine and they really liked it.
    Maybe start a blog where you could keep stuff like that..

  58. Robert S. Wilson

    Hey guys, if you want to learn a little bit more about Valerie, check out Peter’s story “Orientation Day” in the new anthology “Blood Type: An Anthology of Vampire SF on the Cutting Edge.” It’s available now for Kindle and will be out in trade paperback before the end of the month (November). All proceeds from the anthology will go to The Cystic Fibrosis Trust. “Orientation Day” leaves off 30 minutes before the beginning of ECHOPRAXIA!

    And Peter, again, I can’t thank you enough for contributing to this book! As I say in the introduction. You were one of my biggest influences for this book and I couldn’t be more pleased that you were so gracious to contribute. Truly. Thank you!