While in the final days of drafting my novel Ordeal of the Scarlet Order, I had the opportunity to read Kim Newman’s novel Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju. To date, this is his sixth and final Anno Dracula novel. Set in Japan on December 31, 1999, we learn that the vampire Christina Light, also known as the Princess Casamassima, is throwing a party for New Year’s Eve in her Tokyo office building, built in the shape of a dragon. Of course, in Japan big monsters are kaiju and really big monsters are daikaiju, hence the book’s title. At the stroke of midnight, the princess plans to “ascend” and she’s invited everyone who is anyone to be there for the event. One of Christina’s vampire powers is to literally become light and her ascension will take the form of becoming a permanent part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which would allow her to become part of the whole information superstructure of the world.
Among the attendees are Richard Jeperson of British Intelligence and his bodyguard, Nezumi, who had been made a vampire around a thousand years earlier when only 13-years old. The party looks as though it’s going to be a splendid success until a group of terrorists, Yakuza assassins and Transylvanian mercenaries crash the party all led by a member of Dracula’s family who has visions of “ascending” in Christina Light’s place. The terrorists aren’t the only unwelcome guests. On the 44th floor of the Daikaiju building. Hal Takayama wakes up, not remembering his history or why he’s there. What’s more, his left hand has been replaced by a computerized glass hand called “Lefty” that seems to have an agenda of its own. Lefty effectively convinces Hal that he was Jun Zero, the most notorious cyber-terrorist of the age. Meanwhile, looming in the background of the novel is the infamous Y2K bug, which many people feared would be disastrous as the calendar rolled over from 1999 to 2000.
So far, the Anno Dracula books have tended to tell stories set over weeks and even decades, but this one is a taut action-thriller jumping character to character as Jeperson, Nezumi, and Takayama work together to stop the terrorists and understand the implications of Christina Light’s ascension. Christina Light’s story arc began in the graphic novel Seven Days in Mayhem, then continued in the novel One Thousand Monsters. Daikaiju proves to be a thrilling conclusion to the arc. Even though Daikaiju is the final novel so far, I still have one more Anno Dracula volume to go. Kim Newman has a short story collection called Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories which I will likely dive into while hoping he has other stories in the works for the series.
As I say, I recently finished the first pass of a new Scarlet Order vampire novel. I’m at the point where I’m setting it aside and then I’ll take a fresh look at it in a couple of weeks. I’m sure I’ll be tearing it apart and putting it back together again before handing it off to beta readers and an editor. Meanwhile, you can learn about the first two novels in the series and read the opening chapters at: http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#scarlet_order.
I really wonder why anyone would want to “ascend” and change so completely, but maybe for vampires who have already been drastically changed from humans, it isn’t such a leap.
One of the things that gets explored in fiction about any immortal is the question of whether you can live so long that life loses its meaning and you begin to wonder if there is something beyond life itself. That’s certainly part of what’s being explored here, but I also think Christina Light’s electromagnetic and vampiric natures have always been somewhat at odds and there’s long been a question of which one would ultimately prevail. For me, this gave the exploration of what’s beyond the mortal ken a nice twist.